Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stress and Such

Do I CREATE a lot of the stress in my life?

Legitimate question that many of us should ask ourselves, I think. Stress seems to be the buzz topic for all conferences these days:
  • "Identifying Stress in Your World"
  • "Eliminating Stress from Your Life"
  • "Confronting Stress"
  • "Avoiding the Stress Created by Confrontation" (A follow up workshop. Smile.)
Friday morning was a perfect example. It's usually the day off for Frank and me. Those mornings have a somewhat sacred routine that signals time off. Move slowly. Indulge in some leisure reading. Enjoy an extra cup of tea.

However, we reside with other adults (Kristin and Meagan) who do NOT have Fridays off. The other two adults in the house woke up late. They were obviously going to be late for work. Work is necessary for the paying of bills. If they can't pay them, everyone is in trouble. They need to get to work!

(Can you sense the adrenaline beginning to course through every vein?! Smile.)

I immediately felt compelled to kick into overdrive; start rushing around with them; toast a bagel; pack a lunch; pour some tea........... But Meagan looked at me and with all the wisdom of a twenty-three year old said, "Mom, we've got this. Go sit back down and read."

Somewhat reminiscent of when they were three years old, "I dood it, Mommy! I dood it!" In other words, "I really can handle this. Please back up and let me." Hmmmmm.

Yes, dear readers, the honest truth is that sometimes we like feeling needed. No one else can help like we can. If we push to make this happen, the people we've helped will view us as a hero of sorts.

Some even go so far as to inconvenience themselves in order to create an atmosphere of obligation. "I've helped you. Now you owe me." That's not healthy! Ouch.

A co-worker from years ago had this sign posted prominently by his office door, "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!"

We'd probably all benefit from taking a serious look at how much stress we create for ourselves. Doing things no one has asked us to do. Involving ourselves in problems others can or should handle by themselves.

Next time you feel the barrels of adrenaline tipping precariously near your nervous system, take a deep breath. Give yourself permission to back out of the situation if your services aren't really needed. Allow family members to "Dood it" themselves.

At least, that's what I'm working on this week! Smile. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is the 54th birthday of the man I love most in all the world!

(Yes, of course, that would be Frank! Smile.)

And I'm so thankful to report that, in spite of the trials of living with me for thirty-one years, he still loves God passionately and serves Him with all his heart. (I heard what you thought, "Maybe she's caused him to live closer to God because he's needed the help?!" Hmmm, I don't know; that could be. Smile.)

At any rate, I thought I'd take today to share with you some of the reasons I admire this guy and why we still like each other after all these years.

  1. He has a relationship with Christ and there isn't a "religious" bone in his body! Frank Hawley can be the most unorthodox person I've ever known. He's always dreaming and some of his ideas can be pretty outlandish. But at the end of the day (or the planning time) there is no doubt in anyone's mind that his dreams almost always draw someone else to Jesus.
  2. He loves his wife (that would be ME!) and his family more than he loves himself. Our dating time involved a lot of long walks around the campus of Southeastern University. One evening we passed a tangerine tree absolutely loaded with ripe fruit. I made some comment about how cool that was and how much I loved tangerines. When I opened my dorm room door the next morning, I tripped over a grocery bag full of beautiful orange citrus. Frank had gone back, carefully climbed the skinny tree and plucked a gift. I now know that it was probably "illegal" but it went a long way toward winning my heart!
  3. He makes every effort to live as a man of his word. Even when it has been uncomfortable or embarrassing, this guy has diligently tried to fulfill promises and honor commitments. Very important in a world like ours - where faithfulness and loyalty are portrayed as archaic concepts.
  4. Frank Hawley thoroughly enjoys what he does! One of his favorite quotes expresses this, "Love what you do for a living and you'll never work a day in your life." Pastoring could be considered a rough occupation; unless you genuinely feel called and honestly love people. Frank has chosen this view which sure makes him easier to live with! And the congregation of Garden Grove Church experience it daily.
Actually, my list could go on but I've run out of time this morning. I just wanted to highlight something for the brides and brides-to-be. Please notice that none of these important character traits have anything to do with how he looks, how much money he has, or even how he smells. Smile.

It's the internal things that matter most!

If you're searching for the perfect man or if you're looking at your own young husband snoring loudly on the couch, think about character qualities not facial features and romantic encounters. Those are nice, but they seldom last through the normal storms of life.

