We’re here! Were the words my father spoke to the security guard standing out in the Nation’s Capital drive area. You see, my family was on vacation to see the sites of Washington, DC and to visit with my aunt. After many long hours of riding and my brother begging my dad to stop and talk to a sign from time to time (the fast food drive-thru), we arrived in DC at the peak of rush hour!
It was like a scene from European Vacation
As my dad tried to navigate through the metro area of DC, he was quick to learn that streets and lanes change to accommodate the traffic. After many u-turns and barely missing a few flower beds, Dad thought he had reached a parking area or at least where he could find some sort of direction. Thus, pulling up to our Nation’s Capital and dad rolling down the window to announce the security guard that we had arrived. The look on the security guard’s face was priceless. Looking back, this real life adventure reminds me of the movie, European Vacation where Clark and family keep going in circles in the round-about.
A Simple Trip To The Mall
This incident was many to come as we vacationed in DC that summer. Dad noticed that one of our tires was in bad shape when we arrived at my aunt’s condo. The decision was made that we would take the car to a Sears the next morning to get the tire fixed. How hard would that would be and how long could it take? After all, Mom and I could do a little shopping and the guys could hang out and look at tools. Then, we would be on with our site seeing of Washington. WRONG!
Dad, Mom, my brother and I loaded up the car for the day. We are heading to Sears to get the tire fixed. Dad had found out where the closest Sears was and off we went. As we traveled the interstate to Sears, Dad saw the mall coming up on his right side. He was sure the next exit would take us to the right destination. WRONG!
Yes, we were back in that scene from European Vacation with Clark and family stuck in the round about. Dad would take an exit and then turn around. For a while we were up and down the interstate seeing the mall and all we could do is wave at it as we passed. I don’t quite remember how Dad finally figured out how to get to the mall but we made it. The tire was fixed. Mom and I shopped. Then, we were off to see the sites of Washington, DC.
Mom Reads The Wrong Sign
After a day of site seeing, we returned to my aunt’s place to clean up and go somewhere nice for dinner. My aunt would be in meetings that evening so we thought a night out on the town would be fun. Mom had found a travel guide of places to eat in Washington. She had read about one that she thought we would all enjoy. Again, we load up the car and off to a nice dinner we go. As we pulled out of the drive of my aunt’s place, Dad asked Mom where was this restaurant was located. She read off the directions and said it will be on “M” street. Dad goes in the direction of where this place was to be located. As we began to travel to our destination, Dad told Mom to look for “M” street. Suddenly, Mom says; there’s M Street. Yes, it was a sign that said “M” with an arrow pointing in a direction. However, it was not getting us to our destination. Instead, we arrived in the roughest part of Washington, DC. Needless to say, my dad did not roll down his window this time and announce our arrival but only to put the pedal to the metal to get us out while my brother and I ducked down in the back seat in fear of our lives. You see, the “M” Mom was seeing was the sign directing you to the Metro stops.
Once Dad got us out of a dangerous area, he looked at the city map and navigated our way to the planned destination. After fearing for our lives and taking wrong turns, we arrived to the restaurant for the dinner we had anticipated an hour earlier. Needless to say, Dad pretty much let us order whatever we wanted on the menu that evening.
Our Journey in Life
So many times in life, we forget that God is in control. In our effort to get to where God wants us to be we take the wheel in attempt to get to the destination he has set for us. As a result, we arrive but not at the intended destination.
There are times in life where we see where we need to be but we keep passing it by. In other words, we keep going in circles seeing where we need to be but we just seem to not be able to get there. We are stuck in the round about.
Along with wanting to take the wheel, and getting stuck in the round about, we think we see a sign that is telling us that is where God wants us to go. Yet, after following the sign, we find ourselves maybe not in a dangerous place like my family in DC but we arrive anywhere but where God intended us to be.
As a teacher I once worked with use to say, God has a plan. It is a good plan. He has a plan for our path. Thus, we have to pay attention to his guidance. Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in ALL your ways submit to him.,
and he will make your paths straight.
In other words, there is no need to have to make u-turns, drive through flower beds and end up in dangerous areas in our life when we give God full control of our lives. Each day when we get up we need to get our map (bible) and ask God to direct our paths for the day. We have to pay attention to his leading every second of the day and watch for signs. It is important that we pay attention to his voice within because he will tell us if we are about to take a wrong turn.
Yes, there are times when we will forget God is in control. We are going to make wrong turns. It is my prayer that we don’t end up in a dangerous situation. However, we all know that there are people who have landed in a bad place because they did not allow God to lead them. It is in these times, when we need to pull up to the security guard (God) and let him know; we’re here and allow him to guide us back into the right direction.
The Rest of the Story
My family and I did enjoy our vacation to Washington, DC that summer. I can say that it was one of the most memorable vacations we took except the one trip to Florida one summer. However, that is for another day.
