How Beautiful

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Drew

My Dearest Little Andrew,

Today, you were out riding your tricycle and having so much fun. I remember when you got your tricycle earlier in the year for your third birthday. You were so excited to learn how to ride it.

Drew, you were so cute. You would fall off but you would not get discouraged but would brush yourself off and get right back on and try again. By the end of your first week, you had mastered riding and you were so proud of your accomplishment. Yet, there wasn’t a place on either leg that didn’t have a bruise or a band-aid. 

Son, in life there will be many things you will have to learn.  Hopefully, you will tackle these learning experiences with the same determination that you had in learning to ride your tricycle. There will be bruises, cuts, and obstacles.  As these bruises, obstacles,  and cuts come along in learning remember to keep your eyes on the goal before you.  Life is about trying and keeping the right determination to fulfill your calling by God.  Always keep Christ in your heart and listen to the voice of God.  Whatever you do, don’t ever give up!

Andrew, I give you this advice because I love you. I am proud of you. God has a special plan for your life.

Love you,

Mommy

(Letter originally written May 6, 1990)

There are times in life when we are striving to reach our goal/our calling. Yet, the bruises, cuts and obstacles come our way. It is so easy to want to throw our hands up in the air and just give up. However, if we keep Christ in our heart, keep our eyes opened to God working and walking with us, the obstacles won’t be as bad as we think. Remember, it is the obstacles in the trying and living life where God is carving us into more of his likeness. Life  comes with challenges. God carving us into His likeness. How beautiful!!

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize 

for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. “

Philippians 3:14

 “Yet you LORD, are our Father.

We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are the work of your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

"He is the potter and I am the clay."

I encourage you to take time to reflect on these scriptures.  Have you experienced cuts, bruises and obstacles in achieving your goal/calling in life? Give thanks to God for these experiences and acknowledge He is at work in carving you into something beautiful. Journal your thoughts on the scripture and ask God to help you stay focused on the prize before you.

Extravagant Receiving

Child carry package

Growing up I did not always see my grandparents on my Dad’s side during the holidays. Grandmother and Papa Hill always made sure packages were wrapped and mailed to us in time to be under the tree for Christmas Eve. Most years we got our Christmas pajamas from them.

Christmas

Yet, there was this one Christmas where my grandmother decided she would send me a night-gown instead of pajamas. After going out for a Christmas Eve services,  dinner and visiting with friends, my brother and I rushed home anticipating  opening that first gift on Christmas Eve.  Of course, Dad had to draw out the anticipation by acting like he could not find the packages and then magically making them appear.

 As soon as these packages landed in our laps the paper was off in the blink of an eye and the box lids flew opened. Instead of pulling out the fuzzy footie pajamas like I had always gotten, I began to pull out this night-gown. As I began to pull the gown out of the box the more material would come out.  As the night-gown began to unfold and unfold,  the entire room become quiet. I know the looks on the faces of my family had to be inquisitive. If you have every seen the movie, Christmas Story, I am sure my family’s faces looked about how the faces looked when the bunny rabbit pj’s were opened and the leg lamp came out of the box.

Christmas story pajamas

In my package that had been wrapped and shipped with love and care came out a nightgown with the size in the tag that said; “one size fits all.” As I began to unfold and unfold this nightgown, we realized that the entire family could get into this gown. (You see, I am a petite size gal. When God was giving out height, I overslept and missed getting in that line that day.) The more the gown unfolded the more everyone was scrambling for words. Suddenly out of my dad’s mouth came; “well, Peanut, looks like you have a new tent for camping.” At that moment the entire family was laughing until we were crying. Today, all I have to say is “one size fits all” and laughter will burst out in my family. I had received a gift that I was not going to be able to use.

leg lamp

 After opening Santa and eating Christmas breakfast the next morning, Dad kept with tradition and called Papa and Grandmother Hill to wish them a Merry Christmas. My brother and I would also get on the phone to tell our grandparents thank-you for their love, thoughtfulness and the presents.  This is one year I had to show gratitude for my gift while all the while my brother was in the background making a fort with the kitchen chairs and this ” one size fits all gown.”

little girl talking on phone

I share this story because it is becoming the gift giving season. People work hard and shop hard to find that perfect gift to give their loved ones.  These gifts are given or should be given out of the abundance of love from the heart. The gifts also show that the person cares enough to think about the receiver.

