Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Changing Normal"

The lives we live here in the year 2012 are anything but normal. They have become "accepted" thus seeming very normal, but there is nothing "normal" about parents working 12 hour days, children caring for themselves, children spending every night at athletic events, 1 night a week around the dinner table as a family and only seeing our children for an hour and a half each day. It has at times and for a season become necessary, but it is not normal. IF this is normal, I don't want to be normal. Our society has accepted this way of life and from where I stand it is a trap. One that we have found ourselves caught in. Please hear my heart, what I am about to say is not easy and it is not my intent to ask or insinuate that you should change your normal. Recently the Lord has called Matt and I to a place of evaluation. We have taken some time to evaluate each of our children, our schedule and our family life. During this time of evaluation we have become convicted that it is time to change the Hawkins normal. With four boys we understand that life is going to be busy and we love everything that we do, but a few months ago it hit us that we have 5 years left with Matthew under our roof. Matt came to me and this is what he said, "I have five years left to train Matthew up in righteousness and holiness and to impart Godly wisdom to him and teach him what it means to be a man of God. I have 5 years left to cast a vision for the kingdom of God into his heart and to teach him what it means to be a man of character and integrity and a Godly husband and father. I can't do that in a hour and a half a day. It is time we as a family make a difference for the kingdom of God." His words were such a confirmation because God had been weaving these same thoughts into the tapestry of my heart. We prayed for a month and discussed what this "change" would look like for our family. The Lord impressed on both of our hearts that it was time for the Hawkins to "rest and know that HE is God." For a season, we are resting from ALL extra curricular activities. We have to work, we have to go to school and we get to go to church. Aside from those commitments we will be focusing on what it means to be a family and how we as a family can serve each other and our community. I love watching Matt's excitement as he plans family service projects, family fun nights, family trips and devotions. I know what you are thinking? What do the boys think about this? At first the two oldest were not thrilled and are still trying to respectfully accept this change, but I shared with them, this is not just a good idea or thought or something we want to "try." This is a matter of obedience. The Lord himself has called OUR FAMILY to this place and we MUST obey. If it were just an idea or a thought I would be walking forward with fear and trembling afraid I was setting my children up for a life of therapy, but knowing it is a God Calling on our life I am excited and can't wait to watch and see what He will do during this change. I tell my children often, "I am more concerned with your character than with your comfort and fun." I want you to know that we have awesome children. They love the Lord and they are very good boys, but I can see glimpses of this world weaseling its way into their lives. I see things of this world becoming important to them. I see their identity becoming defined by the sport they play and the opinions of their friends. When those things become evident it is time for a change. God's word tells us that we are to be "in the world, but not of the world." We are to "step out and be separate." The time we have with our children is fleeting. We blink and they are grown and gone. We are stewards but for a time. I want to know that I have done all I can do to teach them, show them and train them to love Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind. This is just for a season. (or so we think!) We must obey! Pray for our family as we walk this road of obedience. Pray that we honor the Lord in ALL we do. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When fear creeps in...

Writing and blogging are definitely on my list of loves, but in recent months that plate quit spinning and fell to the ground while I have frantically tried to keep the rest spinning. Exercising is actually the plate that is spinning out of control and I have lost 40lbs and have become an avid runner. Last night I decided I would run to Matt's office which is just over 1.5 miles away. I set out with the intention of a mild run and decided to turn left instead of right which meant 1.5 turned into 3.8 and light turned to dark before I reached Matt's office. I was faced with a choice. I could take the high traffic road with cars and homes and people or I could take the road less traveled and continue my peaceful run. As my feet pounded against the dirt and the sun set before me I was more than happy with my plan. About 1/2 mile down the dirt road I realized that darkness was approaching fast and would arrive before I reached my destination. I started getting nervous and running faster. My cell phone went dead and it dawned on me that no one knew my route. FEAR overtook my thoughts. I knew where I was going and I knew how to get there, but fear of the unknowns along the way took the joy out of my run. Does this sound familiar? Can you relate? Do you know where you are going? Do you know how to get there? Do the fears and unknowns of this life ever rob you of your joy in the race? With joy gone and 1/2 mile left to run I decided I needed protection. I found a large stick (well maybe it was a limb) on the edge of the road. It was very much like a double edged sword. It was a large limb in the shape of a Y and it took both hands to carry it. At this point I was no longer running towards my destination, I was walking slowly, cautiously and my focus was on my surroundings, NOT on my destination. The sword brought a sense of safety but still uncertain as to what I would do with it if danger approached, I needed more. I began to sing and sing loud. Caleb said "Mom, I can see you walking with a big stick and singing 'I will sing of my redeemer, lift my voice to praise the Lord..." I love that he knows me so well. That is exactly what I was singing. I had my "sword" and His words of praise were on my lips and then I saw the light. I recognized the lamp light that is stationed right outside of Matt's office. When I saw the light my fears were lifted. GONE. I knew my destination was close. I could run again. I held on to my sword and I continued to sing and my joy returned. So what happened? The same thing that happens in our spiritual lives every day. We know our destination and we know how to get there. HE has given us His word as our sword and the guaranteed Holy Spirit within us to be our song and our source of joy and conviction, but unknowns creep in causing us to take our eyes off of the prize. We become distracted and are robbed of the joy of walking with Him daily. Too often we wait until we are afraid, worried or overwhelmed to pick up our sword or to worship Him. Keeping our eyes on Him, staying in His word and living our lives in praise to Him as we worship in spirit and in truth will keep the joy alive as we run this race. Perseverance in the key. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run(A) with perseverance(B) the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus,(C) the pioneer(D) and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,(E) scorning its shame,(F) and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.(G) Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary(H) and lose heart. Hebrew 12:1-3 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Blessed to be Bullied"

