Monthly Archives: November 2010

Encouraging Others

High Fiving The Crazy Ones

Encourage One Another

As I have become introduced to the world of social media via Drew,  I have learned more about what it means to encourage others.  In the world of Twitter, it is good that you respond on some tweets and  read blogs that are posted via Twitter. On Facebook, we know that we encourage our friends by clicking the “Like”, leaving a comment or writing on their wall.  Then, there is the blogging as I do and that means that you not only write but you read and encourage others in their writing in the blogging world. You encourage fellow bloggers not only by reading their site but commenting and sharing as well. It is all about encouragement and staying connected.  I experienced such cyber encouragement via Branchingbecky’s Blog when she mentioned one of my blogs on her site. “Wow!”,  I thought to myself, “I am actually going beyond my walls!.” Needless to say, it made my day!

Encouragement and staying connected is all a part of what God wants us to do in the world He created.  It is important to stay  connected with Him so that we can connect with others and encourage them.  We connect with God through our prayer, worship, quiet time with Him and joining Him in His work through acts of encouragement.  Listening to God and responding by encouraging others comes full circle into our social media world.  It is through Twitter, Facebook,  and Email that we can encourage others.  We can also go outside our social media world and encourage others through writing notes and/or simply encouraging someone in person that God places in our path.

 Words of encouragement are gold to the heart.  We are all in this big world together with each of us having our daily challenges before us. Thus, it is important for us to encourage one another on the journey.

  Today, I challenge you to encourage someone whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, Email, writing a note, leaving a comment or simply encouraging someone in person.  It is by my experience that when you encourage someone, you not only give them a lift but you will feel a lift in your heart, too. Hebrews 3:13 says we need to encourage one another on a daily basis. How about you? Who do you need to encourage? Who sent you encouragement your way that lifted your spirits? Make encouragement a part of your daily routine.

Blessings-

Mom; FOCUS!!

 

Elizabethtown (film)

Elizabethtown (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mom focus!” is one of our favorite lines in the movie Elizabethtown. The reason that line is a favorite is because the character Drew is very much like our son Drew. As a matter of fact, Drew’s family in the movie is very much like going to a Hawkins’ family reunion.  We laugh because Paula Dean’s role reminds us so much of Jim’s mom ( in a good way of course!).   The similarities of the character Drew and our Drew as well as the other characters in the movie  seemed to spook our Drew when he saw the movie for the first time.

Not to give away the movie, but Drew’s father had gone to Elizabethtown to visit relatives when he passes away during his visit. Drew is sent to Elizabethtown to make the proper funeral arrangements for his dad.  There is one scene where Drew has called his mom to confirm her specific wishes regarding his dad’s funeral arrangements.  As he is  on the phone with his mom, confirming her wishes on arrangements since they do not coincide with the Elizabethtown relatives,his mom is on the other end  back in Oregon spinning her wheels over everything. It is obvious that Drew’s mom is not paying attention to what he is asking nor telling her.  She is on one big tangent! Drew finally yells to his mom, “Mom Focus!”.

Yes, yours truly has had a similar exchange with her Drew.  Fortunately, it hasn’t been over funeral arrangements. Our exchange has been over other issues that Drew was trying to get squared away with me.  Drew is trying to get information from me, or give me information, and I am updating him on the past month’s church services, back issues of Messenger-Inquirer, who I ran into at Kroger and whatever else is on the brain at the time. Drew accuses me of having ADD and I don’t think I am that extreme (LOOK! a squirrel! OOPS! Got distracted!).   Drew has actually yelled me over the phone “Mom Focus!” and sometimes face to face.  Jim says it is like trying to swat a bumblebee in a 4×4 room.  This scene can be very comical to the innocent bystander. 

There are times in our Christian life where we are everywhere but where we need to be with God.  We are that bumblebee in the 4×4 room and God is swatting at us and trying to get us to sit still and focus on Him.   I’m sure  God wants to yell at us and say “focus!”. Our world is so fast paced and it seems more and more distractions come our way.  These distractions can easily take our focus off of God.  We forget that we are here to live our life for Him and for His glory.

