Posts tagged ‘life’s storms’

My Soul Provider

heart and crown

June 19, 1989 Michael Bolton released the hit song, Soul Provider. This song is about a guy who wants to provide all of his love’s needs. He says he will wait patiently  and will hold their heart in his hand.  Although the song, Soul Provider was and is a good song, this is not about Michael Bolton nor his hit song. (Sorry about putting that ear worm in  your ear. I do hear that chewing gum does get rid of ear worms. )

Christmas Night

grief

Of recent, I have seen God’s provision at work for me. I don’t mean the daily roof over the head, food on the table and other necessities of life being met but His provision for my soul.  The last month has been a bumpy ride for me. If you read my previous post, Fearless, you will know my mom lost her battle with cancer. Thus, there has been a lot on my mind as I try to comprehend and accept all that has happened.

looking-back

There are times when you look back and see God’s provision. In my case, this would be this past Christmas night. Jim and I pull out of the hospital  parking deck of the hospital after spending the day with my mom and having an improvised Christmas celebration with my family at her bedside.  Jim begins to asks me where do I want to eat. Keep in mind it is Christmas Day night and the chances of finding something good to eat open were probably slim. Yet, we were determined to find anything but a McDonald’s or a Waffle House since that had been what we had lived off of for the last couple days.

After passing many exits and scouting for places with their lights on, we find a TGIFriday’s and it is open! We pulled into the parking lot and due to the few choices of places to park  we see that we might be there a while. Jim and I enter into the restaurant and we put our names on the wait list. The hostess tells us it will be a half hour to forty-five minutes before we are seated. We were okay with that as long as we could get a good meal.

Then It Happened

black-and-white-vintage

Jim and I found a place to lean as we waited for our table. To kill some time, we both pulled out our phones to catch up on messages. However, we barely got to the first set of messages and a young man comes up and calls our name and party number. Jim and I were stunned we were getting seated after only ten minutes and there were others ahead of us.

It was within a matter of seconds that a beautiful young lady came up and introduced herself and said she would be our server. As she introduced herself, she looked at us with such grace and said, “can I get you two a glass of sweet tea?” We both nodded in agreement that a cold glass of sweet tea would be much appreciated.

sweet-tea

Our server returned with our drinks and began to take our order. Again, she apologized that it might be a wait due to the crowd and the orders ahead of us. Jim and I told her we were okay and we understood. Yet, in a matter of minutes our food was at our table and it was steaming hot. Again, Jim and I look at each other acknowledging God was looking out for us.

Jim and I  joined hands and said our blessing and began to enjoy the flavors of our steaks and all that went with it. As we enjoyed our meal, we would realize there was something we needed and before we could even ask for the item it was already being brought to our table by our server or her helper. Our needs were met without us having to really ask for anything.

As we left the restaurant, I told Jim we just experienced God throughout the entire time. We both looked back at the sequence of how things unfolded as we enjoyed our Christmas night dinner. I asked Jim  if he thought  that it was odd that our servers knew what we needed or wanted before we asked but yet then again was it odd? We looked at each other and smiled. We knew God had known our needs even before we knew what they were and He provided.

Homesick

homeisck

This past weekend marked a month of laying my mom to rest. It was also Jim’s weekend for hospital duty. I dreaded the weekend with passion.  Jim and I live about six hours from my family  in Georgia and about two hours from his family in Louisville. I knew my brother was having a get together for his youngest son’s birthday and Dad would be going to join the fun. On Dad’s way, he would stop in downtown Atlanta to meet up with my son and great-granddaughter for a visit. Knowing all of this was taking place, Jim at work and us not having family here in the town we live, I began to throw myself a little pity party. I was homesick to the point I actually felt sick to my stomach. It was just Smokey {my sidekick and service dog} and me and the house was too quiet.

Trying to keep my mind busy, I would read and attempted to knock out some chores around the house. Yet, the heartache of being away from my family, Jim being at work and it being a month since I said good-bye to Mom, my heart broke all the more. It was one of those get the ice cream out of the freezer with no need to scope  but to only eat it with a spoon out of a container while binge watching Gilmore Girls. 