Yesterday, in my post, Extravagant Giving I shared how we need to be extravagant in our giving by giving others God’s grace. I also shared how God gave to us extravagantly so that we can have eternal life. We give to others out of the abundance of our hearts.

There are times when someone has received a gift and I have heard comments being made to the giver  like the following:

“What were you thinking? I don’t need this!”

“I can’t believe you spent (insert $ amount) on this.”

“I don’t like the color.”

This is NOT what I wanted!”

doesn't like the gift

I am sure in my lifetime of forty-nine years I have made an off comment like these at some point and time. However, as I have gotten older and hopefully a little more mature I have come to realize these comments are not needed and should be said. Just as the giver has given out of the abundance of their hearts, we should receive out of the abundance of our hearts. When we are negative about a gift that has been given we are stealing the joy of the giver even if they are not present when the comment is made. Instead, we should be grateful that the person took time out of their schedule to do something for us. We also should be thankful that they took time out to think of us.

gift

The gift is a material thing but it is also language of “I love you” and “I was thinking of you today.”  Thus, our response should be that of gratitude. In other words, be an extravagant receiver.  Now, what you do with the gift after the person leaves is up to you. Hold on to the gift in case you should some time need it. If the opportunity presents itself where someone else can actually use the gift, give it to them. The gift is now yours and up to you to do what you want with the gift.

receiving God's gift

As I said earlier, God gave to us extravagantly because he loves us so much and wants us with him for eternity.  God gave us his Son and  it is up to us to accept his Son into our hearts. We need to be an extravagant  receiver  of God’s gift. It is up to us as individuals of what to do with his gift. It is my hopes that we share his gift with others. We pass it on to someone else who needs Jesus in their lives.

Not only did God give us his Son but he gives us a gift everyday. As the old cliché says, every day is a present and it is up to us as to what we do with it”. It is up to us to make the most of every day God wakes us up. Each day God has blessings for us. It is up to us to be aware of his presence at all times to receive these blessings. When we receive these blessings it is important to acknowledge them and say thank you just as I acknowledged to my grandparents that I received their gift and said thank you.

This year as you receive Christmas cards and gifts be sure to be an extravagant receiver. Tell the giver thank you. Remember, the person took time out to think of you. They are giving out of the abundance of their heart. May our response to the gifts we receive and especially to the gift God gave us be the following:

“Thank you for thinking of me.”

“You are such a generous giver.”

” I didn’t realized I needed this blessing today but YOU did.”

I love the reminder we are given in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 about having a grateful heart;

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will

for you in Jesus Christ.

It is when we are an extravagant receiver that we will see the giver in a whole new perspective. We begin to see and experience joy in all things and we will become more open to see beyond the material gift and see the abundance of love the person has  in their heart. May our receiving be a blessing to others this year as their giving is a blessing to us.

Until next time, give thanks for ALL things!

Gratitude

Coming Home a Victorious Finish!

military fb photo cover

It was a week ago this afternoon when I was sitting at this very computer checking updates on Facebook when I saw the words; “Rest in Peace, Sgt. Michael Cable.” Looking over at the chat box I saw that my son was on-line. I shot a message to him asking what he knew about Michael’s passing. Drew’s response was; ???? meaning he was shocked as I was seeing the news.

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Sgt. Michel Cable was Michael Cable to our family before he ever signed up for the army. He was a running brother of our son, Drew on the cross-country and track team in high school. These teams weren’t just teams. This team had a special bond. They were/are a brotherhood who had each other’s back not only in the woods on a cross-country trail but in every aspect of life. When they weren’t training, they were playing, laughing and being teenage boys. These guys even prayed and worshiped together.

Drew running with his DCXC team in State Meet (they took the title three years in a row)

Drew running with his DCXC team in State Meet (they took the title three years in a row)

It was just two years ago when Drew lost his best buddy serving in the Navy. Josh was another fellow brother on the high school cross-country team and he was Drew’s brother. Josh was an adopted son of ours. When Drew wasn’t at Josh’s home Josh was with us including trips to the lake and Florida vacations.  It seemed we were just beginning to really grasp the reality of losing Josh.  Then, post after post brought back that memory, that sting and reality of life being precious was on the fore front of everyone’s mind.

Petty Officer Joshua Yeckering...taken too soon but not forgotten.I know he was at the final finish line to welcome Michael home.

