Welcome To My Porch

Meet April

Me with my family.. (left to right) Jim (my hubby), me, my son, Drew and my daughter-n-law, Megan....

Welcome To Thoughts From The Porch!

Paul reminds us in Romans 12:13 to practice hospitality. Being a girl who was raised in the South, hospitality to others is a big deal. I experienced warm hospitality in many homes. However, the fondest memories of hospitality shared were on porches.  As anyone knows, porches are a big deal on Southern homes. It is on the porch where stories are shared, fellowship is experienced and they are a place for rest and renewal.

In 2010, my son, Drew sent me a message asking me to think about what I am passionate about in life. My passion is to share encouragement with others and to let them know they have a Father who loves them. In response to this answer, Drew encouraged me to set up a blog site and to begin writing.

The original name for my website was April’s Faith Thoughts but as time went on my website began to evolve. I knew I wanted a better title for my site. In my reminiscing of growing up, I recalled the memories of growing up, sitting on neighbors’ porches, and hearing stories. I also recalled that those were moments of getting the spiritual batteries recharged. Thus, the title Thoughts From The Porch.

A little about me. I was born in Athens, Georgia and into a Methodist Minister’s home…in my upbringing, I learned that the only real college team in GA is the University of Georgia ( Go DAWGS!), there is nothing like a glass of cold sweet tea on a hot summer day and there is nothing like getting a dog dressed and sometimes walking at The Varsity whether it be in Athens or downtown Atlanta. Along with GA DAWGS, Varsity dogs and sweet tea, I know the importance of being a Braves fan win or lose.

Since my dad was a Methodist minister, it meant our family moved from time to time. Fortunately, never too far from Atlanta. It is in these moves where I met and made many dear friends who have left lasting footprints on my heart. I am so glad Facebook has enabled me to re-connect with many of them.

I met my husband, Jim in 1983 at Lake Junaluska, NC. We were both in college and worked on summer staff there. He and I are proof that if God wants two people together, He will get you together. I was from Georgia and Jim was from Kentucky. We dated two and half years long distance and married in 1985. Jim and I marked 30 years of knowing each other and being the best of friends this past May, 2013. We will celebrate 28 of wedded bliss in November. Jim and I have lived in Owensboro, Kentucky for 23 years. Jim is a Physical Therapist for the local hospital where his emphasis is Outpatient, orthopedic and industrial work site analysis.

Jim and I have one son, Drew. He married a beautiful lady, Megan last August. They just celebrated their two-year anniversary. Drew and Megan reside in Mid-Town Atlanta. (Which I am jealous of since they are a couple blocks away from The Varsity, Mary Mac’s Tea Room and the FOX-all favorite places of mine.). Drew is currently employed with The DeMoss Group and Megan is employed as the assistant social media manager at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta. Needless to say, they are teaching us old folks the advantages of the Social Media world. Sometimes, I still can’t keep up because it all seems to move and change so fast!

Jim and I also have two four-legged children. Smokey is my little guy who is a Shih tzu/ Bischon Frise. I share stories about Smokey from time to time. Also, there have been a couple of times when I have left my computer opened and Smokey decided to jump in and write a post of his own.

Tori is our black lab and is more of Jim’s dog. Tori and Jim enjoy walks in the neighborhood and enjoy watching the Velocity channel together in the garage.

In this lifetime, I have had many ups and downs. It is in all circumstances that I know that the good and the bad is the process of God molding me. My philosophy is “If God got you to it, He WILL get you through it.”

I feel richly blessed with the family, friends and home that God has given me. I also feel blessed to have grown up in an era of all the cool bands, where music had lyrics that said something and music you could really dance to. You know the ones, Earth Wind and Fire, Chicago, Styx, Aretha Franklin, The Spinners and the list goes on and on…..

 To learn more about me, grab a glass of sweet tea and come visit me on my porch.

Yes, I am from the South where the tea is sweet but the air is even sweeter!

Thank you for visiting my porch and I hope you will come back again!

I

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The 9mm bullet from that day I keep at my desk

Chili Dogs and Bullets. Just a Day at the Office.

Below is a guest post written by my son Drew about an experience he had a couple of years ago.

The 9mm bullet from that day I keep at my desk

It was part of my weekly routine.

For just under two years, I had worked at Hinda Incentives, whose office was tucked into a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Sure, weird things happened there from time to time. There were a couple of bullet holes in the side of the building. Younger kids often tried to get me to buy them beer while I walked to the train. Occasionally there was a guy high as a kite. Other than that, it really didn’t feel that dangerous during the day. All that “weird stuff” happened at night, well beyond closing time.

