Prayer Keep Our Eyes On The Cross

Over the last couple of years I have written prayers. Some of these prayers were written out of response of how God spoke to me through Bible Study. Other prayers, are simple petitions that were placed on my heart during my quiet time.  From time to time, I will be sharing these prayers with you. 

I wrote the following prayer October 24, 2017.

 

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Father God,

Thank you for sending us your Son, Jesus who came to show us how to love, forgive, and to live as Your Kingdom people on earth. It is when we accept Your Son, Jesus into our hearts we are given the blessed assurance of the day we stand in Your presence. Until that moment we ask that You to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Open our eyes to those You place in our path that are hungry to hear the gospel of Jesus and about the gift of salvation.

Image result for picture of new day

As we enter each new day, may we clothe ourselves in Your mighty armor.  Along with clothing ourselves with Your armor, may clothe ourselves with compassion, humility, kindness, and discipline. If someone speaks out of turn or has bitter words towards us, may we speak with grace. May we be willing to forgive just as You forgive us of our offenses. Most of all, as we walk out the door each day, may we put on the love of Christ. We know we are to walk in the footsteps of Christ’s love. As Ambassadors of Christ, we are to express who Christ is through our words, actions and how we respond to others.

"The cross before me, the world behind me."

We pray that we keep our eyes on the cross and know the Truth that You have written. It is my prayer that Your Word is imprinted on our hearts. Keep our hearts tuned to the Holy Spirit’s leading. May we join in with You and the work You are doing around us.

This prayer is lifted up to You in Jesus’ precious name that is no like other name.

In Jesus Name

Amen

 

 

 

 

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“Through the Years”

My Dearest Jim,

This year has been quite the year! We have had hurdles to jump and storms to ride out. This year has been one of those mile marker years for us. In a few days we will celebrate  our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. 

As I began to think about our anniversary, I turned to 1 Peter 3:7.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat

them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious

gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Through the years, you have exemplified this scripture in your daily walk with me.  You have done this in the following ways:

You are sensitive to my needs.

You are there to dry my tears.

You  pick me up when I fall  down.

You honor and love the LORD your God.

You love me unconditionally and encourage me in my endeavors.

You have given me insight with such grace. 

You never give me a reason to ever doubt you.

Not only have you exemplified this scripture in your daily walk with me but you also had such an influence on the man our son is today. I know without a doubt Drew walks this scripture with his wife, Megan.  What a beautiful gift you have given me by being the Godly man you are and being that example to Drew. 

Through The Years

Through The Years

Looking back over our life together,  I see where the blessings have shined in the midst of the storms. I see the laughter we have shared with one another. There have been so many precious memories we have created together. 

 When I reflect back I see the oops’ and the uh-oh’s that took place.  I would not trade those moments for anything. It is in those times we learned about each other and we grew stronger as a couple. 

The lyrics to the song “Through the Years” say it all….through all the good and bad, I know how much we have. I have always been glad to be with you. It gets better everyday.

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In the years ahead, I know we will always be strong together and for each other. I know through the years ahead I will learn even more about life. We still have  a few more storms to ride and uh-oh’s and oops’ to experience but will be these experiences where we will experience the greatest blessings.

On our wedding day, we walked down the aisle to the  song, “I’ll Walk With God” with changing the lyric to “We’ll Walk With God”.  It has been a beautiful walk and I look forward to the journey ahead of us.

Jim, thank you for being there for me and with me through the years.  

I Love You, 

April

Your ‘brown-eyed girl”

Happy Anniversary, Jim

November 23, 2014

Extravagant Giving

 

The Taj Mahal Built in 17th Century

The Taj Mahal
Built in 17th Century

When you hear the word, extravagant what comes to mind? Maybe it is the latest sports car that is on the front of Car and Driver. Maybe it is that featured house in Southern Living and how it is decorated.  For some of us it may be a vision of that tropical vacation on some remote Island.

all inclusive resort

Extravagant is defined and perceived in many ways. The picture of the Taj Mahal is an example of extravagance at its finest. Shah Jahan ordered it to be built as a dedication to his late wife whose tomb is set within the building. It was said he did this because he loved her so much. It was built in the seventh century and it took twenty-two years to build. As I googled information on the building, it is said to be known as the most perfect building in the world.  This building stands all because of the love one person had for another. In other words, it can be seen and perceived as extravagant giving.