Jim had called me while on his lunch as he usually does and I told him how my heart ached and the loneliness I felt. He did the best he could to console me but he knew that what I was feeling is only something time and God could heal.

god-shows-up

Then it happened again! God showed up! God provided! about forty-five minutes after I talked with Jim on the phone, a friend sends me a text, ” Are you going to be home around 2:30? We have a cake to bring to you. I replied back that I would indeed be home.

As I finished picking up around the family room, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and there stood a dear friend from church/Bible Study with her mom holding what I consider a very big cake for two people. But it wasn’t the cake that overwhelmed me. It was the smiles on their faces they had as I greeted them at the door. You know the kind of smiles where you don’t just see the smiles but you see the light of Christ in the smiles. Yep, it was one of those moments. Though the visit was short, my spirits were lifted. Again, God provided just what my soul needed.

Sunday Morning

alive-blessed

Sunday morning arrives and again Jim is off to work at the hospital. I get myself up and ready for Sunday School and worship. My heart still working through my grief I knew Sunday School and worship was what I needed.

As our worship came to a close with the Gospel being presented and the altar call, a child of one of the gals in my Wednesday Night Bible Study went up to profess his faith and to request to be baptized. I think this child would have gone on up and jumped into the baptismal font clothes and all at that moment. He was so excited about his new life with Christ! To see that enthusiasm for God warmed my heart. Yet something else happened that personally warmed my heart.

After the closing prayer, this young man and his mom were asked to stand up front at the altar for the church family to congratulate and welcome this young child into the congregation and most of all welcome him into God’s Kingdom of believers. While I was standing in line waiting my turn one of the ladies I had been in Bible Study with began to talk to me and then all of sudden she embraced me with the most loving hug. She began to tell me what I meant to her and how she loved me. At first I didn’t know, how to respond but then I asked if all was going okay with her. We chatted a few minutes as we made our way through the line.

Once I got home, I immediately messaged this sweet gal that grabbed and hugged me. I told her I needed that hug because it had been a rough weekend for me. I told her it was a month to the day that I was sitting in my mom’s funeral.  She messaged me back saying she just suddenly felt the urge she had to hug me. Again, God was at work using someone I knew to bring me comfort and letting me know how much He loves me.

Along with what happened on Christmas Day, the cake and smiles arriving at my front door and the hug at church, I have been leading the study, Redeemed by Angela Thomas-Pharr. The scriptures for the last two weeks have been exactly what I needed. In this week’s video session, she discusses justification, sanctification and glorification of redemption. As she explained glorification, it brought comfort to my heart knowing that Mom is now fully redeemed and she is with her King. It is through my salvation that I will be with her again one day. Does that completely take the homesickness and the hurt that is so raw away? No, but it gives me that blessed assurance of the love and grace God has given me. It reminds me that God is walking with me in this storm and to continue to seek the blessings He puts in my path.

Our Soul Provider

fear-not

There may be a time where you are going through life’s storm. You wonder where you will get the strength to take that next step forward. You will have had nothing but Waffle House, McDonald’s, hospital food or whatever else you can find in a vending machine and you long for that hot meal with a glass of sweet tea. Maybe you are sitting at home in silence at your wit’s end indulging in that carton of ice cream while binge watching Gilmore Girls. Whatever the need your soul longs for God is there and He is taking care of those needs. You may not realize it right now but there will be a day you will look back and see that God was providing all along. Those things that happen that some people all coincidence are not coincidence they are divine interventions of God taking care of your soul.

Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:19 that God will meet all of our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ. Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Psalm 147:4 says, “He counts the number of the stars, He gives names to all of them. What a blessed assurance that we have a Father who meets our needs, who longs for us to come to Him when we are weary, and just like He names the stars, He knows our name and longs to be our soul provider and holds our hearts in His hand.

Blessings-

Shepherds In The Storm

My husband, Jim's 50th birthday...his dad, Jim, Sr standing with him.

My husband, Jim’s 50th birthday…his dad, Jim, Sr standing with him.

It seemed as though our family had just gotten to the funeral home. We were seeing my husband, Jim’s dad for the first time since we stood and watched him leave his earthly shell only to enter into his eternal home. As we stood there hand in hand,  the room began to fill up with people. People who knew Jim Hawkins, Sr.