Right?

Around once a week I would walk to a Nicky’s, a hot dog stand around the corner from the office, for my chili dog special. Two chili dogs, a basket of fries and a Coke for $4.75. For a guy, living on a shoestring budget in Chicago, this was a treat. You couldn’t beat this deal, or the following heartburn. Worth it every time.

Recovering from a long trip

Still one of my favorite places to eat in Chicago. Cheap lunch!

This particular afternoon, I was hungover from a looooong night of flying. I had landed in Chicago about 2:30 am the night before from interviewing for my eventual job at Engauge in Atlanta. Due to storms, both the ATL and my connecting CLT airport had closed and I had spent all night finding a way to get back to Chicago. After sprinting through airports, barely making onto planes before the gates closed and flying on two very turbulent flights, I was second guessing God’s plan for me to move to Atlanta.

If my trip home was this rough, did He really want me to move there? Would Atlanta be the right decision if I was offered a job or was God using the storm to tell me otherwise?

Anyway, it’s the next day and I’m falling asleep at my desk. Lunchtime comes around and since I obviously didn’t pack lunch on three hours of sleep, I thought a stroll to Nicky’s would be a good way to wake up and reward a hard night. I earned a few chili dogs dangit. I even contemplated splurging on an italian beef sandwich as I stumbled groggily down the street.

Crash

I noticed a couple of guys walking past me and thinking “they look too young to not be in school. Where are their parents? Why do I sound like already sound like an old man in my mind?” A car pulled up to the curb beside us and they hopped in. I kept on walking when I heard a loud CRASH. I turned around to see a Jeep had plowed into the side of their car, pushing it up on the sidewalk about 5 feet behind me.

That woke me up.

I turned around and began to walk back towards the car, hoping the folks inside were okay. Then I noticed that the Jeep wasn’t letting up on his brakes…the car was still moving and the guy behind the wheel of the Jeep looked angry. Not like a “I just got in a wreck” anger but “I’m going to kill these guys in the car” type of look. Recognizing that this wasn’t a situation I needed to be directly involved in, I quickly turned around and started to power walk to the convenience store up ahead to make a call. The Jeep eventually laid off its target and sped off in my direction.

POP POP POP POP POP!

I turned around and saw the guys from the other car already out on the curb with pistols in their hands, shooting at the Jeep. As the Jeep started down the street in my direction, making a turn towards me, I quickly realized that I was standing in between the guns and their intended target. So I did what any normal person would do.

And ducked.

I ran into a front yard and dove behind a set of concrete steps waiting for them to move on. In my mind I couldn’t wrap my head around what was going on – and the fact that it was all happening in broad daylight. The guys eventually ran right past me in pursuit of the Jeep. Once they passed me, I quickly sprinted the other direction back to the office.

Once I was almost at the office, I thought I heard yelling and noticed that the same guys with guns were coming out of the alley in my path. We literally almost collided into each other had I not ducked behind another parked car. I made it back to the office, called the cops and ate a bag of chips until my boss told me to go home.

I went home a little after 1pm and went straight to sleep. No debriefing with anyone. I went home to my little studio apartment, laid down and slept hard. I woke up and had a brief 10 minute chat with my dad about what happened because I knew he wouldn’t freak out. I wasn’t really freaked out as much as I was in a “did that really just happen?”phase. I couldn’t tell my fiancee Megan, my mom or any other family and friends because I didn’t want that story to get out and get people worried. I think I spent the rest of the night eating frozen pizza and watching Arrested Development alone in my apartment.

The Next Day

I drove to work the next day…not taking my usual El train/walk commute. With good reason, still a bit shell shocked. That afternoon, I was still craving a hot dog so my co-worker Adam and I walked together to Nicky’s. When we got to where the events happened the day before, I told him where I was, where the (assumed) gang members got hit and were shooting. He said “hey, let’s see if we can find any shells,” still skeptical of my story. We went to the grassy spot and there they were: shells and live 9mm rounds.

I picked up a bullet, stuck it in my pocket and kept it with me ever since. When I eventually told Megan in person several weeks later, I don’t think she believed me until I pulled the bullet out of my wallet. Even mom was a little shocked until I told her and provided my 9mm evidence.