Petty Officer Joshua Yeckering…taken too soon but not forgotten.
I know he was at the final finish line to welcome Michael home.

Sgt. Michel Cable making his journey home.

Sgt. Michel Cable making his journey home.

A loss for words. Numbness. Sadness. Heartache. Are the words that describe the last week. At least for me, that is what describes what the last week has been. A family has lost a brother, a son, an uncle and a friend.  It was in this moment that I asked God to walk with Michael’s family through the days ahead, and to give me the right words to say. As I prayed this prayer, I was reminded of the song by Mercy Me, Word of God Speak.

Tomorrow, I will stand with some of Michael’s former teammates from cross-country, track and the running community to salute him as he arrives home. As we salute and welcome Michael home, I know that Michael is already in his eternal home. I know his running brother, Josh was there at that final finish line to welcome him on over.  As Michael crossed that finish line, I know without a doubt that Josh and he not only gave each other a high-five as they did when they  won State for the second year in a row but they hugged one another because they have experienced the ultimate victory.

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“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Please keep the family of Sgt. Michael Cable in your prayers. 

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Can You Squeeze In A Little More

Can You Squeeze In A Little More?

Posted on December 27, 2010 by 

When you read my post The Table Is Set,  I placed a picture of our family dining room table.  This table also holds very fond memories of my Mom’s mom.  Her name was Reba but us grandkids called her Rea.  This table belonged to Rea and when she passed, I acquired not only the table but a table full of memories. This dinning room suit was how my Papa Jack proposed to Rea. After courting Rea for a while, he called her one day and said look at the dinning suit in the front window of the furniture store on your way home from work. Then, he instructed her to let him know if she liked the set.  Apparently, she liked the set and it raised a family, grandchildren and now one of her great-grandchildren and possibly in the future a great great-grandchild with many a meal.

The first parsonage I remember living in-Canon, GeorgiaDad served Redwine UMC/Macedonia UMC

The first parsonage I remember living in-Canon, Georgia
Dad served Redwine UMC/Macedonia UMC

Early in my childhood, Dad was fortunate enough to have his parish close enough to Rea and Papa Jack’s house. This enabled us to pile in the car on Sunday after worship and go to her house for Sunday lunch and visit with my aunt, uncle and cousins.  Now, my grandmother was as Southern as a gal could get and that was especially true with her cooking. The Sunday meal would consist of fried chicken, green beans that had cooked all morning, potato salad, gravy, biscuits, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and the list goes on down to the sweet tea. YUM!

Southern dinner

Though the food was so tasty, the fellowship around the table was the best part. You see, at Rea and Papa Jack’s house, there was no children’s table. Chairs were brought in from every room and everyone squeezed in and sat together. As the family grew, the more we squeezed in and phone books and/or the Sears Catalog  in chairs were used for high chairs when needed. There were no bibs for the little ones because a tea towel tied around the front worked just as good if not better. Then, as the meal would progress you would hear giggles around the table as Dad would tell one of his stories.

picnic table

Once the meal was complete, us kids would scatter out into the back yard where we would stand on the picnic table and perform our own concert of various repertoire. Mom and Rea would stay at the table a while and Rea would catch Mom up on the latest of family and friends. Papa would retire to his recliner and watch a ballgame and listen to it being called on the radio. Dad would find a place on the floor and take that Sunday afternoon snooze.

Out of all the memories of going to Rea’s house on Sunday, squeezing in around the table so all could be included on the fellowship is one of my fondest memories of Sunday.  One reason I hold dear to this memory is that no one was left out. Everyone had a place at the BIG table! Everyone got to enjoy the fellowship.
bring people together
My grandmother’s  Sunday dinner table was very much like I imagine the Great Banquet table will be in heaven.  There will be no children’s table, and there will always be one more place to squeeze in one more chair.  Oh, the fellowship will be awesome.  I know that there will be smiles and giggles of joy because we will be dinning with the King.
Sometimes we are in situations where we really need to bring in one more chair and squeeze in one more person, but we feel that there is no room.  It is easier to place that person or persons at another place.  When we don’t take the opportunity to squeeze in one more chair, we miss out on so much.  For example, we miss the opportunity of getting to know another Child of God, just a little more fellowship, and another chance for another memory that could just possibly have an influence on our lives. So, how about it? Can you just squeeze in a little more? Here, let’s add another chair and enjoy the fellowship.
Blessings,

This post is in loving memory of
 Eugene  Jackson Daniel &
 Reba Laviania  Daniel
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The Table Is Set

The Table Is Set

For us Southern Belles, not only is getting the tree and fireplace mantle in perfect shape but getting the dinning room table is at the top of list in what absolutely has to be done at Christmas.  For me, candles are essential when setting the table not only at Christmas but year round. Having candles on the table holds meaning for me.