We are called by God to focus on His word and His plan for us.  When we stay focused on God’s word, we are less likely to be distracted from the worldly things and are more apt to do what He has called us to do.  All that life sends our way is so much easier to deal with when we turn our eyes towards Jesus. God did not place us here to spin our wheels and be on a never-ending tangent as Drew’s mom was in the movie.  He placed us here to enjoy life to its fullest and to bring Him joy.

Now, when my Drew says to me “Mom focus!” , it not only makes me aware my wheels are spinning faster than anyone can keep up. It also makes me realize that I not only  need to listen to him but maybe I am getting out of  focus with God.   Are you focused on God? Or, are you that bumblebee in the 4×4 room? Life is more abundant when the focus is on God.

My son, Drew….who keeps me in check

 

You’re Still My Only One

 

April & Jim November 23, 1985

Dear Jim,

Today we celebrate 25 years of wedded bliss!  If anyone ask me if I would do it again, my reply would be “yes”! The past 25 years are a beautiful woven tapestry.

Do you remember the date? June 1, 1983 we were in the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska, NC participating in summer staff orientation.   When I saw you in the dinner line, I knew then that you would be my one and only for life.   Later in the evening, our eyes literally met during an orientation game where we had to look into each other’s eyes for two minutes without saying anything.  The purpose of this game was to teach us as staff that we would meet all kinds of people in the summer and that it was important to see what was in the heart of a person.  At that moment, I saw your heart.  In your heart, I saw love, compassion, grace, and kindness. 

April & Jim @ Memorial Chapel Lake Junaluska, NC 2010

Over the years,  you have  demonstrated not only your love for me but our Father’s love.  Along with seeing inside your heart, I also learned from you about what it means to persevere, to trust God and be a team.    We knew that if we were to be together and we would have to trust God,  work as a team and persevere.   In 1983, there were no computers with internet, no cell phones with unlimited minutes and texting, no facebook or twitter.   It was through writing several times a week, calling at a set time on Saturday night, you  driving down to see me once a month, me flying up to see you on the holidays and great determination that kept us together and our love alive. 

 

If I had it to do over again, I would do it all again.  The obstacles we faced as a dating couple and as a married couple are nothing compared to what life would be if you weren’t there.  Together, we have stood the test of time,  taken many test together and got through them with the help of God, we have learned a lot about grace and forgiveness!  Through the years, we have so many wonderful memories of special occasions and trips together.  We have had moments where we stopped and had a good belly laugh together.   Yes, we also have faced disappointment together. There  have also been times we have  grieved together, cried on each other’s shoulder and held each other up. Along the way, God has blessed us with family, friends and acquaintances that have left footprints on our hearts.

 It only seems like yesterday that my Dad was walking me down the aisle giving me to you.    November 23, 1985, began our life together. Today, we look at our past and learn what it has taught us.  Then, hand in hand, we look to the future.  Neither one of us know what the future holds but we do know that God will make our tapestry all the more beautiful as we journey on together.

Today, I celebrate spending 25 years with my best friend.   The last 25 years are a woven tapestry of beauty and I would do it all again!  You are still and always will be  my one and only.

I love you!

April

I GOT MAD AT GOD!

Rose

Image via Wikipedia

God, I am angry at you!” These were the words I screamed in my car as I hung up the phone from talking with Jim.   Jim had just called from Louisville with results of his dad’s exploratory surgery. The results were Jim’s dad does have lung cancer and would have to be in the hospital a few more days than originally planned. 

Why did this make me so mad at God? First of all, I was mad because Jim, Sr. along with the family got news that no one wants to get. The second reason why I was mad, was my selfishness getting in the way. This weekend was to be Jim’s and my weekend to celebrate our 25 years of being together. We were to go to Louisville and celebrate our anniversary with family and friends as well as celebrate Jim’s parents anniversary which is this weekend, too.   I kept asking God why did he have to throw this curve ball.

