Author Archives: April

The Gate of The Lord

April:

Sharing my dad’s blog site “Poems From Morning Prayer”
Have a blessed Easter weekend!

Originally posted on Poems From Morning Prayer:

 A gate I spy in yonder wall,

That marks the bounds of time,

The gate is small but inviting all,

Who will in faith to it resign.

 

The gate you ask, “What is its shape?”

It is a man with nail-priced hands,

His name of course is Jesus Christ,

Whose grace all of heaven spans.

 

By faith we sinners dare to hope,

That through him our souls may pass,

And thus be blameless in God’s sight,

For his life that will forever last.

 

O’ ye  builders here on earth,

Who do on other ways insist,

Repent and seek this one true gate,

Lest your chance for life be missed.

 

C. R. Hill, Jr.

© 04/14/14

 

 

 “This is the gate of the Lord;

the righteous shall enter through it…

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.” 

 

Psalm 118:20 & 22…

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You Are My Favorite…..

 over hearing

Last night, Jim and I were out eating dinner. In the booth behind us was a set of grandparents taking their granddaughter out to dinner. I could not help but over hear some of their conversation. It was all so sweet and you could tell they were enjoying their evening out. Then, I heard the grandfather say to his granddaughter; “did you know that you are my favorite granddaughter?” Then, I heard a small voice sweetly reply; “really?”.  The grandmother began to explained to their granddaughter that she was the favorite granddaughter because she was their only granddaughter.

Jim Hawkins, Sr. standing with his favorite youngest grandson and his favorite son....at our favorite son's wedding.

Jim Hawkins, Sr. standing with his favorite youngest grandson and his favorite son….at our favorite son’s wedding.

As I over heard this conversation, I could not help but smile. Needless to say, a flood of memories ran rapidly through my mind. I shared with Jim what I had just heard and he smiled with a tear in his eye. I so wanted to turn and say something to this precious family but I refrained out of respect to their having their special time with their granddaughter.

By now, you are wondering why this over heard conversation meant so much to me as I heard it. And, you may wonder why Jim smiled with a tear in his eye as I shared what I had heard.  The answer is simple. We were reminded of Jim’s dad who passed away this past January. Jim’s dad was known to keep a level playing field among friends and family. He had a way of seeing each person’s uniqueness and what made them stand out. How he did this in the family was he had a favorite. Just like this grandfather that was talking to his granddaughter last night, he would tell my niece that she was his favorite granddaughter because she was the only granddaughter.

Bryan, Bethany and Drew The favorite grandchildren

Bryan, Bethany and Drew
The favorite grandchildren

Not only did he tell my niece that she was his favorite granddaughter, he would tell my nephew that he was his favorite oldest grandson. My son, Drew was his favorite youngest grandson. I was his favorite daughter-n-law and Jim was his favorite son. Jim’s sister was his favorite daughter and her husband was his favorite son-n-law.  Jim’s dad showed no partiality to anyone. At his funeral, as each one of us got up to share our thoughts and memories we would introduce ourselves as his favorite…… This over heard conversation was also a comfort for Jim and me. For us, it was Jim’s dad looking down from heaven and reminding us that though we are no longer together on this earth, we are still his favorite.  It was a wink and a smile from heaven.

feather

As I was getting dressed this morning, I was reflecting on what I had heard int he booth behind me  in Fazoli’s last night.  In this reflecting back, God whispered in my ear. He said; “April, did you know that you are my favorite child?” My response was unlike the little girl responding back to her grandfather last night but it was more of a “wow!”.  It was also humbling for me because I know God’s family is huge! In this huge family each person is his favorite.

Psalm 139

Psalm 139 came to my mind. In this scripture we are reminded that God knows everything about us. He knows our good qualities and our faults. Yet, he loves us all!  Each one of us are his favorite because he knows our uniqueness. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!   In the words of Matthew West; “I am the child of the one TRUE KING!”   Each one of us is not only the child of the King but each one of us are his favorite!   In the days ahead, stay in tuned to God’s voice. Because you never know when you will be reminded that you are his favorite with a wink and a smile from heaven. After all, Jim and I were reminded while eating dinner at a Fazoli’s restaurant.

Have a blessed weekend and enjoy the video below:

It’s Gonna Be Alright


“He is not here; he has risen just as he said.” Matthew 18:6

 

 

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“Here comes the sun….”

