Pack Lightly

Jim and I enjoying a football game and seeing old friends at Bowdon High School, Bowdon, Georgia

Jim and I enjoying a football game and seeing old friends at Bowdon High School, Bowdon, Georgia

A couple of weekends ago Jim and I headed to Georgia for a long weekend. This weekend involved in being at several different venues during the course of the weekend. As always I struggled to discern on what clothes I needed to pack and what really didn’t need to go.  Progressing into the weekend, I realized I didn’t need to take as much as I took.

over packing for a trip.

We have all been there. We are planning a trip and we over pack. We over pack because we are afraid we won’t have the right outfit for a dinner, or something could happen and we need that particular item. Thus, we pack everything but the kitchen sink and take it with us.

over packed car

The result in packing everything but the kitchen sink is that the room in the car is limited. Our car has been so packed full at times that I was not able to recline my seat back. When Drew was young and still in a car seat there were trips where there would be just enough space for his seat.  I look back on it and laugh and yet I see it as sad, too.  Sad because we got so caught up in the packing that we didn’t look forward to the trip.

We didn’t look forward to the trip because we were exhausted from packing.  And, we were dreading getting to our destination because we knew we had to unload it all and then pack it all up and take it back home. It makes me tired just thinking about it now.

let go of the world

In this world we are on a journey. On this journey we tend to over pack. We over pack by carrying burdens we do not need to carry. Our over packing involves living with not forgiving someone or even sometimes forgiving ourselves for something. In other words, we stuff our lives with baggage of shame, guilt, and with what the material world says we need to have.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 that God wants us to pack lightly as we journey through life. He says:
Come to me all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

In other words, we don’t need to carry the burdens, unforgiving hearts, ways of the world and all other things that weigh our hearts down. I love what Rick Warren says in Purpose Driven Life “God created us for his enjoyment”  Do you think he enjoys seeing us continually stuffing things down in our souls and carrying it wherever we go?

worry fear guilt

We stuff these things down in our souls and hearts because of fear. It is just like over packing for a trip, we are fearful that we may need it at some point or we are afraid of what might happen if we leave the item behind.  Then, as we journey in life we are exhausted, we dread what is ahead of us and we miss the blessings that God has planned for us.


Our journey is before us. May we begin to sort out what is and isn’t important. May we seek forgiveness where forgiveness is needed. Let’s no longer hold on to things with the fear that we can’t be without it. Instead, let’s lay our stuff at the feet of Jesus and begin to enjoy our journey and look forward to our destination.

Our destination is heaven. God says to pack lightly because all he needs us to bring is our hearts to him. There is no need to arrive exhausted and weary.


Until next time, may you enjoy the journey and experience God’s blessings.

enjoy the journey




Welcome To My Porch

Meet April

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

Welcome To Thoughts From The Porch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Glimpse of Heaven

If you are a frequent reader of Thoughts From The Porch, you will know that I used this Bon Jovi song, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” in a previous post. In that post, I share how people leave home sometimes under stressful situations, about our kids leaving home, and the importance of keeping the porch light on. I also shared how we have a home that we are always welcome to come to and that home is in the arms of our Father.

Atlanta Skyline

A week ago today I was on my way home. Yes, I would be seeing my parents, my brother and his wife but I was going back to a home that I had not been to in over thirty years. As I prepared for the trip, and as Jim and I headed down the interstate last weekend, apprehension, butterflies in my stomach and excitement were all stirring up within me.

Bowdon High School

While traveling to Georgia to attend this reunion, I shared with Jim stories from living in Bowdon/Burwell. I told him about the people who played a significant role in my life. Along with sharing with him about the people, I shared with him stories of mischief that I got into to, swinging on  vines across a creek, staying up all night at camp meeting talking, and the list could go on and it did as we drove to Georgia.

Friday evening we stopped at my parents’ home for an overnight visit before heading on to the reunion on Saturday. In my visit with them we went down memory lane. We wondered if certain homes, businesses and people were still around. Mom reminded me that it would not be exactly the same as it was when we lived there.

Bowdon, Georgia

Saturday afternoon finally arrived and Jim and I arrived at our hotel. We checked in with only a couple of hours to unwind and get ready for the evening. During this time, I had already began calling and/or texting friends who would not be at the reunion trying to set up times to see them before I ventured back on Sunday afternoon. Excitement and anticipation began to build all the more.

Fast forward, we pull up to the lodge where the class reunion was taking place. I see people in the parking lot gathered and talking. Jim asked me if anyone looked familiar. My answer was; “no, not yet.” But, as I registered, and began to enter the lodge, familiar faces were coming up to me. I was getting hugs, warm smiles and a heart full of memories were coming to surface.

Two of my best buddies, Robert and Robert. Our families were together all the time.