Oh yeah…also that next day? I was offered a job at Engauge. Accepted it on the spot. When the recruiter Dave asked if I needed a day to think about it, I replied “Dave, here’s what happened yesterday…” I’m pretty sure God gave me his answer on moving to Atlanta. That story also gave me a bit of a reputation going into my first day at work, since that story had been told by several folks in the agency prior to my arrival.

The bullet? I still keep it on my desk. Why? I know, no matter what kind of day I’m having at work…no matter how bad it may be…it could always be worse.

How about that for perspective?

April’s son Drew is the Director of Digital and Social Media at The DeMoss Group, the largest faith-based PR agency in the nation. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Megan and their dog Theo.

Wise Guy

In my previous post, I share about the Pearl of a Girl who was added to our family strand almost a year ago. Just as I looked up the meaning of Megan’s name, I continued on and looked up the meaning for Drew. Of course our Drew’s full name is Andrew.  Here is what I found; Drew has a Welch origin. The short form of Andrew and it means “wise.”

In raising Drew, I was faced with many challenges that come with raising a boy. Grass stains that magically jumped up on his pants as he would explain why his good pants had stains. Loud noises and sometimes rude noises that I would immediately attempt to put a stop to. And, then there were things Drew would say out of the blue that would make Jim and me realize that he was sometimes wise beyond his years and sometimes actually knew a little more than we did. Yes, challenging!!

Drew was the type of child where Jim and I would have to draw straws to see who was going to do the punishing when Drew did get into mischief. You see, Drew had a way of looking at us and breaking us as we were attempting to correct/lecture him. One of us would have to do the confrontation/punishing while the other was in the other room with their face buried in a pillow laughing while it was all going down in the other room.  Drew had and still does have a quick wit and tongue.

Yet, Drew has always been a child that Jim and I have great admiration for. He is always calculating, analyzing and researching before he makes any decision. For example, Drew did not actually start walking on his own until he was about twelve months old. However, we knew he could walk at six months. The reason we knew he could is because you could give him the thinnest  of thread to hold on to and he would walk. Yet, he had to have it perfected in his mind before he would reveal that he actually knew how to walk.

We have watched Drew make life decisions in the same way. He would bounce a thought our way to see what input we would have but then would not pursue the issue as far as we knew. Yet, all the while Drew was gathering facts, and information to make the best decision. He did this as he prepared to start his career life in Chicago, as he moved to Atlanta last year and as he made he most current move to the DeMoss Group.

Jim and I have a lot of respect for our son, Drew. He reminds us so much of Jim’s dad.  Jim, Sr is the type of man where people seek his advice and value his opinion. He is a man of wisdom.  They are both kind of like the old commercial that was on years ago; “When EF Hutton speaks, everyone listens.” 

Jim and I are proud of all of the decisions that Drew has made through the years. Yet, the decision to marry Megan has to be one of our proudest out of all of his accomplishments. It was only after a few visits with Megan that we knew that Drew was calculating something far more than a friendship. He was looking ahead at  a life-time friendship, relationship and partner to walk with him the rest of his life.

Drew getting ready to propose to Megan

Just as I looked up scripture that went with Megan’s name, I did the same for Drew. Have I not command you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Jim and I know that in ALL  the decisions Drew has been faced with that he has faced each one with confidence and great courage. He is a man who walks with God each and every day. It is because Drew has exemplified these characteristics over time that we know without a doubt that he will always watch and do what is best for his family. Most importantly, Drew will do everything it takes to take care of his “Pearl of a Girl”, Megan. Yes, Jim and I consider Drew a very ‘wise guy.’  

Drew had just popped the question!

Lead to Follow

The other day I came across a sign that said;Train up a child in the way he should go, and “make sure you are going that way, too.”  Of course the earlier part of this statement comes from Proverbs 6:22 and the last part of this statement hits the nail on the head with us parents.  As parents, we are commissioned to care, love and nurture our children.

Parenting these days is not an easy job. As a matter of fact, Jim and I have noticed how the world has changed drastically since our son, Drew graduated high school and, for the most part, college.  There are so many influences out there both good and bad. Of course, we want our children to be exposed to the good influences and shielded from the bad ones.

How do we raise our children in such a way? First, we must pray with our children and for our children. As Drew was approaching his middle school years, a dear  friend in my Sunday School class at the time encouraged me along with others to pray Psalm 91 daily for our children. This is a Psalm for protection.

