Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Content to sip, but asked to gulp!!

We continue to sip from our saucer as we enjoy our vacation, but today we were forced to gulp as the cup was overflowing quickly. In “our” original plan we were going to head to Hershey Park on Tuesday. We had heard that it is not as crowded and was a good day to visit and enjoy all the rides. When we arrived in PA we found out that Matt’s family had planned on us visiting the park on Monday. (God continues to provide opportunities for me to learn that I do not have to be in control and also ways to learn how not to allow my feathers to be ruffled when things don’t go as planned. He reminds me that He is in control.) So we spent Monday in Hershey park and had a wonderful time. Roller coaster after roller coaster, water slide after water slide. We had fun from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and we never stopped. I loved hearing my children scream at the top of their lungs and hold their hands in the air as I clinched the bar watching my knuckles turn white. I loved hearing them say...”Let’s do that again.” Needless to say that we were sipping loudly from the saucer all day long. I even conquered one of my greatest strongholds and allowed everyone to go to bed with Hershey Park all over them. NO BATHS!! Can you believe it? I’m not sure if that was a sip or just a spill over from the tiredness of the day, but nevertheless we all fell into our beds happy but dirty.

Our gulp came this afternoon as we learned that today (Tuesday - the day we originally planned to be at Hershey Park) there was a tornado in Hershey Park. I shared this news with the boys and Joshua said, “I love God so much for changing the day we went to the park. He is so awesome.” And I totally agree with Joshua. God is all-knowing and His wisdom is infinite. He works in such intentional, specific ways that sometimes we can’t see and we allow our feathers to ruffle all the while HE knows what is best. As Jacob has been singing all day today...”God’s way is the best way, now that I know He loves me so. His way is the best way and that’s the way for ME.” Not only did God protect us from the storms and tornados that were coming on Tuesday, but He gave us a beautiful day, no waiting in line and overcast skies to enjoy on Monday. When we received the news of the tornado today I think we all GULPED in the blessings. I gulped, but I also stood humbled before my Holy God as I remembered how I struggled to go with the flow and not allow my feather ruffling to show, but He knows and yet He is patient with me. I am so thankful for such a patient, loving, caring Father who intentionally works out all of the “coincidences” in my life for my good and for His glory. To His name be all honor and glory forever. Amen!

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Saucer Sipping"

For years I have heard my Mother say, "We are drinking from the saucer because our cup is overflowing."

As we left for a 14 day vacation with much excitement, but a little apprehension on the part of Mommy we all wondered what to expect on this "New" vacation we were taking. You see we are beach people. Same vacation, same routine every year. (No complaints here, I love it, but this year we wanted some new adventure.) We headed out on a 19 hour road trip 1 way. Today I just want to share with you some blessings we have encountered on the way as we are sipping from our saucer. And just so you know, we are sipping, not gulping so we can savor every flavor as we "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34:8

Our first sip came as we woke up at 4 a.m. Yes, I said 4 a.m. and loaded the car for the first 13 hours of our journey. Everyone was so happy, so excited and quickly went back to sleep. Except for Matthew. He had decided the night before that it would be fun to stay up all night and be awake for 24 full hours. He made it 21 and then we noticed his head bobbing in the backseat. Being the goal oriented parents that we are we tried to help him stay awake by laughing at him and picking on him, but soon he said in a slurred, sleepy voice, "I don't think this 24 hour thing is all its cracked up to be." With those words he dropped his head and slept the remainder of the trip and then some. I was amazed that on a 13 hour trip no one complained, no one had to stop (except me) and no one even argued. "Thank you Jesus!" "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation." Philippians 2:14

Our next sip came as we checked into our hotel, which we had blindly booked online. That always freaks me out. We were blessed to have a great rate within our budget due to a family and friends discount. (Thanks Megan) We had a booked a Springhill Suites by Marriott but you just never know about hotels. Wow, were we blown away when we walked in and saw the water fountain, leather sofas and chandeliers in the lobby of our "new hotel home for 3 days" as Jacob likes to put it. This place was so nice, big and beautiful. Wonderful FREE buffet breakfast, an indoor pool and 2 queen beds and a pull out queen sofa. I think God was just showing off for us. We were blessed beyond measure. We went to dinner our first night with Matt's brother and his family. They are so precious and easy to hang out with. The boys had a great time reuniting with their cousin and again I had to take a sip from the saucer as Jacob was so sweet to his little cousin. No hitting, yelling or bullying. Jacob is a sweet boy, but very unpredictable. Thank you Jesus that the discipline is paying off. "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20

