Category Archives: Thoughts from the Porch

Pirates of Negativity

April:

Be sure to watch the video at the end of this post. Carry grace and the commandment, “love thy neighbor” in your heart.

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

the critic

“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; 

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What A Ride!

“This is the day the LORD hath made! Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!

Psalm 118:24

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Jim’s Bucket List

My husband, Jim has always dreamed of owning a convertible. His eyes have always been set on a Miata. Yet, in the Fall of 2011 on the eve of Jim turning 50 June 2012, we came across a very sweet ride and purchased our Toyota Solara. Needless to say, mid-life crisis/fun had hit the Hawkins’ home.

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One of our favorite areas is the Smoky Mountains. It is our favorite area because it is the area where we met, fell in love and have taken many trips together. Both our families had vacationed in the area before we met. Since the Smokies are one of our favorite places, we decided we would vacation there for a week the Summer of 2012.

The Dragon's Tail

The Dragon’s Tail

In the process of planning our vacation, Jim mentioned that he would love to take the convertible out on the Dragon’s Tail. It is a stretch of road that is eleven miles of 318 curves. It is known as America’s number one place for motorcycles and sports cars to take a “joy ride” .

deals gap

Getting The Courage

When Jim described the route to me, I was hesitant because I don’t do curves/roller coasters very well. As a matter of fact I have not been on a roller coaster since my early college years. Yet, I could see the determination in Jim’s face of taking on this ride to say he had done it. 

Courage John Wayne

After much hard swallowing, going to the local Walgreen’s and stocking up on Dramamine and  praying, I agreed to take this adventure with him. After all he would turn 50 in a week and if this was all he wanted for his birthday, in the words of my son; ” I could cowboy up” and take on the adventure.

Smokey at the over look just before we start "taming the tail"....I don't think he was very sure of it either...

Smokey at the over look just before we start “taming the tail”….I don’t think he was very sure of it either…

Deep Breath and Prayer

After stopping at the over-look and talking to other motorist who were about to tame the tail or had just returned from taming the tail, it was now for us to take on the adventure!

Smokey ready to take on the challenge!

Smokey ready to take on the challenge!

Without much hesitation (for Jim that is) we got in the car, put the seat belts on and begin the challenge. We knew once we started there was no turning around. In other words, we had commitment and there was no stopping until we got to Deal’s Gap.

Entering the Tail of the Dragon

God’s Challenges:

Challenges Ahead

Challenges Ahead

Just as the Dragon’s Tail was a challenge that Jim wanted to conquer, God places challenges us before us. Just like the Dragon’s Tail having 318 curves in eleven miles, there are times where God is going to place curves in the process of us meeting that challenge/calling. There are challenges that once we have commitment there is no turning back. All we can do is keep going until we reach the destination that he has planned for us. Just as I had to trust Jim’s driving those 318 curves, we have to trust God in his leading us.

There are those of us who are like Jim that when God calls us to take on a new challenge, we immediately rise to the occasion and with determination face the challenge and all the curves that go with it head on. Then, there are those of us who are like me. We have to a lot praying, convincing ourselves it will be okay, swallowing hard and realizing God is in the driver’s seat guiding us.

The Rest of the Story:

The Rest of the Story

After the first couple of curves, I was okay, As a matter of fact, I don’t know who was having more fun Jim or me. Each time we complete a couple of curves, you could hear a “whoo hoo!” cheering from the car. As far as needing the Dramamine, I didn’t need it. I was so caught in enjoying the ride that I forgot about all the concerns I had when Jim first brought up this challenge.

We Made It:

Us at the end of 'The Tail"                Deals Gap

Us at the end of ‘The Tail”
Deals Gap

Jim and I pulled into Deals Gap with a sense of accomplishment. We got out of the car all excited about what we had just done. After a few minutes of walking around taking pictures, talking to others and of course getting t-shirts to say we had “tamed the tail”, it was time to make the return back to Gatlinburg for a celebratory dinner. In the process of getting back in the car with our cola’s and snacks, I asked Jim which way are going on home. His reply; “babe, the same way we got here. Are you ready?” I looked at him and said; “it’s on!”.

