Archive for October, 2011

“You’re Exactly Where You’re Suppose To Be”

Jim Hawkins, Andy Andrews, April Hawkins Memorial Weekend, 2011

Jim and I with Author Andy Andrews @ 2011 Gaither Festival, Gatlinburg, TN

Andy Andrews has become one of my favorite authors. Over the last two years, I have been blessed to hear Andy speak at the Gaither Family Festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As a matter of fact, the first time I heard Andy speak, I was coming out of that cloud of darkness of having health problems and having to re-define my purpose. It was through hearing Andy speak about Jones, a character in his book, The Noticer  where I began to see a new beginning and purpose for my life.

Andy began his talk about his personal life of being homeless at one time. He slept quite often under a pier and just like any other homeless person he would scrape around for food and work when and where he could. One evening, while settling down for the night under a pier, he met Jones. It was in meeting Jones that Andy’s life began to take a turn for the better.

Jones noticed Andy and where he was in his life.  He saw what Andy could be and how Andy could use where he was at that moment in his life for the better. Jones began to plant seeds in Andy’s life that made Andy think and reach beyond the moment.  Most of all, Jones encouraged Andy.

Jones not only does this with Andy in the book The Noticer  but Jones is very attentive to the people who are placed in his life. He sees many people in many situations. The people who cross Jones’ path seem to be dealing with some sort of struggle whether it be marriage trouble, family trouble, or just trying to define their purpose in life, Jones takes time to listen, to sow seeds of hope, and spread encouragement.

I love the paragraph in the first chapter where it reads:

” ‘ So my contention is that your are right where you are suppose to be.’ The old man scooped up

a double handful of the white sand and let it pour from his fingers. ‘It may look like barren sand to you,

but nothing could be further from the truth. I say to you that, as you lay your head down tonight, you are sleeping on fertile ground. Think. Learn. Pray. Plan. Dream. For soon…you will become.’

Wow!” is what I thought as I read that paragraph. Everything that happens God can use to make us a better person and give us brighter future. As I heard Andy speak on this in Gatlinburg and as I read this book, I reflected back on the previous year and a half. Then, I asked myself; “how can all that has happened to me medically and all the sour stuff from the past make it a better future for me?

 I share in my post Out of the Pit Came Purpose, of how I had to begin to re-define my life and my purpose. Lost and feeling hopeless, it was like a bad hand of cards, I had nothing. At least I thought I had nothing. Then, my son, Drew comes along and tells me I need to put my thoughts into words. Not long after, I hear Andy speak of his story and hear him say ‘everyone can DO something,’ I knew then God was about to use my background, all my struggles to use to encourage  and sow seeds of hope in others. What God had been saying to me for a long time finally clicked through the words of my son, through Andy’s sharing and through Jones who had great influence in many people’s lives. I could do something!

Today, you may be someone who is struggling with life. You are at a point to where you are saying “if there is a God, why is this happening to me, where is the purpose in all of this?”  Or, you may think, ” there is not a thing I can do because I know I am a loser.”  In the words of Andy Andrews, ‘yes, you CAN DO something!’  God has a plan and purpose for you. Believe it or not, God can use you right where you are in that pit of self-pity, hurt, anger and hopelessness.  God can include what is happening now into His weaving of a better day ahead.

“You are right were you are suppose to be.” For some of us, it is getting so far down into that pit that the only place we have is to look up. It is when we begin looking up we can do what Jones told Andy to do and that is to THINK. LEARN. PRAY. PLAN. DREAM.” I love the Bon Jovi song Welcome To Wherever You Are. In this song a  lyric goes; “welcome to wherever you are, this is your life, you’ve made it this far. Welcome, You’ve got to believe, right here, right now,  you are exactly where you are suppose to be. Welcome to wherever you are. It also says …remember that  you are perfect, God makes no mistakes.”  When we realize that God doesn’t make mistakes, we are perfect in His eyes,  and that He can use the fires we walk through for a better tomorrow, it is then we get up out of our chairs and ‘Do Something!’

