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Seek God’s Beauty

model of beauty

“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.”

I Peter:3:3 The Message

As I go about my daily activities around the house, the television plays in the background. Though the television is on, I find myself caught up in my own thoughts. Yet, I hear the words of a testimonial from an infomercial; “his product really changed my life, ” I feel better about who I am.” 

These testimonials echoed in my head and in my heart this morning. I thought about how we have put such emphasis  on outward appearance these days. Infomercials tell us what products we must have in order to look and feel better. Other social media avenues such as Pinterest and Facebook have all the different fashions all put together for us as a blueprint of how we are to look as we head out to run those errands.

fashion

It is my fear that we get so caught up in what society defines as beauty that we have forgotten the true beauty God created. Society telling us what to do, what to use and defining beauty is no different from the Pharisees were with their rigidity of the laws that they had added to God’s commandments in order to be right with God.

relationship with God

The Pharisees missed out on the relationship that God wanted to have with them because they were so wrapped up in the laws. We miss a relationship with God and with others because we get so wrapped up in how we look and assessing others on how they look. Not only do we miss the relationship, we miss the blessings God has planned for us when we are wrapped up in ourselves instead of focusing on him and those around us.

True beauty is a matter of the heart. It is allowing God’s light and Holy Spirit shine through us and sharing that light with others.  As we see others, we need to see them as Christ’s sees them. He sees beyond the outside and sees the heart.

seeking the heart

The words, “his product really changed my life” really hit a nerve for me today. The only one person who can change your life and make it more beautiful is accepting Christ into your heart. It is when you accept Him into your heart, walk in the footsteps of his grace and love, and begin to really seek the heart of others, we experience the beauty God meant for us to experience.

heavens gates

Think about it….when we reach those pearly gates, God  is not going to make sure we are in the latest suggested fashion before letting us into his kingdom. However, he is going to look at our hearts and how we shared His grace and love to others. God is going to see how we lived our love for his son, Jesus out loud.

I challenge you in the days ahead to look beyond the appearance of people you encounter. It is going to be in these experiences you are going to experience the beauty of God and his love and grace.

“Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray-and shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10 The Message

Seek God’s Beauty. It is all around you.

audrey hepburn beauty

Hey, How You’ve Been?

For Christmas my son and his wife gave me this Train CD. On our way home from seeing family over the holidays, Jim and I popped the CD into the player and began to listen. We heard this song and had to hear it again. It spoke loud and clear to us; “we all have bruises.” In other words, life happens to all of us. We all have battle scars and experiences that have happened on our journey here on earth.

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While listening to this song, it made me think of a comment that a couple of friends I have re-united with on Facebook have said/messaged me.  The comment is this: “if you only knew what all I have done, what I have not done and/or where I have been, you probably would not want to be my friend.” My reply to the comment is: “it doesn’t matter to me where you’ve been, what you’ve done or not done since I last saw you.” “What matters to me is that our friendship has been reunited and I can still see that love in you heart.”  

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Some have shared some of the things they have done and experienced. Others have simply said; “you just can’t imagine the road I have traveled.”  Yes, some things I heard disappointed me but it didn’t change how I look at the friend.

direction in l ife


 I know over the years that life has happened. Life has happened to me. Each one of us has gone through changes and many seasons in our lives. It is these experiences that we draw from to understand someone else better, to love others a little more and to know that there is good in everyone. These experiences even give us a few stories to share that enable to us to laugh together, laugh at each other and even at ourselves.  Along with these experiences giving us something to laugh about, they give us opportunity to show the changes we have gone through and to maybe help a friend who is struggling on a journey at a certain moment.

cover pictures for april

Listen to the song, Bruises one more time. Then, the next time when you re-unite with an old friend whether it be at a class reunion, Facebook or some other reunion, be ready to hear the response to “Hey, How You’ve Been?”  Be ready to listen with unconditional listening and love because the response may not be what you were expecting to hear.

