Posts from the ‘Thoughts from the Porch’ Category

Fearless

be-fearless

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong

and of good courage, do not be afraid,

nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God

is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

 Two weeks ago my family and I began a new chapter in our lives. This chapter opened up not only as a New Year but it also began a new normal. My mom went to her eternal home after a hard fight with cancer.

Mom pictured with my dad on the right and my husband, Jim in the middle.

Mom pictured with my dad on the right and my husband, Jim in the middle.

The Word Cancer Came Into Our Home

Five and a half years ago mom learned that she had cancer.  Once hearing this news and sharing with immediate family, Mom very firmly requested that we say nothing to no one. Yet, she did allow me to share with my Ladies’ Bible Study group, church family and Jim’s family here in Kentucky. I was allowed this privilege only because I live in Kentucky and she  lived in Georgia.  I am so grateful that Mom allowed me to share with these select few. They have held me up with love, prayers and encouragement as I took this journey. It is difficult for a girl to live away from her family especially her Mama. There is just something special about mother and daughter relationships.

Mom and me.

                         

Mom and me on my wedding day.

      

The Struggle

Over the last five and a half years, my brother and I struggled to keep a tight lip on what was going on with Mom. Deep within our hearts we so much wanted to share with others so that she would have more people praying for her and a support system for Dad. When the topic would be brought up it was quickly put to an end. Mom would have nothing to do with people knowing what she was going through.

Needless to say, not only did I struggle  carrying  this secret in the presence of those who knew her but there were times when I would become frustrated and question why Mom was so hush-hush about her battle with cancer.  I questioned how Mom was going to field the questions given to her as she would lose weight and she began to wear wigs. What was Dad going to tell people when Mom was not up to be out with him after a chemo session. (Mom and Dad did everything together!)  What would the response be to all of those inquiries?

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” I’m Fine”

Despite Mom losing weight and wearing a wig, Mom would respond those inquiries of how she was feeling with the phrase, “I’m fine.”  When Dad or any of us were seen out and about without Mom we were told specifically by Mom to tell people she was fine. Mom did not want anyone to make a fuss over her. She chose to battle this beast with her own Southern Belle style and dignity.  She lived fearlessly knowing that she was a Daughter of the King and that she could face anything placed before her because  her strength was drawn from Christ. ( Philippians 4:13)

In her daily walk with Jesus, it was Mom’s choice to focus on the needs of others. She preferred sending cards and words of encouragement to others who were going through a storm.  Not only did she chose to encourage those fighting a life storm but she chose to encourage others in their ministries, their walk with Christ and celebrate life’s celebrations with others.  Mom was also my encourager in my daily walk with Christ and in my life as a mom, wife,  blog writer and Bible Study leader.

gods-presence

God’s Presence

On the morning of December 27, 2016, Mom took her seat at the Great Banquet in Heaven. This date was already significant to our family because it was her late daddy’s birthday.  Later that morning, I opened a box of pictures to sort for the slide show that would be shown at the funeral home. The first picture I picked up was of Mom on her wedding day on her father’s arm waiting to be given away to marry my dad. What a beautiful message  God gave me at that moment. Mom had taken the arm of her heavenly ushers to be presented before her King.

Mom with her dad on her wedding day.

Mom with her dad on her wedding day.

On the evening prior to Mom’s visitation, I prayed to God asking Him to send me something assuring me that Mom was ‘fine”. Perhaps this sign would be a butterfly in my path, a word from a friend or a feather from an angel.

As we gathered outside the funeral home to go in, Dad opened the door to let me go in first. Before I took the first step into the building, I looked down and on the threshold of the doorway was a feather. This *feather symbolizing that Mom had crossed the threshold into eternity and that I along with my family were and are under God’s care and protection.

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Sunday, New Year’s Day, it was just Dad and I left at the house. Dad and I were eating breakfast and watching the birds come to eat at the feeders on Dad’s deck. Then, for just a few moments three red cardinals appeared on the deck. Again, another reminder that God was and is with us. The last three years Jim and I have lost someone of significance this time of year. The first being his dad losing his battle to cancer, the second being Jim’s favorite aunt and the third was my mom going home. For me, those three cardinals represented these three precious people that had and will continue to have a great influence on my life.

To Live Fearless

april-fearless-pose

Mom may have fought in silence but in her silence she taught me the true meaning of what it means to live fearlessly in the days ahead. No matter the battle that is put before us God is with us. When we acknowledge God’s presence in the battle we are able to face the fight ahead of us and fear less.

I have adopted this “Fearless” motto for my journey ahead of me. It is through my faith through Christ Jesus that will give me the courage and strength to face whatever is before me. I can hear  my sweet mama singing the  lyrics below  from the hymn, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow in her soprano voice.  I know she didn’t worry about the future in her fight because she knew who was walking with her and she walked fearlessly each day.

I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Jacqueline Ward Daniel Hill November 2, 1943-December 27, 2016

Jacqueline Ward Daniel Hill
November 2, 1943-December 27, 2016

*I have a collection of feathers all the same coloring that I have found in my path over time. They are always found in places in my path where you wouldn’t think a feather would fall. The feather found on the threshold of the funeral home is probably the most precious one yet.

Remember Who You Are

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possessions, that you declare praises

of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:6

remembering-who-you-are-in-christ

Remember Who You Are

Remember who you are. Growing up in a minister’s home, these words were often to spoken to me as I would go out with friends or when I would be out with my family. Those spoken words meant behave yourself, use your manners and know that people are watching you.  In other words, my identity and reputation would be defined by my actions and by the words I would say.

