Thursday, January 21, 2010

"That Says It All!"

Tuesday night the boys and I were snuggled up watching a movie when we got an alarming phone call. I had already talked to my parents and we had "tucked each other in for the night" as we call it. Which basically means we won't talk anymore tonight because we know all is well and we are all going to bed. About 9:30 I got a phone call from my Mother saying to please pray because my Pappy had been put in an ambulance and was on his way to the hospital. That was all she knew. Because we were watching a movie the boys were up way past their usual bedtime, but it was no accident. They apparently were awake so we could all pray. I hung up the phone and told the boys we needed to pray for Pappy. Jacob said, "Me first, me first, I pray for Happy (that is what he calls Pappy)." His prayers were sweet and to the point. "Jesus, make Happy better." Caleb was next with his prayers which cover things the rest of us don't think about. "Jesus, please don't let the ambulance get in a wreck and help the Dr. not to drop Pappy off the table and we pray that they won't give him the wrong medicine. Amen." Reminds me of how Eeyore might have prayed had he been a believing donkey with a spirit. Joshua prayed next. "Jesus, we ask you to keep Pappy safe. He is not just our family, but he is our friend and we love him so much. We are not ready to lose him so please heal his body whatever is wrong. Amen." Each boy shared his heart and prayed for our adored Pappy. Usually I let all the boys pray and then I close, but Matthew prayed next and this is what he said, "Lord God please put your healing hand upon Pappy and touch his body, give Grammie courage to face whatever comes and give the rest of us faith to know that you are God and you are mighty to Save. AMEN. IN JESUS NAME!!!" What else could I possibly say. That said it all. I agreed in Jesus Name and we waited with great expectation to watch God answer these prayers. I was reminded of the scripture where Jesus basically says when you pray to get to the point and just share your heart. "Matthew 6:7 NIV And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." Matthew did not babble with many words, which honestly is amazing. He sometimes has trouble putting his thoughts into words, except when he prays. He is very clear, precise and the message of his heart shines through. I was blessed beyond measure. My precious boys went to bed with full confidence that Pappy would be fine. They had a total peace. I am excited to share with you that God answered their prayers specifically. Grammie was full of courage and remained strong, totally trusting in her Savior for strength. God did touch Pappy's body and  healed him. And the rest of us had a night of faith building. We know that God is mighty to save, but we were able to practice our faith that night. I am also relieved to share with you that the ambulance did not wreck, they did not drop Pappy off the table and all medicines was administered correctly.  God used my children to put my heart at peace that night. I was also encouraged to lose the babble and just share my heart. I like to think I do that, but there are times I get caught in the trap of being wordy. I feel the need to explain the situation to God either for my benefit or for the benefit of those who are listening. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to shorten your prayer life, but I have been encouraged to shoot straight. Matthew prayed some tough stuff. Courage for Grammie was very important, but courage to face whatever comes. I don't want to even think about what that could have encompassed, but by praying that, Matthew entrusted it to God, basically saying, "God it is our desire to see Pappy healed, but give us the courage and faith to face whatever your will might be." I am usually guilty of praying one way. My way! We say...may your will be done in this situation, but do we pray for the courage of God to handle it if the situation is not answered according to "our will." Sometimes we just assume "our will" will be His will. Are we ready if it is not? Are we ready to receive His grace and His courage and to allow Him to be God without questioning "WHY?" Oh to have the faith of a little child. "God may we learn to pray according to your will, to accept your will graciously and to receive all that you have for us as we dwell in your presence and in the center of your will. Teach us how to pray Lord Jesus. Amen.

    "Throwing Up With Obedience"