Me with my best friend, Suzanne …I spent many nights at her home and many Saturdays on the tennis court with her and her dad.

Me with dear sweet friend Sabrina.

My best friends and I grabbed each other and hugged for a long time. As we began to visit and talk it was like I had never left. The butterflies and anticipation subsided. All I felt was warmth, love and  I would say I caught another glimpse of heaven last weekend.

Bowdon Class of 1982
These people were not just classmates there were and are family.

You ask; “a glimpse of heaven.” Yes, a glimpse of heaven. For me, I believe that God gives us a slight glimpse and taste of heaven at times. This past weekend was one of those glimpses.

Heaven as I envision it is a place where I will arrive and there will be arms of love opened wide greeting me. Faces of people in my life that I will recognize immediately and though I have been away for quite sometime will still “call me one of their own.”  The only words to describe how it will feel is amazing, awesome, and WOW!

Since my return home from this wonderful event,  I had to get back to the real world, life and responsibilities. Some days the real world brings challenges that frustrate me and make me want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. However, it is in these moments when I reflect on the little glimpses of heaven that I get that little push and pep in my step to keep moving on and not let life pull me down.

Life can get me down. People will let me down. But, I know that there is a destination on this journey and when I arrive to this destination there will be people with arms opened wide ready and willing to call me their own. It makes my heart leap just to think about it all.

Today, life may be getting you down. Maybe someone has let you down. Yet, realize that you are on a journey with a destination. There are people who have come in and out of your life who are waiting to open their arms wide and call you one of their own. I encourage you to be attentive in your everyday walk with Christ and in all interactions/events you have in  your life. If you keep your heart and eyes opened, you may just get a little glimpse of heaven. It’s those glimpses of heaven that will get you through those tough moments in life.

“You have made known to me  the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

Dedicated to Bowdon High School Class of 1982. Thank you for making me feel so loved and welcomed!


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Anticipating Our Destination


Last Fall, Jim and I decided we would book a cruise since it had been a few years since our last cruise.  As we looked at our calendar, Jim and I thought March would be good time to go thinking we would be tired of snow and winter weather. Yet, as we prepared to leave for our trip, we had the air conditioner turned on at home and laughed about the “winter” we were trying to escape.

When we booked this cruise, Jim and I asked our son and daughter-n-law if they would like to go along with us. Of course, it did not take them long to reply with a big “YES!” and clear their calendars.

As the days drew closer to our departure, the anticipation began to build.  Jim and I were excited that Megan and Drew were going with us. Drew had cruised with us one other time but this was Megan’s first cruise ever. We could not wait to see her reaction as we would board the ship, tackle the endless amounts of food and just savor all the people and scenery we would take in while on vacation.

Drew enjoying his entrée of duck

The day finally came where Jim and I pulled out of Kentucky and headed for Georgia. We were driving to Georgia to meet up with Drew and Megan at their apartment on Saturday morning. Then, the four of us would begin our journey to Florida. Our trip would include an over night stop in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Again, we were excited to share and show Megan our favorite places in the Golden Isles. As we enjoyed walking in the Village in St. Simons, eating at our favorite places and touring the Golden Isles, anticipation and excitement built even more among the four of us.

Christ Church
St. Simons Island, Georgia

After taking in our favorite sites and flavors of the Golden Isles, Sunday afternoon we ventured on to Cocoa Beach, Florida where we would lodge for the night and then head for the ship early Monday morning. Late evening, we arrived in Florida where we did a little shopping at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop and enjoyed a local fare of Italian cuisine. After a casual dinner, we ventured on to our hotel.  As we unpacked the car and ventured to our  rooms, there were nothing but big smiles on our faces because we knew that in a few short hours we would board our ship for a few days in paradise.

Sunrise at Sea
Thursday morning 3-15-2012

Monday morning arrived and we were all up and ready to go. After a quick breakfast, we headed to the Port where we would board our ship. Then, that magical moment came. We were welcomed aboard the ship that would be our home the next four days. As we walked the gangway and entered the lobby of the ship, we were greeted with smiles from the ship’s crew, and it was  like all the weights and burdens of the world just fell off of us.

Megan and Drew
Relaxing at Coco Cay

Jim and me at Coco Cay

When thinking about the anticipation and excitement that took place as we prepared for our vacation, I realize that our daily walk with Christ is very much the same. Each day we wake up, we should look at our day with excitement and anticipation because God has planned great blessings for us each day. Also, each day  of our faith walk brings us one step closer  to our destination. This destination is our eternal home and known as Paradise. It is without a doubt that when we approach those pearly gates that there will be smiling faces to greet us and all the cares of the world we left will be no more.

My challenge to you today is to live your life with excitement and anticipation every day. I also encourage you to be aware of God’s goodness and blessings He has planned for you every day.