Bullying has become rampant in our schools today. There are seminars, letters and e-mails in masses each year discussing how to handle bullies and how bullying will not be tolerated and yet it happens. I'm not so sure it is anymore rampant today than it was when we were young, I just think we had the freedom to handle it differently without the added threat and fear of losing out lives whether from a gun shot, a drawn knife or the school administration. Children use to handle bullying in the front yard as they scuffled and fought for respect on the ground. Parents made their stance on bullying clear behind the wood shed and principals possessed the authority and the paddle that put a stop to it on school property. Now we have law suits and "rights" that protect and prevent us from dealing with bullying.

Recently bullying reared its ugly head at the Hawkins home and we were forced to figure out where we stood on the issue. Matthew is 12 and in middle school. He is an easy target for bullies. He is an atypical preteen. He make all A's and his goal is averages 96 or higher. He sits on the front row, pays attention, is polite to teachers, nice to everyone, treats girls with respect and minds his own business. The target is drawn in vivid colors on his back and I am proud. Matthew has said for years that he is different, but he doesn't mind being different. Matthew is also tough and never cries. He handles most any situation on his own and not much seems to get to him. For this reason, when he broke the other night in front of me and his dad, I knew there was something bigger than a brain tumor going on. He has walked thru so many trials and health issues with not a question or a tear, but whatever was bothering him was deep and he was struggling. It took about 30 minutes of coaxing to discover that Matthew was the target of a group of bullies. He was being called names, laughed at, made fun of and unwelcome to sit with his "friends." He was told that no one liked him, he was gay, he was stupid, he was ugly, he was fat and people only pretended to be his friend, among other things that I don't feel appropriate for a public blog. As he sat on the den floor pouring his heart out to us about this month long ordeal he asked, "How can I be a Godly young man and handle this in a way that honors Christ, but not get stepped on my whole life?" My advice was "Pray for your enemies, turn the other cheek and let me call their mommas." I received a resounding "NO mom this is my battle and I have to figure out how to deal with it." After processing the situation and listening to his son pour his heart out, his Godly daddy, his pastor says "Next time it happens, beat the tar out of him. Get in his face tell him to stop and if he doesn't flatten him to the ground." Matthew laughed, but looked surprised. I was MORTIFIED. I would never question my husband in the presence of my children, but NO, NO, NO. He can't fight. Later that evening I questioned, maybe even rebuked my husband for his advice and he said, "I know my son, I know he is not a fighter. He would never lay a hand on anybody, but he has to know that he can handle this and I have his back. He has to understand that being a Godly young man does not mean that you sit back and let people walk all over you and abuse you. He will do the right thing." I have complete and total trust in my husband, but this conversation increased my prayer life. All I could see was bloody noses, suspension and a reputation being scarred for life.

Matthew was in deep thought all weekend. It was obvious that he was processing and praying about what to do. He left on Monday morning with an apparent plan in his heart, but no words on his lips. I waited with baited breathe Monday afternoon. I refrained from approaching the bus stop, but I stood around the corner and watched as each neighbor child rounded the corner, but no Matthew. Oh, I wanted to run around the corner and see what was going on, but I waited. A few minutes later I could seem him rounding the corner with the same slow and steady gate he has had since he was a toddler. We walked inside and this is the story of how my son handled "bullying." "Mom, as we got off the bus I asked him if I could have a word with him. He said no and I told him that wasn't an option, that we needed to talk. He asked a friend to stay and go for help if it got ugly. Mom, this made me laugh inside because I wasn't going to hurt him. I said "I'm going to ask you nicely today to stop calling me names, stop making fun of me and stop be ugly to me. I'm asking nicely today, but if it doesn't stop I WILL put a stop to it. Do you understand? I want to be your friend, but this name calling stops today." Matthew said the young man immediately apologized and said it would not happen again. He went on to tell Matthew that there were others and what they were saying. Matthew politely said "Thank you letting me know and if I need to I will deal with that but today this is between you and me."