The Journey:

the journey

No matter the journey that is put before us, it is when we trust God and his leading that we find out that the ride wasn’t as scary as we thought. It is by trusting him we see the fun, the adventure and the blessings that he puts in the path of the challenges. Just like the curves on the Dragon’s Tail each curve has something new for us to enjoy. Sometimes we have to seek those blessings a little more versus other times but in the end we reach that destination.

Turning 50:

fifty

In a couple of weeks, I will reach that magical number of 50. As this date approaches, I look back on all the curves that I have taken on throughout my lifetime and all the challenges that were before me. Some of the outcomes were awesome and some were not so good. Yet, I would not  trade this ride in life I have had thus far for anything. It is the thrills, the ups and the downs that has made my life interesting, fun and sometimes entertaining.

My bucket list may not (or maybe it will) have a thrill ride such as “taming the tail” but I do know that I want to enjoy each day God gives me to the fullest. I have come to a point in my life where I know that even in the hardships/struggles God has a blessing and lesson for me. It is up to me to seek that lesson and  blessing.

On March 14th as I awake and turn 50, I will look up at God and tell him that “it’s on!”.   In other words, I will keep my heart open to his calling and his purpose for me. Though there will be times in the days ahead where I may have to take a deep breath, swallow and hold tight to God’s hand, I will take on the challenges he puts before me. I will do this because I KNOW  arriving at the destination will be awesome!

Roller Coaster

“Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body. BUT, rather skid in broadside thoroughly used up, totally worn out and LOUDLY proclaiming what a ride!”

(By the way, Jim and I ended up riding a total of 636 curves that day!)

Blessings-

SFT….What Matters…

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. Due to the nature of his meltdown, his dad/caddy walks away from him. Thus, afterwards, Luke does what we all want to do when we melt down, he runs away.

In the process of his running, he comes to a town called, Utopia. It is on his arrival he meets Johnny Crawford whom he finds out later in the movie was once a pro golfer that had walked away from the game.  Johnny says that he can help Luke with his game if he is willing to stay seven days in Utopia. Luke takes him up on his offer.

Luke's first lesson

LESSON ONE

It is in Johnny’s instructions that he not only teaches Luke how to improve his golf game but he teaches Luke about Life.  For example, the first morning on the golf course, Johnny asks Luke why he grips the club the way he does. Luke shrugs his shoulders and pretty much says it is the way he has always done it.  In other words, he was asking Luke;

“Why do you do the things you do? In finding a good game, you have to find some conviction.”

“If you don’t have conviction, one simple comment can affect your game and ruin your confidence.”

“What is your foundation?”

Johnny hands Luke a journal and tells him to go home and write why he does what he does. In other words Johnny wants Luke to seek the depth of his soul and find the true Luke not the Luke that his dad, golf, or the world wants him to be.

writing in journal

There are times in our lives where God throws us a journal and ask us to do some soul-searching. Most times these moments happen when we least expect it. Or, these moments could happen during an illness and/or a life changing event.  The questions that Johnny asks Luke apply to each one of us. In other words, God wants us to be still and listen to his still small  voice within. We must look deep within our souls and seek what makes our true foundation.

LESSON TWO

take control

Johnny takes Luke up in his plane. Johnny begins to teach Luke how to fly the plane. Without Luke’s knowing, he turns the engine off. Johnny tells Luke he has to land this plane. Luke starts to panic. But, Johnny tells Luke just as in life he has to take control.  As Luke gains control of the plane, Johnny laughs and starts the engine back up. He says to Luke;

You can’t  play unless you are ready for the unexpected.”

How many times does the unexpected happen to us? I know for Jim and me the unexpected has happened more than once in the last couple of months.  Yesterday, I sat in the doctor’s office and heard the doctor tell me that I had shingles and I was contagious. Therefore, anything I had planned for the next ten days has had to be scratched. Though life has thrown its share of punches to Jim and me lately, we have control because we know God is in control. He is our foundation that holds up during these moments of the unexpected.

LESSON THREE

Johnny says blessings in Utopia

My favorite scene in the movie is when Johnny and Luke sit down to dinner with friends gathered in. Those gathered around this table take each other’s hand. It is Johnny’s prayer that spoke volumes to me. He teaches in his prayer to see and be thankful for what we have and be aware of other’s needs.