Sunrise at Sea
Thursday morning 3-15-2012

This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

All You Can Do Is Laugh


In the midst of our uh-oh…Jim tries to make his interpretation of the British Flag with duct tape.

The Christmas season has begun. For some, the season for Christmas shopping began on Thanksgiving night. The madness, the mayhem and rush to get that one must have item began.  As the madness began, Jim and I were in route to our second Thanksgiving celebration with family. We had spent Thanksgiving lunch with his family and now we were off to Georgia for Thanksgiving with my family on Friday.

Jim and I were excited about arriving in Georgia not only because we haven’t seen the family in a while but we had just purchased a convertible. This convertible is something Jim has always dreamed of owning and now he was taking it on its first road trip.  Since we were heading South, Jim was assured that the weather would warm up at least one afternoon to put the top down with the intentions of taking our young nephews for a cruise.

Friday morning after a two person lift of getting the turkey in the oven, my mom said that if there was some shopping we wanted to do to go ahead and go for it.  I did want to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond while I was there since we don’t have one in our area. Jim and I set out into the madness of Christmas shoppers to pick up a couple of things we had on our list. As we shopped and looked at all the neat gadgets at  Bed, Bath and Beyond, my father calls and asks us to pick up a couple of things at Target before returning home. While checking out with my purchase at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I told Jim he could take the package to the car and move the car down to the  Target parking area. I would walk on down and get what was needed so we could speed up our process of getting back to the house.

As I stroll down the aisle to find the items needed, my phone rings. It is Jim. I think to myself that he is either telling me where he has parked or he is looking for me in the store. Instead, I hear these words as I answer the phone; ” uh, babe, the weather is warm and I thought I’d put the top down to ride back to the house.” I thought to myself “okay, sounds good so far.” Then, Jim’s voice quivers as he says; “as I was putting the top down, the back glass shattered!”  Obviously, this was NOT something a person wants to hear after owning the car only three weeks and being four hundred miles away from home. I was beginning to imagine the ride back to Kentucky on Saturday.

While waiting for me to come out of Target, Jim calls my dad to see if there is anyone who could take a look at the situation and possibly remedy the situation temporarily until we got home. However, the only solution to the problem was a trip to Lowe’s and making the purchase of plastic and duct tape to make a temporary window for our return home.

While  Thanksgiving meal preparations were being made in the house with my mom and sister-n-law, Jim and Dad begin to vacuum out the glass and make a make do window.  As we continued to put the meal together, I just shook my head in amazement of what had happened. You see, this is what we call Hawkins’ luck. It is not new to us at all. If it is going to happen, it is going to happen big and to us!

I chuckle out loud and said  out loud;” well no matter the weather, I guess we could go home with the top down” (knowing rain was in the forecast). Then Mom and Chris begin design a way of how Jim and I could protect ourselves from the weather elements if we drove home with the top down. They had us wearing ski masks to protect our faces, scarves to stay warm and me holding golf umbrellas over us as Jim drove to protect us from the rain. The more the discussion went the funnier it got. By the time it was all said and done, you’d think a scene from the National Lampoon’s vacation was being written.

Over twenty-six years of experiences of Murphy’s Law, Jim and I have learned that sometimes all you can do is roll, go and just laugh at the situation at hand. We know that having a fit or getting angry will not accomplish anything.  Jim and I signed on as a team. In that contract it means that we learn to roll with the punches together, laugh and know the issue will sooner or later be resolved. Then, in days gone by, what seems upsetting at the moment won’t matter.

Yes, Christmas is here. Mayhem, madness and trying to find that perfect gift is on. There are going to be moments that you are going to think; “can this line be any longer?”  Or, “I wish that person would get out of my way.” There are other stress provoked thoughts that tend to go through one’s head during this time of year. However, let me encourage you this year, as those moments approach, to take a deep breath and laugh.  Laughter is the best medicine and it can get you through any situation a whole lot calmer and better than getting upset and raising your blood pressure.

Sometimes, all we can do is laugh. And, by the way, God did smile on our trip home yesterday. It was sunny with a temperature of 72 degrees and guess who drove home with the top down! See, it all works out and it was a sweet ride!


My Regards

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Image by Del~Uks via Flickr


One Friday evening when Jim and I were out doing a little shopping, Drew calls Jim. As the conversation starts, I hear Jim laugh and say “I will make sure she gets the message.” I looked at Jim inquisitively and wondered what kind of message Drew had for me. Being full of wit and sarcasm, I could only imagine Drew’s message. Once Jim got off the phone, he relayed Drew’s message to me. The message was given to Drew by a homeless person on the corner of where Drew’s apartment building is located. This gentleman asked Drew to give me his regards like he knew me.

