“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation , by prayer and petition with thanksgiving
present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds
In Christ Jesus.
Thank you for the blessings of the day.
Please be with Jim and me as we walk our journey with you.
Surround us with your Holy Spirit as individuals and as a couple.
Place your Holy Spirit around our home and in our home so that those who
encounter us or pass our home will experience a peace that passes ALL understanding.
I share this portion of a prayer that I pray each night before going to bed. For me, there is no going to sleep or peaceful night’s sleep until I have said my prayers to God and place the night and the day ahead into his hands. Last night was no different with the exception that I was to the point of exhaustion that I literally just collapsed into my Father’s arms as I prayed.
In this process of prayer time and writing, I am awaiting tests results. Life is happening with its twists and turns. I haven’t felt well for most of the summer. Thus, prompting a visit to my doctor. Over the years we have known that I was border line lupus. Jim and I knew that there was a possibility that one day that those lab numbers could/would cross the line and a new and not wanted diagnoses would occur. It is something that I am still trying to understand and get my head around.
On top of me not feeling well, we have found out that Jim’s father’s cancer has begun to be active again. Thus, Jim is taking more time off from work to go to take care of his Mom and Dad and to be with them at doctor’s visits. Neither Jim nor me begrudge Jim having to make these trips. It is just what you do for the people who brought you into this world and who have loved, nurtured and stood by your side in growing up and in watching you raise a family.
With both of these scenarios taking place simultaneously and trying to keep up with the activities we participate in with our church, small groups, work and community, it has become overwhelming at times. Jim and I both have had to say no to some activities and put some things on hold until we can get a handle on all that is happening in our lives right now. Yet, we have and will keep the faith and look up. There are days that our strength is nothing but the Lord’s doing and working in our lives.
As I said earlier I collapsed into my Father’s arms with exhaustion. I poured out my heart to him and in doing so I was reminded of the two scriptures from John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7. Despite all that is going on in the Hawkins home and the possibilities of what may come I know there is no need to be anxious because I have a loving Father walking by my side. This same Father is walking beside Jim as well and us as a couple. Last night, I closed by asking the Father to allow me to fall asleep in his arms, and to feel that peace that he promises us in John.
Then the indescribable happened. laying on my side asleep facing Jim, I felt these arms wrap around all around me. As these arms wrapped around me, I felt this indescribable warmth. The arms that came around me and hugged me tight. This was a hug I have ever experienced on this earth. I wish I could describe the way the arms felt and the warmth felt. Yet, it is all beyond any words I can say or write. It is beyond comprehension. Though this hug is indescribable and beyond comprehension, I can say that there was that peace that passes all understanding promised from our Father that wrapped around me as I felt this hug.
This morning I tried to tell Jim of this experience. There was a struggle for words to describe what I had felt in the night. As I struggled to describe the indescribable, I simply looked at Jim and said; “Jesus came last night. He hugged me. I felt His peace.” This morning I didn’t wake up healed or feeling different physically but I woke up with a new joy in my life despite all that is happening right now. I don’t know what is in store for me or any of my family members in the days ahead. However, I have been affirmed that Jim nor I are walking the journey alone. My Father who hugged me in the night is right there placing peace in ALL situations. And, it is a peace that passes ALL understanding and comprehension.
“His eye is on the sparrow and I KNOW He watches me.”
If that one moment of peace and hug last night was indescribable, I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like when I meet my Father face to face. Holy Goose Bumps!
“Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.I can feel his mighty power and his grace. I can hear the brush of angels wings. I see glory on each face. Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” Over the years this has become one of my most favorite choruses. I have sung it with choirs to set the mood for worship, I have hummed it to myself as I have looked out over the mountains and across the oceans. It was also the chorus that was sung before I met Jim at the altar to become his wife. Anytime I hear this song I get what I call holy goose bumps.”
Not only have I experienced God’s presence in his great works of art but I have experienced his presence in many other places and in many other ways. There was a time when I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago when a stranger said the very thing I needed to hear at that moment. There was the time when I was on the El in Chicago and behind me I heard the distinct sound of pages turning that could be none other than pages being read and turned from the Bible. There are days of endless errands, a busy mind and yet I still experience God’s presence.
God’s presence is with us every single day. In order to experience his wonderful presence we must seek it with our hearts. In other words, intentionally be aware of his presence. It is when we are intentional about being in the presence of God every day and waking hour, we will experience him working in our lives that is beyond explanation and comprehension.