How many times do we get so caught up in ourselves? We complain about having to change plans and yet there are people who are wandering around  out there that would love to be able to make plans. How many times do we complain about the food that is served to us and there are many out there who would love to eat what we have before us? Each night we lock our doors and some set a security alarm but think about the many people who don’t have a door to lock or a security system to set. Instead, they never know their fate. Someone can come in the night and take their lives away. In other words, what we think are problems are minimal to the big picture of our Father’s world.  It is so important to praise God in the midst of the struggles that life hands our way.

Johnny’s Blessing:

“For food in a world where many walk in hunger. 

For faith in a world where many walk in fear.

For friends in a world where many walk alone. 

We give you thanks, O Lord, Amen.”

LESSON FOUR

johnny and luke utopia

Luke finds Johnny sitting in the cemetery with a hole dug holding a box. Luke ask Johnny what he is going to bury. Johnny tells Luke he will soon find out. Then, he ask Luke;

What’s going to be on your epitaph?

Johnny explains to Luke that God is all around us. God is inside each one of us. He is that still small voice that is talking to us and leading us. Johnny says to Luke;

See God’s face (he is all around us)

Feel his presence. He is all around us and in us.

Trust his leading.

It is at this moment Johnny gives Luke two pieces of paper and a pencil. One piece of paper Luke is to write down all the things Luke has learned about life while in Utopia. He is to write down the truths of life when it comes to relationships, character, faith, integrity. He explains to Luke that God has a purpose and calling for his life far deeper than getting that little white ball into that cup on the golf course. Johnny continues to explain that these truths will become his new heartbeat and his foundation for life.

Truths. What truths have we learned about life, relationships, faith, character, and integrity? Maybe we need to write down the lessons life has taught us in these areas and allow these truths to become our heartbeat. It is when we acknowledge the truths of life and acknowledge God as our foundation, we receive new life.

On the other piece of paper, Luke had to write down all the lies he has been told all of his  life. In other words, did the golf scores state who he was and what was his self-worth? How many lies of the world had Luke bought into and allowed them to define his purpose?

It would be good for each of us to sit down with a sheet of paper and write down the lies we have been told. The lies from the world that tells us if we have this house or this car we have arrived! The lies that if we are not busy 24/7 we are not worth anything. Our identity is what the world says we need to be instead of listening to our Father and hearing what his purpose is for our lives.

Once these papers were complete, Johnny says;

“Take the truths with you.

Bury the lies.

Once you bury the lies, chisel your living epitaph.”

Each one of us need to do this. We need to take the truths with us and bury all the lies. In this process, we chisel our living epitaph. We define our true purpose/calling  that goes beyond anything that the world could ever tell us.  It is how we live our lives out loud that show that our foundation is with God.  We demonstrate our integrity and what/whom we truly believe.

LESSON FOUR

What really matters

Luke goes back to play his first tournament since he had his melt down. Of course the media makes a big deal out of this. We intensely watch the tournament. It gets down to the winning hole, and this last putt will determine if Luke wins or not. Yet, we do not see the outcome. I love the words of Johnny:

“What does it matter?

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

How does life have an effect on our soul. Does it matter if we make that putt. In other words, in the end does it matter how much money we have in our bank account? Does it matter what kind of car we drive? Does it matter where our status is in the world?

What really matters is how we stand on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

What really matters is that we:

Seek God’s face in all that is around us and all people we encounter.

Feel his presence. Take time to be in God’s presence. Allow him to fill us  up with the holy spirit. Be aware that God is everywhere we go.

Trust his leading. There are going to be times when God is going to nudge us in a direction with which we are not comfortable. Yet, it is in these moments where we have to trust his leadership. After all, he is our creator and he knows our purpose.

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

In the days ahead, know that what we do does have an effect on our souls. What we do also has an effect on those who are watching us live our lives. In other words, SFT!

I highly recommend you watch Seven Days in Utopia. It is a wonderful movie for the entire family and there are many more lessons for us all in the movie.  Jim and I give it two thumbs up!

 

Unbearable Obstacles

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

If you are familiar with this movie, Here Comes The Boom, you know that Kevin James’ character is a school teacher that decides to prize-fight to keep the arts/music program in the school where he teaches. In this scene we see that Kevin James’ character is being pushed to his physical limits.