Since Drew moved out three years ago, first going to Chicago and now living in Atlanta, he has claimed the street people as his ministry. He makes it a point to talk with them and has had a chance to minister to one or two over time. Needless to say, on this particular evening, Drew had befriended a homeless guy and made conversation. Jim and Drew teased how I had friends on the street. I chuckled at the message sent to me at first but then I took a step back and thought about this message. Maybe it was God sending His regards to me through someone else. Later, I said to Jim; ” you know, that could have very well been my guardian angel using Drew to let me know my Father is watching over me.” Jim replied; “yes, it could have been but we will never know.”

A couple of weeks ago while visiting Drew in Atlanta, that conversation/message came up. Drew said that since that evening, he had not seen this particular gentleman. Now, if you know the homeless population in a big city, they usually have a regular corner and/or place where they spend most of their time. When Drew said that he had not seen that gentleman since that night, I got a chill and a sense of peace from within.

Hebrews 12:2; Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.’  Each day we encounter people on our faith journey. Some people we encounter we know them, their story and where they are heading. Others that come into our path we do not know other than what we observe in that particular moment. It is important that we stay observant to those around us through the eyes of Christ. Sometimes, it is the least likely person we encounter that may have a message from God. The message could very well be that message of hope we needed, that smile we needed or just a simple hello to pull us out of ourselves.

God uses many methods of getting our attention and to  send us the message He needs us to hear at a particular moment. I am a subscriber to the magazine Angels on Earth” and this magazine shares story after story of how God sent someone a messenger, a helper and/or encourager to people just at a time of need. As I read testimonies in this magazine, I think of the gentleman on the corner in Atlanta that told Drew to give me his regards. Yes, think what you want but I truly it was God’s way of saying; “I am here and I am watching over you.”

Along with receiving affirmation of God watching over me through someone I have never met and much less have not seen,  I am also reminded of the hymn “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” The first verse says:

Why should I feel discouraged,

Why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely

And long for Heav’n and home,

When Jesus is my portion?

My constant Friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches over me.

Mrs. C.D Martin/Chas. H. Gabriel

In the days ahead,  know that your Creator is watching over you. He may place a stranger in your path that has a special message just for you.  He will sends you His regards when you least expect it but just when you need to hear from Him the most.

Regards and Blessings

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‘He Keeps Me Singing’

Music - an art for itself - Headphones and mus...


“I will singof the LORD’S great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

This morning while cleaning up around the house the old hymn ‘He Keeps Me Singing’ keeps running through my mind. As the lyrics and tune play through my mind and heart, I reminisce of one of my father’s early churches in his ministry. The church was Redwine United Methodist Church that is located in rural Georgia. Every Sunday Mr. Mac would be up in front leading the song service with such enthusiasm and joy for the Lord.  This hymn was sung quiet often in that old church and as I remember it, that small congregation sung so loudly that I imagine those traveling down the road in front would have heard it as they drove past.

Recently, one of my bible study groups were sharing their prayer request and praises. As it came to me, I just sighed and said; “just remember our entire family.” I knew I didn’t have to say anymore because everyone had seen on the prayer chain or through circles in church knew that this has been a summer of big waves for our family. But, before I concluded sharing, I also shared that through these storms there have been blessings along the way.

In this old favorite hymn one of the verses say

Tho’ sometimes He leads thro’ waters deep, Trials fall across the way

Tho’ sometimes the path seems rough and steep, See His footprints all the way.

Oh, how that is so true for me at this very moment. As I reflect all that has been going on in the Hawkins’ home this year, I can see my mighty Saviour’s footsteps along the way. He has been walking beside me each and every step. Yes, He has even picked me up and carried me when I didn’t think I could go a step further. Jesus has whispered in my ear ‘not to fear not I am with you and I will let peace be still in all that is happening in your life.’

When God created you and me, He didn’t promise us perfect days but He promised that our days would carve us to perfection one day at a time and one step at a time. It is in our relationship with Christ that can keep us going on those days that aren’t so perfect and when the waves keep rolling in one after another. In our relationship with our Mighty Saviour, we are given strength to face all  that is in front of us.  He gives us the ability to sing praises and seek blessings just when we are about to lose all hope.

‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Sweetest name I know, Fills my every longing, Keeps me singing as I go.”  What a beautiful course to hum on any day of things to do but even more beautiful to hum in the midst of life’s storm(s). It has been and is Jesus’ love for me, His holding me and walking with me that has kept me singing this summer. And, as the dust begins to settle, I hum and/or sing it to myself even louder! It is Jesus’ sweet melody that always rings in my heart no matter the circumstance.

It doesn’t matter what kind of day you are having good or bad, I just encourage you to sing as you go knowing that Jesus is walking beside you and at times, will carry you.  His name is the sweetest name anyone can know!


This post dedicated to Redwine United Methodist Church, Royston, Georgia. I will always cherish my early childhood days of singing hymns with a congregation who sung with such joy!