    I woke up at 3:00 this morning to the heaving sounds of my precious 3 year old Jacob. He had crawled into the bed with us around 2:00 a.m. I jumped up and grabbed the closest pillow case to catch the forthcoming gift. He held his little hands over his mouth and refused to release what was soon out of his control. After offering him what we affectionately call the "throw-up bowl" that stays tucked away in our closet, he gave into his little body. I asked him why he was holding it in and he said, "I no want to make a mess in your bed mommy." After his initial sickness was over I offered him some Pepsi. He said, "Daddy said me no have Pepsi." "Jacob, I'm sure it will be ok since you are sick." "I no drink it Mommy, Daddy said me no have Pepsi." "When did Daddy say that?" "Last night." I quickly realized it was pointless to argue with an obedient, sick three year old. If Daddy said No, then No it is. So, I fixed him coke and that was that. "Daddy no said no to coke." When Matt came home for lunch he came to check on Jacob and I filled him in on Jacob's absolute obedience. Matt thanked him for being so obedient, but told him that it would have been ok since he was sick. I was blessed beyond measure at his obedience even in the midst of sickness. If you have followed my blog very long, you know that we have had a few struggles with Jacob's obedience. We have spent a lot of time and energy praying over this precious little boy and what a blessing to see his desire for obedience increasing. Don't get me wrong, I am a realist and I know there are still times to come when Jacob will struggle to do the right thing, but oh how blessed my heart was today to hear that sweet little voice making right choices. My continued prayer for Jacob is that he would continue to seek obedience, righteousness and seek a relationship with the Lord Jesus. I have been following Christ for 32 years and I still struggle with complete obedience from time to time. When I am not feeling well, when I let my guard down or I haven't been saturated in God's Word the temptation to lash out in anger, to tolerate or even participate in gossip, to indulge slander and not be repulsed by sin, becomes harder to resist. We as believers are to grieve over sin, not tolerate or participate in it. If sin grieves the heart of God, which it does, then we too should be grieved by it. I want to have the heart for obedience that my precious little three year old has, but it has not just appeared. It was born out of prayer, instruction, rebuke and discipline. As believers in the Lord Jesus we need to spend time in prayer, we need to receive the instruction from His word. We need to accept the rebuke of other believers and we need to graciously receive the discipline of our Father when we have sinned against Him. I desire to be characterized by obedience. I want to make my Father proud by obeying Him even in the midst of trials and sickness. I want obedience to be that deeply rooted within my heart. I have prayed this for my children and I will continue to pray this for them, but I also pray it for myself and for you as we learn to obey the Father.

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    "Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth."

    For years I had heard people pray ..."Lord may we worship you in spirit and in truth today." That sounded nice even though I felt they were talking just a little over my head. I knew how to worship, but this whole in spirit and in truth thing kept me confused. I was here in spirit and I hoped it was all true or we were all in a mess. I really began to seek the Lord and ask Him to teach me not with head knowledge, but with a transformed heart that truly understood what it meant to worship in spirit and in truth. The truth part came a little easier. God's word is truth. Truth is anything that is based on God's word. That's how we worship. We know His word and who His word says that He is. When our worship is based on what we know to be true through the scriptures, then we know we are worshipping in truth. I had a little more trouble with the spirit. It required a little more of me. It required that I was ALL in. To worship in spirit we have to be totally focused on Jesus, not lunch, not my neighbor's bad breath, not beating the methodist to lunch. We have to give all that is within us heart, soul and mind and submit it unto the presence of a righteous and holy God as we focus completely on Him. Imagine with me if you will if we as believers walked into our places of worship each Sunday with that attitude on our hearts. Imagine if we walked in with only one thing on our mind...Jesus and we worshipped him in Spirit (all that we are) and Truth (all that He is). If our churches worshipped like they were singing praises to a God who was all-knowing, all-loving, just, righteous and holy and we focused ALL of our EVERYTHING to Him and focused on the truth of who He is I believe it would change the kingdom of God forever. John 12:32 NIV But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." Jesus says when He is lifted up, he will draw all men to himself. That is our job. We are to lift him up. How do we do worship. As we take all that we are and focus it on all that he is we rejoice in him and we lift Him up, He says that He will draw ALL men to himself. How awesome? This revelation was the conviction of my heart earlier today as I experienced one of the most incredible services I have ever been a part of. Matt spoke on Worship and what it is, but then we were invited into a time of worship. Not open your hymnal....not look at the screen and listen to the band, but an invitation to worship the Lord any way you were comfortable. Sitting, standing, kneeling, prostrate, hands lifted high, hands folded in prayer, hands clapping, feet still or feet moving and dancing before the Lord as David did. (Oh my word, did she say they invited people to dance at their church. We are not comfortable with that at our church.) That's ok, but get to practicing cause there will be dancing in heaven. I think King Dave leads those classes. (Ha!) I can only speak for me, but that time, uninterrupted, in the presence of the Lord was incredible. The good news is, we can have that everyday. We just have to have the discipline to remove all distractions and all of the self-induced ADD contributors such as ipods, televisions, computers, radios, and cell phones and completely focus on HIM. Worship Him and He will draw all men unto himself.


    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    "He's Gonna Be A Handful!"