David, the psalmist thirst to be in God’s presence. David uses the word temple to describe being in God’s presence. Like David we should thirst to be in the presence of God. We must seek God in ALL of our coming and going. It is when we do this we experience God’s wonderful presence.
I love what Psalm 42:1 says:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
“Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place. I can hear the brush of angels wings. I see glory on each face.” There is nothing better than living in God’s temple and experiencing his mighty presence in ALL things! Holy goosebumps!
Watch/listen to the video and just sit quietly in God’s presence. As you do this, reflect on where you have experienced God’s presence in your daily journey.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which
being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4: 22-24
How many of you remember going to church camp, conferences, or even worship services and a leader would shout out; “ATTITUDE CHECK!”? The response from the participating group would be; “PRAISE THE LORD!”. In other words, it was a barometer of how the group was feeling and an encouragement for everyone involved to have a good time, to take part and be in fellowship with God.
Our attitude affects our every day living. If we look at life or what we are doing with doom and gloom, it is going to be just that….doom and gloom. However, if we wake up every day ready to receive the blessings God has planned for us and with a smile on our face and heart there is nothing in this world that can pull us down.
In my last blog post; We Need to Bow Down I share how we need to spend time in the presence of God and how we need to kneel before Him. We have to empty ourselves before God so that He can fill us up again. It is in this moment of holiness with Him that we open our hearts, we tell Him we trust Him and His plan for us, and we make ourselves vulnerable to life’s events whether they may be good or bad. In other words, it is this time of holiness that puts our attitude into check.
The theme of Thoughts From The Porch is “Encouraging words for a busy world.” As the technology age began to evolve, we were told that these tools would make life easier. And, most times technology does make life easier and better. After all, it has given people like me a chance to express ourselves, share the gospel to people we may not ever encounter in person, re-connect with friends and loved ones, and to get information easier and faster. Yet, it seems since the technology era has taken off, people are working more hours, people can’t leave work at work and bring it home because a lot of what they do is by computer and the computer has become more portable via the Smart phone/iPhone. Thus, this business can affect our attitude on life and to those around us. In other words, there are times when we need to take time out and have an attitude check.
If I were to shout out to you at this moment “ ATTITUDE CHECK!!”, what would your response be? Would you be saying “PRAISE THE LORD” no matter the circumstances you are facing or would your response be; “don’t even ask” ?
Life is busy. Life is stressful. The economy is rough for everyone right now. It seems more and more people are hurting and are sick. Yet, if we change our attitude on these issues, praising the Lord comes so much easier. Instead, let’s look at things this way:
Life is busy Life is full of blessings at the moment
Life is stressful Life has given me the opportunity to spend more time in my Father’s presence
The economy is rough for everyone right now The economy has given me opportunities to count my blessings all the more and to share my blessings with those less fortunate
People are hurting and sick I have the opportunity to lend a hand to someone, encourage someone to look UP!
You see, life is all about our perspective and our attitude. I love the story Zig Ziglar shares in the video below:
- Let Every Thing that Hath Breath Praise the LORD. (Ps. 150:6) (newchanginglife.wordpress.com)
- How A Great Attitude Can Change Your Life (mountainmoverscoaching.wordpress.com)
If you have watched the movie, Sister Act 2 you are familiar with this scene and song. Though the nuns are called by God to love and ministers to others, they have seemed to have built a wall between them and the community. They have put fencing around their living quarters and school for protection. Then, Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Deloris aka Sister Mary Clarence brings them to reality. In order to make a difference beyond their walls, they needed to get back into the community, be seen and put their calling and God’s love into action.
How many of us who proclaim to be Christian stand inside our homes, churches, or offices and see a world hurting? Yet, we do nothing. Instead, we build fences, walls and withdraw in order to protect ourselves from the ugly that is outside our door. We pass judgement on people, their lifestyle and situations. In other words, we keep the word, Christian as a noun and not an action verb.
God sent his Son, Jesus to be an example of putting love into action, of accepting others no matter their lifestyle, situation or demons. He didn’t pass judgement on anyone. Jesus simply loved. He came to take barriers down.
These days it seems that people are feeling more that we are in the end times and some have even predicted when Jesus will physically return. But we are reminded in scripture that we do not know the day nor the hour of His return. Yet, we must remember we DO encounter Jesus every day. He reminds us of this in Matthew 25:37:40
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and you, or thirsty and give you
something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes to clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you? ‘ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you , whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In other words, Jesus was telling us to put our love for Him into action. In a hurting world, isn’t it about time we began to take down fences just as the nuns did in this movie? Isn’t it about time we put the word Christian in action making it a verb? Is your love for Christ a noun or verb?