Search out and celebrate CHARACTER in the man you love. Then you're guaranteed to still be content after many, many turns in the road.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


If you are in need of spiritual insight, an inspirational story, or even a good belly laugh - this is NOT the blog post for you! Smile.

Today I'm simply reporting the facts as they have come to me.

It seems that a certain pregnant lady (that would be Alicia Joy Hawley Schreck) went to her routine check-up yesterday. There she learned that an early delivery may very well be on the docket for her.

Spencer Matthew Schreck - who has not yet seen even ONE of the Shrek movies - has lived up to the image presented and already weighs an estimated eight pounds six ounces!! That's one big boy!

(Please be aware that the biggest baby I delivered weighed in at a whopping seven pounds one ounce. Yep, rather dramatic difference. Makes you want to know if it's the prenatal vitamins or John's good cooking, doesn't it?! Smile.)

Needless to say, we are stitching up loose ends as rapidly as our needle and thread and calendar and cell phones will allow. (Insert little squeal of unabated excitement here!) And as "out of control" as Frank and I are acting right now, we find only understanding and patient smiles every way we turn.

On Monday evening I found myself at a table with one friend and two ministry couples. None of us had ever met. And unfortunately, we all had very different areas of ministry that seemed to offer no conversational ammo whatsoever. (And I'm pretty good at creating conversation!)

It was exceedingly awkward for us all. U.N.T.I.L........I mentioned that we have three children, a son-in-law, and a grandbaby on the way at any time now.

The couple across from me lit up like a Christmas tree.
"Oh, we have two grandchildren. You are going to absolutely LOVE being a grandparent."
"Sure wish there was a way to have grandchildren first!" they joked.
"We've heard that too," said the other couple. "We can hardly wait for our children to finish college, get married and start their families!"

The conversation took an upswing from that point on! Smile.

I wrote a post some time back about longings fulfilled; such an important part of life. But I can honestly say, this is a season of anticipation like none I've ever experienced before.

Thanks, friends for being joyful with me. Stay Tuned...........

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Choices Matter

On January 23, 1937, a baby girl was born in the backwoods town of Florala. Florala balances precariously on the border of Florida and Alabama. (Bet you had already deduced that fact.)

The young mom giving birth to the little girl left ten other children at home. As the contractions increased in severity, there was no adoring husband to hold her hand or smooth her furrowed brow. He had walked out on the family when the eleventh pregnancy was revealed.

There was no sterile hospital. She couldn't afford it.

No midwife to monitor the labor process.

Not even a faithful friend.

This woman walked alone to an abandoned service station. Nothing more than burlap sacks at the broken windows kept out the cold. She endured the pains, patiently suffered in solitude, and waited for her body to do what it had done ten times before.

When the baby girl finally came into the world, the brave young lady tied and cut the umbilical cord. She wrapped the crying baby in tattered cloths she'd washed in preparation for the moment.

And although further details get sketchy, it is known that somehow the woman got word to a judge in the area that she wanted him to find a home for the new soul.

Regular readers have already guessed. That baby girl survived. She grew up and eventually gave birth to her own little girls - one of which was me.

My mom often rehearsed the story; as much for herself as for us. Always careful to point out that her birth mom could easily have chosen to not let that baby live. In many ways, it would have been easier for the young woman living in such dire circumstances.

It's extremely cold in north Florida today. I find myself wondering how cold it was in 1937! We never knew if Mom was born during the day or in the middle of a dark night. Did that birth mother feel hopeless, worthless, forgotten?

Mom spent countless hours through the years searching for the woman who gave her life. She never found her. But Mom made certain that we knew how thankful she was for the choices the woman made.

During the final weeks of her life, Mom had highlighted and dated several passages with special significance to her:
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
"You knit me together in my mother's womb."
"You knew all my days before even one of them came to pass."

In the silence and cold loneliness of that abandoned service station, I'm sure the young woman had no idea how many lives her choice would impact. But God knew the plans He had for that "unwanted" child.

She filled the longings of a barren woman who adopted her. She grew up to marry a young man and walk beside him pastoring several congregations. Two of her three children also became pastors ministering to thousands of people through the years.

She learned to pray, laugh, encourage, challenge........

