The Corners Don’t Have To Be Perfect

Thoughts From The Porch

christmas wrapping tutorial 059 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Dawn Gibson is a blog writer that have followed from the time I began to write. One of the first blogs I read of her’s was in 2010 called Gift Wrap Envy. In this post she shares how the time has come to wrap her Christmasgifts but does not look forward to the task.  Apparently, gift wrapping is not her specialty and worries that the packages won’t be perfect. She is like me in wanting that perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas! Yet, in the end of her post, she resolves that she will wrap her gifts to the best of her abilities and will get nothing but pure joy out watching the expressions of those who will unwrap the gifts…

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First Things First

Thoughts From The Porch

There is a picture of a tear that has been going around on Facebook that says; “ever have a memory to roll down your cheek?” I recently had one of those moments. For me, it was hearing the song,  Don’t Blink and not some Christmas song that caused this gal’s dam to break.

tear

As I listened to Kenny sing about how life goes by so fast, I reminisced on Christmases past. As I reminisced, I looked about the family room and other rooms of little reminders of not only Christmases past but of those who have had a special influence and place in my life and heart.

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 In the picture there are four items that represent Christmases  past and the meaning for Christmas for me. The first item is the train under the Christmas tree. Growing up it was  a tradition  for Dad to set up the train under the Christmas…

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Things To Remember

Thoughts From The Porch


christmas listIt is that time of year again where we have multiple lists that we are checking off. These lists include added items to the usual grocery list, baking list, gift list, party list and the lists go on. You cannot imagine having yet another list. Yet, I am going to give you a list to remember this Christmas Season.

Things To Remember:

Stop.

We all have to just sit down and rest at some point and time.

Take a deep breath.

It is in those deep breaths we can relax and inhale the joy and love of God into our souls.

Look at all that is around you.

Give thanks to God for the daily gifts that surround you.

Remember to keep it simple in the gift giving. 

The most cherished gifts are not the most expensive but the ones where thought and love were put into them.

After all…

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Making Your Christmas List

Thoughts From The Porch

While visiting my family over Thanksgiving a few years back, I asked my brother’s wife, Chris if the boys had made their Santa list. In response, she said; “surprisingly, no.”  I was taken back that my nephews had not made a list this year. Typically, they have a list and some sort of Star Wars theme is in the mix. But, all that had been asked for was a bathrobe by my younger nephew, David.

My nephews…Nathan on the left and David on the right

Chris and I began to talk more about Christmas, gift giving and what Santa was like when we were kids. Of course the old Sears Christmas Catalog as well as the Montgomery Ward Catalog was included in our conversation.  I must say Chris had one up on me with the Montgomery Ward catalog. Our home was strictly Sears. In our recollection of childhood Christmases, we shared…

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“Bind My Wandering Heart”

Bind My Wandering Heart

Heart

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free from perversity,

keep corrupt talk from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,

fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet,

and 

be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or left,

keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

This morning as my husband, Jim was getting ready for work the news was on the television. As we listened to the headlines of the events that happened in the last twenty-four hours, Jim just shook his head and said, “this world has absolutely gone crazy.”  I could not agree with him more.

As I thought about the headlines from the morning news and as I scrolled through (and these days I mean scroll!), the old hymn, Come Thou Fount came to mind. The lyrics, bind my wandering heart” kept playing over and over in my head.

In an era of what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong, no regard to human life, and  people caught up in the “what’s in it for me? syndrome, we have to be more intentional of keeping our eyes focused on God.  The left and right are the temptations that we face. Thus the lyrics, bind my wandering heart are asking God to protect us of the temptations of the world and to seek the path that leads to eternity and gives God glory. 

I encourage you as you witness the chaos of the world, that you listen to  this hymn and to repeat the lyrics to yourself.   Then, I encourage you to seek God, invite God into your day, ask him to protect you from the dangers and temptations of this world, and direct your footsteps/decisions. May the desires of your heart be not of the world of chaos but the desires that brings praise and glory to God.

