Jesus Came Last Night

Jesus_hugs_in_heaven

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation , by prayer and petition with thanksgiving

present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds

In Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

God,

Thank you for the blessings of the day.

Please be with Jim and me as we walk our journey with you.

Surround us with your Holy Spirit as individuals and as a couple.

Place your Holy Spirit around our home and in our home so that those who

encounter us or pass our home will experience a peace that passes ALL understanding.

I share this portion of  a prayer that I pray each night before going to bed.  For me, there is no going to sleep or peaceful night’s sleep until I have said my prayers to God and place the night and the day ahead into his hands. Last night was no different with the exception that I was to the point of exhaustion that I literally just collapsed into my Father’s arms as I prayed.

life

In this process of  prayer time and writing, I am awaiting tests results. Life is happening with its twists and turns.  I haven’t felt well for most of the summer. Thus, prompting a visit to my doctor. Over the years we have known that I was border line lupus. Jim and I knew that there was a possibility that one day that those lab numbers could/would cross the line and a new and not wanted diagnoses would occur.  It is something that I am still trying to understand and get my head around.

On top of me not feeling well, we have found out that Jim’s father’s cancer has begun to be active again. Thus, Jim is taking more time off from work to go to take care of his Mom and Dad and to be with them at doctor’s visits. Neither Jim nor me begrudge Jim having to make these trips. It is just what you do for the people who brought you into this world and who have loved, nurtured and stood by your side in growing up and in watching you raise a family.

challenges

With both of these scenarios taking place simultaneously and trying to keep up with the activities we participate in with our church, small groups, work and community, it has become overwhelming at times.  Jim and I both have had to say no to some activities and put some things on hold until we can get a handle on all that is happening in our lives right now.  Yet, we have and will keep the faith and look up. There are days that our strength is nothing but the Lord’s doing and working in our lives.

Gods hand

As I said earlier I collapsed into my Father’s arms with exhaustion.  I poured out my heart to him and in doing so I was reminded of the two scriptures from John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7.  Despite all that is going on in the Hawkins home and the possibilities of what may come I know there is no need to be anxious because I have a loving Father walking by my side. This same Father is walking beside Jim as well and us as a couple.   Last night, I closed by asking the Father to allow me to fall asleep in his arms, and to feel that peace that he promises us in John.

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Then the indescribable happened.  laying on my side asleep facing Jim, I felt these arms wrap around all around me. As these arms wrapped around me, I felt this indescribable warmth. The arms that came around me and hugged me tight. This  was a hug I have ever experienced on this earth. I wish I could describe the way the arms felt and the warmth felt.  Yet, it is all beyond any words I can say or write. It is beyond comprehension. Though this hug is indescribable and beyond comprehension, I can say that there was that peace that passes all understanding promised from our Father that wrapped around me as I felt this hug.

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This morning I tried to tell Jim of this experience. There was a struggle for words to describe what I had felt in the night. As I struggled to describe the indescribable, I simply looked at Jim and said; “Jesus came last night. He hugged me. I felt His peace.” This morning I didn’t wake up healed or feeling different physically but I woke up with a new joy in my life despite all that is happening right now.  I don’t know what is in store for me or any of my family members in the days ahead.  However, I have been affirmed that Jim nor I are walking the journey alone. My Father who hugged me in the night is right there placing peace in ALL situations. And, it is a peace that passes ALL understanding and comprehension.

His eye is on the sparrow and I KNOW He watches me.”

If that one moment of peace and hug last night was indescribable, I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like when I meet my Father face to face. Holy Goose Bumps!

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Blessings in the Storm

Psalm 121

Image via Wikipedia

Life can be difficult at times. Many times we are all faced with unknowns. There are some days when we wish we could look into a crystal ball and get our answers.

But, God did not create us to know everything and especially know our future.  He places the unknowns into our lives so that we will learn to trust him more. It is through the unknowns where we learn to  see the smallest of blessings.

Growing up in a Methodist minister’s home, my family faced an unknown every four to five years. The unknown was would we still be at the same church next year or would we move. Then, if we were going to move, there were days of the unknown of  location of the new assignment my dad would receive.

All of us face unknowns at some point in our lives. Fellow blog writer,  Linda Kruschke posted the other day about how she was facing unknowns with health related issues. She shares how she was reluctant about even writing because of the frustrations she was facing of not getting answers. Yet, she knew that she had to look up, keep on sharing her faith through her writing and just hold on tight to God’s hand.

After reading Linda’s blog, I read comments that were posted sending her well wishes, lifting her up in prayers and simply encouraging her. I also left a comment telling her that I would be praying that she received answers soon and reminding her that God is there walking with her.  I also  shared with her one of the things that got me through my valley of unknowns. It was Psalm 121,.I lift my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” A scripture of reassurance  that God is always walking with me.

