Train Wrecks

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10 ( CSB)

“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. “

Ephesians 6:10-11 ( CSB)

We Slow Down and Look

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Since Jim and I live a distance from both sides of the family, we are on the road quite a bit to see our family.  There are times when we are traveling and get stopped in traffic. We are curious as to what the hold up is ahead of us only to find as we began to move that there is an accident sometimes minor and sometimes severe. Despite that all parties involved are moved to the side of the road with guidance from authorities for people to move over to the next lane, people still feel inclined to slow down and look to see what has happened.  The best case scenario would be for people to keep their eyes looking ahead and moving on instead of slowing down to look.

Are We Really Seeing What We Are Seeing?  Seriously?

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Then there is the scenario where one or the other has been channel surfing and something comes up and we can’t believe what  we are seeing on the screen. You will hear one or the other stating, “really, this is on television and no less prime time television?!” Yet, there is that human  tendency to just watch a few minutes  to be sure we are seeing what we are seeing on the screen.

Yet, there have been times when one or the other has put something into the ‘Google Search’ or ‘YouTube’ search innocently searching for information on a topic.  On Google, different links will come up and these links can be misleading and the answer we think we are going to get is actually a link that can embarrass us  from the inside out! Or, we can be searching for something on YouTube and what we are looking for does not come up but something totally against our morals appears  on our  screen and if auto play is turned on…well, it begins to play.  Our  church going grandmothers would not only roll over in their graves several times but would probably come out of their  graves if they  saw what had come up on our screens.

Train Wrecks

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When these scenarios take place our human tendency is to stop and watch for a second because we cannot believe what we are seeing and don’t want to see it, but we just can’t stop looking. Jim and I call these situations train wrecks. We don’t want to look, but we still stop for that moment trying to comprehend what we are seeing at that moment. We will question who would even think of putting something like that out there for  people to see? ….and, these days we shake our heads because we know that what is on that screen may be seen by some innocent child.  Worse still, they may see what is on that screen and they may not have  the guidance at home that would allow them to discern the folly that unfolds before them.

Distracting Our Hearts

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These so-called train wrecks are the Enemy’s way of trying to distract our hearts and focus on God and His purpose for our lives. It is the goal of the Enemy to not only distract us from God but to hook us into these distractions intended to entangle us and pull us down a slippery slope of sin. It is a life God did not intend for us to live. It is in these moments of staring at these train wrecks where we have a choice.   We can consent to viewing the content intended to derail us, or we can be directed down the track ahead of us. This track is intended to keep our eyes on Jesus.

A Clean Heart

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As I read Psalm 51:10 this morning, it made me think of the train wrecks I have come across in my lifetime and the train wrecks people are exposed to on a daily basis.  Ephesians 6:10-20 also comes to mind.  In order for us to keep our hearts clean before God, we have to start each day by putting on the Armor of God. By doing so we are empowered to stand against the Enemy.  When those accidents happen as we travel we know to look straight ahead and move forward. As we move forward, we should pray for those involved in whatever incident that has taken place to slow traffic down.

Armor Up

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It is when we armor up in the Word of God we can look at these distractions on YouTube, Facebook or whatever means of social media that come up, and we can tell the Enemy, “not today.”  We are empowered to stand toe to toe with the Enemy in Jesus’ name to tell him that he will not hook us into a slippery slope but we will stay the course that God has set before us. Yet, when those incidents happen while on-line and/or channel surfing may  it be a reminder of those who are lost in this world and say a prayer for those who are lost. It is our responsibility as Believers to pray for the lost and their salvation.

Forgiveness

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Maybe you are someone who has paused at  one of these train wrecks. The Enemy hooked you into a slippery slope that you feel there is no getting back on track. You feel that you are standing on the side of the road in the debris of that one moment; that one click.  I am here to tell you that you have hope. This hope is in God who is your Father. (We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19 NIV ).  He loves you. Your Father extends his hands out to you offering you grace, and mercy. 1 John 1:9 says this; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ( NIV)  On the sidebar of this blog site is a video about the gift of salvation that I encourage you to view if you are searching for answers. Today is the day to ask God to give you a clean heart and seek the plans God has for you. ( For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

 

Prayer

 

Father God,

Thank you for this day that You give us and for the blessings You have planned for us. You are a faithful and loving God.  You love us so much that You sent Your only Son to die for our sins so that we may have life eternal with You. ( John 3:16)

Today, we come before You ready to surrender ALL to You. We surrender all of our sins, the slippery slopes the Enemy has attempted to or has drawn us to in days past. At this moment, we ask for You to cover us with Your grace and mercy.  Create in us clean hearts and as our hearts are cleansed may we feel Your mighty power and spirit fill us from within until it is overflowing onto those we encounter throughout the day.

You tell us not be of the world but to be in the world. When the Enemy attempts to distract us and pull us into the world, may we be armored up in Your Word and Truth. May our eyes stay focused on Your Son, Jesus and the plans You have for us.

Father, today, I pray for those who are lost. For the one who is reading this searching for answers, I pray that You will place someone in their path today who will extend the love of Christ to them. May they totally surrender all to You and seek to have a clean heart and live for You.

Father, You are just that….Our Father. You care deeply about all that we do and see everyday. May what we do bring You all glory and honor. May the mistakes, mis-steps we take be turned into a message of testimony that will bring You glory. Thank you for all the blessings You have given us and the blessings You have planned for us that we have yet received.

We love You and ask You to walk with us as we journey through this world until it is time for us to be home with You.

In Jesus Name

Amen

Abundant Life

 

Therefore Jesus said again,, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal kill and destroy; I have come that they have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

In this verse from John 10:10 the following sentence has been quoted many times. I have come to that they have life, and have it to the full.” There are translations that word this sentence as to having abundant life. I have heard comedians such as Mark Lowry use this sentence in his routines about having abundant life. There are so many interpretations and thoughts regarding what Jesus meant in having abundant life.