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 path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

The Pink Chapel

The Pink Chapel

The Pink Chapel

Be completely humble, and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another with love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.   Ephesians 4:2-6

Over the last week, I have been participating in a photo challenge through social media. Each day there is a category of which a photo is to be posted. For example, one day it was “bloom” and I posted a picture of a rose bud in bloom from my yard. As each day passes there is a new category.

One particular day the category was stone. I scanned through my photos trying to find a picture that would be unique but yet fit the category of stone. I had many nature pictures of rocks and various other pictures of buildings/churches that fit into the category of “stone.”

Through my scrolling, I came across this picture of The Pink Chapel I had taken in St. Simons, Georgia several years back.  The building is made of stone and with the Spanish moss I thought this would be something unique to share not thinking about the story behind it. So, I posted the picture with appropriate tags for this photo challenge.

Then, it happened.  There were “likes” for this picture and then the organization that was hosting the photo challenge commented back, ” Wow! What is the story behind this chapel.” It was then when I had second thoughts about what I had posted.  Yes, this is a chapel but a chapel with a very sad story.

Teardrop

The more I thought about the story and shared the story with the organization the more I questioned my sharing the picture. Yet, as I prayed about it and thought it through, I came to know even more how God can use ALL things to get his message to his people. Thus, after many re-writes on the response on instagram to the comment, I shared an brief explanation of the Pink Chapel’s story.

The Story of the Pink Chapel

The Pink Chapel

This chapel was built in 1838. It got its name from the pink lichen that grew on the walls and surrounding area.  Just like other historical places on St. Simons Island it has its own share of ghost stories, myths/folklore. Some of the untrue stories include that it was a place where slaves were beaten and some stories claimed it was a place for devil worship. However, these stories are far from the truth regarding the chapel.

 In 1838 there were two families, the Wylly family and the Hazzard family. Col. William Hazzard owned the West Point Plantation. His brother, Thomas owned Pike’s Bluff Plantation. There was another plantation called The Village that adjoined Col. Hazzards property.  John Wylly was the owner of the Village Plantation.  Both of these families were members of Christ Church.

The bitterness between Col. Hazzard and John Wylly was over property lines. It seems they couldn’t even agree to disagree. Thus, bitterness tension grew between these two men.

duel two

 It got so bad that Thomas Hazzard and John Wylly were called to come to Brunswick to settle this dispute. It was decided that the dispute would be settled with a duel. John Wylly was shot by Thomas Hazzard in cold blood. Thomas Hazzard was later acquitted for this act of murder. Due to Thomas Hazzard being acquitted for the murder, the neighbors began to turn their backs on them. Needless to say, bitterness and hatred between the Hazzard and Wylly families only grew to be very intense.

The Rubber Meets The Road

rubber meets the road

The tension between the two families became so great that they would enter the church grounds through separate gates.  Over time the Hazzard family grew tired of the hostile enviroment that had been created so they decided to build their own church. Thus, the Pink Chapel was built. This was a place where the Hazzard family  and the people of the West Point Plantation and Pike’s Bluff Plantation would worship.

This  particular chapel was built out of hostility  towards a neighbor, church family members and the unwillingness to seek and extend forgiveness and God’s grace.  I told you it was a sad story.

It saddens me to think and realize that there are pink chapels being built today. Church families can’t agree on certain things. Someone has hurt/offended someone. Instead of seeking and extending grace and forgiveness, they simply store up the anger and the bitterness. A hostile environment is created instead of a hospitable environment.  They enter the building on opposite ends and doors. Then it happens one day where they have had enough and one or the other leaves to  build their own church. I can’t imagine building a church that is not out of the call of reaching out to others, and glorifying God.

heartbeat

The church is not just a building. It is a place that has a heartbeat. The heartbeat is the people within the church. As Believers, we are to love one another, encourage, forgive, seek and extend grace. It is important that we  walk the talk of what being a  Christian means.  There are times when we all are going to stumble. None of us are perfect. It is in those moments of when we stumble we need to swallow our pride and ask for forgiveness. There are times where there are those in our church family that are going to stumble. As Christians, we are responsible for helping the person back up on their feet, pray for them and ask for God’s grace to intervene.