Along with Psalm 121 being the scripture that reminds me that God is there in the valley’s of life, I began counting blessings. Each evening, I would write down at least five blessings that happened during the day. Some of the blessings were just thanksgiving that God woke me up that morning, acknowledging that God had provided me a home, food, and a loving family. As each day passed, despite how bad I felt physically, my blessings list became longer.

Even in the storms of life, God continues to bless us. It is in the valley’s where we experience God’s greatness all the more. Yet, we get so caught up in the circumstances of the unknown that we miss out on the blessings that God has planned for us.

Linda, wrote a follow-up post on Psalm 121. In that post, she added the Casting Crowns song, “Praise You In the Storm.” I smiled as clicked play on the Casting Crowns video. For, it was that song that I played repeatedly day after day as I walked through that valley of the unknown. To Linda, I thank God for nudging her to post the song. For it was a wonderful reminder to me that God is there all the time.   I know that there are more unknowns yet to come to me. And, as these unknowns happen,  I will count my blessings and praise God in the storms.

Are you facing an unknown? Whatever your unknown may be, know that you have a loving God who is walking right beside you. I encourage you to pay  close attention because he has placed blessings along the way. As the old hymn tells each one of us;  “count your many blessings and see what God has done.”

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Simple Vow

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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

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Describe Him

Jim is on the right holding the walking stick…back in the day….

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In the above picture is my husband, Jim with some of his University of Kentucky Wesley Foundation friends and leader. He was sent this picture a few days ago by an UK alumni. When I looked at the picture, I not only see Jim of what he looked like in his younger days and when I met him. I also see my now adult and married son, Drew. I re-posted the picture on Facebook over the weekend and many people said Jim looked like Drew with a beard. Yes, there is resemblance between father and son. And, if you see Drew’s eyes, you will see his mom.

Drew and Me…..taken at his pre-school Mother’s Day party

Drew helping Dad at the office

When Drew was in Kindergarten, I was attending college to finish a degree I had started before Drew came into the world.  If at all possible, I would schedule my classes around Drew and his school schedule.  One semester there was that one class left to take and it did not finish up until about a half hour after Drew was dismissed from school.  Not having family locally and not really knowing who to ask, Jim worked out his schedule to pick up Drew on those two days and meet up with me at the house. It worked out pretty well except for one day when Jim got delayed with one of his patients.

Drew stood at the front door of the school entrance waiting with the hall monitor  for Jim. I am sure for a little guy the wait seemed to be forever. As Drew waited with the hall monitor, the monitor asked Drew; “what does your dad look like?”  Drew began to describe Jim. He  described Jim as being so tall, that he had black hair with white stuff in it and poke-a-dots(Jim’s 5:00 shadow that takes place at noon) all over his face. Of course, the monitor recognized Jim the minute Jim walked through the door.

God. What does he look like? This is a question that all of us contemplate at some point and time. Also, what does Jesus really look like? We have seen artist interpretations of what he may have looked like.  Some people have had actual encounters with Christ and have seen Him. But, have they really described what He looked like? All you hear from these experiences is the awesomeness of the moment.

Here is my description of  God. He is the beauty in the colors of the trees in the Spring and in the Fall. He is the breath-taking scenery when you ride through the mountains. God is the breath-taking moment as you watch the sunrise or sunset over the ocean and hear the songs of nature around you.  I look at myself in the mirror, I look at my family and others around me and I see God.

Here is my description of Jesus. Jesus has loving eyes that say hope, forgiveness and love. His arms are long so that they can reach around every person and love on them.  He is every person I encounter every day.  Some days, I recognize Him more than others.

It is impossible for me to give a vivid description of God and Jesus as Drew described his dad to the monitor. But, I rest in assurance of the scriptures that I will know exactly who He is when He comes through that door just as the monitor recognized Jim right away. Revelation 22:4-5 tells us; “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.”

Until the time comes for God to send his Son, Jesus, back to get His bride, it is up to each one of us as Christians to allow others see a little glimpse of what God and his Son, Christ looks like through us .  It is important that  we notice God at work around us every day. The other day, my dog, Smokey slipped and wrote about God’s presence. Smokey is so very right. We must acknowledge God in all that is around us.  When we acknowledge in all of our surroundings, we see the most beautiful portrait of God and his Son. We can also look in the mirror every day and see a beautiful image of God.  After all, we are made in His image.

“So, God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 2:27

Chase A Few Leaves

“I just love feeling the wind blow in my face and absorb ALL God gives me to enjoy.”

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Hi Friends!

My mom left her computer on and I decided I would give writing a blog a try. It seems that Mom is constantly on the go with chores around the house and other responsibilities that she sees as important. Gee, I try to get her to stop and slow down but it is a work in progress!

