Archive for December, 2011

We Don’t Talk Anymore

Does the above picture look too familiar? How many of us are guilty of being out with family and/or friends and instead of visiting with them, we are busy with our phone? To me, I feel as though the art of conversation is becoming more and more obsolete as Social Media continues to grow. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do see the advantages of Social Medial. Social Media has connected and re-connected us with family and friends. It is a tool for people like me to share thoughts of encouragement and share the story of Christ. But, there comes a time when enough is enough.

When you look at days gone by, there is the remembrance of siblings fighting over the phone in the evening, conversations at the dinner  table and/or in the family room. And, how many of us grew up in families where there were evenings of story telling or learning about our family tree through conversation?  Even in Jesus’ lifetime, there was always conversation. He was the greatest story-teller that ever walked the earth. Not only did He tell stories, but He took time to hear the stories of others and their needs.

Nowadays, people can sit in the same room or at the same table, but they are not talking face to face. They are text messaging the person on the other side of the room or someone who is not even there. We are re-connecting with people but are we really connecting? Are we investing honest interest in a person and really hearing their story?

The other day, I received the following in an e-mail that really sums up with then and now. This piece shares about a stranger coming into the home. It is not just text messaging, Facebook and possibly tweeting that is taking away time of conversation but it is also other forms of Social Media. As you read it, think about the days gone by and how things are in today’s world.  How has Social Media influenced your lifestyle?

The Stranger

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our
small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer
and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly
accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind,
he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom
taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger… he was
our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with
adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always
knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able
to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball
game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking,
but Dad didn’t seem to mind.

sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each
other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for
peace and quiet.

(I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger
never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in
our home – not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our long time visitor,
however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my
dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn’t permit the liberal use of
alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made
cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely
(much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes
suggestive, and generally embarrassing..

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced
strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents,
yet he was seldom rebuked… And NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our
family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at
first.

Still, if you could walk into my parents’ den today, you would still find
him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and
watch him draw his pictures.

His name?….

We just call him ‘TV.’

(Note: This should be required reading for every household!)

He has a wife now….we call her ‘Computer.’
Their first child is “Cell Phone”.
Second child “I Pod

This says it all doesn’t it? We are in the midst of Holy Week. This is a week of reflecting on the life of Jesus and the ultimate sacrifice He made on our behalf. Easter Sunday symbolizes new life and new beginnings.  This week in the midst of celebrating the newness we receive in Christ,  let us make take a new to be aware of those who are around us. In other words,  put the phones down. If we are to live as Christ, we need to take time as He did and be aware of those around us and their needs. It is in these personal encounters where we experience fellowship with one another and with God. We were designed to be in fellowship with one another and as Christians commissioned to witness to those around us.

Beginning this week, I encourage you to  write a personal note and send it snail mail, give that friend that is struggling a phone call or even  a visi. When you are out with family and friends, turn the cell phone off. Let those you are with know that they are important and what they have to say is important.There is nothing in this world of ours that is so important that we need to forfeit hearing what the person or persons we are with have to say and enjoy the fellowship of the moment.  After all,  there is no mention of cell phone, text messaging, Facebook, or other forms of Social Medial in heaven. What we are told that there is great fellowship with one another which I interpret to mean we will talk face to face.

enjoy your family

It seems like we don’t talk anymore, so let’s start talking!

Illusions

It all a matter of perspective

Doesn’t this cartoon say it all? We all think we have it worse than the person next to us but the person next to us thinks they have it worse. Not only do we compare our situations with those around us but we look at what others have and think if we had what they have life would be better and we would really be happy.

It is all a matter of perspective. How often do we get wrapped in the illusions of what will make us happy?  Do you recall the commercial of the guy on the lawn more. It began with Stan introducing himself and his family.He  begins to name the things he has purchased that should have brought  him happiness. As the commercial runs, you see the nice home, pool, country club membership, and all accessories but then the camera flashes over to Stan and  the tables turn. It is pointed out how much debt he has accumulated to be “happy.” Then, you see Stan riding  his lawn mower and he says; “somebody help me.” In other words,  Stan is not really happy because he is busy buying into what the world has told him he needed to be happy.  Thus, Stan is missing the real joys in life because he is busy trying to pay for those illusions he bought into.