The other day I was going through some old files and I came across this prayer I received on email many years ago. I do not know the author but it says it all when it comes to putting our Christian faith into action.
Help us to remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic
last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day
and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework,
do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed disinterested young man
who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old student,
balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting
his student loan for next semester.
Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot
every day (who really ought to get a job) is a slave to addictions that we can only
imagine in our worst nightmares.
Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoying slowly through
the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring
this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week,
this will be the last year that they go shopping together.
Remind us each day that all the gifts you give us, the greatest is love. It
is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to
just those who are close to us, but to ALL humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to
forgive, show patience, empathy and love.
Working for God on earth doesn’t pay much…but His retirement plan is out of this world!!
How about it? As Christians, may those we encounter each day see that Christian is a word in action!
- the resurrection in verbs (theblogofkevin.wordpress.com)
- Sunday’s Message: “Christian This, Christian That …” (newportchristian.wordpress.com)
- Love is more of a Verb than a Noun (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come follow me”, Jesus said; “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
A couple of weeks ago Jim and I went to his home church to worship with his family. As the service began, the minister did his greeting and in his greeting he shared this thought: “When we invite someone to church, we are asking them to be part of God’s family and to join us on the journey to heaven.” I loved this statement and it made my heart smile.
Have you ever taken a trip with a group of friends? If you have, you probably experienced lots of laughter, fellowship, maybe a sing-a-long or two, and even some tears along the way. Yet, no matter the conditions, the ups and the downs, in the end, you would not trade that memory for anything in the world. You were glad you made the trip and may have even gotten to know someone a little better as you traveled together. Not only did you get to know someone a little better but if your heart was opened, you probably learned a little more about yourself. You learned things of where you may need to ease up on or things you need to focus on more.
The spiritual journey is very much the same as taking a trip with a group of friends. In this journey, you fellowship with others, you laugh together, cry together, and even may get upset with one another from time to time. Yet, along the way you learn more about the person you are walking with and little more about yourself. Thus, the end result is you are day by day walking closer with the Lord.
People are in different places in their spiritual journey and some have not even begun to plan for that journey. It is the responsibility as Christians that they not only keep walking daily with Christ in their journey but to be in tuned to those God places in their path’s and to meet them where they are at on their journey. If they are not even at the starting phase of their journey, people need to reach out a hand of grace and unconditional love and let the person know that no matter what they are welcomed on the journey. Then, just start walking with them from where they are at and before you know it they are walking along growing in their faith. As they grow, you grow, too.
There are also times when you are on your journey you may see someone who is a little further along than you. Please know that is okay and that person will stop and come back and meet you where you are at and will walk with along with you. In this stopping and going back to meet you where you are at, they are demonstrating all the more God’s grace and love. The end result is still the same. Faith gets a little stronger and everyone is still heading for the same destination.
In the days ahead of walking on your journey, invite others to walk with you and journey with you through this world. Just remember, that our journey is much like a race, we don’t all get to the finish line at the same time but we can help one another along the way. Invite someone on the journey. As the saying goes; “the more the merrier!”
- All Inclusive! (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
- LOVE- the Journey Begins (wordofgodspeaktome.wordpress.com)
- The journey inward (sacredcomfort.wordpress.com)
- Preaching to the Choir? (wsforchrist.com)
- Morning Prayer ~ January 24, 2013 (ronpogue.typepad.com)
Where does the time go? If you are like me, you look at the calendar one day and think you have all the time in the world to get ready for Christmas. Then, it happens! You look at the calendar and realize Christmas is only three weeks away! Suddenly, we are jumping on that treadmill trying to get the house, the gifts and food prepared for our families, Christmas parties and Christmas Day.
Preparations are necessary for any big event. Yet, in the hustle of the Christmas Season and festivities are we preparing our hearts for the reason for the season? Just as John the Baptist went out preparing the way for the Lord, we need to be preparing our hearts for the Christ child. Though we may already be Christians and have Christ in our hearts, it is our responsibility to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming again. We do this by sharing God’s grace and love with others who may not know Him.
Throughout the Christmas season I encourage you to stop and prepare the way as you make preparations for all the Christmas festivities on your calendar. Prepare the way so others may know Him.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets.
Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness;
Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths strait.
When the fence was forty feet high, a camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, “How high do you think they’ll go?”
The kangaroo said, “About a thousand feet, unless somebody locks the gate at night!”
