Pirates of Negativity

the critic

“Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.”  2 Peter 2:1-2

“Everyone is a critic.” ” If you can’t say anything nice then just don’t say anything at all.”  These are a couple of sayings we have all heard at some point in our lifetime. The picture above is a picture of The Critic a popular cartoon that came on in 1994 where John Lovitz was the voice for the critic. It was somewhat of a parody of the critics who voiced their opinions of the movies on the big screen. Either they loved the movie or they did not recommend the movie.  If John Lovitz’s character didn’t like the movie, he simply said; “it stinks!.”

constructive criticism

There are times when constructive criticism  is essential. Usually we experience constructive criticism within the workplace, within a group and/or organization we are in and I would hope within our family. Constructive criticism should be positive. In other words, we tell the person what needs to be done different in such a way that we are building them up as we point them in a different direction. It doesn’t steal their joy or ruin their day.  I have known a few people who really have a the gift of constructive criticism. They do it in such a way that the person they are talking to don’t even realize that they have been pointed in a new direction as they change direction.

Johnny Depp

In my next few posts, I am going to be sharing about pirates. No, I am not talking about the pirates like we have read about or have seen Johnny Depp portray in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I will be writing about the pirates that are in our every day lives that steal from us.

The pirate of criticism or should I say negativity is one we all allow into our lives. There are some who allow these pirates into their hearts/lives more than others.  We all know someone or maybe we are that person that no matter what there is nothing good to say and they see the negative in every situation.  They critique Aunt Betty when she shows up at the family reunion, they critique Ms. Higginbotham about the dish she always brings to the cover dish dinner at church.  It can even come to the point that a person will critique how someone just walks into the room. They are angry birds!

three angry birds

It seems in media and all other social media/media  means there is negativity.  Over time I have heard so much negativity among friends, family and  in other areas that I actually had a meltdown. It breaks my heart to hear someone put someone down because they do something different from them. It makes me weary that we cannot accept one another for who they are and seek the goodness in their heart.  Just because someone does something different from us does not necessarily mean it is wrong. It just means it is different.

scott Fitzgerald

The more I have thought about the negativity that goes on the more I realized that this is us allowing Satan to have his way with us and our hearts. You see, Satan wants us to see the negative. It brings him joy to see us tear someone down instead of building someone up.  And, in the midst of the tearing down we are missing the blessing we may receive from the person we are criticizing. We are even missing the opportunity to share God’s wonderful grace.  Negativity is the  pirate that steals the joy we could be experiencing in that moment.

criticism robs

Yes, there are people that we struggle to  get along.  However, I feel as though God places those people in our lives to see ourselves a little better. They are placed in our lives to teach us patience and to learn a little more about grace. Though they rub us the wrong way and/or march to a different beat than us, we must remember that they are a Child of God just as we are a Child of God. They deserve to be respected just as we want to be respected.

influence on life

Growing up in a minister’s home there was the occasion where I would experience a  negative person. They seem to have  really known how I needed to live better than I did. It was hurtful and hard to deal with at times. However, it was in those moments my mom gave me the best advice she could have ever given me. She told me to always be nice.  I have carried this advice throughout my adulthood and have passed it on to my son.  By just being nice and  praying for the person, I have experienced a new kind of grace, joy and forgiveness. Thus, there is no burden to carry as we have when we allow the negativity get the better of us.

sign about friendship

The next time you find yourself about to spit something out negative about someone or something, stop, breath, count to ten and find something  positive to say instead.  Seek the person’s heart you are with and seek the blessing God has for you in that moment. Life is too short to be critical.  When it comes to negativity just think of John Lovitz’s character’s statement…”it stinks!’

“But encourage one another daily as long as it is called ‘Today’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Hebrews 3:13

May we all be a people who builds up for God’s Kingdom.

Take a few minutes to watch the video below

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Hey, How You’ve Been?

For Christmas my son and his wife gave me this Train CD. On our way home from seeing family over the holidays, Jim and I popped the CD into the player and began to listen. We heard this song and had to hear it again. It spoke loud and clear to us; “we all have bruises.” In other words, life happens to all of us. We all have battle scars and experiences that have happened on our journey here on earth.