Grace card

Have I ever  been offended? Yes, I have experienced such moments in my lifetime. It is called being human. Early on in my growing up my mom taught me what it means to forgive. No matter how bad someone hurt me I was encouraged by her to forgive them and ask for their forgiveness even if I didn’t do anything or think I did anything  to create the situation.  In those moments, I forgave and extended the hand of friendship and grace. I see those moments as life lessons.  In some situations, I received some of the greatest blessings along with the lessons. Over time, I have learned how important it is to forgive and move on. I must keep my eyes on the cross seeking God’s grace and allow him to lead.

fast pace world

Today, we live in a world that is moving at a fast pace. More and more people are looking for answers. The non-believers are watching how the Believers  act and react to one another especially within the walls of the church. I love the quote from DC Talk’s song, What If I Stumble,” The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips. Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world  finds simply unbelievable. “

At this moment, I ask you if a neighbor has done something to make you angry? Is there a dispute with someone and it just seems it never will be resolved? Is there someone within the church that has hurt/offended you? Is there bitterness being harbored within your heart?

If you said yes to any of these questions, I encourage you to kneel at the feet of Jesus. Place the person (s) and/or situation(s) at His feet. Extend the grace God has so freely given you through the blood of his Son, Jesus.

surrendering to God

May we remember that the church is for the broken. It is a place where we can come and be loved on no matter our flaws, our falls or stumbles we make in life. It is my prayer that pink chapels are not built. Instead, churches are built to glorify God, aligning their footsteps with the Word of God.  The people of the church need to be living  out loud the scriptures. We must reach out to an unbelieving world and let them know that there is life eternal.  Most importantly, walk in His grace every single minute of everyday that is given to us.

restoration in Christ

How about it? Instead of building pink chapels, let’s make the heartbeat of the church even stronger so that those looking from the outside in will want to come in and  experience that wonderful joy that we receive when we experience God’s marvelous grace!

God's amazing grace

Take time to listen to this beautiful song, Forgiveness by Matthew West.

Twist and Turns

The Lord is my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27 :1

For I am the LORD you God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Are there perfect days?

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“We are not promised perfect days but we are  promised A perfect day” is a quote that I have found myself quoting to people often times when they are in the midst of a struggle. Yet, there are days I forget to put this phrase into practice for myself. Yes, I am human. I am not perfect. I have flaws. I have fears. Life has taken my husband, Jim and I on many twists and turns.

The Celebration

Anniversary at church

Last November, 2015, Jim and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary.  To celebrate our anniversary, Jim booked a cruise for us. We were to leave the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Along with booking this trip, Jim surprised me on a Sunday evening at our church’s Thanksgiving dinner with having our pastor renew our wedding vows in front of our church family. He even surprised me with a cake after we renewed our vows. It was a very special evening.

The Storm

storm

The following Monday Jim comes home complaining of dizziness. We both figured it was his vertigo acting up and with him being a physical therapist he knew what he needed to do to get it settled down.  He tried the typical procedure and he did get some relief. Yet, in the next couple of  days this dizziness would only get worse. On Wednesday, the eve of Thanksgiving, I found myself in the ER with Jim. By this time Jim was so dizzy he could not even stand up. As the ER doctor examined Jim, he suggested a MRI to rule out stroke. Jim tried to talk his way out of the MRI and tried to convince the doctor to treat him for vertigo. Yet, this is one time I sided with the doctor. I knew we were on our way out of the country on the ocean blue in just a few days. At this point, Jim did not have much say other than to agree to have the MRI.