My grandfather on my dad’s side was a retired Army Colonel. When we visited my grandparents’ home, Mom would always make sure we were brushed up on our manners especially before going to the dinner table. Dinner at Papa Hill’s house was an event every night. The good china and silver were used. And, there were always candles on the table that were lit before we came to the table.  No one sat down until Papa Hill took his seat at the head of the dinner table As a teen I would roll my eyes and think; “why can’t we just use the everyday dishes?” I would think this because I knew I would be the one helping after dinner hand  washing all the china and silver and putting it all away.

antique photo album

Over the years in my adulthood, I have reminisced on those dinner affairs and their true meaning. For Papa, dinner with his family was special to him. He cherished having his family around the table for not only a meal but for a visit.  Many a story and tale were shared around the table as we savored the pot roast, mashed potatoes  green beans and apple pie.  Grandmother had so lovingly prepared.  Along with no one sitting until Papa sat, no one got up until they were properly excused by an adult at the table.

memory lane

As I reminisce about dinner with Papa and once I had been properly excused from the table,  I also remember being  in the kitchen with Grandmother up to my elbows in suds helping her wash the china and silver. It was those moments in the kitchen where Grandmother would not say a lot but here and there she would gently and lovingly smile and give you a little wink. She was a quiet lady with little to say but her smiles and winks said it all. You knew all was right in the world.

One evening in May, 2002 I stood by my Grandfather’s bedside just a little before mid night. Jim and I had volunteered to take the night shift of staying up with him at the hospital. From the looks of things, we had a pretty good idea that Jim and I would not be there all night.  Late in the night, Jim sat by Papa’s side checking vitals until Jim noticed Papa’s breaths were getting further  apart.  As these breaths were getting shallow, I came over and took Papa by the hand.  While holding tight to his hand, I looked at him and thanked him for all the cherished memories he had given us around the table that was always beautifully set with linens and candles.  Then, I said “Papa, the table is now set for you. God has the candles lit and He has your place ready for you to take your seat at His banquet table. ” A few seconds later, Papa joined Jesus at the great banquet table.

banquet table in heaven

The table is set. It is Christmas. The candles, fine linens and china are on the table. A meal will be prepared and the candles will be lit where new memories will be made and old stories shared.  As I light the candles, I will not only remember my loving grandparents who showed by example that we are all special but I will also be reminded that Christ is and has always been the center of our family.

How about you? Is your table set? If you haven’t already, add some candles to your table. Let your family know how special they are and remind them that Christ is the center of your home by lighting the candles.  Sit around the table and make memories and share old stories. The teenagers may roll their eyes a little but let them roll. One day, they will be thankful that they have such warm memories.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of  Col. Carl R. Hill, Sr and Virginia Louise Hill

Merry Christmas!

 

Chase A Few Leaves

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, 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.

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

Home

“Been there done that; ain’t looking back.” “Who says you can’t go home?” are the lyrics to one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs. In this song, he sings about traveling, going out to find  fame and fortune. Yet, through all of his travels and seeing the world, he knows within in his heart his true home. He encourages those to take home with them no matter where life takes you.  Home is in the heart.

Remember Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz? She is lost in Oz and wants to desperately get back home. After many trials and paths, the good witch tells her that all she has to do is click her ruby-red slippers together and say; there is no place like home and she would be home. Dorothy awakes and sees that she is home among loved ones.

We have all been where these two people have been.  Most young adults are ready to leave home when they become of age. They are ready to move on to their next chapter in life whether it is going to college and eventually starting a new career, or just simply moving out on their on and starting a new job. No matter the situation, they are looking for excitement, some looking for fame, and making that fortune. Yet, it sometimes doesn’t take long for the real world to humble them.

Once a humbling experience takes place, some are afraid to go home out of embarrassment. Others are afraid to go home because they know they will get that finger in the face; “I told you so.” Then, there are those where bridges were burned with home and they can’t or don’t know how they could ever go back home.