Second, as parents we must be willing to do what we expect our children to do. For example, Jim was listening to Dr. James Dobson. As he listened he heard Dr. Dobson give this advice. “If we expect our children to clean their rooms, then we need to make sure our rooms are just as clean.”  In other words, our expectations, words and actions better match what we are telling and expecting from our children. To me, children are probably the first to pick up on hypocrisy and they are watching and taking notes more than we can ever realize.

Third, we need to encourage our children to read the scriptures and teach them how to experience and hear God’s voice within the scriptures and in their daily walk. When our son, Drew turned 13, Jim’s gift to Drew was to open the bible to the book of Proverbs and told Drew that this is the best advice he could give him as a dad. Apparently, Drew did as he was advised from his dad because now when I am tempted to color or highlight my hair Drew quotes Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”  

Fourth, we must realize that our children are given to us for a short period of time. Yes, as parents,we wish we could slow down time and keep them for a little longer. We must realize, though, that God placed them into our hands for a short period of time and then the time comes for us to place them back into the hands of God.

This last lesson was not an easy one for me being a mom of an only child. I will never forget Drew coming home and telling me he wanted to move to Chicago after he graduated college. Of course, the selfish part of me wanted him to move back to the small town he grew up in and live just a few minutes down the street. But deep within my soul, I knew that my role was about to change significantly as a parent and now it was time for Drew to follow God’s voice. Drew knew that God had a plan for him in Chicago and he had to go.  He lived in Chicago for almost two years and then God opened other doors of opportunities for him in Atlanta where he and his wife currently reside.

As hard as it was to let go and let Drew leave, I knew that I would not be leading by example if I hung on to the apron strings and tried to persuade Drew to stay close to home. After all, my husband and I have always lived away from family and I grew up living away from family. I knew the drill and all that would be involved in Drew’s living away from home.  As Drew packed to leave the nest, I prayed that I had shown him how to survive when family was not around. Along with learning how to bloom where he was planted, he needed to know that the people you surround yourself with away from home soon become your family.

At this moment as I write this post, there is someone’s child announcing to their family that they will be venturing out to new places and opportunities. I know that selfishness wants to kick in and convince that child how they need to stay close to home. But it is so important that the child be supported and respected in their decision. If it is in their decision to venture out, they need to be influenced by the leadership that raised them, following their God who created them in His image.

Yes, there are days when I wish we lived in more simple times. It would sure be simple to have family just a minute down the road and I didn’t have to plan months and/ or a year in advance to see them again.  But, our world is rapidly changing and opportunities for our children seem to be taking them to places that we would have never have dreamed about going to when we were their age.

Looking back in  our Christian heritage, I recall a group of twelve men who were asked to drop everything to follow their Master. Yes, they had families that they left to follow the call of God. These twelve men saw first hand of what it meant to lead and to follow. I am sure that they missed their families at times and wished they could run down the street to check in with them.  Though they missed their families,  they experienced miracles, blessings and God up close and personal. What an opportunity they had been given! As parents, I would like to think that we would want the same for our children. By letting go and placing them into God’s hands, we are allowing God to give them opportunities, life lessons, and a chance to experience their Master up close and personal.

My last piece of advice from one parent to another is to continue to pray for them. I encourage you to pray Psalm 91 over them daily. Again, my son, Drew is twenty-five and married but there is not a day that I don’t pray Psalm 91 not only for him but for his sweet wife, Megan, too.  It is in praying this daily over them  that gives me strength to keep placing them and trusting them in the Master’s hand as they follow Him.

“Are you leading your children to follow their Master?” and Are you going the same direction you are telling your children to go?  Take this thought with you; “our actions and reactions will make or break our relationship with our children in the years to come.”  How about it? Lead to follow?

Blessings

** I highly recommend the book,  Leaving the Light On by John Trent Ph. D and Gary Smalley.

I Asked For A Pig but Got A Dog

“In His time, He makes ALL things beautiful.”

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

2004-2006 Solara in Black Onyx

Toyota Solara

In a couple of months, the hubby will be turning 50. Yes, that magical number of what we call mid-life crisis. I, on the other hand, have two more years before approaching such a crisis in my life. The hubby has longed for a convertible. His choice in convertibles has always centered on a Miata.  I, on the other hand, could not grasp the concept of driving down the interstate in a roller skate. Thus, I began my search of convertibles of heavier weight. In this search, I found our newest car ( at least to us) a Toyota Solara. It was the perfect match for us. A heavier car, a car that can be a classic because they are no longer manufactured and it was a convertible that would scratch that mid-life crisis itch.