These bruises make for better conversation. Loses the vibe that separates. It’s good to know you’ve got a friend.  That you remember now and then Everybody loses
(Train: Bruises)

Listen to the song and remember we all got bruises….

Just Have To Share

"The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart." Psalm 19:8

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.” Psalm 19:8

This morning as I was catching up on Facebook,  I came across this video. There is no need to say anything about it because the video says it all

My prayer for you today and throughout the Christmastide is that you experience the wonders and joy of God’s love in all of your Christmas celebrations.

Christmas Blessings-

Encouraging Others

Encouraging Others

 

High Fiving The Crazy Ones

As I have become introduced to the world of social media via Drew,  I have learned more about what it means to encourage others.  In the world of Twitter, it is good that you respond on some tweets and  read blogs that are posted via Twitter. On Facebook, we know that we encourage our friends by clicking the “Like”, leaving a comment or writing on their wall.  Then, there is the blogging as I do and that means that you not only write but you read and encourage others in their writing in the blogging world. You encourage fellow bloggers not only by reading their site but commenting and sharing as well. It is all about encouragement and staying connected.  I experienced such cyber encouragement via Branchingbecky’s Blog when she mentioned one of my blogs on her site. “Wow!”,  I thought to myself, “I am actually going beyond my walls!.” Needless to say, it made my day!

Encouragement and staying connected is all a part of what God wants us to do in the world He created.  It is important to stay  connected with Him so that we can connect with others and encourage them.  We connect with God through our prayer, worship, quiet time with Him and joining Him in His work through acts of encouragement.  Listening to God and responding by encouraging others comes full circle into our social media world.  It is through TwitterFacebook,  and Email that we can encourage others.  We can also go outside our social media world and encourage others through writing notes and/or simply encouraging someone in person that God places in our path.

Words of encouragement are gold to the heart.  We are all in this big world together with each of us having our daily challenges before us. Thus, it is important for us to encourage one another on the journey.

Today, I challenge you to encourage someone whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, Email, writing a note, leaving a comment or simply encouraging someone in person.  It is by my experience that when you encourage someone, you not only give them a lift but you will feel a lift in your heart, too. Hebrews 3:13 says we need to encourage one another on a daily basis. How about you? Who do you need to encourage? Who sent you encouragement your way that lifted your spirits? Make encouragement a part of your daily routine.

Blessings-

High Fences and Opened Gates

A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop high, the zoo officials put up a ten-foot fence. He was out the next morning, just roaming around the zoo. A twenty-foot fence was put up. Again he got out.

When the fence was forty feet high, a camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, “How high do you think they’ll go?”

The kangaroo said, “About a thousand feet, unless somebody locks the gate at night!”