In life, there are times when we are pushed to our physical limits and are faced of what we think are unbearable obstacles. Within these moments we hear, “follow my voice, you can’t give up”.  Then there are other voices telling us that enough is enough and to give up. We are pushed to the point that life becomes blurry.

life blurry

It is in that blurred moment where we have two choices. We can follow The Voice ( God) and take a moment to sit down and allow him to help us continue. Or, we can listen to all the other voices of the world and Satan tell us it is no use and at to just give up and throw the towel in the ring.

Kevin James Here Comes The Boom

It is in the most unbearable obstacles where we can be someone else’s inspiration. Just as Henry Winkler’s character pointed out how Kevin’s character had already been an inspiration to the students. He saw an obstacle and he was determined to remove that obstacle. He was determined that the sound of music from the orchestra room would still fill the halls. Thus, teaching the students there is nothing in life too hard to fight for that is worth fighting for.

There have been moments in my life time where I have sat on the sidelines and watched someone go through what seems to be an unbearable obstacle. It is in my observation that I stand amazed of how they kept going. They live life as nothing wrong is going down. Yet, they continue to take punch after punch.  They seek the voice that says; “follow my voice.” In other words, they keep their eye  on the prize, Christ Jesus. These people have inspired and taught me to stay focused in my times of unbearable obstacles.

signs of obstacles

Personally, the above video clip speaks to me. In the last couple of months, life has handed some things to me that I viewed as unbearable obstacles. I won’t mention the nature of these obstacles. Yet,  I will say that as punch after punch took place, I heard that still quiet voice within me telling me to follow His voice. It is sitting down at His feet to rest in the midst of the fight where He shows me the blessings that have already taken place. He assures me that no matter the outcome He will still be with me.

prize fighter

In between the rounds of a fight/boxing match, the fighter goes to his/her corner. As they sit on the stool to allow their team to take care of them, a towel or blanket of some sort is placed over them until the bell rings for the next round to start. A couple of weeks ago something similar happened to me.

 I went to my small group for the first time in several weeks.  There was no denying that I had come battle worn and life was getting a little blurry.  For me, this was my corner that I went to and go to when I need to catch my breath in between the punches life has and/or throws at me and to gain my focus back on the true prize, Christ Jesus.

prayer holy spirit

 On this particular morning as the meeting came to a close, my small group friends surrounded me and draped a prayer shawl around my shoulders. They knew I was battle worn and yet when I left there were still going to be rounds I had to face. As they draped this shawl around me, they began to lay hands on me and prayed for me and my family. It was a sacred moment and I did not just feel their hands around me but I felt one hundred times more than what were actually there. It is without a doubt the Holy Spirit and all of God’s angels were surrounding me at that moment. It was in that moment that the unbearable obstacles became bearable. And, just as Kevin James does in the movie, I got back up and re-entered the ring to continue the fight.

There are many of you right now facing unbearable obstacles. Some may be dealing with a family with a terminal illness such as cancer, some it may be caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, loss of job or it may be a troubled relationship. No matter what the situation is at the moment, know that it does not have to be an unbearable obstacle.  Instead, use these moments to sit at the feet of Jesus when you need renewal, allow the Holy Spirit to drape around you and fill you up with what you need. Make the choice to follow The Voice and block out the voices of the world that are telling you to give up and it’s no use. It is in doing this that your unbearable obstacles  become bearable. 

Last but not least, know it is in following the voice of Jesus Christ and keeping our eye on the prize that we become an inspiration to others.

Sabbath Moments

Years ago, I participated in a weekend seminar with Majorie Thompson. This seminar focused on our spiritual life and walking closer with God. In one of the sessions, she spoke about sabbath moments. 

Her definition of sabbath moments are moments when we stop and remember who we are and that we are a child of God. These moments help us to focus on what is really important to us and to stay connected with our Creator.

One of my favorite places to go for a Sabbath moment. Lake Junaluksa, NC

One of my favorite places to go for a Sabbath moment.
Lake Junaluksa, NC

Not only are these sabbath moments are a time to stop and remember who we are and re-connecting with God, they are moments for us to simply sit down and rest. These moments are a time of rest for the soul. To quote Majorie; sabbath is what begins our spiritual life. 

Life happens so fast these days.  You would think with the computer age and social media as it is that life would be easier. Yet, it seems that life and the expectations of others have become all the more demanding. Unfortunately, there are many who will not allow themselves to stop and rest.