Now, for me on the other hand, I don’t foresee any mid-life crisis cravings or behaviors taking place anytime soon. ( If you believe that, I have some land in Florida I will gladly sell ya!) For the last couple of years, I have wanted what the hubby calls a “fluff” dog. Hubby, on the other hand, did not see the need for us to acquire such a dog since we have a four-year old lab already living with us. But, I told him the dog would be cheaper than therapy! Yet, I still got no where!

One day it came to me. Yes, I had a flashback of that old favorite sitcom of the 80’s, Designing Women. You may recall this show centered around the lives of four interior designers; four Southern women who lived in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia.  Along with these four women was a man by the name of Anthony who started out the series as a stranger to them on a Thanksgiving episode.  He started out as  their stock/delivery man to one day and, over time, his character develops into being one of their partners.

Now, you ask; “what does this have to do with mid-life crisis, a convertible and the title of this post, I Asked For a pig but  Got A Dog all have in common?” Well, I will tell ya.  We are all aware of the child’s game of asking for an elephant, a horse or some sort of animal of large proportion that would be impossible for most  people to obtain much less care for and then wearing the parents down to that dog, cat or gold-fish that they really wanted. Hey, I have seen work with kids so why not me with the hubby on the subject of a dog? Right?

One evening, as I strolled through the paper and then the internet looking for pups to adopt, the hubby walks in and asks; “what’s up?” My response was; “oh nothing.” I thought I would just look for a pig that is up for adoption since I can’t get a dog. At this moment, I thought he was going to choke on the ice water he had just swallowed. “A pig?” “Why a pig?” were the questions that followed after he got over that brain freeze and got his breath back from inhaling the ice water. My reply back to him was simple:

“Well, you remember the television show, Designing Women don’t ya?” ” I suddenly remember that Suzanne Sugarbaker  had a pet pig that was given to her by her house keeper.” “Suzanne, being the gracious Southern gal she was raised to be decided that this pig would not be put in the pen and raised for further consumption.” “But, Suzanne decided that this pig would be her beloved pet.” “I remember episodes of Suzanne and the pig coming in with matching scarves and such.” Suzanne loved that pig.” And, don’t you remember the episode when Suzanne asked Anthony to take the pig to the Dairy Queen in her convertible with the top down?” The hubby acknowledges that he remembers that episode and then quotes Anthony’s response; “I will do a lot of things for you, Suzanne, but I will NOT take no p-i-g to the Dairy Queen.” I replied back with arguing how I have heard pigs do make good pets. After all, I am a Southern girl from Atlanta, Georgia and why not a pig if I can’t have a dog?

Not long after this conversation that actually took place, the hubby and I were on the internet searching for a pup who needed a home. My criteria were that it would be a rescue dog. We weren’t on the internet long when the newest member of the family, Smokey,  popped up on the screen. It was seeing his picture when Jim called the rescue home and got the adoption process going. Two days later, we were driving forty miles to pick up not a pig but a sweet bischon/frise, shih tzu mix four-month old pup. I asked for a pig and got a dog! Smokey will never grow to be the size of a pig. Nor will he ever eat the amount of food as a pig but he has been one of  the biggest blessings and joy that God has sent my way.

Smokey also known as "Smokey Bear" and "Boss"
Sporting his Harley Davidson Jean Jacket and Woodstock bandana.

The moral of this story: There are times when we ask God for a pig, an elephant, or a thoroughbred horse but he does not give what we think we want or need. But, he does listen to our prayer and at the right moment and place the biggest blessing God sends our way may come in the smallest of packages.  Have you asked God for something and He said, “no”? But, somewhere in time, he fulfilled that need/want with a blessings and you were so ever grateful later that he didn’t send or give what you thought you needed or wanted? Goes to show that God knows our every need and want. It is in HIS time where the needs and wants will be filled and only in HIS way. Thus, making life all that more beautiful and full of wonder and glory.And my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

God's Timing

By the way, the other night it was the perfect Spring evening to go for a ride in the convertible. So, the hubby, Smokey and myself put the top down and went for a ride. We ended up at Dairy Queen where the hubby found himself not only buying ice cream for the two of us but also ice cream for Smokey.  Unfortunately, I forgot my phone and/or camera and did not get this first trip to Dairy Queen captured. But, I have a feeling as Spring and Summer progresses there will be ample opportunity.

