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!

I

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The Right Place

This past week I have been busy doing what I call a “moving drill.” No, we don’t actually move but we clean out like we would if we were moving. Growing up in a minister’s home who moved every four to five years, you learn to not accumulate so much “stuff.”  The motto I have for our home is if you haven’t used or worn  it in six months to a year, you are probably not going to wear or use it so send it on out the door.

Along with this “moving drill” comes organization. Yes, I am a person that is particular of where things go and belong. My rule is everything has a place and it is important to put that item back into the right place once you are done using it. Yes, I must confess that there are times when life gets busy and things become in some disarray thus the need for the bi-yearly “moving drill.”   When things are in the right place, it usually decreases the amount of the question; “where’s my….?” being asked.

The other day I came across a sign that said; “It is not lost until Mom cannot find it.”  This is so true for this household. There have been countless times while my son was growing up where I had to hunt down that notebook, running shoes or house key because these items were not put in the place that had been designated.  My son is now 25 and married and you would think that the days of “where’s my….?” were over! This is far from the truth. You see, I still live with my loving husband whom I have known for 29 years and have been married to for 27 years.  More than once during the week, I will get the question; “where’s my…..?”  As this question is being asked, I begin to ask my series of  Sherlock Holmes questions and begin the search. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time I will find the misplaced item. Thus, gaining the nickname from my husband; “google Peanut.” (Peanut has been my nickname since childhood).

Before I began to clean out these last couple of weeks, Jim and I enjoyed a trip to the Smoky Mountains. We consider the Smokey Mountains as our second home because that is the area were our lives met.  On this trip, we did a first. We took a pet with us. Yes, my one-year old Smokey went with us. Jim, Smokey and I all learned something new about each other and about God’s plan for our family.

Within the first few days of arriving in the Smoky Mountains, people would see us out and about with Smokey and would ask if they could touch him, pat him or scratch his belly. As they would pat and/or rub Smokey, tears would begin to stream down their faces. Then, they would begin to share their story with us.  Their story was a story of grief and/or deep pain from within. After they would share their story, they would thank us for letting them pat Smokey and for listening to their story.

Mid-week of this trip, Jim and I took turns just sitting on a park bench in one of the courtyard areas next to a fountain. Jim would sit with Smokey for a while so I could shop and look around. Then, we would switch up. As the both of us took turns sitting on this bench with Smokey, different people would come up and sit down and just begin talking to us. At first, they would be at the other end then before the conversation was over, they would be right next to Smokey rubbing him and sharing their story. After a couple of hours, Jim, Smokey and I moved on with our day. Later that day, Jim and I begin to share the stories we had heard. As we reminisced, we both realized that we had been ‘at the right place at the right time.’  I truly believe that God placed Smokey in my life and then placed us in those strategic places and moments of time to be His earthly messengers of His unconditional love and grace.

I don’t believe in coincidence, but I believe in God’s timing and His putting all things and people in ‘right place at the right time.’  Every day God places each person in our path for a reason. Sometimes these people need us. Other times, we may need those people. Then, there are those times when people in our path make us understand ourselves better and God’s plan for our life. They make us evaluate if our heart is in the ‘right place’ for the day.   

During this trip, I learned about myself. God showed me where I need to put things that had gotten cluttered or in disarray back into order.  In other words, He put me in check of my having my heart in ‘the right place.’ You see, when our heart is not in the right place, we become out of tuned of God’s voice and His plan for our lives.

Since our return home, not only have I gotten rid of clutter in my home, I have gotten rid of clutter in my heart. In that cleaning out, I hear the voice of God calling. Once the summer winds down, it is my plan to talk with volunteer services at our local hospital and a couple of nursing homes about bringing Smokey to minister to those who are hurting and who may feel alone in life. In the meantime, I continue to allow God to lead because I know each and every day He puts me in the ‘right place at the right time.’

“Wonder what God has planned for us today?”

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I lead them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” Hosea 11:3-4

“God’s work includes training you in love to be what He has created you to be.” (Experiencing God Bible)

Be in tuned to God’s voice and know that He will always put you in the ‘right place.’

Blessings


Describe Him

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

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

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

Drew helping Dad at the office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Symphony

Originally posted October 2, 2010

 

Today has been a beautiful brisk fall day.  As I have gone through my day, I am reminded of an experience that happened with our family on a fall outing in 1989.  Also, I am reminded  of the lesson learned on that fall day.

When Drew was  two years old, we  took a family trip to the North Georgia mountains. The day started out being a simple day of enjoying fall scenery and just simply getting away.  What started out as a fall day outing turned out to be a day of learning to listen to God through the ears and eyes of a two-year old boy.