Extravagant giving. What does it really mean? Does it mean we give the biggest and most expensive gift to someone? Does it mean we try to build something big like the Taj Mahal to show our love to someone? My personal answer to these questions is; no. Extravagant giving does not mean giving the biggest and most expensive gift or building something big just to impress or to show our love to someone.

Luke 7:36-50

Luke 7:36-50

When I think of extravagant giving the story in Luke 7:36-50 comes to mind. Jesus is invited to dinner at a Pharisee’s home. Social graces were that Simon should wash the feet of Jesus and anoint Jesus’ head with oil. Yet, Simon had neglected to do this for Jesus as he entered the home. As Jesus enters the home,  a woman enters the home. The scriptures describe her as a sinful woman. “When a woman  who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”  This woman gave an extravagant gift and that was her overflowing love to Jesus for the forgiveness and grace he had shown.

Yes, the alabaster jars were considered to be extravagant in that time. The perfume she used was said to be a very expensive perfume. In a material sense she one would say she gave extravagantly and the Pharisees would agree. Yet, the most extravagant thing in her giving was giving of herself and her gratitude to Christ. She gave out of the abundance of her heart.

If there were time and enough space to type, we could go through the gospels and see other ways people gave extravagant gifts. The little boy with the fish and the loaves, the widow who gave the last cent she had, and the list goes on. No matter the story, the theme is the same. These people knew what it meant to give in extra-ordinary and extravagant ways. They gave from their hearts the very best they had without complaining. They gave out of love.

Christmas preparations

The Christmas Season is rapidly approaching. In a few weeks we will be celebrating Advent. Hanging of the Greens services will be taking place in churches. Preparations in homes will be made to get ready to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.  It is a time of year where we celebrate the extravagant gift we have been given from God. We celebrate his Son, Jesus Christ.

God's gift

For God so loved the world that he gave his ONLY begotten son-so that we may have life eternal” (John 3:16 paraphrased). It is God’s extravagant giving that we have received mercy and grace. It is because of his extravagant giving that life doesn’t end when we leave this world but we continue to live on in our eternal home with our Father.

The Christmas Season is rapidly approaching. Commercials are running promoting the” have to have”  product this year.  People are making their lists for Santa and gathering shopping lists to shop for family and friends. The common statement you will hear this time of year is: “I don’t know what I am going to give_________(you fill in the person’s name) for Christmas.

How about this year you give  not the  “World’s Most Perfect Building.” In other words, it is not about the thing we give that shows our love  but  it is out of the over-flowing of love and gratitude from the grace that we have been given and shown. Maybe there is someone from whom we need to seek  for forgiveness.  Maybe there is someone who needs forgiveness extended to them.

Perhaps God has placed someone in our  life who is longing to belong.  They are searching for answers and we are the ones who can tell them about God’s extravagant gift, his Son, Jesus.

Yes, the Taj Mahal may be considered “The World’s Most Perfect Building”  but there is no gift that is more perfect than the gift of grace that has been extended to us from the cross. May we give extravagantly this Christmas.

love overflowing

Where have you experienced extravagant giving?

Is there a significant person who stands out or has shown you extravagant giving?

What are some things you can do this Christmas Season to demonstrate extravagant giving and the true meaning of Christmas?

As you go through the days ahead, keep your eyes, ears and heart opened to where God leads you to share his extravagant love and grace.

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Wise Guy

In my previous post, I share about the Pearl of a Girl who was added to our family strand almost a year ago. Just as I looked up the meaning of Megan’s name, I continued on and looked up the meaning for Drew. Of course our Drew’s full name is Andrew.  Here is what I found; Drew has a Welch origin. The short form of Andrew and it means “wise.”

In raising Drew, I was faced with many challenges that come with raising a boy. Grass stains that magically jumped up on his pants as he would explain why his good pants had stains. Loud noises and sometimes rude noises that I would immediately attempt to put a stop to. And, then there were things Drew would say out of the blue that would make Jim and me realize that he was sometimes wise beyond his years and sometimes actually knew a little more than we did. Yes, challenging!!