Disclaimer…Please note that this trip was taken many years ago before GPS and guys would not dare ask for directions.
A New Day
This video/song seems to be the new rage at this moment. It is easy to see why it is catching on and why people like it so much. As you listen to the song, you will find yourself tapping your toe, dancing in your seat and if you are not careful humming it under your breath hours after you have listened to the song.
As I listen and watch this video this morning, I turn to Psalm 68:3.
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;
may they be HAPPY and joyful.
For those of you who are Peanuts fans, you are familiar with the drawing of Charlie Brown and Snoopy with the saying;
Happiness is warm puppy.
Yes, I can see how happiness is a warm puppy. My precious Smokey brings me happiness every day. Yet, there is more to happiness than a warm puppy. Happiness is seeking joy in ALL things that life brings us.
There are situations/days where we feel anything but happy. The times in life where we wish we could just runaway and hide. We want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our head and simply escape from the day/situation. We have all been there a time or two. However, it is on these days where it is essential to seek happiness and find the joys.
How do we find happiness on the days we just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our heads? We must seek the blessings. It is in these moments when we have to fine tune our hearts to hear God’s voice and open our eyes a little wider to see the blessings he puts in our path. Instead of staying in bed, we must get up and start singing praises to God. It is when we do this that the situation before us seems to get a little easier to handle. After all, God has woken us up and given us one more day.
Over the years, when I have known people going through tough times, I have encouraged them to begin a blessings journal. In this journal I encourage them to write down five blessings from that day. When I began encouraging people to do this I suggested the end of the day. However, over the years, and after doing this several times myself in tough situations, I have found doing the blessing journal twice a day is good. In other words, start out the day seeking and acknowledging the blessings God is already giving us as we begin our day. Then, at the end of the day, write five more blessings that we experienced throughout the day. It has been my experience that once a person gets going with this blessings journal they will begin to exceed the five blessings. Thus, no matter the situation we can face it with a joyful heart.
I love Psalm 118:24;
This is the day the LORD hath made;
Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!
God gives us each new day. In this new day, he has blessings planned for us in ALL situations and in ALL that we do. If you haven’t already, start beginning your days by singing praises to God. It is when you do this you will feel happy and want to clap along. After all, it is a new dawn; a new day; it’s a new life and you should be feeling good no matter your circumstance.
Last Thursday evening as Jim and I sat in our Coffee Talk small group, Mary brought her knitting. She asked if it would be rude if she knitted while we had our share time together. No one objected because we knew that this piece she was knitting would one day be prayed over and given to someone who is in need of God’s loving and comforting touch.
Our lesson taken from Psalm 23:3 he leads me along the right paths for his name sake. The focus for our lesson was our purpose in this life and God’s calling us to this purpose. In other words, we need to be in tuned to God’s still small voice and allow him to guide our path.
Purpose/calling. When we hear that word we sometimes think of the evangelists, the missionaries, the song writers/singers and writers that up there front and center fulfilling their purpose. It can be intimidating at times and make some of us ask if we are actually hearing God’s voice and fulfilling our purpose in life.
For some of us, we have had different callings in our life time. In other words, just as the seasons change in nature, our seasons change. Some of us question if we are truly listening to God’s voice and following his leadership when our seasons change. We may feel guilty that we are not continuing the same path we have been on for many years. Know that there is nothing wrong with this change in path. There are times when we fulfill one purpose and God is ready to move us on to a new task. It is all a part of his refining us into his likeness.
In Kentucky this winter we have had winter in all its glory. In our life there are seasons where our purpose/calling may be up front/center stage. There is no doubt we know our calling just as there has been no doubt that we have had winter.
Then, there are times when the seasons are calm. Last year, Kentucky had a very quiet and mild winter. No big headlines were needed. It is in seasons such as these we sometimes question God and his purpose for us. We wonder if we are truly answering his call. Are we actually hearing his still small voice from within.
As these thoughts were bounced around our small group the other night, I looked across the room at Mary’s knitting one stitch at a time and yet seeing this beautiful prayer shawl come together. Seeing her loop one thread over another one, I saw a connection.
There are times when we are called to do big things. But most times we are called and our purpose is to do small things. We think that these small things really don’t mean much and aren’t making a difference. It is this thinking that causes us to miss the lesson that God is teaching us. This can result in our missing the blessing that God has planned for us.
You see, it is the small things/callings that make the big difference. It is the opening the door for someone who has their hands full and smiling as we do it. It is that simple phone call to that one friend that came to mind or sending them a message/card. It is taking time to stop to help that stalled car get pushed to the side out of harms way. A simple wave to someone next to us. It is posting that one encouraging thought on Facebook.