Luke 10:38-42

Luke 10:38-42

In Luke 10:38-42, we read the story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha. Martha is busy around the kitchen trying to prepare a meal for their guest of honor while all the while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. You know the rest of the story. Martha complains that she is doing all the work! She will not allow herself to stop and sit at the feet of Jesus. In other words, Martha denies herself of having a sabbath moment.

Young woman reading bible

Sabbath Moments require stopping.  They require us to be quiet and listen to God speak to us. These moments are times for feeding our souls so that we can be a better servant for God. It is in the sabbath moments that we get to know who we are and gain a clearer perspective on where we are and where God wants us to go.

It seems the  older I get the more I have come to see the importance of these sabbath moments. Sabbath moments have been what has carried me as life has thrown punches at my husband and I in the last month. Yes, there have been moments when I have cried and yelled at God about what life was dealing to my family and I. Yet, in the midst of the anger, hurt, aggravation and tears, I found my sabbath moments. 

In recent weeks, my sabbath moments have been:

Sitting beside a dear loved one as he left his earthly shell only to enter the gates of heaven where he received his robe and crown. A beautiful moment and a moment where God showed me the importance of family, friends and where I felt His holy presence. 

heavens gates

In the midst of a time of grief, looking out the guest room window of my sister-in-law’s home and seeing this beautiful sunrise. A reminder from my Creator that He is with me in everything I do and everywhere I walk.

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My sabbath moments have been watching the sunset over the Ohio River. Again, a reminder that God makes ALL things beautiful in His time. No matter how rough the day may have been it is the beauty of the sunset that tells me God is smiling down and sending His love. 

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Sabbath Moments are intentional moments with God. They are moments where we don’t have to have permission to stop and rest. We just do it!

My friend, life happens. Sometimes life happens  with punches coming from all sides. Deadlines are going to always be there. The list of things to do is always going to be there. Yet, in the midst of the lists and deadlines, it is important to disconnect from the world and all that is happening around us. It is important we stop and have those sabbath moments.It is the sabbath moments where we get our strength to handle whatever punches life throws our way.

In the days ahead, my prayer for you is that you find your sabbath moments.

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Our Journey

April:

Sharing from my archives today. New thoughts from Thoughts From The Porch coming soon!!

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Different Directions

Jim and I have lived in the same town for twenty-three years. We have lived in the home we are in now for about eighteen years. Yet, when we leave the house to go to church, the grocery, out to eat, or whatever errand we must run, it seems we always have the same conversation when we start.

April: You know we are going to the grocery don’t you?

Jim: Yes, I know we are going to the grocery.

April: Then, why are you going this way. I always go down such and such 

street to get there. 

Jim:  Well, I like going this way to get there because there are less traffic lights.

April: Well, I like the other way because it has traffic lights and it is easier to get out in traffic.

Even though we have this conversation time after time, we still get to our destination…

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Seek God’s Beauty

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

model of beauty

“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.”

I Peter:3:3 The Message

As I go about my daily activities around the house, the television plays in the background. Though the television is on, I find myself caught up in my own thoughts. Yet, I hear the words of a testimonial from an infomercial; “his product really changed my life, ” I feel better about who I am.” 

These testimonials echoed in my head and in my heart this morning. I thought about how we have put such emphasis  on outward appearance these days. Infomercials tell us what products we must have in order to look and feel better. Other social media avenues such as Pinterest and Facebook have all the different fashions all put together for us as a blueprint of how we are to look as we head out to run those errands.

fashion

It is my…

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Beyond a Sunday morning Christian….

April:

I came across this article by Daughter by Design…had to pass it on…Blessings, April…Thoughts From The Porch.

Originally posted on daughter by design:

 

sunday morning christian, practice what you preachWe sing about how we’ll follow Jesus to the ends of the earth

But we have a hard time following Him across the street to our own neighbors…

We sing that we surrender all…

But we have a hard time surrendering ten minutes of our precious sleep time in the morning to spend with Him…

We sing that all we need is Jesus…

But we have a hard time not wanting the “next big thing” in our life that we think will make us happier…

We sing about how our sins are as far as the east is from the west…

But we still feel condemned every time Satan throws our past in the face, even though it has been long erased by Jesus’ blood

We sing about Jesus being the center of our lives…

But so little of our lives revolve around Him, and so much of…

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Shepherds In The Storm

My husband, Jim's 50th birthday...his dad, Jim, Sr standing with him.