    I love my Caleb. He is so funny. He loves Jesus and he loves life. He is always singing at the top of his lungs, playing his guitar or trying to teach himself to play the keyboard. He loves to make people laugh. Tonight, I got home from a ladies retreat planning meeting in time to tuck my four little men into bed. I showed them the brochure for the Ladies Retreat (Which is in Warm Springs GA Jan 29-30, if you are interested in joining us.) They were so excited that our family's picture was in the brochure. Then I hear Caleb say "Oops, they need to reprint it. It needs to say (Ladies, Call me) under my picture in case any good looking ladies get a hold of it." What a mess. I did laugh at my goofy kid and silence fell upon the bedroom. Then I hear Caleb say, "Hey mom, when you were little what did you wish for?" That was an easy question..."I wished to marry a pastor, have lots of children and drive a mini-van." Matthew chimes in with, "That's really what you wished for. Nobody really wishes to drive a mini-van." Caleb: "Well, you got everything you wished for didn't you?" "Yes, Caleb I did and do you know that in Psalms 34:7 it says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." To which my precious Caleb replies, "YES, then I WILL get to marry a model." "Not unless you get a breath mint." was Matthew's encouragement. What am I going to do with that boy? I tell you one thing I am going to do and that is continue to cover him in prayer. I know he is just being funny, but I am praying that the Lord will transform his heart's desires and his wish list. A little later as they were trying to drift off to sleep I saw a heavenly ora rising from the mattress and I think I might have heard the halelujah chorus as Matthew said to himself..."I don't care if she's a model as long as she loves Jesus like Lydia does." Lydia is a dear family friend who if we believed in arranged marriages (which I am not opposed to but I think my children would be) she would be who I would pick for Matthew, because she does love Jesus with all that is within her. I pray diligently for my boys and the men they will become. I pray for the women they will one day marry. I pray that the Lord will line their desires up with His desires so that they will seek only that which will bring Him glory all the days of their lives. I am also looking forward to the conversation Caleb and I will have in the days to come as the Lord allows me to teach him how to truly "delight in God." That's the fun part. I love my husband, my four children and even my mini-van, but the fun of delighting in God is the reason the rest of my life so incredible. It's because I know it is what He wants for me. Hey, maybe God's will is for Caleb to marry a model. Somebody has to marry the models. If it's Caleb then I pray he will obey. As conversations like tonight come up it makes me realize that the hedges are getting higher and wider. I am praying those hedges around my children, but the older they grow and the more they share the more I realized how important for those hedges to grow properly and be nurtured in prayer. As a dear friend prays for her children that God would hem them in. Go before them and behind them and hem them in. My Caleb, He's gonna be a handful, but what an awesome joy to watch our Savior mold and shape him into the man of God He desires him to be.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    "What National Championship?"

    I have officially embarrassed my children. I was talking with a friend on the phone Thursday and she ask, "So what are you guys up to tonight." "I am making soup and Matt's parents are coming over to watch some game. I think it might be a football game." "Oh my word Monica, are you serious, you really don't know what game is coming on tonight?" I had to confess that I was clueless, but apparently I was missing something big. I got off the phone and asked my children and their friend if they knew about a game that was coming on television tonight. "Yes ma'am, the Bama vs. Texas game, it's the National Chamionship game. Mom yesterday was declared Mark Ingram day." To which I had to ask..."Who is Mark Ingram, is he the news anchor for WSFA in Montgomery." "Oh mom!" Caleb said as he shook his head and walked out the door. I began to think about this and realized that they are big boys who live and breathe football, so maybe I wasn't completely living in la la land, so I called Joshua, my five year old, who was playing at a friends house. "Joshua, do you know about a football game coming on television tonight?" "Yes, ma'am, Bama vs. Texas, it's the National Chamionship Game. Mommy, it's a big deal." "Joshua, how did I not know about this?" "Mommy, you had to know. You must have forgotten. You couldn't have not known." Yet, there I sat "not knowing." I was clueless. Apparently I am the only one in the state of Alabama who had no idea who was playing in the National Championship or that it was even time for the National Championship Game. Apparently, I live in a world all my own. I cook, I clean, I write, I blog, I plan Date Nights, I take care of my family, I encourage my friends. If it doesn't directly effect me, I am usually clueless. I will be honest, I am not a big football fan. I loved football when my brother played and when Matt played in college. I will probably never be a big football fan. It's just not in me, but I am a fan of individuals who play. I have however realized that if it is important to those around me, it needs to be more important to me. "Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn." Now hopefully those who mourn a football loss are not truly mourning, but I have seen the rejoicing at my house and I can high five with the best of them. God used my lack of knowledge and interest in the BCS National Championship (Which I am proud to say I now know what BCS stands for) to teach me that I need to be a little more aware about the things that are important to those around me. Dying to self a little more and sharing in the hearts and interest of others open doors to minister and connect on a new level. My children know that I am interested in them and I get excited about the things that they get excited about, but beyond the Hawkins world I am usually not very culturally aware. Ask me about a song you heard on the radio...Don't know it! Ask me about the latest movie you have seen at the theatre...Haven't seen it! Ask me about your favorite television series...Probably haven't heard of it unless Dora, Diego or Phineas and Ferb are in it. Culturally relevant things seem to get past me quite often. The bible says in Romans 16:19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  We are instructed to be innocent of what is evil. I am not claiming that all things in our culture are evil, but come on have you looked around. I want to know the hearts of my friends and family. I want to know the things that are important to them. I know I started with football, but this goes beyond some football game. I will live more alert and watchful. I will be more aware of the things that make my people tick. Now I know what you are thinking, so this is her new years resolution. Nope, don't believe in January 1 as a magical date. When God calls you to do something, you obey and do it no matter the date. No resolution, just an eye opening conviction to die to self a little more and love with a little more awareness. Do want to come over and watch the National Championship with us next year!