I hope that one day when we all reach heaven, I'll finally have the opportunity to meet the anonymous woman who impacted so many lives simply by choosing life. What a day that will be!

Good Choice!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter Doesn't Have the Last Word!

Tomorrow is my Mom's birthday. So naturally, I'm a bit reflective today.

My sister and her family have determined to mark the day each year with a special cake. (Vonnie is an incredible cook!) And I guess it's only fitting that I would use words to mark the day.

My thoughts actually have turned to the truth of "Seasons". For many years now, I've been growing in my understanding that all of life is made up of various seasons. You know, the whole "....time to plant; time to reap; time to laugh; time to cry...." passage.

Our problems seem to come when we attempt to manipulate any of these seasons.

"I don't want to cry this much and this long. Surely there is a way to shorten this time."
"Okay, so planting is necessary - but can't the reaping stage be lengthened?"
"I'd rather skip this time of loss altogether!"

But life has rhythms that must be allowed to run their course.

I once read that children who are encouraged to skip the crawling stage and instead walk right away exhibit signs of underdevelopment later in life. They missed a necessary segment of mental growth that comes only during the season of "floor time".

When I glanced back over my journal, I realized that we actually walked through SEVEN deaths in only eighteen months. That translates to a river of tears, a desert of grieving, and a pit of introspection.

But the marvel of seasons is the assurance that after winter, spring will surely follow!

And so it is that I'm watching for spring with eager eyes. (Just like all my reader friends in the northeast this snowy winter!)

I find it very important to rehearse this truth for myself whenever difficulty takes the lead. "Crying may last for the night but JOY comes in the morning." It gives us the ability to keep walking, glean the learning available to us only in times of trouble, and assimilate it so others can reap fruit from our growth.

Everything has purpose. God never wastes anything.

Those aren't just phrases for me or truth as I understand it. They have been life preservers keeping me afloat through many storms!

Keep watching, dear friends. Spring will come at just the right time!

P.S. Joy continues to experience Braxton-Hicks contractions but they're pretty sporadic still. The doctor is aware and we are ready for whenever the call comes. Whew! Thanks for your comments and willingness to be excited with us!! Smile.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Well, here's the deal!

I had an absolutely, marvelously, stupendously, fantabulous post for today but............. the natural rhythm of the day did not allow for the necessary writing and editing time required. So, I've put that post on hold.

"So, why are you wasting my time with this post?" you may be asking.

Because, Joy has started having really serious Braxton-Hicks contractions.

I'm sure you ladies will recognize that term. You know, the "practice" contractions that turn your already overcrowded tummy into a rock-hard bag of cement!

The contractions that don't hurt badly enough to send you to the hospital but are intense enough to force you to stand still. The ones that cause first-time moms to think, "Whoa, Baby!! This isn't the real thing?!!"

She was at five minutes apart for a while last night and I started looking at my calendar to see what would need to be canceled today. It was scarey and exciting all at the same time!

I never had a clue what all my mom was going through with my three deliveries. She lived five hundred miles away and knew that I had no intentions of going home from the hospital without her there to take care of me while I took care of the baby! Her suitcase stayed packed from the seventh month on. Smile.

Although I'm "right around the corner", there is another grandmother just as excited and anxious as me - in NEW YORK!! Linda (John's mom) plans to join us just as soon as the delivery kicks into high gear. (I sound like we're getting ready for the Daytona 500 or something! Smile.)

Don't you worry for one moment, dear readers. My computer is one of the items planned for my own "hospital waiting room bag". And I already have permission to alert all willing and able prayer partners when the real contractions begin.

Keep checking. We may need your participation at any time now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chivalry Lives!

I'm here to report to you that chivalry is alive and well! I experienced it first hand in my very own living room last night.

This is play-off season for football. (I know this because my football-enthusiast husband told me so.) This means that every game played now has great significance and requires more than the usual amount of whooping, yelling, cushion-pounding, and snacking normally associated with game-watching.

You may find it odd to discover that I enjoy watching football.
"Do you keep up with the statistics?" No, I do not.
"Do you have a favorite team?" No, not at all.
"Who is your favorite player?" Tim Tebow. Such a cute kid.

The next obvious question: "Soooooo, why do you watch?"

I enjoy watching football because that's when my husband (who is almost always in perpetual motion) sits still. This allows me the opportunity to grab a blanket, my computer or a book, and snuggle in next to him on the sofa. As long as I seriously limit my questioning, he seems to enjoy the experience as well!