My husband, Jim’s 50th birthday…his dad, Jim, Sr standing with him.

It seemed as though our family had just gotten to the funeral home. We were seeing my husband, Jim’s dad for the first time since we stood and watched him leave his earthly shell only to enter into his eternal home. As we stood there hand in hand,  the room began to fill up with people. People who knew Jim Hawkins, Sr.

Jim's mom and dad enjoy a ride through Roaring Fork in Gatlinburg, TN Louise and Jim Hawkins, Sr.

Jim’s mom and dad enjoy a ride through Roaring Fork in Gatlinburg, TN
Louise and Jim Hawkins, Sr.

The gentleman who drove us to the burial site asked us if Jim’s dad had been a politician or public figure. It is usually public figures that command such an audience at such a life event during the week. Our response was that Jim, Sr. was just an ordinary man who loved life, people and was a faithful servant.

Jim, Sr. aka Granddaddy He LOVED his chocolate chip pancakes at the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN

Jim, Sr. aka Granddaddy
He LOVED his chocolate chip pancakes at the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN

Sunday, as Jim and I returned home, I reflected not only the past week’s events but I reflected on the past three years. Three years ago my precious father-n-law got the news he had mesothelioma and was given six months to live.  Despite the diagnosis and prognosis, Dad H. kept on living and had hope.  He knew that it would be the power and support of friends that would hold him, my mother-n-law, Louise as well as the rest of the family up. In other words, he taught us how to live through a storm.

Jim. Sr enjoys a visit from some of the choir members from the choir he loved so much...FernCreek UMC

Jim. Sr enjoys a visit from some of the choir members from the choir he loved so much…FernCreek UMC

In this reflection, I thought back on this last Christmas. We gathered together at my husband, Jim’s home to celebrate one more Christmas together.  Jim and I went early to decorate the tables and to help get the Christmas meal together. As we were preparing for our family’s Christmas gathering, the doorbell rang constantly with visitors wanting to come see Jim’s dad. The phone rang constantly with people checking in to see how Jim’s dad was doing. Needless to say, it was a non stop procession of shepherds taking care of one their flock.  Later on, I said something to Dad H. about the amount of people who had called or came to visit. I said to him; “you’ve hardly had a minute’s rest this weekend with the visitors/family coming in and for the phone calls.” He turned and smiled at me and said; “I would never have it any other way. I can’t imagine going through what Louise and I have been through alone.” In his short and few words, he was saying that there is no excuse for anyone to walk alone in a storm.

shepherd's staff

Jim Hawkins, Sr. was a shepherd. He grew a garden every year where he shared the fruits of his labor with family and friends. If someone needed something fixed or just an extra helping hand, he was right there helping.  In other words, when he saw or heard of a need he was right there for his family, friends, community and church. A shepherd.

At the end as hard as it was for him to allow others to do for him,  he knew he needed  to allow others to shepherd him and his family. He had said several times to me over the last several months that it was the love of people and their prayers is why he was still with us. These shepherds praying to the Good Shepherd is why we had more than just the six months given three years ago.

In many of my writings I have shared the importance of encouraging others, loving others and being a Shepherd to someone in a storm. Yet, in these past days, weeks, months, and years, I have been reminded that sometimes we have to allow others to shepherd us. God didn’t promise us that we would have nothing but easy days but there would be storms to come in life.

Life's Storms

Life’s Storms

It is when we are faced with a raging storm, we MUST share with others what is going on. It is sharing your storm with others that gives not only you the strength you need but it gives your family the strength they need as they walk through the storm with you. After all God created us to walk together with not only him but also with the earthly shepherds he places in our lives.

My bible sits opened to the 23rd Psalm. As I read it this morning, it takes on new meaning for me.

Green pasture

‘The Lord is my shepherd’…..he will give you everything you need and will send his earthly shepherds to walk with you…

‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside  peaceful waters, He renews my soul”….he sends his shepherds to pray for you , it is the sweet smiles and hugs of his earthly shepherds that bring you peace…it is through these earthly shepherds we are  reminded of his presence and love for us…

‘He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage’…..allow the people God places in our lives to be God’s ambassadors and rod and staff to us in our time of need…

In your times of difficulty, know that there is no reason you have to weather the storm alone. God sends his shepherds in the storm. All you have to do is let them know your storm.