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    "Mommy, Did This Bless You?"

    Since the boys started back to school on Wednesday we had a pretty strict schedule to stick to Tuesday night. Here was the plan...shower, clean your rooms, swap over laundry, eat dinner, brush teeth and go to bed. This all sounds simple enough, but remember we have 4 boys of different ages and some of these precious boys are harder workers than others. Caleb got his shower, cleaned out half of the dishwasher and disappeared. Jacob took a shower and emptied the dryer for me. For some reason we couldn't find Matthew until right before dinner and he had showered and that was all. Needless to say I was getting frustrated with the lack of obedience on this night that was to run like clock work. Joshua comes out, showered, dressed and says "Mommy, I did something that I think will really bless you." Now let me say that this is a phrase we use quite often in the Hawkins home. "How can I bless you?" "Can you please find something to do that will bless your brother?" "Please bless mommy by cleaning up your room." Chores become not merely chores but opportunities to bless others in our life when we change our perspective. I quickly followed Joshua to see what was going to really bless me. I followed him to his room and he opened his drawers to show me that he had taken everything out of each drawer, refolded it and organized each drawer. I must add that he did an awesome job. I was standing there praising him when Caleb walks in and said, "What did he do?" In my join me in praising your brother voice I said, "Caleb, look at what an awesome job Joshua did organizing his drawers all by himself." Caleb shrugs his shoulders and walks away saying, "So, what's the big deal." At that moment he became my only deal for the next few minutes. First of all we addressed his lack of respect and smart tongue, but then I got to the heart of the response. "Mommy, why is it Joshua is always doing things to bless you and you are so proud of him. Why can't I think about doing things like that? It's just a drawer, it's gonna get messed up again." I explained to Caleb how proud I am of him everyday, but that yes Joshua does walk around looking for ways to bless all of us each day. Joshua has a heart for others and rarely seeks to gratify himself. His focus is outward. Caleb right now has a very inward focus. What an awesome impromptu lesson for Caleb to learn tonight. He is going to start looking for ways to bless others. He said something that is so true, but totally not an excuse, but we've all heard it before. "Mommy, its hard for me to serve, I'm more of a playing kind of guy." Tonight I saw myself in Caleb. Maybe you can see a bit of your reflection in him as well. We often use Caleb's excuse of "its hard for me" and then we fill in the share my faith, to serve in the nursery, to have people in my home... whatever it might be. So often we become angry, jealous or even apathetic towards the way others seek to bless others and serve because we feel like it makes us look bad when standing next to them. The awesome news for Caleb and for us is that God has gifted us all to serve Him in different ways. Joshua has a great work ethic, he is diligent, he is creative and whatever he finds to do he does it with all his heart. When something is important to Caleb he works hard and doesn't let up. Right now we are praying that God would give Caleb a passion for others and for the desires of others instead of only having a self-centered passion. Maybe some of us need to pray this way. Maybe we need to take our focus off of self so that God can give us a passion for someone else. Have you ever heard the phrase, "that's just how I was made and I can't help it." Your right, you can't help it, but the power of the Holy Spirit within you as you seek to know an awesome, powerful God can help it. The problem with this phrase is "that's the way I was made" is acknowledging that we were created with a sin nature, but neglecting to recognize that our God of redemption is in the business of changing lives as we surrender to Him. Comparing myself to others and becoming bitter about the things God has called them to do to bless someone is a poor response and excuse for not doing those things myself. God wants each of us to learn to be a blessing to others. Each morning as my children leave for school I say to them "Be a blessing to someone today." I want that engrained in their hearts and minds. Let's get self out of the way and learn to be a blessing to someone. I will be honest, I still struggle with this some weeks when my flesh decides to live large. Oh, I am still blessing others, but with an attitude that stinks, thus robbing myself of any blessing and even worse, grieving my Savior as I obey Him with an unhappy heart. I was blessed by Joshua's act of initiative as he reorganized his drawers. I was even more blessed to be able to take the sinful response of an 8 year old, and lead him to a place of repentance and action. It is a work in progress, but it has been acknowledged and guess who cleaned out their drawers today? Not to Joshua's standards, but to quote this hard working 5 year old, "He did pretty good on 2 drawers. The other 3 still need some work, but he'll get it. Maybe he just has too many clothes." To which Matt yelled out a hardy Amen. I leave you with this question....Who will you bless today?"