 

The above picture is one I took early morning while at sea on a cruise. It is a miracle that I got these shots because I am not usually an early riser. Yet, while on this trip there was this urgency of wanting to get up and see the sun rise over the ocean at least one morning. As Jim and I sat out on the deck with our coffee talking, I saw the sun begin to rise and I insisted that we cease our conversation for a few minutes. I wanted to soak up the Master bringing in a brand new day. God’s creation was waking up.  It was not only beautiful but it was a renewal of the heart and a reminder of how God’s Son gives light into the soul.  It was as though that no matter what had been troubling my heart in days past or present, the sun rising was a message from God saying; “it’s gonna be alright.”

 

Here comes the sun....

Here comes the sun….

 

This Sunday will be Easter. Many people will be getting up early to attend sunrise services. It will be a time of reflection of Mary finding the tomb empty. Just as the sun rises our Savior is risen.  This is not only a time of reflecting on the empty tomb but it is a time of God awaking our hearts to the new life Christ gives when He lives in us.

For some, you may not be an early riser like myself but I encourage you to sometime to set your alarm clock to get up to watch the sunrise. As you stand and watch, inhale the newness of life that Christ gives. Be aware of the Risen Son’s presence. Soak it up. Be renewed. And, know that no matter what you have gone through or are going through, God is telling you; “it’s gonna be alright.”

"...and it's gonna be alright"

“…and it’s gonna be alright”

 

 

 

 

May you and your loved ones have a blessed Easter!

Never Alone

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Today, I watch television. As like  other days, I see people hurting, feeling abandoned, some are lost and some who want freedom. People are wanting freedom from the hurts, disappointments, and sin in their lives. Maybe you are one of these people who are looking for answers and all you want is complete freedom.

  I glance through highlighted portions and side notes taken in William Young’s book The Shack, I stumble on page ninety-five where Papa explains to Mack about true freedom. She says to Mack:

 “Mackenzie, the Truth shall set you free and the Truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about ‘him’. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him. Then all that stuff you feel churnin’ around inside will start to work its way out. “How can you really know how I feel? Mack, asked, looking back in…

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My Pleasure

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa

 Chick fil a

My Pleasure

Any time you enter a Chick fil A restaurant, you will be greeted by a server behind the counter with them saying; it’s a great day to eat at Chick Fil A, how may I help you? Once your order is filled and the server hands you your tray, they will say; it was my pleasure. If you should go back to the counter for a refill or some other need, that  need will be taken care of with a smile and the words; my pleasure.

Excuses

excuses

Each day opportunities present themselves for us to serve others. However, there are times when we don’t acknowledge those opportunities. We have an excuse for not answering the call to help others.

  • I really don’t have the time.
  • I don’t know if I have the skill to do that task.
  • I will help more when I retire.
  • When I get my first million I will begin to give back.
  • I am too old to be a part of such an opportunity.
  • I am too young to be part of such an opportunity.
  • What difference would doing this small task make?

Arguing with God

Philippians

When I write out these excuses and think about them, I think about Moses when God called him to lead the people out of slavery. Moses had every excuse in the book to give back to God. He told God that he could not talk before Pharoh and to go ask his brother Aaron to talk to Pharoh. After much back and forth, Moses finally obeyed God. He went  and  talked to Pharoh and lead the people out of Egypt.  (Exodus 3)

Opportunities

how can I help

Everyday, God places opportunities in our path. He may not call us to do something on such a big scale as leading people out of slavery. But, God calls us to make a difference. We may not feel adequate or qualified to the calling and that is where we have to trust God’s leading. After all, we are familiar with the quote; he doesn’t call the qualified but he qualifies the called.

The video at the beginning of this page is an example of people being in tuned to what is around them. Whether they realize it or not, they are obeying the commandment; love one another. It is the small act of kindness that may make a difference for someone’s day and/or life.

In my life time, I have been a recipient of something small done  for me that made a big difference in my life. One special memory I have of someone taking time to help me is a little boy by the name, Jimmy.

A Boy Named, Jimmy

tying shoes

At one of my dad’s early appointments in his ministry, Dad was in charge of over seeing one of our Methodist campgrounds. Over the summer, many camps would take place for all ages and needs. One week out of the summer, there was a camp for mentally challenged children. In this group was a little boy named, Jimmy. I was about four or five years old when I first met Jimmy. For some reason, we connected. Where Jimmy was I was not too far behind him.

This particular mid-summer morning, we were outside the dinning hall playing. My shoe became untied and although Jimmy could not really talk very well, in his own way he communicated to me to sit down on the ground with him. Instead of tying my shoe, he untied my other shoe. Then, he took my shoes off and placed one shoe in his lap and the other shoe in my lap. With a smile on his face and in the best way he could communicate he began to teach me how to tie my shoes. By the time the lunch bell rang, I had learned to tie my shoes.