Abundant life. As the year 2017 nears to a close, I honestly say my husband, Jim and I have experienced abundant life. It is because of the abundant life I have experienced this year that I have gained more understanding of Jesus’ teaching in this passage.  This is definitely one year for the books.

Rewind December, 2016

Jacqueline Ward Daniel Hill
November 2, 1943-December 27, 2016

Before 2016 ended I found myself sitting in a hospital room with the rest of my family absorbing all the time we could with my mom. We said good-bye to my mom on December 27th. She had fought a long and hard battle with cancer. On New Year’s Eve afternoon, the remainder of the family that had been at Mom and Dad’s departed. Thus, leaving my dad and I alone in a very quiet house. It was as though time stood still and I wondered to myself how I would take the next step and how would time move on without my mom by my dad’s side.

Memorial Day 2017

The calendar did flip over to 2017 and little by little I learned to take new steps and learn a new normal without having my mom around.  Memorial Day approached and as tradition has it for Jim and me we would attend the Gaither Family Fest in Gatlinburg for the weekend.  This would be a weekend of Jim’s family and friends from Louisville and my family would meet up for a time of music, spiritual renewal and fellowship. It was a wonderful weekend and a time for healing for my family.

When Jim and I attend these weekends we usually prolong our stay in Gatlinburg for another day or so just to avoid the holiday traffic. Yet, Jim’s schedule would not allow for us to prolong our trip this year. Thus, we departed for home Memorial Day morning along with the many other travelers.

Jim and I usually take back roads from Gatlinburg to  the interstate that would lead us to home in Kentucky. However, as we approached the interstate there was no movement. It was one big parking lot. At this moment, Jim decided this year we would try an alternate route. In the words of a James Taylor song, “Home by Another Way”, we would go home another way.

There was a parkway that Jim and I needed to watch exit signs to take on this new route home. However, we did not realize that the name of the parkway had changed and somehow or the other we missed the exit.  Jim pulled over and googled  how to resolve this mistake without us backtracking and losing time.

We ended up on a two lane road that took us through some  beautiful Kentucky territory that really had Jim and me captivated.  We passed a lake with a beautiful camping area and were curious as to the name of the lake. I began to google our location to find out specifics of the area. Just as I looked down at my phone Jim shouts to me, “hold on!”. Coming straight at us is a camper that had become disengaged from the truck that was pulling it. The camper was in our lane. From that moment all I remember is seeing a grove  of trees that our car was heading for and nothing but white rushing passed the driver’s side.

The car finally came to a stop and I looked over to the driver’s side anticipating seeing that half of the car gone as well as Jim. Thankfully, the car was in tact and Jim still had a tight grip on the steering wheel. He looked over at me and said, “we are blessed because we were almost killed.” As he spoke those words, I looked in my side mirror and saw the camper go over the car that was behind us. My reply to Jim was “and we have just witnessed an accident and I don’t know if there are going to be survivors.” Once again, Jim looked over at me and said, “stay here because you know what I have to do.”

Jim along with other motorist who had witnessed the accident sprang into action. After busting the back window out Jim and other volunteers began checking the victims. There were two small children with their grandparents. The grandmother and three-year-old were responsive and did not seem to have many injuries but the grandfather/driver and the baby behind him were not responsive.  Jim felt for a pulse on the driver and he said it was very faint for only a minute and then the driver was gone. Jim said all he could do was pray over the victim and for the family.

Once the status of the driver was established they began pulling the other victims out of the car. As Jim lifted the baby out and handed to a nurse who had witnessed the accident, he knew the baby was most likely brain-dead. The baby was life flighted to a Children’s Hospital and passed away a few days later. The grandmother and three-year-old were taken to the local hospital and were treated and released.

As you can imagine this was a horrible event for us. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the ordeal was watching the emergency personnel telling the lady that her husband did not survive the crash. I can still hear her screams in my head as I go back to that day. The other heartbreaking moment for Jim and me was when learned that they were not believers. Their family had tried to witness to them about Christ.  I believe that afternoon and evening Jim and I prayed more from the gut than we ever prayed in our lives as individuals and as a couple.

Mr. Snapping Turtle

Mid-summer Jim and I arrived back into our neighborhood after Jim had worked a weekend shift at the hospital.  As we came around the curve approaching our home, there was this huge turtle in the middle of the road. I told Jim we needed to move Mr. Turtle so that he would not get hurt or worse crushed by another car.

Again, Jim to the rescue.  At first we thought it was just a regular old turtle but soon learned by seeing his tail that he was snapping turtle.  Jim tried to think of how to approach this turtle to get him moved out of the street. He thought maybe he could slowly approach the turtle from behind but soon learned that was not an option.

Jim walked up to the house to get a shovel as I stood guard by the turtle so that no one would hit him or a child dare try to approach him. Jim was able to scoop Mr. Turtle up with his shovel and place him in a nearby ravine where the turtle would be safe and people would be safe from the turtle.

Four Day Weekend Turns to Thirteen Day Stay

This past October we celebrated our granddaughter’s first birthday.  Campbell was so precious in her birthday dress.  We all cheered her on as she attempted to stand up by herself and as she tried to figure out what to do with her birthday smash cake. It was a fun celebration.

Monday arrived and it was time to depart from my Dad’s home and head for Kentucky.  As part of our routine, Jim and I always stop at the QucikTrip just before getting on the interstate. We made our stop. I got my sweet tea.  As Jim was paying for the gas, my phone rings. It is my dad.