Every morning, Mom and I have a routine. She takes me outside for me to take care of important business.  When I go outside, I like to soak up the morning and the new day God has given me. Mom wants me to hurry up so that she can get started with that list of things to do! What Mom does not realize when I stop, sit and allow the wind to blow in my face, that I am feeling God’s presence. The wind is my reminder of God’s breath and He is every breath I take.

Sometimes, when I ask to go outside, I really don’t have business to tend to but I just want to go out and simply sit and soak up the sun. The warm sun rays remind of God’s wonderful love for me.  I love watching the leaves blow around me and I try to catch one or two. Chasing the leaves, running and playing outside is my reminder of God wanting me to enjoy life. He created the things around me to enjoy . He created me for my Mom to enjoy.

Since Mom adopted me and brought me home, there are things she has had to teach me. She has taught me how to tell her when I need to go outside.  I had boundaries to learn.  I also got to learn what earns treats and what takes treats away. Mom has given me an awesome “Man Cave” for me to resort to when I need to rest. Yet, I simply keep trying to teach her what I know.

Me chilling in my “Man Cave.”

I want my Mom to learn to go outside and let God’s breath blow in her face. Take time to feel the warmth of God’s love wrap around her from the sun’s rays.  It is important that I teach Mom to stop and enjoy God’s creation. The one thing I have taught  Mom is that she is my care taker and I am her’s.  We both belong to God and are on loan to each other to love unconditionally and enjoy life together.

Mom does not have a “Man Cave” but she is blessed with not just a house, but a home with a lot of love. Along with her having this home, I want Mom to know that she has a home with God.  In God’s home, she can go there anytime she likes through prayer, quiet time and bible time to be restored and to rest. How awesome is that?!

Well, Mom is coming back into the room so I better close.  Before I close, I want to encourage you to stop, sit and enjoy all the things God gives you everyday. When the wind hits your face, know that it is God’s breath breathing on you. It is the breath of new life and renewal. Go outside and let the sun wrap its rays around you and feel the presence of God’s love. Last but not least, go chase some leaves and enjoy ALL the good gifts that God has given you. As we know,we were ALL created to enjoy life and to bring joy to God. He likes nothing better than to see us acknowledge His goodness and presence.

I will leave you with this thought; “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8

Seek God daily and experience His goodness.

Until next time Mom leaves the room,

Smokey

CAPTURE THE MOMENTS  https://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/capture-the-moments/

He’s Going To Be Fine

“Mama I Will Be Fine”