I share this story about Jimmy because despite the challenges he had, he saw a need. He saw I needed to learn to tie my shoes. As he showed me how to tie my shoe, you could see compassion and love coming from his heart. Yes, I was only four or  five at the time but when I see that scene as vividly as the day that it took place, I see his face beaming because he had helped someone and he had a purpose. And, thanks to Jimmy I haven’t had to worry about tripping over my shoe laces.

With Great Love

Luke

In the video at the beginning of this article, we see people seeing a need and stopping to help. Some of these events are small ones but they make and/or made a difference for someone. The gentleman in the break room wiping the spill up off the floor probably kept someone from coming in and slipping. The lady at the bus stop forgoing getting on the bus to help the gentleman pick up his papers that fell on the sidewalk.  Who knows? Maybe, her stopping to help pick up the papers saved the gentleman from being late to a meeting and/or losing an important document.

You see, we don’t know how that one small thing we do with GREAT love will make a difference in the bigger picture of life. My challenge for you today is that when you wake up in the morning, tune in to God and be ready to respond to his calling.  Don’t worry about not having the ability because he will make sure you are qualified. Do what he has called you to do with an attitude of GREAT love and with the response; my pleasure.

Check out Mark Bezos’ Testimony:

An Invitation

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come follow me”, Jesus said; “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.  

Matthew 4:18-20

memory lane

A couple of weeks ago Jim and I went to his home church to worship with his family. As the service began, the minister did his greeting and in his greeting he shared this thought: “When we invite someone to church, we are asking them to be part of God’s family and to join us on the journey to heaven.”   I loved this statement and it made my heart smile.

walking

Have you ever taken a trip with a group of friends? If you have, you probably experienced…

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Emptying My Jar….Priceless!

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

2 Corinthians 4:7-17

New International Version (NIV)

 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b]

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Blessings in a Bad Day

It Was Going To Be A GREAT Day!

A GREAT day

Today was going to be a GREAT day. I was finally getting back to my morning small group after being pulled away due to family events and personal illness. The weather was finally going to be like Spring after so many winter snowy days without sun. After group, I would be on my way to the grocery to pick up a few things including a couple of steaks to initiate the grill for the season this evening. Then, home for lunch on the porch and some reading and possible writing.

It was great getting back into group and discussing the importance of forgiveness. We discussed the importance of asking for and accepting forgiveness. Along with asking for forgiveness and receiving it, we also discussed that once forgiveness takes place we need to let go and move forward. We walk in God’s grace, practice God’s grace and are aware of God’s grace in ALL of our daily interactions. After all, this is the example Jesus set for us as He walked this earth.

Off To The Grocery

When leaving small group and heading to the grocery, I did not realize how soon God was going to give me a lesson in grace. I enter the grocery and in no time have all the items I needed. Off to the check out counter I  go. As I approach the many lanes I see long lines. Well, I got what I needed in timely fashion but it looks like it is going to take forever to check out I said to myself. Walking to find a short lane, I find a lane with no one in it except for one lady who was looking at magazines just before you get to the counter. Ma’am, are you in line? I asked her because I did not want to jump in front of her. She sweetly smiled and said; oh, no. Please go on ahead of me. I am still looking.  I politely thanked her and proceeded to check out. 

As the transaction was being completed, I was still fumbling with my wallet and purse and had not placed the bags in my cart. Without realizing it, the clerk had sweetly put my bags into my cart. I thank her and she smiled and said; my pleasure. You have a wonderful afternoon. Needless to say, I walked out with a smile on my face and in my heart.

Suddenly, I Get That Feeling In the Pit of My Stomach as I Hear Metal Crunching…

cars colliding

Car loaded up and ready to head for home for that much look forward to lunch on the porch and that quiet time of reading. As I got in the car I noticed that the cars that had pulled in beside me had made it a little tight for me to get out. Aware of my surroundings, I knew that I needed to be fully focused on getting out of this tight spot. I began to slowly back out of my place with the awareness of a car a couple of spaces behind me getting ready to back out. Slowly pulling out and watching this car, I suddenly hear the sound of metal going crunch!

Oh no! Where did that come from? What did I hit? I was watching what was around me? As I looked to my right I see a red vehicle much bigger than mine. Yes, we had collided. Although, the day had been off to a good start, my heart sank. Tears rolled down my eye. I cried out to God; Can I just get a break?! It seems lately I get back on my feet and something happens! With tears in my eyes, I get out of my car and immediately call Jim to come to the parking lot that I have been in a minor accident. After I hung from Jim I approach the young lady I had collided with tears still rolling down my face.