My dad is calling to ask  about  where we were as far as  location on our trip. I found this odd since we had left him only forty minutes earlier.  He began to explain that he was having some chest pain and was not feeling very well. The blessing was he was on Chaplain duty at the hospital and one of the nurses he knew was wheeling him over to the emergency room.  Dad began to tell me not to worry if I could not turn around and come back.  Jim gets in the car and I give him the details and instead of turning right to get on the interstate we take a left and head back into to town. Our four-day weekend turned into a thirteen day stay.

Dad ended up having open-heart surgery. It was so hard to for me to see him go through this without my mom by his side. Mom was always the one who could calm any of us down in a tense situation. She always knew the right words and knew just what to do at any moment. Yet, she was not there. My brother was on a trip with his family. Thus, it was up to me with Jim by my side walking through this procedure with my dad.

Again, a stressful moment but as we walked through this journey I could hear the words of my mom, “we will get through this.”  And, we did get through it and we were not alone.  God blessed us with wonderful doctors, hospital staff but most importantly loving/praying friends that over the years have become like family to us. It was all of these people along side God doing His work that we got through Dad’s surgery.

Life Abundantly

I have mentioned a few life events that have occurred to the Hawkins’ this year. In the midst of these events taking place and coping, every day life that we all deal with took place as well.  Needless to say, life happened in its abundant form for us this year.

Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it full.”  What have I learned from this verse in John 10:10? I have a saying, “God didn’t promise us perfect days but He promises us A perfect day.” Each one of these experiences that Jim and I went through this year the thief (Satan) could have had a field day if we had let him. Yet, as a couple and as individuals we chose to keep our eyes on the cross.

In each situation, we sought God’s blessings. As hard as it was losing Mom, we know she is in a better place and we have the hope that we will see her again because we believe in Jesus Christ. The blessing from the Memorial Day wreck  was seeing a group of strangers pull together to help a family in crisis.  We had the opportunity  to pray with the family at the hospital and we continue to pray for the survivors each day and that they will become a believer.

Is there a blessing with the snapping turtle? Yes. The blessing was we found the turtle before a child found it and had their finger bitten off. It also gave us something to laugh about after going through some stressful days. Regarding my dad’s surgery, we experienced God’s love, grace and felt the prayers of praying friends and family.

Being given life abundantly doesn’t mean everything goes our way, we have everything we want, nor we are free from trials.  Life abundantly through Christ means experiencing His power and seeing His hand at work not only in the trials but in the everyday living of life. It means taking God by the hand and trusting Him as we walk this journey on planet earth. Through our trusting God, having Christ in our hearts, and involved in all we do we experience Him in abundance and we live the abundant life He has given us.

Yes, this has been a year for the books for the Hawkins. We are ready to put the year behind us. Yet, before we move forward to 2018, we will stop and count our blessings even from the storms we encountered this year. We will give thanks to God for bringing us this far and will take Him by the hand and follow His leading in 2018.

Today, I challenge you to stop and reflect on your 2017. Seek the blessings that were in the midst of the trials you may have experienced this year. Take God by the hand and tell Him that you trust Him and will follow His leading in 2018.

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If you have not asked Christ to come into your life, right now at this moment I invite you to accept Him into your life.  All you have to do is say, “here I am, Lord.” “I give you my heart and I want you to come into my heart.” Pray the prayer below and then begin to live a life of abundance that will ultimately be filled with many blessings.

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Have a blessed Christmas Season and a blessed 2018!

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Twist and Turns

The Lord is my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27 :1

For I am the LORD you God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Are there perfect days?

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“We are not promised perfect days but we are  promised A perfect day” is a quote that I have found myself quoting to people often times when they are in the midst of a struggle. Yet, there are days I forget to put this phrase into practice for myself. Yes, I am human. I am not perfect. I have flaws. I have fears. Life has taken my husband, Jim and I on many twists and turns.

The Celebration

Anniversary at church

Last November, 2015, Jim and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary.  To celebrate our anniversary, Jim booked a cruise for us. We were to leave the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Along with booking this trip, Jim surprised me on a Sunday evening at our church’s Thanksgiving dinner with having our pastor renew our wedding vows in front of our church family. He even surprised me with a cake after we renewed our vows. It was a very special evening.

The Storm

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The following Monday Jim comes home complaining of dizziness. We both figured it was his vertigo acting up and with him being a physical therapist he knew what he needed to do to get it settled down.  He tried the typical procedure and he did get some relief. Yet, in the next couple of  days this dizziness would only get worse. On Wednesday, the eve of Thanksgiving, I found myself in the ER with Jim. By this time Jim was so dizzy he could not even stand up. As the ER doctor examined Jim, he suggested a MRI to rule out stroke. Jim tried to talk his way out of the MRI and tried to convince the doctor to treat him for vertigo. Yet, this is one time I sided with the doctor. I knew we were on our way out of the country on the ocean blue in just a few days. At this point, Jim did not have much say other than to agree to have the MRI.

After patiently waiting, the doctor comes in with the MRI results. The doctor asked Jim if he had MS or migraines because there were lesions that only migraines or MS would have on the brain. Jim said he had a history of migraines. At that point, the doctor treated Jim for vertigo, gave us medication for Jim to have on the trip with a promise from us we would follow-up with a physician on our return home.

As promised, we did follow-up with a neurologist on our return home. This particular doctor has been a doctor Jim has worked with for many years. Thus, they know each other pretty well. When we went into the Dr.’s office the doctor asked Jim if he wanted the soft version or just out with what was wrong. Jim said he knew him well enough to just shoot straight with him. The neurologist said Jim had MS. I about fell out of my chair when hearing this news. It was the last thing I expected.

The Twist

The Dragon's Tail

Once the shock wave settled down, the doctor pulled up Jim’s MRI and went over what was going on regarding lesions. As the visit progressed, the doctor went over a treatment plan for Jim. He assured Jim that this would not affect his work and with medication the progression could be slowed down. In the midst of the consultation, the Dr. says that there is a meeting that very evening that we could attend to learn more about relapsing MS. Jim and I agreed we would attend the meeting.