Over the past 31 years of "watching" football, I have learned quite a few things. And can even yell or cheer at most of the appropriate moments now.

(My first experience with football was the home game of a fellow I was dating and really wanted to impress. Once we were settled in the stands, he explained the rudiments of the game as quickly as possible.

When a player ran through the goal-thingies, I jumped to my feet and cheered LOUDLY - to demonstrate my interest. Unfortunately, it was a player for the other team scoring the first touchdown. People all around us turned to me and boo-ed LOUDLY! Sigh.)

Back to the issue of chivalry.

Yesterday actually had TWO big games and my husband really wanted to watch both. I napped during the first one then joined him for the second one with all the "Daniel-fast snack foods" I could think of.

The second game ended around 8:30 and Frank handed the remote control to me. (This is a rare occurrence in our home as the remote kind of doubles as a scepter of sorts. Smile.)

Frank had closed his eyes for a moment, so I stopped the channel surf on a PBS broadcast of a British program that caught my interest. The costumes, the location, the rich accents, the plot - it all sucked me in within moments.

Suddenly I realized that Frank was watching too. "Oh, Honey, we can watch something else," I said and offered the remote back to him.

That's when he decided to do the most chivalrous thing I had experienced in some time.

The man who had just spent the afternoon watching aggressive, passionate play on a field of battle. The man who (during commercials) simultaneously watched a movie about vehicles that transformed into huge creations battling for the existence of earth as we know it. The man who had pounded one of my throw pillows ruthlessly.

That same man came over, sat with me on the love seat, asked questions about the plot, demonstrated genuine interest and made a heroic effort to stay awake through the slow ramblings of a true British love story!

(Yes, I hear the collective "AWWWW!")

And that, my friends, is chivalry at its finest! Think I'll keep him another thirty-one years, at least!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Morning Rituals

The past two weeks of early morning prayer have revealed something very important. Frank and I have TOTALLY different routines for getting ready in the mornings!!

(Yes, I'm aware that this fact has no spiritual significance whatsoever.)

Most of the time, he and I start the day at slightly different times. We aren't forced to share our bathroom which only has one sink. But for the past fourteen days, our morning routines have collided. And oh my, the learning that has taken place.

I like to get up very early and enjoy the quiet. The angels even sing subdued songs as I shuffle around making coffee; snuggle in with Gracie for devotions; silently meditate or write. I have no desire to even listen to music (which I love the rest of the day) during those first couple of hours.

There's just something about words like solitude - solace - hushed - quiescent. (I found that one on Thesaurus. Smile.) Those peaceful moments before the day really gets rolling, keep me from going over the edge!

My husband, however, loves noise!

He walks straight from the coffee pot to the television and flips it on to get the morning news. (Granted, a lot of things happen within a six hour period in our world and he should stay informed. But does he have to keep the volume button at a setting that allows our neighbors to listen with him?!)

And lest anything of earth shattering consequence happen between the time he walks from the living room television to the bedroom television, he leaves both on to avoid missing it!

If I'm drying my hair in the bathroom, he turns up the volume to not miss those three minutes of news. Which typically are a repeat of the report we heard while dosing off at eleven the night before.

Please bear in mind that I'm a woman who could comfortably wait until Tuesday to hear the weekend news. I place my current events reticence squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Lowman. (Eleventh grade history teacher who required a current events article every week in order to pass his class! We didn't get the newspaper so this created a lot of pressure! But I digress.)

When I travel, it's not uncommon for me to only turn on the television in the hotel room long enough to eat the breakfast I snagged from the lobby. I'm quite content to read or write without any verbal communication whatsoever.

How odd for a woman who loves words! Maybe I'm just saving up.

Then there is the problem of a singular bathroom sink and limited floor space. Shaving, hair drying, face washing, make-up applying, contact installing, brushing of teeth.......all the tasks performed by two people must take place at the same sink within the same six square feet!

Um-hmm. That's what I'm trying to tell you! It's been a train-wreck waiting to happen.

We've managed okay these two weeks. Mostly as a result of the hour of intense prayer which immediately follows. The fact that we know this to be a temporary condition helps too. Whew!

There was a precious saint of God in our church when I was a little girl. She seemed to finish every story she told with this heartfelt request, "People, pray for me when ya pray!"