We spent the evening on the oil-free beach (another sip) of the Atlantic ocean. In case you did not know, the Atlantic Ocean is cold. The boys had a blast and got very wet!!! It is so neat to watch God provide and be ready in all circumstances since we are not. As we walked back to the van, we wondered how hard it would be to strap all four of them to the top in their wet, sandy clothes, 'cause they were not getting in my van. Aunt Renee provided the next sip as she had towels and a garbage bag in her car. We stripped those boys down to their skivvies, dried them off, made them sit on towels and Aunt Renee took the sandy clothes home in a garbage bag to wash them. I love that our God is always ready!!! "But put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." I Timothy 6:17

The next morning we had a gorgeous day to spend in Williamsburg. It was amazing. The boys got to see what life was like in the 1800 and early 1900's. They had a blast and loved the things that I didn't really think they would enjoy like the tour of the governor's palace. We took a few sips that day as we forgot our stroller, but Aunt Renee brought an extra one for us to use. We were all sipping from the $10 refillable drink that at first made Mr. Money break into calculator mode, but soon proved to be the best deal of the day. Drinks and ice cream are expensive, but for $10 we could refill our mug with coke, ice cream, slushies, whatever we wanted as many times as we wanted. Thank you Jesus for calculator brains...this proved to be a great deal and we were never hot or thirsty. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:37-38

I woke up the early the next morning as I sipped from my saucer at the beauty salon, the boys were sipping in their dreams as they got some much needed rest. My sister-in-law runs a Jazzy hair salon in Virginia Beach called "The Image." She "TREATED" me to a fun new haircut. See how God just keeps overflowing that cup. I have to admit that I was a little discouraged that morning as we woke up to thunderstorms. It was a yucky day. It also happened to be the only day we had to spend on the beach and the kids were all pumped up. When I returned with my new sassy, flippy haircut, I told the boys that we needed to pray and prepare. We needed to pray and ask the Lord to stop the rain and prepare to go to the beach. We got ready and as soon as the World Cup game was over we left for the beach under sunny, beautiful, clear skies and we had an amazing day. We played in the frigid water, we played in the sand and we rode a family bike for 1 1/2 hours up and down the boardwalk and shared an oreo blizzard. Sweet, sweet memories. Thank you Jesus for clearing the rain up just for us. We believe that He did, because as we got in the van and started driving back to out "hotel home" it began to pour down, lightning illuminated the skies and thunder shook the earth, but we continued to bask in the showers of blessings. Thank you Jesus! "I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessings." Ezekiel 34:26

We continued on our journey to the Dutch country of Pennsylvania. We enjoyed the gorgeous bridges and views as we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and God gave me an opportunity to face my fear of underwater tunnels and trust Him completely. We arrived at Lake n Woods Camp Grounds and found our cabin. It was much nicer than I expected, but even if it had not been, I would have still been blown away at the beauty of this small home tucked away in the woods. As I set up our home for the week I turned on the TV, (I know, I know, but technology is all around us) and the first words I hear are "Jesus Messiah, name above all name, blessed redeemer, emmanuel." OVERWHELMED!!! Is the only word I have to explain the GULP I took from the saucer at that moment. It was like God himself had shut the mouth of the Television and said, "I am here and I am in all things, I am above all things. Worship ME!" I soon found out that this is a Christian owned and operated camp. We are looking forward to church on the campground Sunday and a Praise and Worship service Sunday night.

So if you are wondering where I am and what I am doing just picture me on a porch, in the woods, sipping from my saucer, enjoying my family and worshipping my creator!! He is in all things, He is above all things and He makes Himself known in all we do. Watch for Him, Look for Him and Be still and know that He is God.!!

Psalm 23:5 "You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grace or Mercy?