The Blessing

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Believe it or not, Jim’s diagnosis was a blessing for us. For many years I have dealt with auto-immune issues. I have bounced from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was going on. Many times Jim asked some of these doctors to check me for MS but they would shake their heads, “no”.

As the meeting began, the doctor went over the main indicators for MS. The more the doctor talked the bigger Jim’s eyes got. You see, I had all of the main indicators for MS. Needless to say, Jim spoke with the doctor about what I had been through over the years and asked if he would evaluate me.  I went in the following week for evaluation and MRI. It turns out that our prayers had been answered. The mysterious dragon we had been fighting was finally given a name. The name being MS.

Though Jim’s episode and  landing him in the emergency room was scary and his diagnosis caught us off guard, a prayer was answered. For so long Jim and I had prayed to find out what was going on with my health. It is not the way we ‘thought’ God would answer our prayers but our prayers were answered.

There is more to the story.

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Two years ago this coming Fall, God led Jim and I to the church we now attend. Looking back, we see God’s hand in laying the foundation to send us the answer to our prayers. In this church family God has placed a dear sweet friend who is a nurse and has MS along with another friend who is a nurse with a lot of wisdom on this disease. Not only did God lay the foundation of placing these two precious people in our path but he placed us with a very loving church family who have and are walking with us and praying with us.

There are no perfect days but there is A perfect day!

God's timing

Last Fall, Jim and I stood before our church family renewing our wedding vows. In those vows we once again vowed to be there for one another in sickness and in health not knowing in a few days this particular vow would be put to the test.  I do believe this was also a part of God’s divine plan for us to renew our vows so that we would be reminded of what we had pledged to one another in front of witnesses and before him. Thus, when we were given the news we knew what we needed to do for one another.

Today, you may be praying a prayer that you have long waited for an answer. You wonder if God has forgotten you. Maybe you have been told no when asking for an answer. The water is rough right now and you are longing for smoother waters.

Let me encourage you to keep praying those prayers. Seek God in all you do in everything everyday. Count the blessings God gives you every day. Be in tuned to his leading and follow his lead. There will come a day when your prayer is answered. Trust me, it won’t be answered the way you think it will be answered. It may come in the midst of another twist and turn in life. Then, when you get the answer to your prayer, I encourage you to look back and it is without a doubt that you will see where God’s hand had been at work.

There are going to be many imperfect days in the days ahead. Realize it is God molding you more into his likeness, he is wanting you to grow deeper in your relationship with him and preparing you for that perfect day.

It is the imperfect days where I have no fear because I know who walks before me,who walks beside me and behind me.(Psalm 27:1) I know that it is in his time that he makes all things beautiful.( Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Leave in God's hand

The Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

April’s Testimony on God’s Peace
(February 29, 2016)

Bible with heart

It is Day Five of Week Four of Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study, Armor of God. On this particular day there is a place to reflect and write about someone who has a peace-filled life. The assignment is to reflect on their qualities, how do they display this peace and how you have seen this peace protect the person from the enemy.

cup of tea

Yet, as usual, I have my own drumbeat I would like to reflect out of this week’s lessons and lesson on peace. As I sit here typing, early Spring breezes are flowing through my screen door, birds are singing, favorite tunes are playing softly in the background, and, as usual, Smokey is sitting at my feet quietly looking up at me with his dark brown eyes. This is one afternoon I don’t think it could be any more peaceful. I definitely hear my Father’s voice in all that is going on around me. Yes, in the midst of it being Monday and a ‘Leap Day’, Jesus is ever present and accounted for in this very room I sit.

Smokey Monm's Day

As I reflect over this week’s lessons on ‘peace’, I have to go back a little further than just this week. Two years ago I was sitting in this very room searching for that peace only God can give. I knew it existed. I had experienced it before. Yet, my humanness took over. It was there and then where the only thing I felt was the chaos of the world swirling into warp speed. Gasping for air, I was crying out to God seeking his guidance and his peace. The more the world spun the more I searched scriptures, sought wisdom, sought help and clung to the cloak of my Lord and Savior.
Life for me at that moment was going through the motions, being emotional and just trying to get through one day at a time. Yet, somewhere in the midst of the chaos, I felt a tug on my heart. It was the Holy Spirit telling me there was hope.

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It was a slow process but I began to sit and really listen to what the Holy Spirit was saying to me. I knew I had to be like Mary and simply sit down at the feet of Jesus and listen to His small still voice. In the midst of these meetings, He began to heal me and lead me to healing waters.

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It has been in these healing waters where I have experienced an inner peace that I cannot explain. I have been a believer most of my life. Yet, there was that little piece of humanness that interfered with that peace only God can give. And, the enemy knew it and used it as a weapon against me.
This afternoon, I sit here where I sat two years ago spinning in a world of chaos. I am sitting here with a smile on my face, a smile in my heart and so thankful for so many things and for the many ways God has used these last couple years to mold me. It is like a slow fade in a movie scene.

slow fade

As I reflect, I see where God was at work even on what I thought was the hardest of days. He had a plan and just like the potter spinning the pottery on the wheel, he took me for a spin. Then, little by little he began to chisel away the hurt, the questions, the frustrations and the world I was caught up in.

potter's clay picture two.