Despite all the anger and yelling I did, I knew deep within that God does care for me, for Jim’s dad and the rest of the family.  God has a plan and I have to accept my plans are not on his schedule nor do they always coincide with God’s plan.  From the depths of my soul, I knew that I have to trust God.  In times past, I have had to trust God and He has never failed me yet.  Now,  as I dry my tears of anger, pull myself up by the boot straps, I know once again that God is a good God and there will be blessing to come.  It is up to me to seek those blessings and praise God through the storm that has been put in front of our family.

The irony of me getting angry at God is  in my Wednesday night bible study, we had just discussed and shared about blessings and anger towards God. I had shared how Jim and I face obstacles knowing that God has a plan and that blessings will come out of the obstacles before us.  In the obstacles that life presents us, we know that God is our strength. Then several days later, I am the very one screaming at God!

God does have plans for each one of us. Sometimes, we don’t like His plans. There are times where His plans will make us angry and we have to yell at Him. But, getting angry at God is okay.   His allowing us to blow when we need to blow is all a part of His wonderful compassionate love and grace for us.  It is in working out the anger that He makes us aware that He is in control and we must trust Him every step of the way. By trusting Him, our relationship with Him deepens. Along with our relationship deepening, our faith gets stronger and  the blessings He has planned for us become more visible. 

Angry at God? It’s okay. Yell if you need to but then allow God to be the Master of the plan that is set before you.  Trust God and know that you will have praises to sing to Him as you go through the storm. Be strong and take heart, all you hope in the Lord.  Psalm 31:24 Remember, God is your strength. Trust Him!

May you experience God’s blessings and peace today and on the journey ahead.

The Perfect Gift

Drew @ Nativity @ Wesleyan Heights UMC

Tis’ the Christmas Season has arrived! Ready or not, it is time to pull out those favorite Christmas tunes, decorations, and make our list for gifts.  Thoughts are going through your mind like: ” I don’t know what to give him/her this year!” or “I don’t know what they need or want!”. 

Well, worry no more! I have the perfect gift for you to give this year.  This gift comes with no need for batteries, no assembly is required and there is no need for a box because it will not fit into a box.   There is no worry about anyone standing in an after Christmas return line.  Also, money is no object because this gift has been paid in full.   The perfect gift will bring joy, hope, peace, grace  and love year round. 

Over two thousand years ago, God knew that the world  needed a gift from him.  A gift that would bring us all peace, hope, love, joy and grace. God wrapped this gift in swaddling clothes where He laid in a manager the night He was born.  The first Christmas carols were sung by the angels announcing the birth of the Messiah; King of Kings; and Ruler of All Nations! God even sent the  first decoration  with the bright star that  announced the Christ Child’s birth.  This star led shepherds, wise men and others to the stable to see the gift God had sent the world.  It is no doubt that for those who experienced receiving this gift first hand were  nothing but in awe and joy seeing the Christ Child.

God loves us so much that he wanted to give you and me a gift. He sent his ONLY Son. His  Son Jesus was sent to show all of the world  love, hope, peace, joy and grace.  In His lifetime He was a walking example of what it meant to love one another, to care for others, to experience joy, He brought peace and taught  how to forgive. For this gift, we owe nothing to God.  The price was paid in full on a cross on Calvary.   Through the blood of God’s lamb, our sins are forgiven and the doors to Paradise are opened for you and me.   

When the thoughts of “I don’t know what to give him/her!” or “I don’t know what they need or want!”, how about giving them the gift of Jesus Christ and His love for them.  Maybe it is someone who does not know Him and now is the time for you to introduce them to Christ. Or, maybe there is someone who is seeking your forgiveness. There is no better season than this one to go to  them and reconcile and demonstrate that wonderful grace of Christ.  On the other hand, could  you be  needing  to ask someone for forgiveness?  Now is a wonderful time to demonstrate  Christlike humility and seek their forgiveness.  Do you need to ask God for forgiveness or forgive yourself? When you go to God for forgiveness, you receive the most precious gift of peace, joy and grace.

The  love of Jesus Christ is a gift that is open to all, it is one size fits all and no assembly required.   How indescribable God’s love is for us.  God sent  His only Son to you and me. He died for our sins so  you and I are able to have eternal life. ( John 3:16) Each time we offer the gift of Christ, the angels sing just as they did on that first Christmas night.

HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!!

Christmas Blessings!

Special Decorations

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in Ne...

"Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart." Psalm 119:111

The other day I drove by the park and noticed that they are beginning to put up Christmas lights and decorations.  The stores are and have been decorated for a few weeks now.  As I admire these decorations, I am reminded of how God has decorated my life.

When I look at decorations, there is always  a few that stand out among the other decorations.  The first decoration that stands out for me is the wonderful husband that God sent to me twenty-seven years ago. Jim and I celebrate twenty-five years of wedded bliss on November 23. Not only has Jim been a wonderful husband, but he has been my best friend.  We have laughed, cried, celebrated many good times and held tight each other in the not so good times  Not only has Jim been a wonderful husband and best friend, he has been the best dad ever.  I have watched him nurture, guide, teach, laugh, discipline and cry with our son Drew over the years.  Jim has done a beautiful job of displaying and being an example of his Father’s love.

The next decoration that stands out is my son Drew.  Drew has brought me laughter and has been my encourager a time or two.  Through the years, I have learned  the importance of enjoying life and being happy with observing Drew’s happy-go-lucky spirit.  He has decorated my life with joy by watching him run, participate in various other activities and achieve his goals. Now, he brings joy to me as I watch him move into a new phase of his life where he soon will become a husband and start a family.

The other decoration in my life needs no explanation.  This decoration is Jesus Christ  Jesus has decorated my life with friends, family, laughter, joy, music and the list goes on.  But, the greatest decoration He puts in my life is His love.  It is with His love for me that I have the courage to take on challenges that are put before me.   He brings out the best in me on my worst of days and He helps me to see the best in others no matter their situation.  It is His great love that decorates my life on a daily basis. 

How about you? How has God decorated your life? Leave me a comment. I love it when people share their about their special decorations!!

‘YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER!’

You MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER!  We have all seen this slogan on that big yellow envelope that we get in the mail from time to time. When we receive that envelope, we have a choice of to either open it or toss it in the garbage.  If we decide to take that chance and Enter To Win’,  we spend the rest of the afternoon punching out stickers and  deciding if we want to purchase products that are offered if you enter the sweepstakes.PCH

My son Drew works in marketing and advertising.  He states that the goal  in advertising is to get into our heads with catchy jingles or slogans.  These slogans and jingles convince  us to by a product or take chances in entering a sweepstakes. How many times do we buy that product we thought we could use or entered that sweepstakes knowing that this is the year we will win?   How many times have we been  disappointed once that product was in our hands?  Or, we were let down when the Prize Patrol did not come to see us?

Satan is like that slogan or commercial jingle.  As Christians, he wants to get into our heads by deceiving and convincing us that his product is better and with him we could be a winner.  How many times have we  bought into his product thinking it is the better way or that we could very well be a winner? Yet, after we bought into his product, we were met with disappointment and continued to look for something even better?

As Christians, we are continually challenged by Satan. He thinks he knows us.  Yet, no one knows our hearts better than Jesus.  With Christ in our lives, we are ALREADY A WINNER!  It is through Jesus Christ that we already have the ultimate prize. The prize is an eternal home with Him in Paradise. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. “  What better prize is there than to be able to sit at the banquet table with our Heavenly Father and his Son?

The choice is ours to make.  We can open that envelope of chances that Satan presents to us. Or, we can chose a guaranteed win with Christ. It is in accepting Christ  in our lives  that makes us ALREADY WINNERS!

What choice will you make? Are you going to take a ‘chance to win’? Or, are you Already A Winner where your prize awaits you in heaven?

Blessings-

 

What Is It I Really Need?

1009740_546283838745989_553677898_nThis past Sunday, our minister spoke on the topic of Simplicity.   Today’s economy is  pushing all of us to evaluate what is and isn’t important when it comes to spending habits and even how we spend our time.  We are all having to simplify in our lives.  He encouraged us not only to evaluate and see what we need to get rid of in the material sense but he encouraged us to present ourselves and empty ourselves before God.  Thus, allowing God to fill us with what we truly need.