At our house, vacation means new shoes, sunscreen, fun hats, pool toys and anything else that we just can't live without while we are away. Tuesday night I took the boys shopping for just such things. We found some incredible deals which makes Matt and Matthew very happy. As we were leaving the store with our plunder in hand Matthew looks at me and says, "Mom, what did I do to deserve all of this?" "It's called "grace" son. I love you, but you don't deserve any of it, but how awesome that God does not bless us according to what we deserve." That one sentence has resinated with me over and over again since that night. I'm sure it is the same with most children, but usually my children have this idea that they "do" deserve everything. Give me, give me, I want, I want, I need, I need...Matthew was so humbled and so confused as to why he deserved these things. We teach our children from a young age about grace and mercy. For example...Joshua disobeys and Matt takes him to the back, all the while thinking he will be punished and then his daddy does the unexpected. He looks in those dark eyes and says, "Son, you deserve a spanking right now, but I am going to give you mercy today because I want you to understand that this is what God does for us. We are sinners and we deserve punishment, but God has given us mercy. He does not give us what we deserve. Today you are getting mercy so that you can understand and learn that your heavenly Father offers you mercy as well." This all sounds great and good and like such a profound parenting moment, until the next day when Joshua disobeys and as they walk to the back he grabs is little bottom and says..."Give me mercy daddy, give me mercy." You've got to love it when those spiritual character training lessons backfire on you. No, not really, but in the Hawkins household mercy is not always given. The harder lesson I think is "grace." We are all planning to go out for ice cream and Jacob hauls off and hits one of his brothers. Well, he deserves discipline, but instead we load him up in the car and take him out for ice cream. That doesn't make sense. Exactly! Yet, that is what our heavenly Father did for us on a much larger scale. We are sinners and we deserve hell, but not only does He say "I will give you mercy by not giving you what you do deserve...Hell. He says, I will give you what you don't deserve...Heaven." Grace is being given that which we don't deserve in spite of our sinful actions. If you grow up in church or around believers you hear these words grace and mercy your whole life, but do we truly understand what they mean, the difference in them and do we fully comprehend the price that was paid. I want my children to understand that they are sinners in need of a Savior, but I also want them to understand how deeply, how passionately, how sacrificially, how unconditionally their Heavenly Father loves them. As a mom or dad, we have small scale opportunities to share this with our children. But before we share it with them, I think we must truly grasp it ourselves. The mercy concept I get...I deserve hell and my Jesus has given me mercy and I will not be receiving what I deserve. However, grace is a harder concept for me to grasp on a daily basis. Each day I am given that which I do not deserve, over and over again and in abundant portions. The problem is, we must stay humble before our God or we begin to think we DO deserve all these things which He is bestowing upon us. I love Ephesians 3:20 "For He is able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine." That is grace, He does, He gives, He blesses us with abundantly more than we can imagine and more than we could ever deserve. Why? Well, first because He loves us, but I also believe he showers His blessings on us as He offers grace so that we can point to Him in ALL things. All for His glory, His honor and His kingdom. Wow, how I fall short. I like to camp out in the first reason, because He loves me, forgetting that it is not because I deserve it, but because He just loves me! When I grasp the reason, then I want to use it all to point to Him and give Him glory. My house is not mine. My car is not mine. My resources are not mine and perhaps the hardest one of all...My children are not mine. It all belongs to Him and it is all a result of His grace in my life. I am praying for myself and for my children that God would take these pious, prideful hearts and mold them for His glory as they learn to be humble and give Him glory. Daily I am better able to understand Matthew's question as I ponder over the blessings in my life, "What did I do to deserve all of this?" The answer...NOTHING. That is why grace is a free gift and I am so thankful that it is.

Isaiah 26:10 NIV

Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD.

John 1:16 NIV

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

Romans 9:16 NIV

It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

1 Timothy 1:16 NIV

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"I Haven't Been To The Bathroom Alone In 10 Years"

Knock, knock, knock, "Mommy, are in there?", fingers under the door, a little nose peeking under, door opening, close it...For the past 10 years this has been my (potty) bathroom experience. As the mom of preschoolers you are never alone and you no longer call the bathroom a bathroom, but it is now a potty. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love having my children with me all the time, but there are a few moments during that day that I prefer to go it alone. Those moments actually occur in the potty. Those are the few moments during the day that without guilt I can tune out all whining, knocking, screaming and noise and enjoy just a brief moment of silence. I have a confession to make. I use my few moments alone in the bathroom to grow, to refocus, to feed my soul. Yes, I am a bathroom reader. Too personal?? If you were to poll people all across this country you would find many different "bathroom reading materials." It is interesting to see what people read during their most private moment of the day. There are even books written especially for those moments. They are called "bathroom readers." How funny is that? It is a known fact that people read during those private moments in the bathroom. I use to thumb through cute mommy magazines and look at house plan books, but then I realized that those things were making me greedy and discontent and since my flesh struggles with those things enough on its own, I did not need to be encouraged in that direction. I now keep my bible and a variety of devotional books on a shelf near my "potty." It serves as such a great respite in the midst of a crazy day. It does not take the place of spending quality time with my Savior and having a quiet time, but it keeps me encouraged and focused all day. As moms we need to be encouraged by the great women of the Bible, we need to memorize scripture, we need to continually pour God's word into our hearts so that we can deal with the craziness of the day in a way that brings Him honor and glory. Look through your personal potty library and see what you are feeding your soul during your moments alone each day. I encourage you take advantage of every moment as we continue to grow closer to our Savior and be conformed into His image "Moment by Moment."