We have all watched movies with battle scenes. In these scenes, you hear the cries of the warriors. Yet, in the end victory is claimed.
In today’s world, there are battle cries going out every day. These cries are cries of hunger, of trying to survive in today’s economy, job loss, addictions, and just plain ole’ hurts of the world. There are feelings of no hope and failure. I am sure that there are a few battle cries that I have not mentioned. No matter what battle cry is being screamed out, the pain is so deep. People in the midst of these cries are wondering if and when there will be a victory to claim. Some may even doubt God or even doubt that there is even a God. Faith is being tested.
Maybe you are in the midst of a struggle. Your heart is aching and you just don’t know which end is up. Your faith is in the midst of one of the biggest tests ever. If you are that person, at this very moment, fall into the Father’s arms and allow Him to carry you through the battle. Isaiah 4:6 tells us how we can run to the shelter of God’s arms in the midst of a storm. “And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat. for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.”
For me personally, I have experienced battle cries in my lifetime. There have been times when I wondered where God was and even questioned my faith. The questions I would ask were “Where are you God.” “God, why are you fixing this NOW?!” After throwing these questions to God and expressing my anger and impatience, I have fallen on my knees and said; “hear my cry, God.” “Hold me and walk me through this battle.” In other words, I totally surrendered to Him. It was when I surrendered to allow God to do His work and lift me up that my situation/burden got a little lighter and easier to handle. In the end, things didn’t always work out like I HAD planned but they worked out the way God had planned. Yet, in the end, I was able to claim my victory in Jesus Christ.
The video at the end of this post says a lot about the battle cries of life. It talks about a person feeling as though they have no hope, no where to go, and they feel as though they have fallen. The path that they are currently on is not the one they had planned to be journeying on. Yet, they cry out to God to lift them up. They put their lives into the hands of God. It is their faith in God that they see their future. A new life is before them because they are allowing God to be at work in their life. They are allowing God to lead them instead of them trying to lead God.
Battle cries are a part of living in this big world of ours. But, these battle cries are stepping-stones to being molded into the likeness of our Creator. These battle cries can cause us to give up hope or increase our hope and faith in God. The choice is ours. We can allow God to lift us up and take the lead. Or, we can just throw our hands up in the air, give up, become angry and carry bitterness in our hearts. If we choose the latter, we are denying ourselves a time to grow in our faith and the blessings God has planned for us in the storm and after the storm. So what is it going to be? Bitterness? Or Blessings?
I WILL lift up my eyes to the hills-
From whence come my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord IS your keeper;
The LORD IS your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from ALL evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and coming in.
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
- Ending Your Perfect Storm (scentofwaterministries.typepad.com)
- In the Battlefield…things aren’t always as they seem ~ (rodandrose.com)
- Faith is a powerful thing. (cpkidd09.wordpress.com)
This picture popped up on my Facebook news feed the other day. Immediately, as I laughed, I recall the many times in high school band when a piece of music was put in front of the group to site read. I never will forget the moans and groans when the piece was first handed out. Before playing the piece, we were given time to look it over and our director would sometimes point out potential trouble spots. Then, the time came to play the piece for the first time. Oh, it wasn’t a beautiful piece the first time played. Over time and multiple practice sessions, however, the piece would begin to sound more like what the composer meant for it to sound. Some of those pieces that were thrown down to site read eventually became the best played and favorite pieces of the band.
In life, there are times when we are asked to site read. In other words, we are put in situations that we know nothing about but have to do something right then and there. It is in that moment that we have a choice to either walk away and do nothing or we can jump in, look over the situation, listen to our director, and play it through.
As I write this, I am reminded of the times I walked away versus the times I listened to the director and played it through. Interestingly enough, the moments I walked away, in retrospect,were sources of my greatest regrets. The pieces given to me looked too difficult and I then missed an opportunity to grow. But, the times I have chosen to listen to my director and play it through have become the most precious of moments in my life. Not only were they precious moments but in each one I could look back and see where God molded me and how it was in those moments of playing it through deepened my relationship with him.
Has God given you a piece of music to site read? Are you moaning and groaning because the task looks too difficult? Maybe you are debating if you should stay and play it through or just walk away. Before you decide to walk away, may I suggest that you talk and listen to the director. There is no a doubt in my mind that God has blessings in the midst of the task he has put before you. Who knows, it could turn out to be one of the most precious memories of your life not to mention a wonderful opportunity to grow in your relationship with your Creator.
“I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13