Blessings

Look Into The Mirror

Tears of Love

   “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’   Matthew 25:40 


From my previous post, you know that I saw the movie, “Joyful Noise“.  The movie opens up with the choir master’s daughter singing “The Man In The Mirrorwhich is a Michael Jackson song that has always tugged at my heart.  I know many people have their opinions about the late performer good and bad but in this song, he has a  very strong message to ALL of us.

Okay. Now, before you continue reading, get a mirror. Look into that mirror. Who and what do you see looking back at you? Now, ask that person looking back at you; “what do I need to change in me that can make the world around me a better place?”

Do others see Jesus in you? Do you see Jesus in the everyday routine"

Do others see Jesus in you? Do you see Jesus in the everyday routine”

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways” are the lyrics as the song continues to play. We all see hurt, hunger, people who are lonely, angry, and those who are seeking unconditional love.  Now, ask yourself, where have I missed opportunities to make a difference in the world.” “When did I fail to stop to help the lady struggling with her child and trying to load her groceries in the car because I would be late getting to the gym?” “When did I say no to ringing that Salvation Army bell for only one hour during the Christmas season?” “After all, it was for only an hour and that is equivalent to a one hour or two half hour television shows that I really don’t need to watch.” Or, “I got that extra bonus for work but I didn’t tithe because I wanted that new item too badly.” “But, it would have only been ten percent and it would have gone to where God would use it for his purpose in the world.”

why questions

The list could go on and on with these types of questions. Yes, some of these questions are even to myself, April Hawkins! Convicting isn’t it?  Yes, sometimes there are situations where it is really hard to give our time to help, but God places opportunities in front of us every day to make a difference in His great big world. We don’t all have to enlist in the Peace Corps, drop what we are doing to be missionaries or give up all our earthly possessions.

people smiling

If you want the world the better place, take a look at yourself and make a  change.”  Maybe there is a child that needs mentoring and encouraging, there is an elderly person struggling to get into a building and it only takes a few seconds of stopping your conversation with who you are with to lend a help inside. Maybe you have a pantry that is overstocked that you could pull a few items out and send to the local food bank. For me, it is my writing words of encouragement whether it be on my web site or sending a card to someone who needs cheering up.  When I am out and about,  I try to stay aware of my surroundings so that if a door needs to be held open I hold it open, if someone needs to get in front of me in the grocery line, I tell them to go ahead of me and I pray daily for people who God places in my path.  It is the simple every day things in life that make the biggest difference in making our world a better place.

opportunites to help others

In making the world a better place, we need to make sure that we do it with a  loving and Godly heart. We need to give without passing judgement those we are helping. I like the bookSame Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. In this book Denver talks about our giving money to those on the streets. To paraphrase what he says in the book; ” our money says “In God We Trust”  so give it and trust God to take care of the need and the person. Once the money leaves your hands, it is placed in the hands of not only that person but into the hands of God.” As I read Denver’s story of being homeless and his perspective from the other side of the tracks, my heart was convicted. How many times have I given to someone and wondered; “what are they going to do with that money?” ” I hope I haven’t contributed to a bigger problem!”

Jim and I are not big in sharing what we do for others. We feel that what we do is between God and us. But, as I write this post, God is tugging on my heart to share two stories.

100_0220

The first story is set in Chicago, IL the first day of  Spring, 2010.  It was cold and I don’t mean the kind of cold where you needed to make sure you had your hat and gloves. But, it was the kind of cold where not only was snow falling but ice was literally blowing in the face. The kind of cold that makes you just want to cry. )And, I do believe my daughter-n-law, Megan and I both have shed tears in Chicago from such cold weather elements).

Drew at museum

 Jim and I had arrived that morning to spend a few days with our son, Drew and celebrate Drew’s birthday and my birthday since they are only days apart. We were walking down Michigan Avenue huddled together to stay warm as we walked and so we could hear each other talk. As we were walking down Michigan Ave, we stopped at a cross-walk and there was this gentleman having to use a walker to be mobile. He had on what little warm clothes he probably could find.  Then, as we began to cross the street, my eyes are drawn to his feet and I see bare feet with bread wrappers tied around them for shoes. Instantly, I tugged on Jim’s coat sleeve and pointed out what I was observing.  I told Jim something had to be done.  Here I was staying at a very nice hotel that would be warm and cozy on my return from being out and about. I had a coat, boots, gloves, scarf, and hat to keep me warm. This man had little or nothing. Jim looked at me and I knew that was a God moment. Without hesitation, Jim reached in his pocket and pulled out his wallet and tapped the gentleman on the shoulder and said; “here, take this and get some shoes to get those feet warm.” The gentleman’s face lit up and he said; “God Bless You.” Neither one of us will ever know if it was a scam.  I doubt it because with it being as cold as it was, no one in their right mind would willingly go out in that blowing ice with just bread wrappers on their feet if they had any other choice. Neither Jim nor I will ever know exactly what all he would do with the money given but we placed our trust in God and into the tug that was in our hearts at that moment in time.