Drew was the type of child where Jim and I would have to draw straws to see who was going to do the punishing when Drew did get into mischief. You see, Drew had a way of looking at us and breaking us as we were attempting to correct/lecture him. One of us would have to do the confrontation/punishing while the other was in the other room with their face buried in a pillow laughing while it was all going down in the other room.  Drew had and still does have a quick wit and tongue.

Yet, Drew has always been a child that Jim and I have great admiration for. He is always calculating, analyzing and researching before he makes any decision. For example, Drew did not actually start walking on his own until he was about twelve months old. However, we knew he could walk at six months. The reason we knew he could is because you could give him the thinnest  of thread to hold on to and he would walk. Yet, he had to have it perfected in his mind before he would reveal that he actually knew how to walk.

We have watched Drew make life decisions in the same way. He would bounce a thought our way to see what input we would have but then would not pursue the issue as far as we knew. Yet, all the while Drew was gathering facts, and information to make the best decision. He did this as he prepared to start his career life in Chicago, as he moved to Atlanta last year and as he made he most current move to the DeMoss Group.

Jim and I have a lot of respect for our son, Drew. He reminds us so much of Jim’s dad.  Jim, Sr is the type of man where people seek his advice and value his opinion. He is a man of wisdom.  They are both kind of like the old commercial that was on years ago; “When EF Hutton speaks, everyone listens.” 

Jim and I are proud of all of the decisions that Drew has made through the years. Yet, the decision to marry Megan has to be one of our proudest out of all of his accomplishments. It was only after a few visits with Megan that we knew that Drew was calculating something far more than a friendship. He was looking ahead at  a life-time friendship, relationship and partner to walk with him the rest of his life.

Drew getting ready to propose to Megan

Just as I looked up scripture that went with Megan’s name, I did the same for Drew. Have I not command you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Jim and I know that in ALL  the decisions Drew has been faced with that he has faced each one with confidence and great courage. He is a man who walks with God each and every day. It is because Drew has exemplified these characteristics over time that we know without a doubt that he will always watch and do what is best for his family. Most importantly, Drew will do everything it takes to take care of his “Pearl of a Girl”, Megan. Yes, Jim and I consider Drew a very ‘wise guy.’  

Drew had just popped the question!

A Pearl of a Girl

It was  three years ago when Drew had graduated from college and had been invited to attend the wedding of one of his college friends.  As he made plans for this special weekend, he told his dad and me that he would need a date for this occasion and he had a “friend” he would like to ask come stay the weekend. Yet,  when Jim and I heard about this “friend” our ears definitely perked up. Of course, Drew continued to emphasize that she was only a “friend.”

The weekend  came and this “friend”, Megan,  arrived at our door. However, when she arrived, I was out still doing some errands but soon after my arrival home, Drew introduced me to his new friend, Megan. The moment I met Megan I knew that there was something special about her. As the weekend progressed with activities, I noticed the way Megan looked at Drew whenever he would talk or do other things that this gal was more than a “friend.” She was something special.

During this weekend, Jim had to be on duty at the hospital so he did not get the chance to interact or get to know Megan as I had the opportunity to do. At the end of the weekend, Megan loaded her car to head back home to Ft. Mitchell.  Drew began his job search that eventually landed him in Chicago. In the midst of this process,  Jim asked me if I thought this friendship was more than friendship. I gave Jim my assessment and said, “I do think she is the one and she is definitely a pearl of a girl.

Over time, as Jim and I got to know Megan, we learned that she loves pearls. This made her even more of a girl after my heart. Sweet, simple and a girl who knows that pearls can go with anything! Loved it!  And, still love it!

Then, as  Jim and I were on vacation a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon these name cards with the meaning of names. Of course we had to see if there was a Megan and a Drew. We did not find Megan but we found a Meg. On this card it said that Meg meant pearl. Then as I prepared to write this post, I looked up the name Megan.  Megan in its Greek origin means pearl. And, Megan in its Welch origin means “little pearl.”