I came across this story a couple of days ago on Facebook. As I read the kangaroo’s response about getting out, I could not help but laugh out loud.  Then, I thought about how this story can be applied to each one of us in life.
Ever heard the phrase; “if it were a snake it would have bitten me”? This phrase is typically used when someone is looking for something or some answer and it is staring them right in the face.  Again, just like the zoo keeper the gate is opened but we just don’t see it!  Instead, we just build a higher fence. In other words, we make things harder than they actually are. Ugh! Can you imagine what God looks like looking down at us when we do this? He probably puts his head in his hands, chuckles, and says; “I can’t believe I am giving them the answer plain as day and they are still missing the opened gate door!” 
In my house, I am known as ‘Google Peanut” (Peanut being my nickname since childhood) or ‘Google Squirrel’ (nickname Squirrel given to me for some odd reason). The Google part comes from the fact that when something is ‘missing’/’misplaced’  in our home, I am the one who usually finds the ‘missing’/’misplaced item.’ I can’t tell you how many times I am snug in the covers almost asleep when Jim will walk in the room and say; ‘where’s my…or have you seen…..’  It can come to be a number of things that become missing in action around here. Most of the time it is the wallet,  car keys, bible or some sort of item that was NOT put back in the right place.  This not only happens when I am snug in the bed ready to catch my z’s but it also happens in the early morning hours which to me is the middle of night. ( I am NOT a morning person!-There, I said it!)
In most cases, I get up and go put my hands right on the missing item. My response is usually; “here, if it were a snake it would have bitten you…OPEN your eyes!” Of course this is said out of frustration because I was ready to close my eyes or not ready to open them just yet.  I love a sign that my son, Drew put on my Wall. It says; It’s not really lost until Mom can’t find it.” Yep! So true for this Hawkins’ home!
Then there are those times when I can’t put my hands right on the lost item. Yet, I do eventually find it! How? First, I pray asking God to help me think where it could be or where it is. Yes, pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to; “Be joyful, pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”  Okay, I admit I am not very joyful when I am asking for guidance when being awakened to find something. The next thing I do is ask the person (the hubby) where was he last with this item, what did he do and where has he been. After this process, I put my hands on the lost item.
There are times in life when we are trying to accomplish something. Instead of praying and asking God for guidance on how to accomplish this task, we take matters in our own hands. Ah, we have the answers. We don’t need help from anyone much less God. Yet, it seems we get no where. Instead of accomplishing our goal, we just build our fence taller all the while the fence has a gate  standing wide open for us to walk through. We miss the obvious. Then, as time goes on hindsite 20/20 comes into more focus and then we really feel intelligent. NOT!
How do we  miss the obvious and see the gate door that is left opened for us? It is called having a relationship with our Lord and Savior. In this relationship, we must stay connected every second, every minute of every day. It means doing exactly what 1
Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to do. Pray continually and about ALL things. We have to stay in tuned to the voice of God.
There have been times when we have built fences so high that there was no way we were going to accomplish what we needed to accomplish. We end up wondering how much farther we have to jump before the goal is accomplished. It is in those moments when we have to stop,pray and ask God to help us see the obvious,  evaluate where we have been, what we have done. Just like re-tracing steps in locating a missing item, God will show you where he has left the door opened for you to walk through. It is then when we can take that step and walk through the door and walk the path he has planned for us.
Frustrated? Trying to accomplish something and getting no where? Stop! Ask God to help you locate that opened door. As you do this, do it with prayer. Once you see that opened door, keep living every second, every minute, and every day in prayer.  Walk in relationship with Jesus Christ and you will see many doors he has opened and ready for you to walk through.
” But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you-” Matthew 6:33
“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7-8
Blessings-

Can’t Wait!

My fifth grade class…Bowdon, Georgia
I am the first girl on the left front row.

“Can’t wait!” “I’m getting excited!” “So excited that I will be seeing everyone!” are just a few of the postings on my Facebook that I have been seeing for several months.  This coming weekend I will be attending a thirty year class reunion with a class I did not graduate with but have been invited to attend the reunion. In all reality, I have not seen most of these classmates in thirty-four years!

Okay. Now, I have you confused. You are thinking; “she’s going to a class reunion but she did not graduate with the class.” “Did she quit school?”  In answer to these thoughts, is that I did go to school with this group of people from fifth grade to eighth grade. My dad was a minister and was re-appointed to a new congregation after I completed my eighth grade year.

Thanks to Facebook, I have been reunited with these classmates. Classmates that I have often wondered where life has taken them. I have literally not seen some of these classmates since the last day of school in eighth grade. Oh, my family and I did try to go back and visit. But, as we know, life gets busy,  people move on and the visits became less and less frequent over time.

Yet, back in the Spring, I receive a message from one of these dear friends telling me about this reunion coming up. They wanted me to come be a part of the reunion even though I did not complete high school with them. I was told that they always considered me as part of their Class of 1982 family. When I received this message and comment, my heart was warmed.

As I reflect on this upcoming weekend and the comments/status updates that are being posted, I am reminded of another reunion. A reunion that we all are invited to attend. A gathering of friends where we should not want anyone left out. A party where ALL are included.