The Exchange

exchanging information

I am so sorry were the words I spoke to her as I approached her. She saw my state of mind and threw her arms around me and hugged me. She said it is okay. It is fixable and only metal. I told her that it has been a rough couple of months and this was something that I just didn’t need. Her response was oh, I am so sorry. Bless your heart.  I immediately told her that I did not see her. She replied. it was no one’s fault. It just happened. You were watching for a car and I was doing the same. Thus, we were in each other’s blind spots and it simply happened.

The police arrived and asked what happened. He also agreed that in situations such as these that it happens and there is really no reporting anyone at fault. As we handed our insurance and license to the officer, Jim noticed we had the same insurance carrier. We agreed with having the same insurance already put us in the right direction of getting the vehicles fixed.

The young lady, Jim and I talked and exchanged other information while we waited for the report to be written up. As we talked, we had the feeling we knew each other from another time and place but could not recall. Our paths had been in similar places but we could never pinpoint where they may have crossed. Yet, it was a time of getting to know someone else.

Once the officer gave us the information we needed. The young lady, Jim and I shook hands. As we shook hands; this sweet young lady said; it was a pleasure meeting you and talking to you. I just hate it was in this way. We agreed we would be in touch with repairs and said we knew it would all work out.

What Does This Have To Do With Grace/Forgiveness?:

seeing God in every day life

You see from the time I was ready to check out with my grocery items I had encounter God’s grace. I had seen him at work blessing me. He blessed me with the kind lady who told me to go ahead in line. Then as I got out of my car after hearing the crunch of fenders hitting another, he blessed me with a sweet, understanding young lady who reached out hugged me and assured all would be okay. She may not realize it but it was her spirit that ministered to me whether she realized it or not. What sometimes can be an ugly scene was a moment of kindness and patience. All along, God was blessing me through these chain of events.

Yet, as I went to get in my car, I had not seen the blessings just yet. Once again, I broke  down in tears this time in Jim’s arms. As he held me in his arms, I told him I was so sorry for the inconvenience I put him through by pulling him from work and the inconvenience it would be to get the car fixed with all that has already taken place and is still going on, he just held me and said; it is okay Peanut. This is why I pay an insurance bill every month. I have been married to you for twenty-nine years and this is the first real accident you have ever had on our watch together and it isn’t that big of a deal.” He hugged me tight and told me to go home have some lunch and just relax.

The afternoon progressed and in that I had my little pity party. Yet, in the midst of this pity party, I got down on my knees and asked God to intervene. I asked him to bring me peace. It is in doing this my eyes and heart were opened. I began to see God’s hand in ALL that I had been through earlier that day.

How It Could Have Been But Wasn’t

jeremiah 29

You see, the grocery could have been so busy that it could have taken me longer to get the things I needed. Instead of the lady with the full grocery cart telling me to go ahead, she could have told me she was in line and gone ahead of me.  The clerk did not have to place my things in my cart for me but she did. And, when the accident occurred, the young lady could have been anything but nice. When Jim arrived on the scene, he could have been put out being called away from work. Upset and question me if I was paying attention. But, such was not the case in each situation.

In each situation grace was extended to me. Grace by allowing me to get head in line. Grace with the clerk helping me with my groceries and especially grace was shown to me from the young lady I collided with me. You see in a time of inconvenience and frustration, God blessed me with his grace. He blessed me with putting kind and caring people in my path.

Praise God From Whom ALL Blessings Flow

1240240_533326376743845_591194273_n

As I write this, I feel God’s peace. I see all the blessings God had planned for me in each situation I was placed in. All in all, I can only say these words; Praise God from whom ALL Blessings flow! God is good! All the time!!

No matter the daily situations we are placed in good or bad, God is there as long as we acknowledge his presence. He is ready to bless us. We just have to be willing to accept the blessings and walk in his grace. It is in all the situations that he places us in we are being molded even more into his likeness.

Had a bad day? Sit down and reflect on that day/situation and see where God was at work. Seek the blessings he placed before you.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:17

Had a bad day/situation? Watch the video and see how a bad day can turn into something good.

After all, God is good ALL the time and there are blessings through it all!

We’re Here!

family vacation

We’re Here!

washington dc

We’re here!  Were the words my father spoke to the security guard standing out in the Nation’s Capital drive area. You see, my family was on vacation to see the sites of Washington, DC and to visit with my aunt. After many long hours of riding and my brother begging my dad to stop and talk to a sign from time to time (the fast food drive-thru), we arrived in DC at the peak of rush hour!