The second story just happened this past New Year’s Eve in Atlanta, Georgia. Jim and I were staying with our son and his wife who live in Mid-Town. The four of us had been out for New Year’s Eve dinner. After dinner, Megan and Drew headed out to attend a party at one of their House Church’s homes. Jim and I had planned to hang back, watch television, and babysit our grand dog (practice for when the grandchildren come).  Jim also had a couple of odd jobs around the apartment he told Drew he would take care of while they were out.

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As the evening progressed, I told Jim; “here we are in Mid-Town, Atlanta, The Varsity is just down the street and wouldn’t one of their slaw dogs, frosted orange, and a fried pie be great to bring in the New Year.”  I nodded my head “yes” as I persuaded him on this adventure. Now, from growing up in Atlanta, I expected to see and experience just about anything on a late Saturday night and even more so on New Year’s Eve. Yes, traffic was about what we expected. It was busy, wild, and let’s say interesting. As we pulled into the Varsity parking lot, a gentleman approaches our car and motions for Jim to roll his window down. I am sitting in the passenger seat saying; “Jim don’t do it” and locking the doors in the process. He began telling Jim that he and his family were stranded on I-75 (which is just over the hill from the Varsity).  He was trying to get home to Macon, Georgia. His car had broken down. He had some money but still needed $32.42 to have enough to get the car towed and repaired. Jim’s first response was; “I’m sorry sir but I don’t know if I can help you out” and began pulling away for us to park. Then, as we were pulling away, Jim looked in the side view mirror and saw this gentleman raise his hands to the sky in distress.  Of course, I am in the passenger side and I don’t see this but Jim immediately puts the car in reverse and asks the gentleman his story once again. This man shared his story and began telling us that he was a Veteran, Deacon in his church (gave the specific name) and about the family he had with him. Once again, Jim pulled out his wallet and gave money to help with the car and a little extra to get a snack while they waited. As we pulled away the second time, Jim looked back and saw this man walking a straight shot going towards I-75.

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Whoa!”, I said to myself and Jim. Boy! I feel bad that I  passed judgement like I did.” I tried justifying the location we were at and the time and type of night but my heart still ached for the thoughts I had during that moment. Jim and I went in, ordered our food, and had it walking (walking at the Varsity means to go).  We arrived back to the apartment, spread our food out that we had purchased but before we could go further, I told Jim we had to pray. We prayed for the gentleman and his family. We also asked for forgiveness for passing judgement instead of being the Good Samaritan.

Since that night, I look at myself in the mirror a little different. When I look into this mirror, I see a person who still needs to open her heart just a little more, let go of preconceived thoughts and pay attention to God and his tugs. Then, I see a girl who can love a little more, stop a second to help someone with the door, or listen to a friend who is hurting. I look into the mirror and as I see my reflection, I tell God that I want others to see his reflection in me and in my actions. And, by the way,to this day, I continue to pray for the man with bread wrappers for shoes. I also pray for the gentleman and his family who were trying to get home on a holiday weekend. It is my prayer that God will bless them and watch over them each and every minute of their lives.

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Okay, look in the mirror again. What can you do to change? What is the simple thing you can do to make the world a better place? Surrender to God and allow him to use you as his vessel of hope, love and encouragement. However, be ready because he will challenge you when you least expect it. For Jim and me, it was a cold icy day on Michigan Avenue and in a parking lot on a holiday night where he asked us to help him take care of someone.

In the  book of Acts, there  is a wonderful story of a man named Saul. He  hated Christ and participated in killing Christians. But, as he journeyed on the road to Damascus, Jesus stopped him. In this encounter with Christ, Saul changed his ways. Not long after that, we knew him as Paul.  As a result from this change, we have the wonderful writings of Paul to read, learn, and study as we journey on our faith walk.

 

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“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.” “I’m asking him to change his ways.  No message could have been any clearer.”  Are you willing to make the change for God’s glory and to make things just a little better for his children here on earth?