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While listening to this song, it made me think of a comment that a couple of friends I have re-united with on Facebook have said/messaged me.  The comment is this: “if you only knew what all I have done, what I have not done and/or where I have been, you probably would not want to be my friend.” My reply to the comment is: “it doesn’t matter to me where you’ve been, what you’ve done or not done since I last saw you.” “What matters to me is that our friendship has been reunited and I can still see that love in you heart.”  

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Some have shared some of the things they have done and experienced. Others have simply said; “you just can’t imagine the road I have traveled.”  Yes, some things I heard disappointed me but it didn’t change how I look at the friend.

direction in l ife


 I know over the years that life has happened. Life has happened to me. Each one of us has gone through changes and many seasons in our lives. It is these experiences that we draw from to understand someone else better, to love others a little more and to know that there is good in everyone. These experiences even give us a few stories to share that enable to us to laugh together, laugh at each other and even at ourselves.  Along with these experiences giving us something to laugh about, they give us opportunity to show the changes we have gone through and to maybe help a friend who is struggling on a journey at a certain moment.

cover pictures for april

Listen to the song, Bruises one more time. Then, the next time when you re-unite with an old friend whether it be at a class reunion, Facebook or some other reunion, be ready to hear the response to “Hey, How You’ve Been?”  Be ready to listen with unconditional listening and love because the response may not be what you were expecting to hear.

These bruises make for better conversation. Loses the vibe that separates. It’s good to know you’ve got a friend.  That you remember now and then Everybody loses
(Train: Bruises)

Listen to the song and remember we all got bruises….

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!

Precious Words

In our home, you will find many bibles of many translations. Some people may question the number of bibles that are in my possession. However, I learn something new of God’s teachings, and gain different perspectives of God’s message to me through the various translations. One of my favorite study bibles that is marked, highlighted and showing some wear is the NKJ Women’s Study Bible. In this particular bible are devotionals, quotes of wisdom, historical information  and insights of how the scriptures apply to me in today’s world.

This morning as I was reading my study bible. I was reading in  the Psalms. In this reading,  I came across a devotional reminding me of how God’s word is such a precious treasure. At the end of this devotional was this hymn that was written by John Burton ( 1773-1822). After reading through this poem, I felt lead to share it with my readers.

When reading this poem, be reminded that the Word of God is the light to our daily path. It is not only light for our every day path but it is a reminder that the Bible is a place where we will find comfort, wisdom, healing, and learn the true meaning of unconditional love. The poem also reminds us of our beautiful heritage and that we are all children of God.

After you read this poem, I encourage you to begin reading a Psalm and a Proverb each day. You may want to begin a journal where you read scripture and write what God is saying to you.  Trust me, it is a wonderful way to begin your day and to draw closer to your Creator and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Holy Bible, book divine

Precious treasure, thou art mine;

Mine to tell me whence I came;

Mine to teach me what I am.

 

Mine to chide me when I rove;

Mine to show a Savior’s love;

Mine thou art to guide and guard;

Mine to punish or reward.

 

Mine to comfort in distress.

Suff’ring i n this wilderness;

Mine to show by living faith,

Man can triumph over death.

 

Mine to tell of joys to come,

And the rebel sinner’s doom; 

Oh thou Holy Book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine.

John Burton

 

The bible.  May you not only read its words but will  engrave and treasure the words of God in this precious book on your heart. I challenge you to share this precious jewel of words with those you encounter on your faith journey.

Let’s Be Real… He Still Loves Us!

This song is taken from a Hawkins’ favorite move, “The Fighting Temptations.” In the movie, Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s character, ( Darrin) is a person who returns home at the request of his aunt who has just passed away.  Before arriving to his South Georgia hometown, he has lost his job in advertising for passing himself off as someone he wasn’t.  This seems to be the theme throughout the movie.