In this reflection, I see how God has taught me every step of the way and he is still teaching me what it means to walk in His peace, live in His peace and to seek Him in all that I do. I have learned to smile more, be thankful for the life God has given me. Yes, I have even become thankful for the obstacles, the afflictions and whatever the world brings me. In each every little detail that happens, God’s hand is at work.

eye of love

You see, I had to change my perspective. I had to change how I looked at things and life. God reached his hand out to me and said; “trust ME”, “allow me to lead”, ” I can show you a peace like no other.” I placed my hand into His, re-dedicated myself to Him, allowed to Him to lead me and it has become the most beautiful dance anyone could ever imagine. I’m gracefully and peacefully dancing with my Heavenly Father.

Angels dancing

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
(Isaiah 52:7 ESV)

(Dedicated to Women’s Ministries at Macedonia Baptist Church, Owensboro, Kentucky)

 WHO AM I

CASTING CROWNS

#ArmorOfGodStudy

Healing Waters

storm

In my distress I called the LORD:

and he answered me.  From deep in the realm

of the dead I called for help, and you heard my cry.

Jonah 2: 1-2

Late summer of 2014 I found myself sitting in a counselor’s office.  I sat on the sofa of this counselor’s office in tears, broken and completely drained.  Just as Jonah found himself sitting in the belly of a big fish I had felt like I had been swallowed into the belly of a big fish. I was crying out to God.  Yes, I believed in God and had been trying to find solace in him. Yet, emotionally and spiritually I had hit bottom.

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Fast Forward

The first of this year I found myself sitting on the very sofa that I landed on in late Summer of 2014. Yet, this time as I talked with my counselor, I had a smile on my face, renewed energy and I had found the girl God created me to be. As my appointment came to a close, my counselor asked if I thought I needed to come back.  She felt as though I had been healed and saw a renewed spirit in me. How did I make the change of sitting in the belly of a big fish to crawling out of the belly and seeing hope again?  The answer is simple. God.  In the midst of working through the tunnel of darkness, he called me to go to healing waters. These healing waters were located in the Baptist church across the street from my neighborhood.

It has been through a lot of prayer on my part and prayers of fellow believers that has brought me to healing. Not only was it prayer warriors but it was the unconditional love extended to me by this community of believers that helped me to continue to crawl out of that tunnel of darkness.  Along with the  prayer, love and support of family and friends I was actually immersed in healing water. In other words, I choose to be baptized by immersion. It was in the midst of coming up out of the water where I felt the embrace of the Holy Spirit. I came up to a new page, a new heart and a healing that I had needed for so long. My heart began to beat again.

waiting

Do You Know Someone Who Is Broken?

There are people out there that are sitting in a room feeling broken. They are sitting in the belly of a big fish wanting to get out but they don’t know how to even begin. I encourage you that if you know someone like this to pray for them.  Not only pray for them but to love them unconditionally and let them know they have a God who loves them very much. Remind them that no matter what is going on or has happened that their heart can be healed.  Maybe, God is leading you to lead them to healing waters. 

bowing before God

Are You Broken?

Maybe, it is you, the reader that for some reason God brought you to my page. You are hurting and all you can see is darkness surrounding you. Please do not be discouraged. There is hope for you. There is nothing you are going through and/or you have done that God can’t change. Your Father in heaven loves you so much. I encourage you to lift your hands up, cry out to God just as Jonah did  and ask God to lead you to healing waters.  These healing waters may include getting back into church, finding a group of believers that will pray with you and for you. Healing waters may include seeking wise counsel to lead you to new light.  Maybe,  you need to ask Christ into your life and allow him to heal you from the inside out and/or be immersed in the healing waters of the Holy Spirit.  In the words of Danny Gokey; “tell your heart to beat again.”

seeking the heart

Even youths grow tired and weary,

and you men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

Take time to listen to the video below:

The Person I’ve Become

girl looking in the mirror

This morning I looked in the mirror and wonder who I’ve become;

How can I be loved after all I have done?

The choices I’ve made;

The things I’ve done are making me numb.

crying

Then a voice within tells me that He is not done;

For I am His and He is with me;

Bible with heart

I pulled out the Good Book and turn the unworn pages;

I read how God sent His SON;

Christ on the cross

 God sent His only begotten SON;

So I can change the person I’ve become.

heart and light

The words flowed  through my heart how through HIS death

I’m a forgiven one.

These precious words began to sink in;

He tells me to confess my sins;

And, to invite Him in.

Together, we will begin again.

God sent His only begotten Son

So I can change the person I’ve become.

girl smiling in the mirror

This morning I looked in the mirror;

And, I see the person I’ve become.

Jesus walking

I’ve chosen to walk with God’s Son;

And, now I am a forgiven one!

Bible opened

I pull out the good book whose pages are now worn;

I read how I must tell everyone that HE is the ONE!

God sent His only begotten SON;

So I  can change the person I have become.

girl looking in a table mirror

Maybe you’ve looked in the mirror and seen the person you’ve become;

Because of the the things you have done;

You are completely numb.

Let me encourage you to reach for the Good Book;

As you read, take a long hard look.

seeking the heart

Let the words flow through your heart;

Through His death you are a forgiven one;

You are given a new start!

God sent His only begotten SON

So you can change the person you’ve become.

eye of love

Let His precious words soak in;

Begin to confess your sins and invite Him in;

And, with Him know you can begin again.

cropped-10622860_10152622922226740_1934228684971941411_n.jpg

Choose to walk with His Son;

You’re now a forgiven one.

Then, go out and tell everyone that He is the ONE!

God sent His only begotten SON

You can change the person you’ve become.

girl looking in the mirror

This morning I looked in the mirror;

I see the person I’ve become;

I am a person who walks with the ONE!

God sent His only begotten Son;

So I could change to be the person I’ve become!