Jim and I smiled when we read this meaning of Megan. It was on August 6, 2011, that our family added a pearl to our family strand. Ever since the first day of meeting Megan, Jim and I have been blessed with the sweetness of Megan’s smile and spirit. Yet, most importantly, Drew has been blessed to have such a  compassionate, sweet, and loving partner to walk by his side throughout life.

Megan and Drew on their wedding day

Yes, a few years ago Drew told Jim and I about this “friend.” I understand after his first date with this “friend” that when it was time to say good-night, Drew said to Megan; ” see you later Pal!” Yet, this friend is so much more to Drew and to our family. This “friend” by the name of Megan  has become a pearl  in our hearts and our new family member.

Furthermore, as I looked up the meaning of Megan, I looked up the scripture that goes with her name. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” Isaiah 2:5  Megan is not only a pearl added to our family strand but she definitely exemplifies this scripture. She is a lady that walks and lives in the example of her God. What else could a mom and dad ask for?

Still Grovin’


Dear Jim:

Memorial Day weekend marked twenty-nine  years of our first meeting.  A few days after we met, (June 4th to be exact) it was a milestone birthday for you. You were away from home, working at Lake Junaluska, NC and celebrating your 21st birthday with people you just met. In that group included me who could not bear the thought of you not having a cake with candles to blow out on your birthday. On short notice of learning it was your birthday, I got a Snicker’s bar and put a candle on it. As you arrived back to the staff living quarters, a group of us surprised you with singing Happy Birthday and you blowing out the match we used for a candle. After the chorus and candle was blown, you strategically sliced the Snicker’s bar to share with the group.

A day or so passed when you realized that you did not call your mom on your birthday. You excused yourself from the gathering of friends on the front porch to go call your mom. You apologized to your mom for not calling on your birthday and you commented to her; “I was out with April and a few other friends.” Your mom’s reply; “Who’s April?”

April Hill-Hawkins

Since the Snicker’s bar was shared, the phone call to your mom was made, a lot has happened. First, your mom learned quickly the identity of April. We have not only enjoyed 29 years of being together but we have shared 27 years of wedded bliss. Together we raised a cool son who is now married to one sweet and cool gal.

Drew and Megan doing one of their fun poses on their wedding day.

Tomorrow,  you celebrate another milestone birthday; um, um….50th which is nowadays the new 30. Right?  A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a John Mellencamp concert together. As we listened to the concert, we both went down memory lane of not only our childhood and teenage days but we were soon reminded of our days dating and starting out as a new couple. Ever since we met, we have always enjoyed a good song, a good laugh, long drives out in the country, and enjoyed the blessings God has given us.

Jim trying to wake me up in the mornings!

May today not only be a day of looking back on the fun-filled memories that life has given you these past 50 years. But, may it be a new chapter in your life with more blessings and laughs shared with family, lots of good music, many more drives out in the country in your mid-life convertible and taking that dream trip of driving down A1A.

 Tomorrow will be  another milestone for you. However, you won’t have to worry about calling your mom because she along with your dad  and other family  have been here over the weekend to celebrate.  And, this time you didn’t  have to explain the identity of April to your mom.


Yes, you have already have been celebrating but in this family we believe in stretching out the celebrations. Tomorrow is the actual day of  YOUR special day. Do you remember the one thing they always said  on the Emmaus walk; “you thought this moment was awesome. just wait it only gets better.” As your special day unfolds, just know that it will only get better. It is not only true for the day but I know it is true for you in the days ahead.

When God created you, he created a walking example of compassion for those you encounter in life. Along with compassion, you have a passion for life, Christ-like love, grace and understanding. So, here  is to the great 50 years of life that God has blessed you with where in turn you have blessed others. Also, here is to 50 more years of being young and grovin’.

Jim in his younger years.

Jim getting ready to enjoy John Mellencamp concert.

HAPPY 50TH!!

Love you,

April

Simple Vow

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My Dearest Jim,

Last year we celebrated our twenty-five years together. Now, we are here again celebrating another year of wedded bliss. This past year has been a year of weathering  storms. Together we have celebrated new mile markers in our lives. It has been a year of really seeing love in action. A  year where we have had really had to work together.