When Jim and I were raising our son, Drew, we were conscientious that we needed to keep a safe and loving  environment  for him. We wanted home and still want a home that no matter the reason Drew knew he could come home. In the midst of his growing up, Jim and I read a book by Gary Smalley and John Trent called, Leaving the Light On. In other words, these authors were sharing how you want to leave that porch light burning where your children always felt like they could come home. They also explained about the ways and things that could be done that could extinguish that porch light fast.

Jim and Drew finishing up dinner at Bubba Gumps in Charleston, SC May, 2009

No matter the situation that  arises with Drew, Jim and I,  we need to continue to keep that safe and loving  environment for Drew and now for his wife, Megan. We want our home to be a place where they know they can come to celebrate achievements, where they can vent frustrations, and if they need to cry, there are shoulders and arms for them fall into and simply be held and loved.

We all know the story of the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15:13. Remember, this man had two sons. One of the sons wanted his inheritance right then and there. He declared he was ready to go out into the world to make his fortune and to claim his fame. Yet, as time went by, he found himself broke and hard on his luck. I love what verse 17 says; But when he came to himself,  he said; ‘many of my father’s hired servants have enough bread and to spare, and I perish with hunger!’ “The scripture goes on to tell us how he plans to approach his father and ask for forgiveness. He planned to work for his father as a servant. Yet, when his father saw him coming, he flew his arms opened wide and welcomed him home. The father instructed to have the finest robe placed around his son, a ring placed on his finger and the fatted calf to be killed. In other words, the father planned a big welcome home party for him. Don’t you just love what verse 31 to the end says? “And, he said to him, ‘Son you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and now is found.’ ”    

Are you like the songwriter and know that no matter how far you go and no matter what you do you can always go home? No matter where you go, do you take home in your heart? And, do you realize just as the songwriter says that what has been done is in the past?  No matter what, he  keeps his eyes on home?

Or, maybe you are like Dorothy. Walking around lost and trying to find your way back home.  You so wish you could click your heals together and just be home. You long to be wrapped up in that favorite quilt that you would wrap up in as a kid. Or, you yearn for the smells of that favorite meal your mom would make for you.

You may be like the lost son. You declared your freedom and left home. Maybe you left home on very shaky ground and bad terms with your family. There could have been words spoken that are now regretted.  You are sitting in despair trying to figure out how you could go home and what you would do when you got there.  There is the fear of the finger in the face; ” I told you so.”

Are you a parent whose child/children have left the nest. Maybe they have left with your blessings and they know they can come home anytime. Or, could your child/children be wondering around lost. They don’t know where they are and you certainly don’t know where they are at this moment. Did the light on the porch get extinguish out of anger and words that were spoken?

The reality of our world today is that there are people in all of these situations.  They are longing for home. Home in the physical sense and home in the spiritual and emotional sense. These people long for the favorite blanket wrapped around them, the smells of home and the warmth of a loving embrace. Yet, they feel as there is no hope just as the lost son had felt in his heart.

Hear the lyrics that I opened with one more time; been there done that; I ain’t looking back. “Who says you can’t go home?”  I love those lyrics.  The reason I love these lyrics is because there is a home we all can go to and go back to if we ever leave/stray. The home is our home with the Father. We can stray, do unimaginable things, deny Him and his home. Yet,  He stands there and waits for our return. In our returning to Him, God opens His arms wide and says; “Welcome Home!” All we have to do is tell Him that we want to be home again. We must allow God back into our hearts and ask for His loving grace and forgiveness. Then, as we return home to the arms of the Father, we must know we don’t need to look back on where we have been or what we have done. But, we move forward with lessons learned and allow Jesus Christ to walk beside us on our journey ahead.    

Just like the song, we can also carry home in our hearts. When we come home to Christ, home is in our hearts no matter where we go and no matter what we do.  Then, there will be a day when we will physically be greeted by Christ and the Father. They will be standing there with arms opened wide ready to great us into our eternal home.  The finest of finest robes will be placed among us. WOW! 

My challenge for today is that if you feel as though you have failed and failed the Father, know that there is no failing in the Father’s eyes. He will use your experiences to mold you more into His likeness. Just simply get on your knees and bow to the Father asking for forgiveness and be ready to be home again. After all, “Who says you can’t go home?”

I’m April sharing God’s message and reminding you that God is leaving the light on for you.