Blessing from God

Last night, before going to bed, I bowed in prayer. First, thanking God for all the wonderful blessings He had sent my way,  asking for forgiveness for any wrongs I may have done, asking for His protection over loved ones near and far, and to lay a healing hand on those who were sick.  Before closing my prayer time with God, I remembered that encouragement from Sunday to go before God and empty myself to Him. As I emptied myself to Him, I told God that I was His vessel. My prayer continued with  asking Him to fill me up, to help me trust Him more and to be assured that He is always there and that my needs would always be met.

fill me up

We all have heard to be careful of what you pray for on many occasion.  As I fell asleep,  God was about to humble me, send me His assurance, love, grace of how He will and does provide in His own time.  God spoke! He spoke very clear to me in a dream.  It went something like this:

Jim being the avid bike rider that he is becoming had encouraged me to go on a bike trip with him. I do not know the destination of  our journey but I knew Jim had planned quite a distance.  In the midst of our travel, we encounter a storm.  A storm where we needed to seek shelter. Bewildered of what to do, we look up and there is this man pointing to a house.  We took this gesture from this man as a sign that this house would be our place of refuge during the storm. 

As we enter this house, a lady who’s face we never see, greets us with towels to dry off with and warm cups of coffee.  She shows us to a room where we can sit and wait out the storm.  This person acknowledges that she knows what is in our hearts and what our most urgent prayers are and our most urgent needs.  This female persona tells us that she has relayed all the needs of our hearts to our host.  She tells us that he is here and with us.  Jim and I look a bit puzzled but something tells the both of us to just trust.

Once getting settled in our safe place for the night, I fall asleep only to be awaken by this nudge of someone I recognize but cannot see.  At first, the nudge from our host startles me but after a second I am at peace.  He tells me that I know who he is and assures Jim and I that our needs will be provided for very soon. Though he does make it clear that these needs will be provided for  on his watch and not ours.  Again, Jim and I look in amazement and puzzlement at each other. Yet, we still know not to doubt but to just trust.

During the night, I hear voices of other people coming  and going into this house. Through the walls, I hear the host of this home  giving others the same assurances that he had given Jim and me.   Words cannot describe this whole experience but it became so amazing to hear people coming into this house seeking refuge from the storm. To see this person take care of every need of every person.  It is very difficult for me to put into written form much less express what I was being shown in this dream.

 Curiosity gets the best of me.  There is a window that I can look through into another room. He sits there with this family who’s dilapidated old car has given out and they are caught out in the storm.  They are on their way to see a sick loved one and are afraid that they will not make it.  I feel this person smile, and he gives this family his assurances that all will be ok.  

Daybreak comes and the storm has passed.  Again, I look through the window and I see our host with this frazzled family. Again, I can feel him smile as he  provides transportation for this family along with all that they need to go be with their loved one.  As I am observing  and telling Jim what I see, the lady enters our room.  She assures us that we have not been forgotten and tells us that he will address our needs in time. “Needs”, I thought to myself. “What are our true needs at this moment?” Jim and I needed to either get back on our bikes and head back home or finish the journey we had started.   I had not eaten but was not hungry and was quite content.   “Hum, what are my true needs?”  That was  a question that could not be shaken from my head nor my spirit.

The whole concept of what we truly needed had changed through the course of a night.  When we first arrived, we just wanted to be dry, warm and safe.  We probably had some trivial wants in mind thinking they were what ‘we needed’. However, at that moment, all we wanted to do was just sit there in this house that had been our shelter through the night and simply absorb this person’s love for all, his grace and generosity.

looking for an answer

At 1:00 AM, I am awake and I think to myself; “I need to write this experience down but I need my sleep at the moment.  God poked me and told me to get up and write it down at that very moment.  As I wrote out this experience, God teaches me more and reveals Himself to me.  You see, the man pointing to the house was Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the light.”  The female persona who greeted us was the Holy Spirit. We could not see her but we felt her presence. She already knew what was on our hearts and our true needs.  She sought out our host and  spoke to him  on our behalf.  By the way, who was this host? The host who was so generous, loving, warm and who provided the needs of every single person seeking refuge in the storm? The answer to that is simple and I know that you know it was our heavenly Father/God. We did not actually see him but we felt His presence, felt His assurances and the house we were in was God’s house. Though he was tending to others at times, we didn’t doubt that we would not be cared for in time.