As you begin to do something, it is then you use your experience to sow seeds in others. You sow seeds through words of encouragement, by listening to someone’s story and see the good in everyone and every situation. Over time, I have learned through every situation I encounter with others and in my personal life, that there are blessings taking place. Sometimes, it takes hindsight to see those blessings but they are ever so present.

This past summer, there was a time where we could go up to meet with Andy, have pictures taken and books signed. When I saw this line, I grabbed Jim and said ‘we have got to go speak with Andy!”   As I introduced myself and Jim to Andy, I shared a little  of my story of where I had been and how my purpose unfolded through his talks and through his sharing about his relationship with Jones.  I told him I went home and did something!  My doing something is this website, sharing the love, hope and encouragement of Christ with others. Some of my readers I know personally and others I will never meet. However, it is my prayer that through sharing my story, my thoughts and my love for Christ will sow seeds of hope in those who are looking for a purpose in life and who are questioning  their current circumstances.

In the days ahead, I encourage you to notice someone who may be in that pit. Just as Jones did with Andy and just as my son, Drew and Andy Andrews did with me, let them know that they can do something!  As the song goes, “God makes no mistakes.”  He can take every situation and use it for His glory (Romans 8:28).


It’s Halloween/Take Off The Mask

It’s Halloween/Take Off The Mask

Posted on October 29, 2010 by 
It’s Halloween/Take Off The Mask                                                                                                                                              [tweetmeme]
Mask statue1

It’s Halloween.  Children will be dressed up in mask and costume pretending to be the celebrity, super hero, or prince/princess.  I imagine we all can remember the days we liked to play dress up and pretend to be someone else other than ourselves.

On an every day basis,  we will get up get ready for the day sometimes in a favorite outfit and we go out to greet the world.  How many of us leave the true self in the house as we go into our world of work or other activities.  We suddenly put on the mask of who we think people want to see in us instead of letting our true selves be known.  It is very easy to do and all of us including myself have done it a time or two.

Why do we put on this mask of being someone else?  Maybe it is we are afraid we won’t be liked or loved if we let our true selves be known.  Maybe we are trying to impress someone for that position that  we really want in our job or some other organization.  Maybe it is simply the fear of rejection.

We may be able to fool people outside of our homes with our mask. But, God knows the real us . He created us. In Psalm 139: 1 The Psalm of David states: O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. God has known us before we were ever placed on this earth. He knows every thought, every sentence and every move that we are going to make throughout the day.  We don’t have to put on a mask for Him because He loves us unconditionally regardless of what we say or do.

As I said earlier,  that mask has been on my face a time or two for one reason or another. I tried hiding the real me. However,over time,  the mask became uncomfortable.  It was just like wearing that old mask on Halloween becoming sweaty and uncomfortable.   The mask became so uncomfortable that I had to take it off and just let people see the me that God created me to be.  The result of taking off the mask was that  I truly experienced God’s grace more. I  have learned the importance of what it means  to see what is truly in the heart of others, and to know it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.  God has taught me  that it is ok if I am not accepted by everyone I meet. What really matters is that I know that God loves me.   It is also my prayer that with my mask off,  people will not only see the real  April. They will see Jesus in me.

So, what do you say? It’s Halloween weekend.  How about taking that hot and uncomfortable  mask off  and letting people see the real you.   Who cares what others think when there is God who made you and loves you.

During the weekend, I encourage  you to find a quiet place with your bible and read the entire Psalm 139.  As you read, think about  and accept how much God loves you!  Then, allow others to see the true person God created you to be.

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Unfailing Love

My morning reminder of God’s Unfailing Love…”Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad in ALL our days.” Psalm 90:14


In my bible study this past week, the focus was on God’s unfailing love. In one of the lessons, the question was asked what is the difference between God’s love and human love. My response was we as humans tend to put conditions on our love for others. God loves us no matter what we do. There are no conditions to God’s love. We will stumble and there are consequences but God still loves us.