Just as one thread being looped over and over, each one of answering those simple callings eventually become a beautiful blessing and they bring glory to God. We may or may not see the impact from answering these small callings while on earth. I do know that when we reach our eternal home that we will see the results of people answering the smallest of callings. We are going to see the most beautiful tapestry that is beyond our earthly comprehension.
In the days ahead, God is going to call you to various things/purposes. There will be different seasons with different callings. Just know no matter what season and/or how great or small the calling that you are making a difference.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:8-9
Take a moment to listen to the video below. As you listen, think about God’s calling/purpose for you.
“This is the day the LORD hath made! Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!
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.
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.
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” .
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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:
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!”.
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.
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!
“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!)
“How can a game have such an effect on a man’s soul?”
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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!
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
It is hard to believe that we are already on the thresh hold of a soon to be new year. As Christmas decorations come down, thoughts of the year gone by go through our minds. Within those thoughts are precious memories that have been made over the soon to be previous year. Then there are those thoughts of regrets, the could have’s, the should have’s, and opportunities that we know we can never go back and get. In a moment we see a glimpse of what was important to us and what should have been more important to us and sometimes followed by an ache in our hearts and maybe a tear down our cheek.
People are talking about the new year on the horizon. They are sharing their expectations, hopes, dreams and of course the list of resolutions. It seems the two top things of resolutions are usually people wanting to be disciplined on a better diet and exercise to obtain that perfect figure before summer vacation.
Although my husband is already in his 50′s and I will soon start that decade myself this year, life has taught us many lessons. Yes, there have been some missed opportunities that we will never get back but there are moments where we stopped and took that extra five minutes to help someone with a small task that would make their day, week or life a little better. Stopping to help may have made us a little late for something we had planned or completely miss a social gathering of sorts but in our hearts we knew what we did matter more than being on time to the next engagement or attending the next engagement.
Years ago it was said that technology would become so advanced that it would make our lives easier. In a lot of ways that prediction has held true. However, in some ways I feel as though technology has been a thorn among the roses. Technology has caused people to work even longer hours and even work when they are away from the office. For a lot of people they can’t even take time to be with family, friends, or enjoy vacations without having to check in with the office. Back in the day, when you were out of the office, you were out of the office! Technology has even taken away the old-fashioned sitting in the living room and visiting with one another. It has become a vacuum and a device that has in some ways changed our priorities, the way we look at life and how we look and treat each other.
The other day I heard the song, My List by Toby Keith. It is one of my husband’s favorite songs and has become one of my favorite’s as well. We like the song because Toby points out what is really important in life. He shares how easy it is to miss the opportunities that mean the most. The opportunities that we don’t take time to enjoy and then stand one day with a tear of regret rolling down our cheek.
This song also got me to thinking about my resolutions for the new year. Typically, I don’t make resolutions because I know within a few weeks the very things I said I was going to do or not do are soon not to be in action. However, this year I have made my list.
- Each day I wake up I will say thank you God for giving me another day.
- Hug my family a little tighter.
- Seek joy in all things.
- Laugh a little more. Seek the humor in life.
- Capture ALL the moments I can with family and friends.
- Be forgiving and ask for forgiveness when I mess up.
- Let go of the past mistakes but learn from them and move on to new beginnings.
- Respect other’s thoughts and ways of doing things. Just because they don’t think like me or do things how I do them mean that they are wrong.
- Take time to take that loop by the park and river and absorb its beauty, the laughter and smiles of the people who are also enjoying the view.
- Watch a few more sunsets and say thank you to God for walking with me one more day.
- Go for more walks.
- Say more thank-you’s.
- Send more personal hand written letters to friends and family to let them know they are in my heart, thoughts and prayers.
- Take that extra five minutes to stop and help that one person who may be struggling with something whether it be holding a door for someone, letting someone into traffic or simply listening to a story that want to share.
- When God places someone or a situation on my heart stop and say a prayer for them. If it is a person, try to give them a call or send a note that God placed them on my heart that day.
- Seek God’s blessings in all situations especially in the storms.
- Ask God to shine his light through me so others will see and experience his grace through my words and actions.
- As I take down Christmas next year, to be able to look back with very few if any regrets. To be placing the ornaments in the box with a smile, a heart of gratitude and a heart full of memories that no one can take away nor money can buy.
- Enjoy life!
- Start living!
Praise the Lord, my soul!
I want to praise the LORD throughout my life.
I want to make music to praise my God as long as I live.
As we enter into a new year, it my prayer that each day that our actions will be that of praise, thanksgiving and worship to our Creator!
Listen and watch the video below. As you watch, I encourage you to make your list for the New Year. After you make your list, ask God to guide you through the New Year and through your list. Put the list in a safe place and then this time next year pull it out and seek where God has led you. My prayer is that your thanksgivings and precious memories will out weigh the could have’s and should have’s. May this be the year that you start living!
Have a Blessed New Year!