After patiently waiting, the doctor comes in with the MRI results. The doctor asked Jim if he had MS or migraines because there were lesions that only migraines or MS would have on the brain. Jim said he had a history of migraines. At that point, the doctor treated Jim for vertigo, gave us medication for Jim to have on the trip with a promise from us we would follow-up with a physician on our return home.

As promised, we did follow-up with a neurologist on our return home. This particular doctor has been a doctor Jim has worked with for many years. Thus, they know each other pretty well. When we went into the Dr.’s office the doctor asked Jim if he wanted the soft version or just out with what was wrong. Jim said he knew him well enough to just shoot straight with him. The neurologist said Jim had MS. I about fell out of my chair when hearing this news. It was the last thing I expected.

The Twist

The Dragon's Tail

Once the shock wave settled down, the doctor pulled up Jim’s MRI and went over what was going on regarding lesions. As the visit progressed, the doctor went over a treatment plan for Jim. He assured Jim that this would not affect his work and with medication the progression could be slowed down. In the midst of the consultation, the Dr. says that there is a meeting that very evening that we could attend to learn more about relapsing MS. Jim and I agreed we would attend the meeting.

The Blessing

heart and light

Believe it or not, Jim’s diagnosis was a blessing for us. For many years I have dealt with auto-immune issues. I have bounced from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was going on. Many times Jim asked some of these doctors to check me for MS but they would shake their heads, “no”.

As the meeting began, the doctor went over the main indicators for MS. The more the doctor talked the bigger Jim’s eyes got. You see, I had all of the main indicators for MS. Needless to say, Jim spoke with the doctor about what I had been through over the years and asked if he would evaluate me.  I went in the following week for evaluation and MRI. It turns out that our prayers had been answered. The mysterious dragon we had been fighting was finally given a name. The name being MS.

Though Jim’s episode and  landing him in the emergency room was scary and his diagnosis caught us off guard, a prayer was answered. For so long Jim and I had prayed to find out what was going on with my health. It is not the way we ‘thought’ God would answer our prayers but our prayers were answered.

There is more to the story.

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Two years ago this coming Fall, God led Jim and I to the church we now attend. Looking back, we see God’s hand in laying the foundation to send us the answer to our prayers. In this church family God has placed a dear sweet friend who is a nurse and has MS along with another friend who is a nurse with a lot of wisdom on this disease. Not only did God lay the foundation of placing these two precious people in our path but he placed us with a very loving church family who have and are walking with us and praying with us.

There are no perfect days but there is A perfect day!

God's timing

Last Fall, Jim and I stood before our church family renewing our wedding vows. In those vows we once again vowed to be there for one another in sickness and in health not knowing in a few days this particular vow would be put to the test.  I do believe this was also a part of God’s divine plan for us to renew our vows so that we would be reminded of what we had pledged to one another in front of witnesses and before him. Thus, when we were given the news we knew what we needed to do for one another.

Today, you may be praying a prayer that you have long waited for an answer. You wonder if God has forgotten you. Maybe you have been told no when asking for an answer. The water is rough right now and you are longing for smoother waters.

Let me encourage you to keep praying those prayers. Seek God in all you do in everything everyday. Count the blessings God gives you every day. Be in tuned to his leading and follow his lead. There will come a day when your prayer is answered. Trust me, it won’t be answered the way you think it will be answered. It may come in the midst of another twist and turn in life. Then, when you get the answer to your prayer, I encourage you to look back and it is without a doubt that you will see where God’s hand had been at work.

There are going to be many imperfect days in the days ahead. Realize it is God molding you more into his likeness, he is wanting you to grow deeper in your relationship with him and preparing you for that perfect day.

It is the imperfect days where I have no fear because I know who walks before me,who walks beside me and behind me.(Psalm 27:1) I know that it is in his time that he makes all things beautiful.( Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Leave in God's hand

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