This morning I had another reminder of God’s unfailing love. I took our shih tzu, Smokey out to take care of his morning business. He began to pick up leaves, sticks and play instead of getting the job done. This is quite common with Smokey. He sometimes will slip a stick of wood or a leaf into the house on his return to indoors. Smokey eventually took care of business and as he returned inside, he was given his treat for doing what he was supposed to do. He took his little treat to the foyer and began to eat it or at least that is what I thought he was doing. As I passed by him, I saw  what I thought were two treats. At first, I took one treat away seeing one was in his mouth and said ‘you don’t need two treats, we will save this one for later.’  When taking the treat from Smokey, he spit out what I thought was the other treat. Needless to say, it was not what I thought because from his mouth came out a rock  he had picked up outside. Smokey began to nudge the rock over to my direction as if to say; “this is for you.”  The irony was that this rock was the shape of a heart. “Wow!” I thought to myself. This week I have been learning more about God’s unfailing love and Smokey has just given me a heart that no one could have made. It was a morning reminder to me that God’s love was with me.

Later in the day, I encountered a problem regarding my blog site. I had gone on my site to add some articles to some of my posts and to make some minor changes. In the process of working on one of the post, the comment section was closed without my intending it to be closed. It was brought to my attention by another writer/reader. Oh, how bad I felt for this happening! In my “About April” section of my site, I encourage my readers to leave their thoughts and here the comments had been closed. I sunk in my chair with embarrassment and prayed for God’s grace to intervene. Most of all, I prayed that I would be forgiven by this reader. Of course, I immediately went in and addressed the problem. I want my readers to be able to leave a comment because it is all a part of learning and growing more in my faith journey. Though this mistake was unintentional, I still felt bad and did my best to rectify the situation. As I worked on fixing the mistake and begging for forgiveness, I was reminded of that heart that Smokey brought in this morning.  The words God’s unfailing love came to my mind and heart. God made me know that He was ever so present and loving me through remedying the situation.

The people of Israel are God’s have always been God’s chosen people. He gave them the Promise Land, fed them manna from heaven, and provided water from a rock when they were thirsty. Yet, God’s  chosen people  made mistakes and strayed from God from time to time.  They had consequences due to their straying but God still loved them.

The best of the best Christians are going to stumble and fall at times. We are all human and we do make mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes are intentionally and other times unintentional. No matter the mistake, God loves us just as much as the day as the day he created us. Though there may be consequences for our mistakes at times, God is still there walking  and loving us through it all. His love is unfailing!

Isaiah 54:10 reminds us; “Though to mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, what has compassion on you.” 

May you feel God’s love and compassion in the days ahead.


God Heals All Wounds


“Wounds do heal, but there are times to allow the Great Physician to perform surgery so that they will heal right.”

Nancie Carmichael


Over time, many of us encounter being hurt and wounded. Sometimes, the hurt comes from another person possibly someone we admire or even love. Other times the hurt may be from something tragic that happens in life. No matter how the wound occurs, it does cut through the heart like a knife. Thus, leaving questions to God and sometimes even questioning God. We may even feel like God has moved away from us.

During my lifetime, I have encountered such hurts. In the past, I have questioned God about why certain hurts took place.  I have also felt like God moved so very far away from me. But, in the end, I came to realize that God is there in the midst of all the hurt and questions. As a result, my faith grows stronger. My relationship with God grows stronger. Plus, I learn some things about myself that I needed to know.

Some people are walking around at this moment with a heart full of hurt. You may be one of them. But, we don’t have to carry that burden. God sent us His Son, Jesus to heal the wounded and broken heart.  In order for the Great Physician to heal our brokenness, we have to surrender  it ALL to Him. It takes a big step of faith and trust to surrender it all to Him. But, when we surrender  the hurt to Christ, the healing begins and our relationship with Him grows stronger. Realize that sometimes the healing doesn’t happen instantly. The healing process may take days, weeks, months and sometimes years of fervent prayer giving it all to Christ before we see the healing. From personal experience, I can tell you no matter the wait, whether it be a day or a year or more, it is worth the wait. It is in the healing process that we see God’s blessings, feel and experience God’s grace. The time of healing is a teaching tool to remind us that God is in control and all things do work out for His good and glory.

As I was opening my bible this morning, it opened up to the book of Jude. At the top of the page is the quote that you see at the beginning of this devotional. Then, at the bottom of the page is a prayer that I had written during a time of giving hurts over to God.

Dear Lord,

Perform your surgery on my wounds. You are my GREAT PHYSICIAN. 