Darrin is asked to direct the church choir at his aunt’s final request. Needless to say, there is not much of a choir to work with and he is left at grabbing at anything to get a choir ready for a choir competition that will soon take place. Throughout the movie, you see Derek continuing to pass himself off as someone other than himself but as he does, the real person hidden deep within gradually comes to surface. Not only does the real person within come to surface but you see the cast of characters that eventually come together and make up a choir.

choir

The choir is made up of people who have made mistakes, who are considered outcasts of society,and some with low self-esteem.  As the movie unfolds, you see this group of unlikely people bond together and lift their voices in praise. The words to the video above sum up the plot of this story quite well, “I may not be good enough but He still loves me.” In their singing and coming together, they all begin to realize that their past does not matter and  where they come from does not matter. But, what does matter is that God loves them when others have doubted and lost faith in them.

We are all sinners. If God treated us like we should be treated for what we are doing or have done, we would be in a lot of trouble. As Christians, we have been forgiven.  As we walk through the days ahead, let’s keep that thought close to our hearts and show the undeserving God’s wonderful grace and love.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all you iniquity, who heals your diseases

who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5

Blessings If you have not seen the movie, “The Fighting Temptations”, I encourage you to view it and see how it teaches us all how to be real. Meet People Where They Are Today You Will…. via Jonathon Pearson

Simple Vow

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

Chase A Few Leaves

"I just love feeling the wind blow in my face and absorb ALL God gives me to enjoy."

Hi Friends!

My mom left her computer on and I decided I would give writing a blog a try. It seems that Mom is constantly on the go with chores around the house and other responsibilities that she sees as important. Gee, I try to get her to stop and slow down but it is a work in progress!

Every morning, Mom and I have a routine. She takes me outside for me to take care of important business.  When I go outside, I like to soak up the morning and the new day God has given me. Mom wants me to hurry up so that she can get started with that list of things to do! What Mom does not realize when I stop, sit and allow the wind to blow in my face, that I am feeling God’s presence. The wind is my reminder of God’s breath and He is every breath I take.

Sometimes, when I ask to go outside, I really don’t have business to tend to but I just want to go out and simply sit and soak up the sun. The warm sun rays remind of God’s wonderful love for me.  I love watching the leaves blow around me and I try to catch one or two. Chasing the leaves, running and playing outside is my reminder of God wanting me to enjoy life. He created the things around me to enjoy . He created me for my Mom to enjoy.

Since Mom adopted me and brought me home, there are things she has had to teach me. She has taught me how to tell her when I need to go outside.  I had boundaries to learn.  I also got to learn what earns treats and what takes treats away. Mom has given me an awesome “Man Cave” for me to resort to when I need to rest. Yet, I simply keep trying to teach her what I know.

Me chilling in my "Man Cave."

I want my Mom to learn to go outside and let God’s breath blow in her face. Take time to feel the warmth of God’s love wrap around her from the sun’s rays.  It is important that I teach Mom to stop and enjoy God’s creation. The one thing I have taught  Mom is that she is my care taker and I am her’s.  We both belong to God and are on loan to each other to love unconditionally and enjoy life together.

Mom does not have a “Man Cave” but she is blessed with not just a house, but a home with a lot of love. Along with her having this home, I want Mom to know that she has a home with God.  In God’s home, she can go there anytime she likes through prayer, quiet time and bible time to be restored and to rest. How awesome is that?!

Well, Mom is coming back into the room so I better close.  Before I close, I want to encourage you to stop, sit and enjoy all the things God gives you everyday. When the wind hits your face, know that it is God’s breath breathing on you. It is the breath of new life and renewal. Go outside and let the sun wrap its rays around you and feel the presence of God’s love. Last but not least, go chase some leaves and enjoy ALL the good gifts that God has given you. As we know,we were ALL created to enjoy life and to bring joy to God. He likes nothing better than to see us acknowledge His goodness and presence.

I will leave you with this thought; “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8

 Seek God daily and experience His goodness.

Until next time Mom leaves the room,

Smokey

CAPTURE THE MOMENTS  https://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/capture-the-moments/