When we arrived in the Dahlonega area, Jim wanted to see the North Georgia Conference United Methodist campground Camp Glisson.   As we walked the grounds of Camp Glisson, our  two-year old son Drew was pointing things out as any two-year old that is learning to talk would with his mommy and daddy. He showed us a squirrel, he tried catching leaves as they fell from the trees, and he was full of laughter and enjoying all that was around him.  As we continued to walk and enjoy the scenery, we knew we were approaching the waterfalls due to the sound of rushing water.  Though, we could hear the rushing water of the falls Jim and I had gotten caught in conversation of things to do once we returned home and not paying attention to what was around us.  In the midst of this conversation, Drew shouted “Sh-hh-hh…listen.”  I asked Drew what he heard.  His reply was “the Lord.”  Can you believe it took a two-year old to make two grown adults stop and hear the sound of God’s symphony through the rushing of the water, the rustling of the leaves and all the other sounds of nature around us? How suddenly did a sense of calmness and peace fill the inner soul. Those every day issues that Jim and I were discussing prior to Drew telling to be quiet were no longer important.

How wonderful the world would be if everyone could hear and see all the peacefulness that God does provides through the eyes of a child. Unfortunately, the world is not that way. It is so easy for our days to get caught up  in our lists to the point  we forget that God’s symphony is playing for us.  My challenge for you is to take a minute or two to stop in the midst of your busy day, shut the noise out, and listen to God’s music around you.  You will be amazed at the beautiful symphony that is playing all around you.  It is quite a symphony! At least my now 23-year-old son did when he was two.   Afterall, who would know better than a child of God. SH-HH-HH LISTEN!!

One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But, Jesus intervened.” Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me.  God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left. Matthew 19:13-15 (The Message)

Drop everything and listen, listen as he speaks. Psalm 95:7 (The Message)

Prayer:  Father, when daily things get hectic, remind us to stop and listen and hear your voice. To feel the calmness you provide all around us in your symphony. In Jesus name. Amen

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Extraordinary Love

The Hawkins’ Cabin: The house that love built. “Joy is not of love by which you can catch souls…We can do no great things-only small things with GREAT love.” Mother Teresa

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Do you ever hear a song that tugs in your heart and then you keep hearing it sung in your head? Yesterday, as I was driving away from Jim’s family cabin, I plugged in my Nano and hit play. When I hit play, Ordinary People by Clay Walker came up first on my play list. ‘Wow! God is good!’ I thought to myself as I listened to the lyrics.

This past weekend, Jim and I spent it with his mom, dad, our son, Drew and his new wife, Megan. It was a time of being together at the lake, eating lots of good food, visiting, and just simply getting away from all our worries if only for a few hours. During this visit, I watched Jim’s parents interact with each other, other people and listened when they shared their family values with the newlyweds.

Over the years, Jim and Louise have been loving people not only to their family but to others outside their family. If someone needed food, Louise could and still can whip up something in a  heart beat to nurture not only the physical soul but the spiritual soul as well. She is also a very giving person. There is not a time when someone comes to her house or she visits someone where she doesn’t have a little something to give. It is a token of her heart and a reminder to the recipient that someone does care.

Jim, Sr., has always said, ‘I don’t do nothing well.’ This statement is so true. There is not a moment when he is not fixing something, helping someone or is working on his list for the next project. Despite his mesothelioma, on any given day, you may find him hanging off a ladder down at the church changing light bulbs or checking wiring. Or, you may find him outside working in his garden, helping a neighbor with a project and loving every minute of it. He is a man of endurance.

When you sit in their cabin that they built together with their own hands, you see a beautiful place surrounded by God’s beauty. In that beauty, you see 54 years of love, endurance and faithfulness. Jim and Louise are not celebrities  but they are ordinary people. But, they are extraordinary to their family, friends and to God. The exemplify what it means to walk with Christ as individuals and as a team.

I Peter 5:2-4 is  scripture describing a minister’s role. But, when I read this scripture, I see Jim and Louise Hawkins. They have lived a life of being overseers, they have carried administrative responsibilities in their church, they have feed people physically and spiritually. Along with these qualities they have protected people, prayed for and with many people and most of all, they  have demonstrated what it means to be a lay person in ministry.

Today I pray  that you and I will live an ordinary life. May we demonstrate extraordinary love to those we encounter today.  It is when we are ordinary that we experience that extraordinary warmth and love of Christ.

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

Click the title ‘Ordinary People by Clay Walker’ to be taken to the site where you can hear this song. 

Ordinary People by Clay Walker

I was standing at the checkout by a rack of magazines
Cover story told about another heartbroke beauty queen
How she was gettin' over just one more sad affair
And as I waited for my change, you know it hit me then and there
That ordinary people have extraordinary love
A million little miracles far beneath the stars above
The greatest gift that I could ever wish for you and me
Is a life as ordinary as can be.
Then I heard some famous people had an anniversary
Five long years together, it was Hollywood history
Now my grandma and grandpa never made no printed page
But they took the love of fifty-seven years right to the grave
'Cause ordinary people have extraordinary loveA million little miracles far beneath the stars above
The greatest gift that I could ever wish for you and me
Is a life as ordinary as can be.
Now we all like to watch and by the time the movie ends
Who of us hasn't wished to be a little more like them
But I bet every time two stars are breaking up
That they wish somehow, someway they were a little more like us
'Cause ordinary people have extraordinary love
A million little miracles far beneath the stars above
The greatest gift that I could ever wish for you and me
Is a life as ordinary as can be.
Oh, the greatest gift that I could ever wish for you and me
Is a life as ordinary as can be.

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