We are all guilty of looking at others as having it all. Although, we are told in the Ten Commandments;Thou shall not covet thy neighbor”, we still look across the way and try to keep up. Yet, as we try to keep up, we get more and more stressed and that void we are trying to fill is still there. Just like the guy on the lawn mower, we all eventually are crying; “somebody help me.”

During the Christmas season, retailers put on even more pressure of what will bring that someone happiness. We hear and see ads from; “he went to Jared”, ” every kiss begins with Kay” and  this includes the cute Capital One Credit cards where they tell you if you carry them in your wallet you can go anywhere and get anything. Thus, these things will bring happiness. But, we all know that come January the bills come in and again we say “somebody help me.”

Jim and I are of the generation of the cool bands. One of our favorite groups to jam to is Styx. The Grand Illusion is one of our favorite songs. It sums it up well of how we all get caught up in the illusions of what makes us happy. Instead of looking at our neighbor as we look ourselves, we allow the illusions to take over and we miss the real opportunities of getting to know someone, their story and reaching out to them in Christ-like love.

The lyrics in The Grand Illusion go on to say that ” we are all the same.” You ask, “how are we all the same?” We are all the same because we are God’s creation and his children. We all have a void in our lives that is looking for real happiness. The only true way to fill that void and experience real happiness is to take off our rose-colored glasses and put on the glasses of God.

It is  through God’s glasses, we step out of the world of illusions and see the real true needs of those around us. When we put on these glasses, we need to be ready to see hurt, anger, loneliness and those longing for being loved for who they truly are. With the glasses of God we step out of the world of illusions into God’s world.

In God’s world, happiness is helping our neighbor, praying for those who are hurt, taking time to be with those who feel alone in the world. It is having Christ in our hearts and sharing Him with others. From my own personal experience, when I stepped out of the world of illusions where things were going to make me happy and put on God’s eyes, I saw that I didn’t need those things. I began to see the daily blessings and it is reaching out to others and encouraging them with the love of Christ that has brought true happiness.

We live in a world where people are searching even more and are becoming even more lost and caught up in illusions of happiness. Isn’t it about time we began to “show them the way?” (another lyric of another Styx s song)  Next time the grass looks greener from the perspective you are standing, put on your God glasses to see the real picture. Realize that the only place where the grass is greener is when we enter the gates of paradise that Christ opened up for us on the day he was crucified.  I imagine that grass is going to be the brightest and most beautiful green we could ever imagine.

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said,  ‘How hard is it for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:22-24

The video below is a wonderful illustration of what happens when we look through God’s glasses.

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Blessings

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Thoughts To Remember As We... @ Have A Dream

The Other Eleven Months by Cyndi Den Otter

The Pattern For Servanthood @ Good Devotionals

The Table Is Set

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The Table Is Set

“You prepare a table before me.” Psalm 23:5

For us Southern Belles, not only is getting the tree and fireplace mantle in perfect shape but getting the dinning room table is at the top of list in what absolutely has to be done at Christmas.  For me, candles are essential when setting the table not only at Christmas but year round. Having candles on the table holds meaning for me.

Growing up, my Dad’s dad was a retired Army Coloneland you knew he was an Army Colonel.   When we visited my grandparents’ home, Mom always made sure we were brushed up  on our manners especially before going to the dinner table. Dinner at Papa Hill’s house was an event every night.  The good china and silver  was used, no one sat down at the table until Papa took his seat and there were always candles on the table. As a teen I would roll my eyes and think “why not just use the Corelle Ware and be done with it” because at that age I would be having to help hand wash the china and silver.

As I have grown older, I have reminisced on those dinner affairs and their true meaning. For Papa, dinner with his family was special to him. He cherished having his family around the table for not only a meal but for a visit.  Many a story and tale were shared around the table as we savored the pot roast, mashed potatoes  green beans and apple pie.  Grandmother had so lovingly prepared.  Along with no one sitting until Papa sat, no one got up until they were properly excused by an adult at the table. As I reminisce about dinner with Papa and once I had been properly excused from the table,  I also remember being  in the kitchen with Grandmother up to my elbows in suds helping her wash the china and silver. It was those moments in the kitchen where Grandmother would not say a lot but here and there she would gently and lovingly smile and give you a little wink. She was a quiet lady with little to say but her smiles and winks said it all. You knew all was right in the world.