This reunion is heaven. It’s a banquet where we are ALL invited.  Yet, as with all invitations, there is an RSVP. This RSVP is accepting Christ into our hearts. When we accept Christ into our lives, we are also making the commitment to be his servant/ambassador.

As we accept our invitation to have Christ live in us and us live for Christ, we need to make sure that others are invited. We must ask ourselves the question; “Is there someone I have always considered family that I want to see at this reunion?” Also, in our daily living, we need to show how exciting it will be to be a part of the Kingdom. Remember,  as Christians, we are representatives of the Kingdom.

In our daily living in the days ahead, may we walk with the expressions of “Can’t wait!” “I’m so excited!” ” Looking forward to seeing everyone!” flowing  out of hearts so others will see the joy of Christ’s Kingdom.  We should be so on fire for the Lord that people will want to stop and ask if they can get an invitation.              

Carry these verses in your heart as you journey in your faith walk.

” We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make your joy complete.”  1 John 1: 3-4

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

Blessings-

Words are Powerful

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Lately, I have been seeing so many negative postings on Facebook. As I result, I shared this morning what was on my heart on my Facebook status. I would like to share with you that particular status.

Carry this thought with you as you post, write and even speak throughout the week ahead.

FACEBOOK STATUS: I don’t know what has happened to the Golden Rule…you know…”do unto others as you would have done unto you”..there is so much negativity and bashing going on right now….I was raised that we are ALL God’s children…it doesn’t matter what race, creed, color, orientation or religion someone is…I was taught each person is a son or daughter of God whether they realize it or not….we are to love one another and encourage one another just as God loves and encourages us. How will someone experience God’s love and grace if we don’t demonstrate it? Words are powerful, people! Let’s post encouraging thoughts and words on Facebook! 

Have a great week! May you walk in His light and share His light on your journey this week.

Blessings

First Responders

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us all in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Eleven years ago our country came to a stand still. On Facebook, people are reflecting on the horror of the terrorist attacks that took place on our soil on that September morning. I was in a classroom working one on one with one of my Title One Kindergarten students when my supervising teacher came in and told me and a colleague of mine what was going on. Time seemed to just stand still.

Crisis. Each day someone is faced with some kind of crisis. We may know someone who is facing a crisis at this moment. The crisis could be something that is life altering. For example, a loved one has found out they have cancer. Or, a loved one was taken all too soon. These are  the type of crisis that make time stand still while the world keeps on moving.

As Christians, we need to be the first responders just like those who responded first to this tragedy our country faced.  We need be first responders  to those going through a crisis. As we respond to these events, we need to be non-judgmental, don’t try to give a solution but simply be there to listen, to pray and to encourage the person(s) going through the crisis.  Remind them that there is a loving God who loves them and cares about every fiber of their being.

Being a first responder  may require  us to not say or do any specific thing.  The best thing we can do is to sit by the person(s) in the midst of a crisis and simply say nothing.  Yes, there will be silence. Silence is scary. But,our first responder,  God can do His best work in the midst of the silence.

It has been my experience that I remember most  those who simply sat there with me in the silence who dried my tears and simply said nothing.

Do you know someone in the midst of a crisis? If you do, first of all pray for them and place them into the Father’s hands. Go to them. Sit with them. Dry their tears. Allow our first responder, God work through you and be present in the situation.

I love what Max Lucado shares in his Lucado Life Lesson’s Bible;

“Don’t measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it. Instead of carrying the world on your shoulders, talk to the One who holds the universe.” Max Lucado- Traveling Light.