Jim's mom and dad enjoy a ride through Roaring Fork in Gatlinburg, TN Louise and Jim Hawkins, Sr.

Jim’s mom and dad enjoy a ride through Roaring Fork in Gatlinburg, TN
Louise and Jim Hawkins, Sr.

The gentleman who drove us to the burial site asked us if Jim’s dad had been a politician or public figure. It is usually public figures that command such an audience at such a life event during the week. Our response was that Jim, Sr. was just an ordinary man who loved life, people and was a faithful servant.

Jim, Sr. aka Granddaddy He LOVED his chocolate chip pancakes at the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN

Jim, Sr. aka Granddaddy
He LOVED his chocolate chip pancakes at the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN

Sunday, as Jim and I returned home, I reflected not only the past week’s events but I reflected on the past three years. Three years ago my precious father-n-law got the news he had mesothelioma and was given six months to live.  Despite the diagnosis and prognosis, Dad H. kept on living and had hope.  He knew that it would be the power and support of friends that would hold him, my mother-n-law, Louise as well as the rest of the family up. In other words, he taught us how to live through a storm.

Jim. Sr enjoys a visit from some of the choir members from the choir he loved so much...FernCreek UMC

Jim. Sr enjoys a visit from some of the choir members from the choir he loved so much…FernCreek UMC

In this reflection, I thought back on this last Christmas. We gathered together at my husband, Jim’s home to celebrate one more Christmas together.  Jim and I went early to decorate the tables and to help get the Christmas meal together. As we were preparing for our family’s Christmas gathering, the doorbell rang constantly with visitors wanting to come see Jim’s dad. The phone rang constantly with people checking in to see how Jim’s dad was doing. Needless to say, it was a non stop procession of shepherds taking care of one their flock.  Later on, I said something to Dad H. about the amount of people who had called or came to visit. I said to him; “you’ve hardly had a minute’s rest this weekend with the visitors/family coming in and for the phone calls.” He turned and smiled at me and said; “I would never have it any other way. I can’t imagine going through what Louise and I have been through alone.” In his short and few words, he was saying that there is no excuse for anyone to walk alone in a storm.

shepherd's staff

Jim Hawkins, Sr. was a shepherd. He grew a garden every year where he shared the fruits of his labor with family and friends. If someone needed something fixed or just an extra helping hand, he was right there helping.  In other words, when he saw or heard of a need he was right there for his family, friends, community and church. A shepherd.

At the end as hard as it was for him to allow others to do for him,  he knew he needed  to allow others to shepherd him and his family. He had said several times to me over the last several months that it was the love of people and their prayers is why he was still with us. These shepherds praying to the Good Shepherd is why we had more than just the six months given three years ago.

In many of my writings I have shared the importance of encouraging others, loving others and being a Shepherd to someone in a storm. Yet, in these past days, weeks, months, and years, I have been reminded that sometimes we have to allow others to shepherd us. God didn’t promise us that we would have nothing but easy days but there would be storms to come in life.

Life's Storms

Life’s Storms

It is when we are faced with a raging storm, we MUST share with others what is going on. It is sharing your storm with others that gives not only you the strength you need but it gives your family the strength they need as they walk through the storm with you. After all God created us to walk together with not only him but also with the earthly shepherds he places in our lives.

My bible sits opened to the 23rd Psalm. As I read it this morning, it takes on new meaning for me.

Green pasture

‘The Lord is my shepherd’…..he will give you everything you need and will send his earthly shepherds to walk with you…

‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside  peaceful waters, He renews my soul”….he sends his shepherds to pray for you , it is the sweet smiles and hugs of his earthly shepherds that bring you peace…it is through these earthly shepherds we are  reminded of his presence and love for us…

‘He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage’…..allow the people God places in our lives to be God’s ambassadors and rod and staff to us in our time of need…

In your times of difficulty, know that there is no reason you have to weather the storm alone. God sends his shepherds in the storm. All you have to do is let them know your storm.

Blessings and Peace

help us to help each other

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