Written By April Hawkins

October 15, 2015

John 3 16

Changing the Path

 

The Final Summit

In the last couple of days, I have read the book called; The Final Summit by Andy Andrews. Andy Andrews has become one of my favorite authors. He is spot-on in this book when the question that is posed at this summit is; “What should humanity do, individually and collectively, in order to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?  It is through this question and in reading this book God opened my eyes to the many things that have happened in our world/society to have gotten to where we are today. And, that place is not a very good place.

crying

In the last week, I have seen attempts to re-write and remove history and many of these things this country was founded on. I have seen people attempt to re-write the TRUTH  to justify why they do what they do. If you are on any type of social media, you have seen mud-slinging from both sides of any controversial issue that is in the news. It seems we get off one roller coaster ride over an issue and we are soon back on over another issue. It is becoming where the offended are being offended. Sad and scary.

my way or God's way

 

In The Final Summit, the main character, David is being summons by Gabriel to attend  and lead this summit that will consist of former great leaders of the world to figure how to turn things around and put the world back on the right path. However, Gabriel shares that the answer to the question is two words. It is up to those at this summit to figure what the two words are that will turn humanity around.

new path

The archangel, Gabriel points out that God does not need or will send a flood to wipe out humanity that ‘humanity is sinking of its own accord.’ (The Final Summit page 35).  Gabriel points out how man has turned from what is really true and have begun to re-write the rules and created a new truth.

Gabriel goes on to say;

“What I mean is this time, quite simply, you are providing your own flood. Certainly you are aware that some so-called progress you have pursued now enables you to destroy life on this planet in several different ways, many times over, and with varying choices of speed. You don’t need Him to make it rain.”

“(The Final Summit page 36)

In other words, the last time the world was destroyed God sent a flood. He was in control of the rain. God told Noah to build an ark and who/ what would be on the ark. God planned how many days and nights it would rain. However, this time around, man is creating his own flood by re-writing the rules, believing in lies, and adjusting the truth to accommodate the desires of the heart.

Lost and Confused Signpost

As this summit progresses with much discussion and “thinking” they have the right answer to find out that the answers they are coming up with are good but not the right one.  The members of this counsel discuss how wisdom, courage, hope, character building and self-discipline would help in turning humanity back on the right course. Yet, these thoughts were not the answer that Gabriel was looking for.  After the last try and feeling deflated, one of the counsel members stands up and says; “it is never too late.”  “There is still time.”   (pg. 197)

hour glass

I love the last two sentences. These two sentences spoke hope to me. As dismal as things seem to be today with the way things are happening, we still have hope. We still have time.  What we must do is share the hope that we have through Jesus Christ. We have a choice to either sit around on Facebook and try to shove each other’s views down the throats we disagree with in order to get our point across or we can step up, be bold and do something to turn the path around.  And, in the midst of being bold in turning the path around, be sure to seek God and his blessings. As we know, “all things work out for the good and for the glory of God.” (Romans 8:28)

seek God

I won’t give away the ending of the book but I will pose these questions to my reading audience:

What are you doing to make a positive difference?  

What can you do to help turn a hurting world’s eyes to the cross of Jesus Christ?

What can you do show a world of hurt the real truth and the hope we all have when the sands of time do run out?

My challenge for all of us is to use what we have and what we know in a good way that leads everyone to the path of TRUTH and righteousness.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make

the most of every opportunity. Let  your conversation 

be gracious and attractive so that will have the right response L

for everyone.

Colossians 4:5-6

Take time to watch the video below:

 

Restoration

He who is seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5 (NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone and the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

restoring

One thing Jim and I like to do is go out and about and find pieces of furniture or other items that we can re-purpose or restore. I have several items in my home that we have stumbled on while on such excursions that Jim has taken time to restore.  The end result is we have pieces that aren’t perfect. Some of these pieces have markings that with all the sanding and rubbing one could do they will not come out. Jim and I call these markings/scratches character marks which only add to the beauty of the piece we have restored. Along with the character marks, we also have a new conversation piece in our home.

restored

Not long ago, I was singing with our local hospital choir at a memorial service being held at our hospital for employees that have passed away within the past year.  After the service was concluded, I was speaking with our choir director regarding all that I had gone through last year and how God led me to healing waters.  “My soul/spirit has been restored” is what I told our director. Her response to me was not only “God is good” but she told me that this year is the year for restoration.  The word restoration has echoed in my mind since that morning I sung with the hospital choir.

Bible with heart

Since that moment of hearing that it is the year for restoration, I have begun hearing stories of healing and lives being restored. The healings have not just been physical healings but emotional and spiritual healings. There are people I have prayed for over time that have turned back to God and allowed to be their source of strength and hope.

power of prayer

Of recent, Jim and I had heard the most beautiful story of restoration. About a week ago we were on our way to the beach. Before getting to our destination, we decided we needed to stop at a Kmart for some snacks and other last-minute supplies. As we approached the check out lane with our items, I noticed that the clerks hands were shaking. I thought to myself; “I wonder what kind of disability does she have “ but the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear that it was not a disability.

Within me, God spoke and told me that she had overcome some sort of addiction but what kind I did not know until it was our turn to check out.  As she began to check us out, this clerk  asked where we were from and where we were going. We told her and then she began to tell us her story. She had lived in the area we were in at that moment for nine years. Jim asked her what brought her to where she was now. Her response was; “the law.”

bowing before God

This clerk had lived on the coast and had been an alcoholic  which led her to be homeless and getting into trouble with the law. She was brought to the town where she currently resides and admitted into a rehab unit.  Through this rehab program she began to find peace with God. This girl explained where she had been and how through the twelve-step program she learned that God was the source of her strength. She explained how she had tried to find strength in a bottle and got nowhere. The clerk went on to say that she is thankful to God everyday for all that he gives her and for bringing to where she is now. Now, not only is she nine years clean but she has a steady job, a place to live and is a sponsor to three women through AA.