Simple Vow

My Dearest Jim,

Last year we celebrated our twenty-five years together. Now, we are here again celebrating another year of wedded bliss. This past year has been a year of weathering  storms. Together we have celebrated new mile markers in our lives. It has been a year of really seeing love in action. A  year where we have had really had to work together.

In January, my dad announced his retirement. A mile marker in anyone’s life. Yet, with this bit of news, we knew that a celebration of Dad’s years in  ministry needed to take place. It was with the help of friends and members of Dad’s church that made this celebration possible. Yet, there were things to be done on this end which was a difficult tasks being four hundred miles from the venue. But, you held my hand and asked “what can I do?” You helped scan pictures, helped me with fielding phone calls and countless emails. You even stepped up and wrote the poem The Master’s Walking Stick to make Dad’s celebration and tribute of forty-seven years of ministry a little more special.

Dad's retirement reception

Spring arrives along with the Spring storms.  We spent many nights in our master closet waiting to hear the all clear as tornado warnings would be issued for our area.  One evening, we realized that we had spent too much time in the closet when we would open our back door for our black lab, Tori to come in with us. Neither one of us had to tell her what to do because  she would  instantly go take her place in the closet! There were mornings when storm  warnings were posted. You were at work and I was at home. You would call and make sure I was okay and assured me that you were okay.

Tori

As summer approached, we receive news that Drew’s best friend who was more like a brother and son to our family had drowned. You came home and we held each other as we grieved for the loss of Josh, for his family and for Drew. We took a deep breath, said a prayer, and held each other as we called Drew to give him the news.  Then, as we stood at Josh’s graveside, we held tight again as we watched Drew place his carnation on his buddy’s casket and say one more good-bye.

(Left) Josh Yeckering (Right) Drew Hawkins taken after they won the State Cross Country Meet

The days of the year and summer clicked on as we received more bad news regarding family members and their  health situations. My Dad’s brother/ my uncle, Dan passed unexpectedly. Again, you asked what could you do and held me tight. You took time from work to drive me to Arlington to attend the services and to be with family.

Funeral Services for my Uncle, Daniel Henry Hill @ Arlington

Among all these happenings, there was a wedding being planned.  Not only were there details to work out for a rehearsal dinner, but a dress for me to be found as well as working out other details for a wedding that would take place out-of-town. Again,  you stepped up and asked, “how can I help?”  You took time off to go look at the venue for the rehearsal dinner, you helped with phone calls, setting up and countless other things to get ready for our son’s special day.

Megan and Drew's Rehearsal Dinner

As we watched Megan and Drew, say their vows, I reminisced our special day when we said our vows. I reflected on you watching me come down the aisle as Drew watched his bride walk down the aisle on her daddy’s arm. On November  23, 1985, Drew was only gleam in our eyes. Now, he was marrying the girl of his dreams and beginning a new life of his own.

Drew watching his bride, Megan come down the aisle

Andrew Mitchell Hawkins

Megan and Drew exchanging their vows

One of our favorite songs is Clint Black’s Something We Do. There is a lyric in the song that tells how love means working together and helping each other. “Love is something we do” is also the main lyric in this special song.

Jim, you have demonstrated love as an action verb ever since the day we met. While working at Lake Junaluska, I got sick and you got me to a doctor. Over the two years of long distance dating, you would drive down to see me at school after a long week of medical classes and/or clinicals. Once we were married and Drew was in school, you encouraged me to go back and finish my degree.  Along with encouraging me to finish my degree, you helped me with Drew . There were papers to write. I would write and you would type (no computers then).  You did all these things with love and without complaint.

Today, you continue to show love as an action verb. When life happens, you ask; “how can I help?” You take time off from work to sit with me at countless doctors appointments. When I am behind on things around the house, you gladly pitch in and help me get caught up. We may be watching television and you will offer to go pour me a coke or scoop a dish of ice cream.  Love is something that you do on a daily basis.

Jim helping out with dinner at the Lake

This year, we have had a lot of tears. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. But, I would not have how this year has gone any other way. It is through the celebrations of life and the letting go in life that makes us stronger as a couple and as individuals.

April and Jim August, 1986

Yes, ‘I remember the day we wed. It began with a simple vow.’  The simple vow we said has brought us through a lot and I know it will get us through more celebrations, tears of joy and tears of sadness in our journey ahead. ‘Love is strong’ and our love is strong and it keeps getting stronger.

The day we wed...November 23, 1985

‘We give ourselves; we give our all; it’s something that we do.”

Happy Anniversary! I am looking forward to sharing the next 26+ years with you.

I love you,

April

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13