Small Callings

knittingLast Thursday evening as Jim and I sat in our Coffee Talk small group, Mary brought her knitting. She asked if it would be rude if she knitted while we had our share time together. No one objected because we knew that this piece she was knitting would one day be prayed over and given to someone who is in need of God’s loving and comforting touch.

Psalm 23

Psalm 23

Our lesson taken from Psalm 23:3 he leads me along the right paths for his name sake.  The focus for our lesson was our purpose in this life and God’s calling us to this purpose. In other words, we need to be in tuned to God’s still small voice and allow him to guide our path.

looking for an answer

Purpose/calling. When we hear that word we sometimes think of the evangelists, the missionaries, the song writers/singers and writers that up there front and center fulfilling their purpose. It can be intimidating at times and make some of us ask if we are actually hearing God’s voice and fulfilling our purpose in life.

Nature Facebook cover

For some of us, we have had different callings in our life time. In other words, just as the seasons change in nature, our seasons change. Some of us question if we are truly listening to God’s voice and following his leadership when our seasons change. We may feel guilty that we are not continuing the same path we have been on for many years. Know that there is nothing wrong with this change in path. There are times when we fulfill one purpose and God is ready to move us on to a new task.  It is all a part of his refining us into his likeness.

2014 Winter

In Kentucky this winter we have had winter in all its glory.  In our life there are seasons where our purpose/calling may be up front/center stage. There is no doubt we know our calling just as there has been no doubt that we have had winter.

different seasons

Then, there are times when the seasons are calm. Last year, Kentucky had a very quiet and mild winter. No big headlines were needed. It is in seasons such as these we sometimes question God and his purpose for us. We wonder if we are truly answering his call. Are we actually hearing his still small voice from within.

black white coffee cup

As these thoughts were bounced around our small group the other night, I looked across the room at Mary’s knitting one stitch at a time and yet seeing this beautiful prayer shawl come together. Seeing her loop one thread over another one, I saw a connection.

There are times when we are called to do big things. But most times we are called and our purpose is to do small things. We think that these small things really don’t mean much and aren’t making a difference. It is this thinking that causes us  to miss the lesson that God is teaching us. This can result in our missing the blessing that God has planned for us.

Mother Teresa on small things with great love

You see, it is the small things/callings that make the big difference. It is the opening the door for someone who has their hands full and smiling as we do it. It is that simple phone call to that one friend that came to mind or sending them a message/card. It is taking time to stop to help that stalled car get  pushed to the side out of harms way. A simple wave to someone next to us. It is posting that one encouraging thought on Facebook.

Just as one thread being looped over and over, each one of answering those simple callings eventually become a beautiful blessing and they bring glory to God. We may or may not see the impact from answering these small callings while on earth. I do know that when we reach our eternal home that we will see the results of people answering the smallest of callings. We are going to see the most beautiful tapestry that is beyond our earthly comprehension.

tapestry

In the days ahead, God is going to call you to various things/purposes. There will be different seasons with different callings. Just know no matter what season and/or how great or small the calling that you are making a difference.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:8-9

Take a moment to listen to the video below. As you listen, think about God’s calling/purpose for you.

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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

Standing At The Cross Roads

“Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Take a left up here where the cross roads meet.” Okay, take another left up at the next cross roads.”  These were the directions I was giving my husband, Jim as I was giving him the nickel tour of one of the communities I grew up in during my father’s ministry. The previous evening I had attended a class reunion with classmates that I had not seen in thirty-four years.

I spent a lot of Sunday afternoons here eating Sunday lunch and then playing in the woods. We would swing across the creek on vines, pick and eat muscadines…wonderful memories!

After the nickel tour of the community and showing Jim the places I hung out and the homes I shared many memories, we went to the cemetery of the church where my dad was assigned. There I stood and read names of headstones and shared stories of how they touched my life and the memories made with their families and in their homes. As I shared these memories, God was gently reminding me of his presence in every step and moment of my life.

Shiloh United Methodist Cemetery

Jim and I made our way on over to the church grounds where we met up with my son, Drew and his wife Megan. From there, we entered the sanctuary where I had not sat in since attending a funeral of a dear sweet friend twenty plus years ago. I had my family to sit in the pew where my family sat as Dad preached his last sermon as pastor. Yet, as I told them to sit, I told myself that this time I would not be teary eyed as I was on that last day where my family told the congregation good-bye.

Shiloh United Methodist Church
Burwell, Georgia

Yet, as the service began, I looked around the congregation remembering where certain families sat each Sunday. It was then when I realized the reality of time and life. Life has moved on. Life has changed. Some of those families have moved on to other beginnings themselves while others have gone to be in their eternal home. A wave of sadness and yet joy filled my heart once again. Sadness because these people were gone but joy because of how they touched my life as a young lady.