Stuck in the round about

It was like a scene from European Vacation

As my dad tried to navigate through the metro area of DC, he was quick to learn that streets and lanes change to accommodate the traffic. After many u-turns and barely missing a few flower beds, Dad thought he had reached a parking area or at least where he could find some sort of direction. Thus,  pulling up to our Nation’s Capital and dad rolling down the window to announce the security guard that we had arrived. The look on the security guard’s face was priceless. Looking back, this real life adventure reminds me of the movie, European Vacation where Clark and family keep going in circles in the round-about.

A Simple Trip To The Mall

Sears

This incident was many to come as we vacationed in DC that summer. Dad noticed that one of our tires was in bad shape when we arrived at my aunt’s condo. The decision was made that we would take the car to a Sears the next morning to get the tire fixed. How hard would that would be and how long could it take? After all, Mom and I could do a little shopping and the guys could hang out and look at tools. Then, we would be on with our site seeing of Washington. WRONG!  

Dad, Mom, my brother and I loaded up the car for the day. We are heading to Sears to get the tire fixed. Dad had found out where the closest Sears was and off we went. As we traveled the interstate to Sears, Dad saw the mall coming up on his right side. He was sure the next exit would take us to the right destination. WRONG! 

Yes, we were back in that scene from European Vacation with Clark and family stuck in the round about. Dad would take an exit and then turn around. For a while we were up and down the interstate seeing the mall and all we could do is wave at it as we passed. I don’t quite remember how Dad finally figured out how to get to the mall but we made it. The tire was fixed. Mom and I shopped. Then, we were off to see the sites of Washington, DC.

Mom Reads The Wrong Sign

Metro

After a day of site seeing, we returned to my aunt’s place to clean up and go somewhere nice for dinner. My aunt would be in meetings that evening so we thought a night out on the town would be fun.  Mom had found a travel guide of places to eat in Washington. She had read about one that she thought we would all enjoy. Again, we load up the car and off to a nice dinner we go. As we pulled out of the drive of my aunt’s place, Dad asked Mom where was this restaurant was located. She read off the directions and said it will be on “M” street. Dad goes in the direction of where this place was to be located. As we began to travel to our destination, Dad told Mom to look for “M” street. Suddenly, Mom says; there’s M Street.  Yes, it was a sign that said “M” with an arrow pointing in a direction. However, it was not getting us to our destination. Instead, we arrived in the roughest part of Washington, DC. Needless to say, my dad did not roll down his window this time and announce our arrival but only to  put the pedal to the metal to get us out while my brother and I ducked down in the back seat in fear of our lives. You see, the “M” Mom was seeing was the sign directing you to the Metro stops.

Once Dad got us out of a dangerous area, he looked at the city map and navigated our way to the planned destination. After fearing for our lives and taking wrong turns, we arrived to the restaurant for the dinner we had anticipated an hour earlier. Needless to say, Dad pretty much let us order whatever we wanted on the menu that evening.

Our Journey in Life

My way

So many times in life, we forget that God is in control.  In our effort to get to where God wants us to be we take the wheel in attempt to get to the destination he has set for us. As a result, we arrive but not at the intended destination.

There are times in life where we see where we need to be but we keep passing it by. In other words, we keep going in circles seeing where we need to be but we just seem to not be able to get there. We are stuck in the round about.

Along with wanting to take the wheel, and getting stuck in the round about, we think we see a sign that is telling us that is where God wants us to go. Yet, after following the sign, we find ourselves maybe not in a dangerous place like my family in DC but we arrive anywhere but where God intended us to be.

Directions

My way is not working

As a teacher I once worked with use to say, God has a plan. It is a good plan. He has a plan  for our path. Thus, we have to pay attention to his guidance. Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in ALL your ways submit to him.,

and he will make your paths straight.

In other words, there is no need to have to make u-turns, drive through flower beds and end up in dangerous areas in our life when we give God full control of our lives.  Each day when we get up we need to get our map (bible) and ask God to direct our paths for the day. We have to pay attention to his leading every second of the day and watch for signs. It is important that we pay attention to his voice within because he will tell us if we are about to take a wrong turn.

Yes, there are times when we will forget God is in control. We are going to make wrong turns. It is my prayer that we don’t end up in a dangerous situation. However, we all know that there are people who have landed in a bad place because they did not allow God to lead them. It is in these times, when we need to  pull up to the security guard (God) and let him know; we’re here and allow him to guide us back into the right direction.

The Rest of the Story

The Rest of the Story

My family and I did enjoy our vacation to Washington, DC that summer. I can say that it was one of the most memorable vacations we took except the one trip to Florida one summer. However, that is for another day.

Disclaimer…Please note that this trip was taken many years ago before GPS and guys would not dare ask for directions.

God has a plan

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