Beauty from ashes

 

She went on to share with us that the first thing she tells the ones she sponsors is that you need to surrender all to God and allow him to be the source of your strength.  As Jim and I began to gather our bags, the clerk apologized if she took too much of our time by sharing her story. Jim’s response was; “you didn’t take any time away from us at all.  He went on to tell her that her story of restoration was beautiful and we would pray for her.”  It was in those few minutes of the check-out lane where Jim and I saw God at work in someone we did not even know.  What a wonderful treasure we were given in those moments and one we will never forget.

Young woman reading bible

If I gathered all those who read my posts together in one room and went around asked; “do you know someone who is in need of restoration?”.  It is without a doubt each person would know of someone who is down in that pit at this moment trying to crawl out and is desperate for hope. These persons have looked to other things besides God for strength and it has gotten them nowhere.

raise hands above

The best thing we can do for those who are lost and feel as there is no hope is to persistently pray for them. By being persistent in prayer, we are  placing the person and situation in God’s hands.  From my own personal experience my prayer consist of asking God to place others in the person’s path that can lead them to healing.

Heart

Not only is prayer the best thing we can do for a person in need of restoration, but having non-judgemental ears and heart is also important. You see, the person in harm’s way already feels bad about themselves and what they are doing.  What we have to do is lead by example. This example is having a  Christ-like attitude when it comes to helping them. After all, Jesus not only healed the physical illnesses/disabilities but he He healed the spiritual as well.  He did it in a non-judgemental fashion with saying as He healed them; tell the Good News and go and sin no more.”

God's timing

Restoration may not come right away and this is where our faith comes into play. The pieces that Jim and I have purchased over the years and that have been restored did not happen over night. Some pieces took days, some took weeks and some are taking years to complete. It is in God’s time where restoration will take place.

When restoration does take place, you will see such inner beauty and joy beam through the eyes of a person that was once hurting. Yes, they will have scars but they are scares of experience. The scars of  experience can be the light of hope in leading others to God’s strength, peace and kingdom.

cropped-10622860_10152622922226740_1934228684971941411_n.jpg

When restoration does take place it is important for us again to be non-judgemental but be unconditional in our interactions with them.  We need to give God the glory for the person who has changed their lives for the better.  Just as the father of the prodigal son celebrated his son’s return, we also are to celebrate the person who has chosen to come back and be a part of God’s kingdom.

Ability to change

My prayer today is that if you know of someone who is needing hope and strength that only God can give that you will  start by persistently  praying for them. Then, love on them with a Christ-like heart and show them His grace through your actions toward them.  And, just as the lyrics to the song goes; “don’t give up hope, some people change.  Love finds a way, some people change.”  

Light

The Jesus told them, “You are going to have light just a little while longer.

Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever

walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light

while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.

John 12:35-36 / NIV

My sweet father-n-law Jim, Sr.

My sweet father-n-law
Jim, Sr.

My late father-n-law was an electrical, mechanical and master electrician.  He worked for GE over thirty years and in the midst of those thirty years and after his retirement he wired a lot of homes and buildings. He had a love for light. On any given week day, one would not be surprised to see Jim, Sr. hanging from a ladder at church changing a bulb or adding lighting to some area of the church. He loved lights.

When Jim and I built our current home, Jim’s dad wired it for us. In our house you will find more than one or two switches on a plate. We have one switch plate that has up to six switches and we have multiple dimmer switches  throughout the house. Needless to say, when Jim or I walk into a room it is not too hard to find a switch that will turn on some  source of light.

light of the Lord

In Genesis 1:3, we read where God said, “let there be light.”  In verse four we read where he separates the light from dark. Thus, we have day and night. But there is so much more meaning to this light.  God knew that one day the world he created would begin to become dark again.  He would again would have to send light but this light would be a different kind of light. It would be his Son, Jesus who would be the light to the world of hurting.

In my previous post, Go and The Journey, I shared how God has led me to a place of healing.  The Sunday after Jim and I had made our decision to join the church we are attending and be baptized, Jim had to work. Before he left out for work, he told me to go ahead and go forward at the end of the service to acknowledge we were ready to take the next step to where God was leading.

the-glory-of-god-in-christ-jesus-271x300

The Sunday service came to a close and the closing hymn was being sung, I went down to the altar. There I was greeted by our pastor. I told him Jim and I were ready to take that next step. At that moment, Pastor Dan took my hand and had prayer with me. Where I was standing up front there was a spotlight shinning down on the altar area. However, as Pastor Dan prayed with me, I felt not just a spotlight coming down on me. I felt the warmth of a light around me that I had never felt before. This light was a light of peace and a light of joy. At that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit not only surround me but embrace me. Have you had an experience where you can’t really put the experience into words? This was one of those moments for me.

kneeling at Jesus Feet

As a reader, you may be feeling like God has abandoned you. You may be wandering around in the dark trying to find a switch to a light source.  Friend, I want you to know that there is hope. There is a light in the darkness. This light is known as Jesus Christ.  All you have to do is surrender at His feet  those things that are casting darkness over you. Just as God said in Genesis 1:3; Let there be light. You can cry out to God and ask for light into your dark world. This light is Jesus Christ.

Carry this scripture with you in the weeks ahead:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am

the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in

darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“GO!”

Fall Drive

“Go” is the word I would hear each time I walked to my mailbox and look in the direction of where a church sits on the corner from my neighborhood. I would hear the word, “Go” when I would stop  at the  intersection  where the church sits or pass it on my way out on an errand. There was this nudge, a whisper telling me to “GO!”.  Of course, I knew and know deep within that this whisper was the Holy Spirit speaking to me.