It is my faith in You that heals All my wounds and dries All my tears. 

In YOUR time You will  make ALL things new.

It is in your time that ALL  things become beautiful.


Your daughter, April

“And we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called to His purpose.”   Romans 8:28

Are you hurting today? Surrender ALL of your hurts to the hands of Christ. Please know that God didn’t move but He is wanting to move closer to you.

Embraced By His Love


In the last few years, it seems more and more that I have had up close and personal contact with a friend and/or loved one who has been diagnosed with Cancer. Some of these friends/loved ones were not able to withstand the fight and have gone to their eternal home. Then, there are those who are reminded every day of their diagnoses as they comb their hair and it begins to fall. Yes, I even know a few who were lucky enough for the cancer cells to shrink or maybe even go away. No matter the stage and fate of cancer, it not only affects its victim but it affects the entire inner circle of family and friends.

This morning on my way to bible study, I heard the song, I’m Gonna Love You Through It by Martina McBride. In this song she shares how one’s husband will hold and love his wife as she fights the battle that has been placed before her. As I listened to the lyrics of the song, I thought about the loved ones and friends that I have known that have and still are battling cancer. Just as one person states in the Martina McBride video, ‘it doesn’t just affect the person who is diagnosed but it affects everyone.’

Sometimes, I have seen the patient deal with the diagnoses better than the loved ones who are caring for the patient. There are times of anger, worry  and just plain old heart hurt when a family watches another suffer through the many surgeries, chemo treatments and the side effects to follow. As I heard Martina sing the lyrics “I’m gonna love you through it,” I thought of another  person who is there loving not only the patient but the family and friends who instantly become care givers.

For those, watching a loved one suffer through this horrible diagnosis, know that your Heavenly Father is saying, “I’m gonna love you through it.” He is there sitting with you in that waiting room as hours of surgery take place. He is sitting there in the doctor’s office as the latest labs and course of action are discussed. Your Heavenly Father is there holding you when you can’t bear to see your loved one suffer another moment. Yes, He is there loving you through it all. Your Father will not leave your side.

Your Father also loves you through it by the friends who call, come by to visit, and who are sending up daily prayers on your family’s behalf. He loves you through the hugs, the meals cooked, and the cards of encouragement that are sent your way. Yes, He is loving you and your loved one through all the aches, pains, and tears. He is there and will never leave your side.

In the fourth verse of the twenty-third Psalm, God reminds us that He is with us always. It is His rod and staff that comfort us. In other words, He is walking and loving you through it all. 

For those of us who know of someone battling with cancer, we need to not only be aware of their needs but we need to be aware of the needs of those who are the care givers through the battle.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 encourages us to comfort each other. Some of us may not be able to be there physically to comfort and encourage but we can pray and send cards of encouragement. There are those of us who may be able to go sit with the patient to give a family member a break. Or, maybe you just need to  sit with the family. Be prepared, when you sit with the family, for some silent moments but yet don’t be afraid of the silence. It is your presence and the silence that God is using you the most. It is through your presence that He is loving the family through the battle.

To all who are currently facing this battle (patients, love ones, and caregivers). know that you are embraced by His love. When you are weak, He will hold you up. When your eyes are full of tears, He will wipe them. And, when you think you can’t go another step further, He will carry you. He’s gonna love you through it.”


Brain Freeze…How To Avoid Them

Ice Cream Dessert

Image via Wikipedia

How many times have you been eating ice cream, drinking a cold shake or drink a little too fast? Yes, the minute we slurp that cold item, it goes straight to our head causing a sharp momentarily headache. This headache is better known as brain freezeWe shake off the brain freeze and a few minutes later we do the same thing again! You would think we would learn  our lesson the first time. But, we soon forget and forge on to another brain freeze.

Now, think about the things you do in life. How many things do we do knowing that in the end result is not going to be good? We eat that big meal. Then, as we feel sleepy from eating and our pants feel a little too tight, we promise ourselves and those around us that we will not to that again! Yet,at  the next big family reunion, without remorse we over eat again! For some of us it may be shopping too much. We get the credit card paid off promising ourselves not to charge a thing again. Then, the next big sale or holiday, we are out there charging all over again and sometimes opening a new one just to receive that extra ten percent off. The list could go on of the things we do in life that aren’t good for us and yet we do them again and again. Yes, this is what I call brain freeze!