Showers of Blessings

I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.” Ezekiel 34:26

“A friend loves at ALL times.” Proverbs 17:17

If you read my page Who’s April?, you will see that I grew up in a Methodist Minister’s home. During those years of my dad’s ministry, we usually moved every four to five years. Living in this atmosphere gave me opportunity to meet many wonderful people and develop many wonderful friendships. Friendships that have left lasting footprints on my heart.Growing up in a minister’s home meant not only meeting people but it also meant having to say good-bye to dear friendships as we would move from one appointment to another.  Over the years, I kept in touch as much as I could with some but as we all know, time, distance and life transitions seemed to make it harder and harder to see and/or keep up with these friendships. Because of these transitions and good-byes, I had always told my parents that when I grew up that I would marry, move into a house that had a front yard and a back yard and would never leave it. In my book moving had become the pits.

Fast forward to 1985. Jim and I were married. We will have been married for twenty-seven years this November. In that twenty-seven years, we moved eight times! Yet, we have lived in our current home sixteen years. It is the longest I have lived in one place my entire life. You see, I prayed to have a home where I would not have to move. I got what I prayed for after many years of moving from place to place.

I grew up in Georgia. I live in Kentucky. There are four hundred miles of roads, road construction and Parkway between my house and my parents’ current home. Thus, meaning that when we go home to Georgia there is usually just enough time to visit immediate family before having to head back to Kentucky where our lives are lived these days. When people hear about this, they ask me if I ever get homesick.  My response is I have lived in Kentucky for twenty-two years. I was raised to bloom where I was planted. But, I do get homesick.

Over the years, I have shared with Jim my upbringing as a PK’s (preacher’s kid) , and the people who came and went in my life.  There have been a few times where he has met some of the people I share about. Then, there are those he has never met and I so wanted him to meet because it is these friendships that make up the person I am today. I have prayed that I would sometime get to see some of these friends once again.

Once again, I am getting what I prayed for. In the last couple of years, I have made contact with friends from every appointment my dad served during his forty-seven years of ministry. This re-connecting of friends has been made possible with Facebook. Early Spring, I received a message from a friend from the community where I lived from fifth grade thru eighth grade. His message was that they were planning a thirty year class reunion and even though I did not get to graduate with them,  they wanted me to come and attend this reunion. At first, I declined in going not seeing how I could work it out in my schedule. But, as Jim and I talked, Jim said; ‘let’s look at this calendar of things to do. I think I can take a couple of days off and make a long weekend for you to attend this reunion.”  Along with Jim stating we needed to clear our calendar to attend this event, my mom found out about the reunion and said; “you ought to go. They were a big part of your growing up.” Fortunately, it has all worked out and I am looking forward to seeing friends that I call family. People who  I have not seen in thirty-four years this coming  October.

As I looked more toward this event, I realized that it may be possible to meet up for lunch with a high school friend whom I graduated with in 1982. I also realized that my college roommate now lives in the area where I will be attending the reunion. I began to send messages to these two sweet dear friends about meeting up while I was in the area. So, I messaged the high school friend first about lunch on Saturday and she messaged right back with these message; “You do know that Heritage High School Class of ’82 is having their reunion that weekend, too.” My jaw just dropped! I could not believe this was happening! Yet, my heart sank as well. I knew at that very moment I could not be at two places at once. But, if I could clone myself and be at both I would.

The need or the want to be in two places at once is something we have all experienced. This is not the first time in my life I have experienced it but when it happens it does pull on the heart-strings. With all the technology, social media and such man has yet to devise a way for us to physically be in two places at one time. Sometimes, this leaves the heart torn and the feeling of being pulled. Yet, when I found out about the other reunion and knowing I had made my plans, I was disappointed but at the same time I felt blessed.

For me, it was a blessing because God has opened doors for me to renew friendships from each appointment my dad served in his forty-seven years of ministry. I have been able to renew friendships  that are very special in my heart. A lot of these friends are more than friends for me. They were family for me and my family when we lived in their communities.

My heart smiles because in this chain of recent events regarding the reunions and the re-connecting with friends via Facebook, I see how God has showered me with blessings in my lifetime. I can see not only the blessings of ALL the friendships that have come and gone but I also see how He has blessed me and watched over me in every step I have taken and in every day I have lived. God has been in ALL places ALL of the time.