May, 2002 I stood by my Grandfather’s bedside just a little before mid night. Jim and I had volunteered to take the night shift of staying up with him at the hospital. From the looks of things, we had a pretty good idea that Jim and I would not be there all night.  Late in the night, Jim sat by Papa’s side checking vitals until Jim noticed Papa’s breaths were getting further and further apart.  As these breaths were getting shallow, I came over and took Papa by the hand.  While holding tight to his hand, I looked at him and thanked him for all the cherished memories he had given us around the table that was always beautifully set with linens and candles.  Then, I said “Papa, the table is now set for you. God has the candles lit and He has your place ready for you to take your seat at His banquet table. ” A few seconds later, Papa joinedJesus at the great banquet table.

The table is set. It is Christmas. The candles, fine linens and china are on the table. A meal will be prepared and the candles will be lit where new memories will be made and old stories shared.  As I light the candles, I will not only remember my loving grandparents who showed by example that we are all special but I will also be reminded thatChrist is and has always been the center of our family.

How about you? Is your table set? If you haven’t already, add some candles to your table. Let your family know how special they are and remind them that Christ is the center of your home by lighting the candles.  Sit around the table and make memories and share old stories. The teenagers may roll their eyes a little but let them roll. One day, they will be thankful that they have such warm memories.

Col. and Mrs. Carl R. Hill Sr-Picture taken 1953/54 Tokyo, Japan

This post is dedicated in loving memory of  Col. Carl R. Hill, Sr and Virginia Louise Hill

Merry Christmas!

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Go Tell It!

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In my December posts from last year and this year, I have shared the roles my son chose to be in telling the Christmas story when he was  a child. Since the Advent Season has begun, we have either seen or will see the Christmas story told in churches, shown with live nativities in various places and/or will share many versions of the Christmas story. Last year, there was the Google Search that showed what it would be like if Google existed back in the day. This year, we have seen how the story would be told via Facebook. Then, this afternoon, I find the video of the Google Earth Christmas  which is another beautiful sharing of the Christmas story as told in Luke.

No matter how the Christmas story is told, whether it be kids dressed up in their finest bathrobe to tell the story, box office hit movies telling the Christmas story, or the Social Media sharing how the news would spread in today’s world, the message remains the same. God sent His Son for us. Christ came to be our Prince of Peace, message of hope and forgiveness.

As we continue through this Advent Season, may you seek a way to share the story of this Prince that came to bring hope and forgiveness to a broken world. You will have your own way of sharing it but non the less “Go Tell It!”  Tell people what Christmas is ALL about!

Christmas Blessings

Plug in the Lights!

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This morning, as I began my morning routine, I looked across the room to notice the Christmas tree lights had not been plugged in. “Ugh!”, I thought to myself; “that tree looks so ugly right now!” “Before I do anything else, I am plugging in the tree lights!”

What made the Christmas tree look ugly to me? It was all the matter of the  lights. Once I ventured across the room and plugged in the tree’s lights, my outlook on the tree changed completely. I saw a very pretty tree that my family will enjoy when they come in from Christmas.

Thomas Kinkaid “The Painter of Light”

When the Christmas Season arrives, some of us go out to find that perfect tree to bring home. For others of us, it is a matter of deciding which tree from the attic will come down this year. Then, for some, there is a theme for the tree and others it is putting heirloom ornaments on the tree.  The Hawkins’ tree is one of two we choose from year to year as to which to put up. Then, in recent years, I have used a Santa theme with all things related to Santa with the exception of two nativity ornaments that are placed in the front of the tree. Other items that go with our tree are  the heirloom hand crochet snow flakes that Jim’s grandmother made for as a wedding gift, the Precious Moments angel at the top, the crochet tree skirt made for me over thirty years ago by one of my dad’s parishioners and underneath in front of the packages is Santa kneeling at Jesus’ crib. Yet, with all the memories and ornaments that have been placed on and around the tree, it is still not the same until the lights are plugged in.