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    "Let's Communicate"

    Yesterday as I sat listening to my pastor (who by the way is my husband) I heard him say something that really made me think. He was talking about how we communicate with God through prayer. He was using an example of how we get to know one another and how communication is the key to growing closer to someone. He reminisced about our dating days and how we started communicating in 1994 and haven't stopped since then. Matt and I are very blessed in the area of communication. It has taken a lot of work, but we communicate well. Too well maybe at times, but it works for us. He recently went to the Outback Bowl with a friend and our communication carried on as usual. He called me to tell me he was eating at the same Wendy's we had eaten at on our way to Disneyworld. He called to let me know he was in the stadium and it was raining. He called to tell me he was back at the hotel, in dry clothes and resting before their dinner reservations. I called him to let him know that I had finished a new website. I called him to tell him that we built a great fire and it was really cold. We communicate on a play-by-play basis. Isn't this how God desires for us to communicate with Him. He says "Pray continually." In other words be in a constant conversation with me always. I would feel so distant from my husband if I spoke to him for a few minutes in the morning and then had a short conversation before bedtime. That would not be a relationship built on communication. That would be more like catching the morning and nightly news. I want to communicate; I want to know his heart; I want to know what makes him tick; I want to be able to read his tones, his inflections and even his sighs; I want to be one with my husband. The same is true in my relationship with my Savior. I don't want to just open and close my day by giving God the news reel. He already knows. I want to communicate with Him play-by-play, moment by moment, hearing from Him and sharing with Him my every thought, my every feeling, my every sigh. That is communication. Matt and I talk with many couples who say that communication is an area in their marriages where they really struggle. Couples who have been married 5, 10, 20 even 40 years still say that communication is difficult. As I listened to Matt preach yesterday God began to reveal to me some reasons for this lack of communication in marriage. Keep in mind these are not the only reasons, but they are valid reasons. As he talked about the hours we spent on opposite ends of my parent's couch talking, talking and talking some more, I realized that is when we began to learn how to communicate with each other. We spent many hours of many months communicating this way without a hug, a kiss or even holding a hand. There was physical distance because we were communicating and getting to know one another. How many couples quickly skip past the awkwardness of "talking" and fill the silence with physical communication. After all, doesn't the physical communication speak loudly? It speaks alright, but it is not true communication. It leaves room for misinterpretation, insecurities and a shaky foundation. I am convinced that one reason some couples struggle with communication in marriage is because they never laid the foundation for true communication, but instead they have tried to replace it with physical communication. This might satisfy the desires of the flesh and give a sense of closeness for a time, but there are areas in our marriages where "real" communication is a must. Don't get me wrong, you have to have a healthy, godly physical relationship, but marriages must have a strong foundation of communication. The same is true in our relationship with God. Imagine with me if you will, if the only communication you had with God was asking for things that gratify your desires and poof those things are granted. That is not a relationship with a Holy God, that is called a genie in a bottle. A true, loving, honest relationship involves sharing your heart, your shortcomings, your desires with God and then listening to Him and knowing His response. It involves knowing His heart and being willing to do His will even if it means our wishes are not always granted. That is communication. This brings me to another reason for a lack in communication in marriage. So often we are so concerned about what we want and need that we never really listen to the other person. Another word for this is "selfishness." We don't really want to know what the other person is saying, but because we were raised to be polite, we sit nodding, pretending to be attentive all the while rehearsing what we will say as soon as the other person takes as breathe. We are more concerned about our voice being heard than we are hearing the heart of the one sitting across from us. It's the same way in our relationship with God. We are so busy seeking His hand and giving Him our wish list that we fail to listen to Him or we don't take time to listen to Him. Wow, communication in marriage and communication with our Heavenly bridegroom have some real similarities. Matt and I consider ourselves to be good communicators, but God has challenged us to become better communicators, especially with Him. In the year 2010 we do not simply want be men and women that pray but we want to be "praying men and women" and to lead His church to be the same. I encourage you this year to work on your communication skills both in your marriage and in your relationship with Christ. It will clear up a lot!!

    I Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."