Some people would call it ironic but as a Christian I know it was all a God thing and His timing. In Mark 10:17-30, we read about the rich young ruler  wanting to know more about the kingdom and how he could inherit eternal life.  This was a crossroad for the rich young ruler. He was at that  place in the road where he needed to decide the path of which to take. The rich you ruler sought guidance from Jesus.  Needless to say, crossroads are opportunities to make transitions and start new beginnings in our life.  We must do as the young ruler did seek direction from God.

As I sat in this particular church on this particular Sunday, I realized that God had placed me at the very place where I experienced pivotal crossroads in my life. I went from being a little girl to a young lady while at this church, began playing in band, experienced my first year of high school, had my first boyfriend and date. But the most important crossroad I experienced at this particular appointment is the moment I accepted Christ into my heart. It was on a camp meeting Sunday when I gave my life to Christ and asked Him to walk with me the rest of my days.

I’m standing at the very spot that I gave my life to Christ.

Yes, this past weekend I stood at the crossroads with God reminding me of how He has walked with me through many other crossroads in my lifetime. He showed me how these significant crossroads have impacted my life and made me who I am today. God reminded me at these cross roads that there are still many before me and He is still walking with me telling me which way to turn.

There are days when we don’t know how we are going to get through. There are crossroads where we are not sure if we should go straight or turn left or right. When these moments take place, go back to that significant crossroad  where you invited Christ on your journey. You may not be able to go back in the physical sense as I did but go back in your mind/memory. Then, look at where you were and then see how far He has brought you. Then, gently take your Father’s hand and allow Him to lead you on through the crossroad before you.

Embraced By His Love

butterfly-cancer

In the last few years, it seems more and more that I have had up close and personal contact with a friend and/or loved one who has been diagnosed with Cancer. Some of these friends/loved ones were not able to withstand the fight and have gone to their eternal home. Then, there are those who are reminded every day of their diagnoses as they comb their hair and it begins to fall. Yes, I even know a few who were lucky enough for the cancer cells to shrink or maybe even go away. No matter the stage and fate of cancer, it not only affects its victim but it affects the entire inner circle of family and friends.

This morning on my way to bible study, I heard the song, I’m Gonna Love You Through It by Martina McBride. In this song she shares how one’s husband will hold and love his wife as she fights the battle that has been placed before her. As I listened to the lyrics of the song, I thought about the loved ones and friends that I have known that have and still are battling cancer. Just as one person states in the Martina McBride video, ‘it doesn’t just affect the person who is diagnosed but it affects everyone.’

Sometimes, I have seen the patient deal with the diagnoses better than the loved ones who are caring for the patient. There are times of anger, worry  and just plain old heart hurt when a family watches another suffer through the many surgeries, chemo treatments and the side effects to follow. As I heard Martina sing the lyrics “I’m gonna love you through it,” I thought of another  person who is there loving not only the patient but the family and friends who instantly become care givers.

For those, watching a loved one suffer through this horrible diagnosis, know that your Heavenly Father is saying, “I’m gonna love you through it.” He is there sitting with you in that waiting room as hours of surgery take place. He is sitting there in the doctor’s office as the latest labs and course of action are discussed. Your Heavenly Father is there holding you when you can’t bear to see your loved one suffer another moment. Yes, He is there loving you through it all. Your Father will not leave your side.

Your Father also loves you through it by the friends who call, come by to visit, and who are sending up daily prayers on your family’s behalf. He loves you through the hugs, the meals cooked, and the cards of encouragement that are sent your way. Yes, He is loving you and your loved one through all the aches, pains, and tears. He is there and will never leave your side.

In the fourth verse of the twenty-third Psalm, God reminds us that He is with us always. It is His rod and staff that comfort us. In other words, He is walking and loving you through it all. 

For those of us who know of someone battling with cancer, we need to not only be aware of their needs but we need to be aware of the needs of those who are the care givers through the battle.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 encourages us to comfort each other. Some of us may not be able to be there physically to comfort and encourage but we can pray and send cards of encouragement. There are those of us who may be able to go sit with the patient to give a family member a break. Or, maybe you just need to  sit with the family. Be prepared, when you sit with the family, for some silent moments but yet don’t be afraid of the silence. It is your presence and the silence that God is using you the most. It is through your presence that He is loving the family through the battle.

To all who are currently facing this battle (patients, love ones, and caregivers). know that you are embraced by His love. When you are weak, He will hold you up. When your eyes are full of tears, He will wipe them. And, when you think you can’t go another step further, He will carry you. He’s gonna love you through it.”

Blessings