No, there will never be a way for me or for you to be in two places at one time. However, you and I can walk confident knowing that there is a person who can be in two places at once. This person is our wonderful Creator, God.

My challenge for you today is that when you feel torn and the need to be in two places at once, to step back and look at the big picture. Think about the commitment have you already committed to and stick to that commitment. Then, look at the whole picture as a blessing and God shinning an extra smile on you. The other commitment you may have to turn away may be the very thing you needed to see to understand how God has sent you showers of blessings.

                  

 

What’s Your Message?

English: Watching me watching you

“Shepherds of the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion by willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chef Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade.”  1 Peter 5:2-4

Back in the 1980′s, there was a song with the lyrics; “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” No matter where this person in the song was, he felt as though someone was watching.  Yes, it was a fun and catchy song for the time but it had some truth in it as well.

How many of us like to people watch? I know my husband and I enjoy people watching especially when we are out-of-town. We watch and wonder where people are from and where they are going. We enjoy watching children at play and interacting with their families on vacation.

Though we enjoy people watching, do we realize that there are people watching us as Christians? In our every day walks of life, people are watching our actions and re-actions.  When they are watching us do they see the message we proclaim in action? Do they see us putting grace into action when we get into a pickle or someone upsets us?  Convicting isn’t it?

Today, I had a conviction of heart on how I stand on a certain issue. I had posted my stance on my timeline. As I did this, I sent a  text to my son, Drew regarding what I had done. Of course with him be the social media guru that he is, I knew he would probably send me his opinion/response as soon as he could. And, he did. I liked what he sent to me;I find it odd to make a public declaration when it’s just as easy to live it without words.”  In my postsWise Guy, I share how Drew can zing his dad and me from time to time. And, this text is an example of him zinging me. Those words he sent zinged my heart and really got me to thinking even more and deeper.

After receiving this text and texting him back on how right on he was, I took the stance on this particular issue off my timeline. I realized I not only can  say my stance through my actions, what I post, share on Facebook, through emails but it is  simply how I live each day. This statement made me realize that people are watching me as much as I am watching them.

Have you heard the saying; “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything?” It is so true.  Sometimes, we need to put what we believe in writing but it is not our writing, what we share on Facebook and through emails that are going to say to people where we stand on certain issues.  It is how we live and what we do in our every day actions. As Christians, we are a living testimony of what it means to be living in the Kingdom. Sometimes, we are the only bible a person may read.  In this walking and living testimony, we do need to take a stand for God and the rules/values that he expects us to live by. If we don’t take a stand for God and his values, we will begin to fall and believe that certain ways of the world are okay. And, people are watching for us even closer in these certain situations. There are those who would love nothing better than to see us fall.

Are we going to fall? Yes, we will fall at times. It is all a part of being human. Yet, as Christians, we know we can ask for grace/forgiveness, get up and dust ourselves off and move on towards  perfection.  We are not a perfect people but we are a forgiven people working and walking towards perfection each day to glorify God and his Kingdom.

So, do you feel like somebody is watching you?  My guess is that somebody is watching you.  Now, that you know they are watching, are you walking the talk, walking the stance you take on certain issues and are you showing how a Christian acts and re-acts in certain situations?  I know that these are convicting questions.  Before writing this post, I went through these very  questions of conviction in my heart and my life. And, boy! I have stumbled a few times! Yet, I know that I can ask for God’s grace and start anew at this very moment.

Maybe you have been walking differently from the way you have been talking. If so, stop and talk to God. Ask God for his forgiveness and grace.  After all, part of being a living testimony is people seeing us on our knees asking for God’s mercy and grace. Then, as they watch on, they see us rise up ready to move on walking in the light and grace of God.

Remember; “there IS always somebody watching you.” What’s your message?

 

Blessings

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