Fast Forward

In 1987, I became a mom to a precious little boy named Drew. As I began to raise him and send him out, I soon heard my mom coming out of my mouth as he would leave the house. Remember who you are I would say to Drew as he would head out the door.  These words were spoken even more often as he began to drive, date and do more things without Jim and I around.

One evening, Drew asked why we kept repeating this phrase before he would leave the house. Jim and I explained that when he is out and about he is representing our home and what we stand for and what we don’t tolerate as a family. We also explained that we live in a small town and chances are we will know where he had been before he got home. Yes, we did know where he was and who with before he returned home on several occasions. Jim and I also explained that it is important of being mindful of how one acts and what one says because it also shows his  heart  condition and what he believed.

Drew is now grown with his own family. He and his wife have just had a  precious baby girl, Campbell over a month ago. As Jim and I watch Drew and Megan with Campbell, we can’t help not only hear the words of what we said to Drew as we raised him but also the voices of our parents are even stronger. The words, remember who you are seem to be even louder for me these days.

Conforming

"The cross before me, the world behind me."

“The cross before me, the world behind me.”

As of recent Jim and I watch very little “new” programs on television. Just last night the television was on and we had tuned into a sitcom we thought would be entertaining. After about five minutes into it, we looked at each other and said, what is this world coming to? As we spit these words out of our mouths, we looked at each other and there was a moment of silence.

Jim and I began to talk about how the world is so much different from it was when we were growing up. We were both born in the mid 1960’s, grew up in the seventies and graduated high school in the early 1980’s.  Back then our grandparents thought the world was going crazy.  Yet, I look back now and see how much simple life was than it is now.

It seems we have forgotten who we are, whose we are, what is right and as Christians we are facing intolerance of our faith. Not only are Christians facing intolerance of their faith but they are facing  pressures to conform to this world.  As I write this I am reminded of Romans 12:2

Do not conform to this pattern of this world

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Turning From The Faith

daniel-in-the-lions-den

This past Sunday in Sunday School. We looked at Daniel 1:1-7. In this passage we learn of how God has handed King Nebuchadnezzar Judah.  In the process of this siege,  Nebuchadnezzar has ordered for the  young men from the royal family and noble families of the Israelites to be brought to serve in his court. The qualifications of these you men were they had to be   good-looking and who would most likely conform to his instructions and way of life.

It was the King’s plan to change these young men to conform to his rules, his lifestyle and to forget who they were meaning to take God out of their lives. Nebuchadnezzer expected these young men to bow to his gods. He went as far changing the names of these young men.  Their current names were names that represented God thus the need to change their names.

Through this process, the King ran into a snag. The snag was Daniel. Daniel refused to conform to the King’s ways. He refused to eat the same food as the King and to bow down to the King’s gods. As you read the book of Daniel, you will see where God showed up, used Daniel to turn the King’s heart around.

There Will Be A Day

keep-watch

In my NIV Life Application Bible, Matthew 24’s sub heading is Jesus Teaches About the Future.  In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus comes out of the temple and the disciples call Jesus over to admire structure of the temple. They are impressed with the architecture. Yet, Jesus tells them the building is only temporary. As Matthew 24 continues Jesus warns the disciples ( including us) about there will come a time of false prophets, deception, Nation will rise against nation, and there will be famines. Jesus went on to explain to the disciples that they and we as Christians will be hated because of Him. Then in Matthew 24:13 he says what I believe is the most pivotal and important phrase, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Standing Firm

stand-firm-in-faith

It seems these days there is so much going on. People doing things out of greed, out for themselves, no concern for fellow-man, and manners seemed to be a thing of the past. I see families against one another and the list goes on. If you are on any type of social media you see such things every day. Our television shows and news also reflect this culture that has been created.  Thus, all the more reason that we as Christians need to stand firm in what we believe. Each morning when we rise,  we  need to pray for wisdom, guidance and discernment. Just as Daniel stood firm in his faith we must stand firm in ours.

Remember Who You Are

cropped-girl-looking-at-the-moon2.jpg

Yes, as a child my mom would remind me each time I left the house to remember who I was and how my actions spoke loudly to those I would encounter. Today, as I go out and about my business, I realize even more so the importance of remembering who I am and who I represent. I don’t just represent my personal home and family but I represent God’s Kingdom.

1Peter 2:9 tells us that we are a chosen people and  a royal priesthood.  Each one of us  made the decision to step out of darkness and ways of the world to step into the light of Christ and represent His kingdom.  It is my prayer as we go through the Christmas Season that we remember who we are and whose we are and that our words and actions demonstrate who we stand for and what we don’t stand for.  Let there be no question of who we are in this world.

Christmas Memories

Christmas Blessings

 

The Corners Don’t Have To Be Perfect

Thoughts From The Porch

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

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

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First Things First

Thoughts From The Porch

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

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

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

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Things To Remember

Thoughts From The Porch


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

Things To Remember:

Stop.

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

Take a deep breath.

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

Look at all that is around you.

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

Remember to keep it simple in the gift giving. 

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

After all…

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Making Your Christmas List

Thoughts From The Porch

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

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

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

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“Bind My Wandering Heart”

Bind My Wandering Heart

Heart

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free from perversity,

keep corrupt talk from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,

fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet,

and 

be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or left,

keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

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

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

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

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

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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