Last night, I did what someone encouraged me to do. By emptying myself and presenting myself to God,  God  replied  in the most beautiful way and filled my cup until it was and still is overflowing.  Through a dream, He got my attention.  He showed me his great love for all people, His warmth, and that He does provide us of what we truly need.   Daybreak came and I awoke and stood in awe of His mighty love and grace. As I put this testimony into a post this afternoon, I am still absorbing the incredible and indescribable love of God.  As an old eighty’s song goes:”What a feeling!”.

seek God

There are two important points I want you to take with you when you leave my site today. One, is when the storms of life come, know you can take refuge with God. He will take care of you and the needs for that time. He not only cares for you in the storm but he provides for all your needs every day. Be aware of God at work in all areas of your life. Two, when  you aren’t sure of your true needs, ask the Holy Spirit to represent you before God.  The Holy Spirit knows your  heart and knows what to ask God on your behalf.  Also, when you are uncertain of your true needs, pray for wisdom and discernment.

Right now, before you leave this site, I want to encourage you as I was encouraged on Sunday. Present yourself before God and empty yourself to Him.  Allow Him to fill you up. Trust me, what you thought were needs may no longer be needs.  Your priorities will definitely be changed when you empty yourself to God and the results will be indescribable!  Trust me, it happened to me in the last twenty-four hours!

May you experience His peace as you go through your day.  Also, know that I am lifting my readers up in prayer each day. May you be emptied and then filled until your cup is overflowing.

Until next time, Keep the faith!

Going UP?

Going UP?.

Going UP?

"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 'Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth' " 1Peter 2:21

Going up? How are you going to get to the top? Are you going to take the challenge and climb the stairs or are your going to take the easy way up on the escalator?

  We all have climbed a steep set of stairs a time or two.   It is sometimes quite a climb to the top and we wonder if we are going to make it to the top. Eventually, we do make it to the top and we take that deep sigh of relief!  Yet, with the invention of  esculators, it makes getting to the top an easier task.

As Christians, we are faced with a set of stairs to climb every day in our lives.  God has given us free will to make the choice of how we are going to “go up”.  There are days that we see those stairs of life and we see getting to the top next to impossible.   We want the easy way up.  Sometimes, we do opt for the easy way.

Now, stop and  think for a moment.   If we take the stairs, struggle to climb to the top, and make it to the top, we are going to feel good about what  we just accomplished.  If we take the escalator, we may get to the top without problems but there can be  consequences of taking that escalator.  When we take the stairs, we are getting exercise.  Just as in our Christian walk, we exercise daily with our relationship with God through bible study and prayer.  Taking the escalator is easier but we miss out on the exercise.    Furthermore, when something takes us from Point A to Point B we lack the understanding of what directions we took to get there, what obstacles took place, and how far it was. Whereas with the stairs, we are focused, aware of the obstacles and have an understanding of how we got there.

In our Christian walk, we have the choice of taking the stairs up to heaven or trying the escalator.  Taking the escalator is a lot like listening to Satan and his suggestions of the doing things we are called to do the easy way.  It looks good and  Satan can disguise it to seem like that is what God wants us to do.  

The choice is ours in our Christian walk.  We can take the escalator and think it is the easy way to heaven. Or, we can take the stairs and face the challenges knowing that it is worth it all when we get to the top.   Afterall, it is out of our tribulation and exercise from taking the stairs that God is molding us to perfection for when we do get to heaven.  Christ, himself, faced the greatest challenge of stairs  for humankind by allowing himself to be crucified. Christ  facing this challenge made it possible for us to be able to approach each step with confidence and one day making it to the top(heaven).

Today this choice is ours. Are we going to follow the steps of Christ and take the stairs? Or, are we going to take what looks like the easy way up on the escalator?

How are you going up? For me, I prefer to walk in the steps of Jesus and take the stairs.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

 Proverbs 16:9 NIV

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