Blessings and Peace

help us to help each other

Stand By Them

Charlie Brown comic

When I was growing up I could not wait to get to my grandmother’s house after church not just because I knew she would have the table set with a delicious Sunday meal but there would be the Sunday paper laying beside my Papa’s chair. I would pick up that paper and go straight to the comic section. On the front page would be Peanuts. It never failed that as football season was beginning the familiar cartoon of Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football would be in print. Of course, we knew what would happen in the story. Lucy would have the football in her hand and would summon Charlie Brown over and would convince him to get a running start and kick the ball. Yet, we knew the end result would be Lucy pulling the ball out from under Charlie Brown and Charlie would land flat on his back.

Good grief!

In recent weeks, I can relate to Charlie Brown’s yell at God. My yells have been; “how long, Lord?” ” what else God?” and “why?” There have been moments of recent when I have thrown my hands in the air and said; “Good grief!”. I am reminded of what  God tells us in regards that he will not give us more than we can handle. I  have continually repeated the quote;  ” I just wish God wouldn’t trust me so much!” as I  try to work through all that life is dishing out at me at the moment.

Charlie Brown oh no not again

There are moments in life where we have our plan all set up. We are ready to get that running start to tackle all those things we want to do. Yet, the realities of life take place. The ball is pulled out from under us. We land flat on our backs. We get up and start again and just like season after season with Lucy and Charlie Brown the football, we go for that running start then “wump!” it seems we are right back laying on the ground wondering how much longer and/or how much more.

Charlie Brown footballI mentioned earlier that I have had experienced this scenario in recent weeks. Yes, I have thrown my hands up in the air. I have cried and yelled at God. After the yelling, crying and throwing the hands up in the air, I am reminded of who I am. I am a Daughter of the King. He is right there with me. I am reminded that this is a part of his refining me into becoming more like him and his image.

Not only am I reminded that I am a Daughter of the king, I know that I am blessed with another family outside of my immediate family. This family includes two small groups, a loving church family along with loving friends from my childhood I have re-connected with on Facebook.  It is their messages, phone calls, cards and the knowing that they are praying for me, my family and the situation that helps me stand back up on my feet again. They are there to stand by not only me but they are  standing by my family as we walk through a valley along with the Prince of Peace. It is in knowing that I have this loving extended family that I experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.

At this moment you may have just had the football pulled out from under you and you are asking God how much longer or you are throwing your arms in the air saying; ‘Good grief!”.  If you are in this situation, I pray that you are a part of a loving extended family that can walk with you through the valley. I do know God’s Son is on the journey beside you. All you have to do is acknowledge His presence and allow Him to walk with you and stand by you.

people healing others

You may know someone who is walking through a valley right now. It may be you are wondering what you can do for them. The first thing to do is PRAY. Pray for this dear person, their situation and all those who are involved in the situation.  Let them know that you are there along with Christ standing by them and walking with them through this valley. It is one thing to say you are praying for them and thinking of them but put action behind those words. You can do this by sending a card, calling and seeing if there is anything you can do to lighten their load. It may mean going to the hospital to relieve a family member so that they can get some needed rest.Let them know it is okay to cry, it is okay to be angry and it’s okay for them to be feeling what they are feeling at that moment. It may mean that you  just simply need to wrap your arms around them and allow them to weep.  In other words, it is important to stand by them.

help us to help each other

One of the greatest love letters in the bible is the book of John. In John 15:12-13 we are reminded the importance of friendship and helping one another out when one is walking in a valley:

Love each other as I have loved you. This is what I am commanding you to do.

The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends.

Yes, Lucy could be pretty mean to Charlie Brown. Yet, when it came down to the surface of it all, Lucy was there to listen to “Chuck”. In the end, she reminds him not to give up and she stands by him as a friend. It is important to remind those who are having the ball pulled out from under them to never give up and that they have a loving God who has blessings in store even in the valleys of life.

Never give up Charlie Brown

To my friends and family, know that when the ball gets pulled out from under you, I am there for you. I’ll Stand By You and the Prince of Peace is standing by you, too.

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