A ROUGH YEAR

Charlie Brown football

This year has not been the easiest year for Jim and me. It seems we would get out of one storm and another would hit.  In these storms, I was the one who was trying to encourage everyone else,  trying to hold everyone else up and making sure their needs were taken care of. Yet, ignoring the fact that I needed to grieve and work through some emotions that I had put on the back burner.  Mid-way through the year, I said a big time prayer to God. In the night, I felt these warms arms embrace me and the words, “everything is going to be okay. There is HOPE and I am your HOPE.”  I carried that moment with me for a while and even wrote about it (Jesus Came Last Night).  However, being human came in to play and I was off again trying to help the next  person(s) weather another storm.

THE BRICK CAME OUT OF NOWHERE!

crying

Then, it happened. A brick came out of the blue and hit me and hit me hard. This brick was a major meltdown/ anxiety attack. I had small anxiety attacks when I was younger but nothing like what hit me this time.  If you have never had an anxiety attack, I will tell you that it feels like you are dying and the walls are closing in on you.

In the midst of my tears, I text Jim and tell him what is happening. He soon comes home in attempt to figure out how to help me. All he could do was hold me and let me just cry. All the feelings I had stuffed inside were rushing out. The dam had burst! I cried eight solid hours that day.  In the midst of the tears, Jim suggested I see a counselor. At first, I didn’t like the idea because I felt as though if I have Christ in my life and give it to God all would eventually be okay.  To me, seeing a counselor was a sign of my faith being weak. But Jim soon pointed out to me that God created counselors and physicians and such to help him out in helping others to heal. The appointment was made  and my road to healing began.

THE ROAD TO HEALING

Young woman reading bible

As part of the healing process, I began to journal. There are times when I will talk with my counselor about what I have written and other times it is just a therapeutic tool to help work through the triggers of what causes me to reel into the abyss of anxiety. Along with keeping a journal, I began doing what I have told others to do in the midst of a storm and that is to keep a blessings journal. Each day write down at least five blessings and as the days progress to add a blessing to the list. Another physician’s heal thyself moment came through me reading some of my own writings of encouragement.  Just as I had been busy helping family members cope, I have been reaching out beyond my walls to help others see there is HOPE in a hurting world. Yet, all the while not paying attention to the TEACHER who was giving me those words to share.  Yet, HE had my attention this time!  In the midst of the journal and the blessings journal, there is another journal. In this journal are letters to God. I write letters to God in the evenings and tell him all that is on my heart and place it all in HIS hands. Once I close that journal, I don’t go back but turn to the next clean page for the next night.  And, God tells me; “go to sleep, I got this!”.

THE WHISPER

whispers of God

In mid-October, I had already gone to a couple of counseling sessions and was spending more quiet/alone time with God. And, that is when it happened. I began to hear a voice saying; “you need to be healed and I want you to go to that church across the corner where I can heal you.”  However, being the girl who wants to get the last word in, my response was; “God, I have a church home, a church family and I see no need of going somewhere else.”   I  probably sounded a lot like Moses making up excuses to God when God told him to lead His people out of Egypt. But, God would not let me have the last word. Instead, the Holy Spirit took over and continued to nudge me until I went to the church I have passed for almost twenty years as I came in and out of my neighborhood.

STEPPING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE

comfort zone

It was a Sunday morning and it was a Sunday where Jim had to be on duty at the hospital. I got up and told him I thought I would go across the street for worship. The night before I had gone on-line to find out the worship times and prayed about it. Jim’s response was supportive and loving. He knew it would be a huge step for me to go to a different church without him by my side. The first step of stepping out of a comfort zone for me.

As I entered the sanctuary, I looked around to see if I knew anyone. No one looked familiar to me. I took a seat close to the back. I guess I was thinking that if it didn’t work out or something I was close enough to the back door I could quickly make my escape. No such thing happened.  Before the service began, a greeter came up to me and welcomed me to the service. As I spoke to her, I told her I did not know why I was there but there was a nudge to be there for worship. I went on to explain that I did not know if was to be there for the day, the week or if someone needed to talk to me or me talk to someone. All I knew was I was told to “GO!”.

THE RESULT

He makes all things beautiful

Ever since I entered this place of worship for the first time, I have felt an internal healing.   It became evident after the second night of attending a lady’s bible study. As the session came to a close, the answer of why I had been told to “Go” was right in front of me with this bible study. One step at a time, God is revealing  His plan for me and why the Holy Spirit placed that nudge within me. The important thing I have had to do and have to keep doing is trust Him and allow Him to lead.

THE WORD “GO”

mary and joseph

From the first time the word, “GO” was whispered to me, I began doing a lot of thinking about that word in the biblical sense. In Luke 2:7, Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem for Joseph to register for the census. While they are there, Mary gave birth to a baby boy who would one day grow up and “go” where His Father would  lead Him.  Luke 2:8-15 is where the angels appear to the shepherds and say to them; “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.”  Once the angels left them, the shepherds knew they had to “go”  and see the Christ child. Matthew 2:13 the angels wake up Joseph during the night and tell him to “go” /leave because Herod is on the search for the baby boy.

THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

eye of love

While sitting here writing this piece, my eyes are opened again. All that has happened to me and that has unfolded before me is God actively at work in my life.  I was broken and I needed a reminder of that hope that is promised through our Lord and  Savior.  Over two thousand years ago, God saw a world that was broken and sent his only begotten Son so that the world can have hope and eternal life (John 3:16).

If you read further into Matthew you will see where Jesus tells the disciples to go back and report to John what you hear and see. The blind man receive sight, the lame walk , those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead raised, and the good news proclaimed to the poor.” In Matthew 28:- 20, Jesus gives His disciples these instructions and are instructions for us as well; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always to the very end.”

Girl looking at the moon

This Christmas Season, I encourage you to take a moment and listen to that still  small quiet voice/nudge that is within.  It is my prayer that you will obey that still  small voice and be ready to experience blessings beyond comprehension unfold before you.

Christmas Blessings-