As humans, we are weak. When God created us, He knew that we would stumble at times and would experience the occasional brain freeze. Knowing that we would experience an brain freeze here and there, He sent us His Son, Jesus to show us that we can be healed from the momentary headache. It is through the messages of Christ that we are also told that God still loves us when we stumble. Brain freezes have taken place over the ages.

King David  experienced an occasional brain freeze. Look at the many times he messed up, confessed and then would mess up again. Yet, God loved David all the same. It is through the line of David we were given our redemption through Christ. Did you catch that word, redemption? Yes, once we confess our sin, we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The key is to NOT repeat the same action again that caused that sharp headache in the first place.

Today, tomorrow, in the days ahead, we are going to be tempted by the very thing that gave us that brain freeze in the recent days. It is then when we need to give that temptation to God. Seek His grace and remember the ramifications of that particular brain freeze. If we have recently experienced that brain freeze and have not confessed it to our God, now is the time to do so. God already knows what we have done but he wants us to confess to Him. It is all a part of being in relationship with our Creator.

The next time you are drinking that chocolate shake or eating that bowl of ice cream, go about it slowly. Avoid that ugly headache. When you go about it slowly, you will savor the flavor all the more. May we walk slowly with caution with our God and be aware of His presence. Remember,  we can avoid those awful sharp headaches. Not only will we avoid the brain freeze, but we will be able to savor the blessings God gives us all the more.

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.”

Hebrews 4: 14-16 


God’s Symphony

Colors Of Autumn

Take time this Fall to hear God’s Symphony

Originally posted October 2, 2010


Today has been a beautiful brisk fall day.  As I have gone through my day, I am reminded of an experience that happened with our family on a fall outing in 1989.  Also, I am reminded  of the lesson learned on that fall day.

When Drew was  two years old, we  took a family trip to the North Georgia mountains. The day started out being a simple day of enjoying fall scenery and just simply getting away.  What started out as a fall day outing turned out to be a day of learning to listen to God through the ears and eyes of a two-year old boy.

When we arrived in the Dahlonega area, Jim wanted to see the North Georgia Conference United Methodist campground Camp Glisson.   As we walked the grounds of Camp Glisson, our  two-year old son Drew was pointing things out as any two-year old that is learning to talk would with his mommy and daddy. He showed us a squirrel, he tried catching leaves as they fell from the trees, and he was full of laughter and enjoying all that was around him.  As we continued to walk and enjoy the scenery, we knew we were approaching the waterfalls due to the sound of rushing water.  Though, we could hear the rushing water of the falls Jim and I had gotten caught in conversation of things to do once we returned home and not paying attention to what was around us.  In the midst of this conversation, Drew shouted “Sh-hh-hh…listen.”  I asked Drew what he heard.  His reply was “the Lord.”  Can you believe it took a two-year old to make two grown adults stop and hear the sound of God’s symphony through the rushing of the water, the rustling of the leaves and all the other sounds of nature around us? How suddenly did a sense of calmness and peace fill the inner soul. Those every day issues that Jim and I were discussing prior to Drew telling to be quiet were no longer important.

How wonderful the world would be if everyone could hear and see all the peacefulness that God does provides through the eyes of a child. Unfortunately, the world is not that way. It is so easy for our days to get caught up  in our lists to the point  we forget that God’s symphony is playing for us.  My challenge for you is to take a minute or two to stop in the midst of your busy day, shut the noise out, and listen to God’s music around you.  You will be amazed at the beautiful symphony that is playing all around you.  It is quite a symphony! At least my now 23-year-old son did when he was two.   Afterall, who would know better than a child of God. SH-HH-HH LISTEN!!

One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But, Jesus intervened.” Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me.  God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left. Matthew 19:13-15 (The Message)

Drop everything and listen, listen as he speaks. Psalm 95:7 (The Message)

Prayer:  Father, when daily things get hectic, remind us to stop and listen and hear your voice. To feel the calmness you provide all around us in your symphony. In Jesus name. Amen

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