Matthew came home with his head held high and not another unkind word has been spoken to him by ANYONE. Now first let me say that Matthew is a big boy. He is 5'6 and weighs 150lbs. I wouldn't mess with him, but that day it was not the size of his body that demanded respect, it was his heart and his character. He took a stand. He did not use force, even though his daddy had freed him up if he felt threatened. Matthew spoke the truth in love and took a stand for truth. Matthew earned the respect of his peers that day. I have always had a great respect for my son, but that day I realized that my boy had become a man. He handled himself with integrity and dignity. I was still a little rattled at the advice his daddy had given him and I ask him, "Son, did you ever consider physical force." "No mom, I knew what daddy was doing. I would never fight someone unless it was in self defense. I knew daddy was just saying "Put a stop to it" and was freeing me up to not walk into the situation in fear." WOW! The wisdom of these men I live with astounds me.

Matthew took some huge steps that week as the Lord provided him with the opportunity to grow in grace and character. Even Jesus who walked without sin was persecuted and mistreated. He turned over tables and he rebuked in love. Bullies are no fun, but I am blessed that my son was bullied. He grew and his character was built and he is stronger in his faith because of it. Blessed to be bullied!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Going Home

Home has been defined as "the place you live permanently." For years we have heard "home is where your heart is." Both definitions define why Grammie had been asking for over a week to "Go Home." Sometimes misunderstood by nurses, doctors and even family thinking she wanted to return to her earthly dwelling place, her heart ached for HOME. Since the age of 13 at a Methodist Youth Meeting she has had a full understanding and a longing for HOME. On that day over 60 years ago eternity was set within her heart and she knew that her permanent dwelling place was with her Savior. She did not know the time or the day that she would meet Him face to face, but she knew her destination and she stayed her course. She knew her calling and her mission and she was successful. She was called to be a loving wife to my precious Pappy. At the age of 15 as she sat across the library her heart fluttered each time he winked at her. She knew it was love when he brought her a gardenia on their first date and from that day forward gardenias became her favorite flower and Pappy the love of her life. To quote "The first important thing I did in my life was give my heart to Jesus at the age of 13 and second important thing I did was marry Pappy." She loved him so dearly and desired to make his home his own "little kingdom." "Little darlin" she would say "I always have his coffee made when he gets home and his supper too. I try to always have the house clean and all my chores done. My friends don't call when he is home and the T.V. is his and so am I. I devote my time to him when he is there." Wisdom from 58 years of a happy marriage. In later years I have always loved to hear about their date nights. They may have been together all the time and even eaten out together every day, but Saturday night was date night. Dressed a little nicer and eating a little fancier, but dating was important and they dated for 58 years. Her children were her pride and joy and she was a wonderful mother. She would do anything and everything for her children and she did. Love, care, forgiveness, mercy and grace were offered in multitude as she always pointed her children to the cross. Her one desire. She was their prayer warrior and she fought the battle on her knees. She was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and had a spirit of discernment about her, often times waking from a sound sleep to intercede on behalf of those she loved. Though Grandmother is the title often penned, she was my Grammie. Not just a title, but a name. A sweet, sweet name, "Grammie." Young enough to have been titled mother, she was a doting Grammie and the memories run deep and sweet. A legacy left as her gifts of hospitality, discernment, concern, prayer, cooking skills, cleaning standards and love are all sprinkled among her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 2 children, 4 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren and yet many, many more have called her Grammie and have been touched by her life. She had the gift of serving and knowing where there was a need and meeting that need. She cared about people. Her life was about others as she ministered in His name. Her life has touched many, a legacy that I desire to pass on as well. She did not live for self, but for His kingdom. For over 60 years she lived, she planned, she prepared and she longed for her HOME and on Monday morning her Savior said "Well done my good and faithful servant." She met Him face to face. She was whole and complete and she was rewarded for a lifetime of obedience and service. Oh how the angels sang and rejoiced. As I drove to the hospital unaware that she was taking her last breathes the Lord brought a song to my heart that I had not sung in many years, but as she entered the kingdom, tears flowing and voice cracking I sang... "Oh what a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see. When I look upon His face, the one who saved me by His grace. Then He'll take me by the hand and lead me to the promised land. What a day glorious day that will be." And it was. She received her glorified body and her mission was complete. Now she can worship at His feet for all eternity. I can see her worshipping and praising now, because that is what she loved to do. Our finite, earthly minds and hearts have trouble wrapping our heads around the loss we feel and we struggle with our desire to wish she were here, but she has experienced the very presence of Jesus. She is HOME. She has found her permanent residence. Her longings and desires have become a reality. Oh what a legacy to follow. I yearn for Heaven. That is our HOME. That is where we belong. Those who have placed their faith and trust in the person of the Lord Jesus will one day share that permanent residence. He has placed eternity in the hearts of men and HE alone is our desire. Thank you Grammie for paving the road, for being the example, for modeling our purpose. May we run with the same perseverance as we finish our journey HOME.