On December 25, 2004, I opened a box from my son, Drew and husband, Jim. In this box was the figurine that you see in the picture. Along with the figurine came a card with this written by the artist; The day our children go off into the world, only one thing is certain, things forever change. It’s a time for letting go, a time to let them test their wings, for one day they will fly free. And with them go our hopes and  prayers for the futures, for God has a wonderful plan for their lives. One will find a cure, one will save a life, one will lead a congregation, and one will lead a nation, but none will go alone.”  Bill Stross (Artist of Prayers and Promises) What prompted Jim and Drew to give me this gift was that Drew would graduate from High School that following Spring and then in the Fall off to college he would go.  This was their way of re-assuring me that Drew was going to be okay as he stepped out into the big world of his own. Jim would always say to me “He’s going to be fine.”
Spring, 2005 came and Drew graduated and in August we moved Drew to Western Kentucky University. As we moved him into his dorm and helped him get settled in, I prayed that God would take care of my only baby, give me strength to let go, and give assurance that Drew would be okay.  Then, when all was moved in and Drew resisted anymore help from me, Jim and I said our good-byes and headed for home. Home was only an hour and fifteen minutes away but that was the quietest  hour and fifteen minutes that we had ever rode in our car.  The only words spoken were Jim saying again, “He is going to be fine.”
As we approached for home, I prayed to God again. Drew had grown up in a Christian home, had been influenced by many Christian leaders in church, school, and within the community.  I knew it was easy for one to stray and I didn’t want Drew to stray. In my prayer, I asked God to send someone to be a friend, mentor, and that would encourage him in his faith. Later, I found out that about the time I prayed that prayer, Drew had made his way over to the campus gym and locker room. He wanted to find out where he was to meet for running practice and become more acquainted with his surroundings.  When Drew arrived at the gym locker room a guy,Mike Duncan, came up and introduced himself. Mike was a runner for WKU as well and he began to show Drew the ropes. Not only did Mike show Drew the ropes but he invited Drew to attend worship with him on the following Sunday. Drew attended worship with Mike and along the way began a bible study group with the runners and began to share Jesus Christ with fellow teammates. This summer, Drew will marry and Mike will be his best man.
College came and went. Drew comes home from college and announced he would be moving to Chicago. When I first heard the news, I began to worry. Thoughts of him getting mugged, robbed, and countless other things that mother’s are good at worrying about raced through my mind. Again, Jim assured me with the words; He’s going to be fine.”  As we moved Drew to Chicago and helped to get him settled in, I once again prayed for someone to come along to encourage him in his faith and I also prayed for his safety. Again, God showed me Drew was going to be fine, when I heard Drew had found a church, a small group and a Family Group that met weekly. Drew quickly learned how to bloom where he was planted and create a family of his own through these small groups.
Two years of Drew living in Chicago came and went. This past March, Drew moved to a new job in Atlanta.   Again, the fret and worry of Drew’s move going smooth went through my mind.  This move did not make me near as anxious since he was moving to the city  where I grew up and he would be close to family. As Drew moved to Atlanta, lived with my parents for a couple of weeks while apartment looking, questions would rise from various family members and at this point I would say; “He’s going to be fine!” 
In August, Drew will take the hand of a very lovely young lady, Megan and unite with her in marriage.  As Drew takes Megan’s hand, I will be reminded of how God has taken care of Drew since he left his home.  Then, as they say their vows to one another, I will say another prayer. Only this time, my prayer will be for Megan and Drew and their life together. My prayer will include a life of happiness, opportunities to grow in their faith together,  strength for the down times they will have and, most of all, for their protection as they journey in the days ahead. I know in that moment that God will whisper in my ear “they will be fine.”
As a mother, I am a true believer of placing your child into the hands of God. In my experience of motherhood, I have witnessed times with Drew where the only way out of a situation was God clearing the path and placing angels of protection around Drew.  God has re-affirmed to me that Drew is not out there alone nor has he ever been.  However, know that it is not all God’s doing. I have had to work with God in knowing the assurance that Drew was going to be okay. Through the years, I was the biggest cheerleader Drew could ever imagine and probably embarrassed him a time or two. I cheered him on in his school work, accomplishments outside of the academics, in his running and in sharing his love for Christ.  It was years of discipline, wiping tears but, most of all, it was making sure Drew was at church, reading the scriptures with him, praying with him and simply showing him to put his value and trust in his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
 For you moms out there whether you are new or experienced, pray for your child/children daily. Place your child in the hands of God. Ask God to feather them with HIS mighty protection. I encourage you to take your children to church, read the scriptures with them, pray with them and show by example what it means to put your trust in God. Along with instilling those values, be your child’s biggest fan and cheerleader!  Then, realize as a child of God that they are never nor never will be out in that big world alone. “He/She is going to be fine.” 
Happy Mother’s Day  to ALL mothers this Mother’s Day weekend. May many joys and blessings come your way!
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15
Blessings

Change Brings Blessings

Clock

Change. It happens. As a matter of fact this weekend our time will change. We move forward an hour on our clocks. We enter into a new season on our calendar.  In time, we adapt to the one hour less sleep and the extra hour of time in the evening. As the season progresses, we receive the blessing of the extra hour of daylight by enjoying the things we like to do outside. Then, as we have adapted to this season and time, it will be time to change back once again and we will move into yet another season. It all a part of God’s plan.

Over my lifetime, I look back on changes that have occurred in my life. One change I wrote about was in my post Angel On The Corner of Fifth and Daviess. This is one change that I was very reluctant about going through. My family was relocating from Georgia to Kentucky. Yet, as I write in my post, I am  now glad the change in location happened to our family. Over the years, so many blessings have come to be as a result of this change. Going through this season of my life taught me patience, how to trust God more, and God reminded me that He was in the plan every step of the way. It was through this transition that my relationship grew only stronger with God. I have  leaned on this experience reminding me of how God brought me through when other seasons came and went in my life.

 Each of us face changes. Change comes easy for some of us. Yet, for some of us, change does not come easy.  Some of the changes we face are changes we chose to make and other changes come along without our asking.  Some changes come along against our will.  At times, when change comes about, we question God and ask why it has to be done. We fall resistant to the happenings in our lives.

When change occurs, whether it is voluntary or involuntary, we must remember that God is  the one with the blueprint. He designed each one of us with having our own seasons of life to experience. As His children, we are to accept God’s plan for us and seek the blessings in the change of seasons whether it is voluntary or involuntary. By going through the seasons/changes of life, God teaches us how to trust Him more, how to become more patient, and most of all how to seek His blessings in ALL situations and seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 sums up God’s plan for the seasons in our lives quite well.  To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.  This weekend, we lose an hour of sleep. Personally, I don’t like the idea of losing that extra hour of sleep.  On the flip side, I am confident that with that extra hour given during the day in this season, there will be blessings to experience.

No matter the season and/or change you may be going through right now, remember our God holds the blueprint. As the saying goes, He brought you to it and He will bring you through it.  Embrace this moment of transition and allow it to be a time where you are counting blessings and allowing your relationship with God to grow even better.

Blessings

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