Our lives are much like the Christmas tree. Despite all the dressing up we do, our true beauty is revealed when we allow the light of Christ to shine through us. Jesus reminds us ALL in  Matthew 5:14-16; You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

May your light shine before ALL men not only during the Christmas Season but all through year ahead. Plug in the  light of Christ and let others see His beauty through you.

Christmas Blessings!

“Tis The Season!”

“I know God would not give me more than I can handle but why does he have to trust me so much?!

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“Tis the season!” The season of parties, more things to do than usual, shopping and baking. As I looked over my list of what needs to be done around here the quote; “God does not give me any more than I can handle but I wish he would not trust me so much!”  Sound familiar. We all have thought and/or felt this when the list is long and the time is short.

God began to speak to me as I pondered over this quote and got myself together for my bible study’s Christmas party. “I wish he would not trust me so much….hum..” Is it really  God trusting me so much as it is he who is wanting me to trust him more? Yes, God does not give me more than I can handle even though I look at my list with bewilderment of trying to figure out what to do first or next!

In my conversation with God, he helped me to realize that it is in the things to do, the shopping, the parties, the baking and coordinating Christmas plans with family that he is wanting me to lean on him.  He wants me to place ALL of these activities into his hands and allow him to help me through. As I surrender these lists to God, I realize that I am drawing closer to him in my walk with him. He and I are talking more. The more I surrender to him the more I can handle all there is to do.

Are Christmas lists getting the best of you? Are you thinking “I know God would not give me more than I can handle but I wish he wouldn’t trust me so much?” If you are, realize that God is trusting you to trust him. Place those lists into his hands, talk to God about the concerns on your lists. As you begin to surrender to him, you will see that you can handle all that is before you.

Here are a couple of scriptures that can also help you get through the Christmas Season:


John 14:27

I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.


Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ.

Christmas Blessings!

Now…the rest of the story…Drew’s Role As The Donkey

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” Ephesians 2:14

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Last year in my post,Drew Said; I Want To Be Star”,  I share how at age three Drew wanted to be the star in the church’s Christmas pageant. In that post I shared the importance of the Christmas star and how we are a star for Christ. As Christians we are commissioned to share the light of Jesus Christ.

Drew the “Star” in Christmas Pageant

As I close in this blog, I promised to follow-up with Drew wanting to be the donkey the next year. Again, his dad and I shake our heads and  try to suggest to Drew about playing the role of a wise man or a shepherd. But, Drew dug his heels in once again and announced “I want to be the donkey!” 

The donkey is not the most respected animal in the barnyard. As a matter of fact, it has been used as a symbol of mocking and used in name calling and put downs. Despite the donkey not being respected, it is known as a symbol of peace times whereas, the horse seems to symbolize war times.

When you think about the donkey it makes sense that it would be a symbol of peace. After all, it was the donkey that Mary rode to Bethlehem as she was pregnant with the Christ child. Once in Bethlehem, Mary would deliver this baby that would share God’s peace with the world. Then, one week prior to Christ’s crucifixion, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey where the crowds greeted him with the waving of palms. In a matter of days, Christ would give Himself to be crucified so that each person could experience the peace of God in their hearts.

The donkey is not only the creäture that carried the Prince of Peace but it is the one creäture that probably understood Jesus. During Jesus’ ministry, he was mocked, laughed at and probably called a few unsavory names. Just as Christ was mocked, Christians today face the same type of mockery from time to time for their witness. Some Christians even lose their lives for testifying and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Reflecting on that Christmas where Drew insisted on being the donkey, God gives me a message today through that memory.It seemed that Drew knew at a young age the risks he would take sharing God’s message during his lifetime. At the age of four, Drew knew that sharing the gospel would have its challenges at times.  Our son, Drew is now a  man who continues to  seek peace with those he is around and  shares the light of Christ that he symbolized when he was three.  Once again, it seems that a child understood his role in not only  the Christmas pageant but what his role would be in this great big world.  All of us should be willing to demonstrate the peace of God to all of those around us.

Christmas Blessings

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Repeat the sounding JOY! via Carol’s Blog

Does Your Llama Spit? via Resting In His Grace

Christmas Through the Decades via It Just Dawned On Me

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