In January, my dad announced his retirement. A mile marker in anyone’s life. Yet, with this bit of news, we knew that a celebration of Dad’s years in  ministry needed to take place. It was with the help of friends and members of Dad’s church that made this celebration possible. Yet, there were things to be done on this end which was a difficult tasks being four hundred miles from the venue. But, you held my hand and asked “what can I do?” You helped scan pictures, helped me with fielding phone calls and countless emails. You even stepped up and wrote the poem The Master’s Walking Stick to make Dad’s celebration and tribute of forty-seven years of ministry a little more special.

Dad’s retirement reception

Spring arrives along with the Spring storms.  We spent many nights in our master closet waiting to hear the all clear as tornado warnings would be issued for our area.  One evening, we realized that we had spent too much time in the closet when we would open our back door for our black lab, Tori to come in with us. Neither one of us had to tell her what to do because  she would  instantly go take her place in the closet! There were mornings when storm  warnings were posted. You were at work and I was at home. You would call and make sure I was okay and assured me that you were okay.

Tori

As summer approached, we receive news that Drew’s best friend who was more like a brother and son to our family had drowned. You came home and we held each other as we grieved for the loss of Josh, for his family and for Drew. We took a deep breath, said a prayer, and held each other as we called Drew to give him the news.  Then, as we stood at Josh’s graveside, we held tight again as we watched Drew place his carnation on his buddy’s casket and say one more good-bye.

(Left) Josh Yeckering (Right) Drew Hawkins taken after they won the State Cross Country Meet

The days of the year and summer clicked on as we received more bad news regarding family members and their  health situations. My Dad’s brother/ my uncle, Dan passed unexpectedly. Again, you asked what could you do and held me tight. You took time from work to drive me to Arlington to attend the services and to be with family.

Funeral Services for my Uncle, Daniel Henry Hill @ Arlington

Among all these happenings, there was a wedding being planned.  Not only were there details to work out for a rehearsal dinner, but a dress for me to be found as well as working out other details for a wedding that would take place out-of-town. Again,  you stepped up and asked, “how can I help?”  You took time off to go look at the venue for the rehearsal dinner, you helped with phone calls, setting up and countless other things to get ready for our son’s special day.

Megan and Drew’s Rehearsal Dinner

As we watched Megan and Drew, say their vows, I reminisced our special day when we said our vows. I reflected on you watching me come down the aisle as Drew watched his bride walk down the aisle on her daddy’s arm. On November  23, 1985, Drew was only gleam in our eyes. Now, he was marrying the girl of his dreams and beginning a new life of his own.

Drew watching his bride, Megan come down the aisle

Andrew Mitchell Hawkins

Megan and Drew exchanging their vows

One of our favorite songs is Clint Black’s Something We Do. There is a lyric in the song that tells how love means working together and helping each other. “Love is something we do” is also the main lyric in this special song.

Jim, you have demonstrated love as an action verb ever since the day we met. While working at Lake Junaluska, I got sick and you got me to a doctor. Over the two years of long distance dating, you would drive down to see me at school after a long week of medical classes and/or clinicals. Once we were married and Drew was in school, you encouraged me to go back and finish my degree.  Along with encouraging me to finish my degree, you helped me with Drew . There were papers to write. I would write and you would type (no computers then).  You did all these things with love and without complaint.

Today, you continue to show love as an action verb. When life happens, you ask; “how can I help?” You take time off from work to sit with me at countless doctors appointments. When I am behind on things around the house, you gladly pitch in and help me get caught up. We may be watching television and you will offer to go pour me a coke or scoop a dish of ice cream.  Love is something that you do on a daily basis.

Jim helping out with dinner at the Lake

This year, we have had a lot of tears. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. But, I would not have how this year has gone any other way. It is through the celebrations of life and the letting go in life that makes us stronger as a couple and as individuals.

April and Jim August, 1986

Yes, ‘I remember the day we wed. It began with a simple vow.’  The simple vow we said has brought us through a lot and I know it will get us through more celebrations, tears of joy and tears of sadness in our journey ahead. ‘Love is strong’ and our love is strong and it keeps getting stronger.

The day we wed…November 23, 1985

‘We give ourselves; we give our all; it’s something that we do.”

Happy Anniversary! I am looking forward to sharing the next 26+ years with you.

I love you,

April

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

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