And so I conclude with the same request! Smile.

Serious Warning! Joy has only four short weeks now until her due date. I've done very well up until this point keeping my enthusiasm about becoming a "NANA" under control. However, it feels somewhat like a volcano ready to erupt!

And once Spencer Matthew Schreck hits the scene, I fear that no amount of self-control will be able to curb my overflowing joy. I request your serious indulgence while I temporarily lose my sensibility and write like a nut who thinks she is the only one who has ever become a grandparent!

It will level out eventually - I promise!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Altoid, Anyone?!

Have you ever heard the phrase: "The hurried-er I go; the behind-er I get" ? Well, I'm living proof that this statement is 100% accurate!

(Now, this is not the funny story I promised last week. But it is current and true. And while it doesn't qualify for hilarious, it is funny!)

Our church has started the New Year with 21 days of fasting and prayer. Each member chooses something to "do without" (food items, an entertainment, media, etc.) And Frank and I meet people for special prayer at 8:00 AM through the week.

Normally, this wouldn't create a problem. But our team is also preparing for the annual business meeting next week and a rather big conference in February which means busy days and long evenings.

So when I leave the house at 7:30, I'm not getting back until 8:00 or 9:00 at night! Yep, that's what I mean by l-o-n-g days! Smile.

Then came the call that kinda pushed me over the top.

See, Frank and I also participate in a community discipleship group that we love. They had an important meeting taking place on Saturday and the person scheduled to cover it was suddenly unavailable.

"Sheri, could you possibly be there from 9:00 to 12:00?" they asked.

Well, let's see....... The week had been a wild one. I worked through Friday too. Thirty leaders were to gather at our house for dinner and prayer on Saturday evening. Joy and John's baby shower would be Sunday night.

Sure, I can make Saturday morning happen! (Cue the theme music for your favorite super-hero show. Right about now, I'm hearing "Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark" in my head! Smile.)

Fortunately, we're all about team effort. So, Frank committed to make sure the house would be ready for our evening guests and we headed out to make the day happen.

Nothing is ever as simple for us as driving to the meeting.
Then driving home.
We multi-task even with our drives to and from church.

So on Saturday:
  • I got up at 5:30.
  • Planned the most efficient route to include necessary stops and avoid any back-tracking.
  • Created lists for pick-ups and deliveries.
  • Made notes for a sermon that suddenly took form during devotions.
  • Showered and dressed.
  • Scrambled for a portable breakfast that accommodated my fasting.
  • Dashed to the car where Frank waited patiently.

Off we went, both holding a cell phone to our ears! (Get the picture? Smile.)

Well, Ben Franklin tried to warn me. He wrote to me over 200 years ago: Haste makes waste! But did I listen? Did I heed or otherwise respond to his wise warning?


So it was that just before arriving at the meeting, I realized I had neglected one very important detail of personal hygiene.


Yes, dear reader. I was about to enter a gathering that expected me to be both professional and personable. These expectations usually require that one engage others in conversation - often close conversation. Conversation that quickly exposes anyone guilty of the egregious sin commonly referred to as "Poor Dental Care".

(Or in less delicate terms: stinky breath!)

As luck would have it, I had grabbed carrots to munch on for breakfast. So, I found myself attempting to hurriedly chew carrots using every.... single..... tooth. Hoping against hope to scrape off at least a portion of the nasty, foul-smelling plaque that had accumulated while I slept.

I dug through my purse and located one slightly battered mint lying forlornly in the bottom.

"Do I eat it now? Or save it for later?" (I hear you yelling, "Eat it NOW, Sheri. For heaven's sake. Eat it now!") That's exactly what I did.

Fortunately, the meeting had just started when I arrived.

"Oh good," my relieved heart thought. "I won't have to be in anyone's face. I'll just sit over here in my chair. I'll listen, take notes and not breathe on anyone!"

Not so fast!

"Sheri, join me won't you?" It was the director for the meeting. "I've decided that we should pray over each individual before they speak today."


I'd already eaten my lone, lint-y mint! There wasn't a chance in this world that its effects would last through all those prayers!

Have you ever tried to pray aloud and hold your breath at the same time? Well, I'm here to testify that it doesn't work so well. Mostly, it just makes you light-headed and makes you sound slightly troubled. Sigh.

I only saw a few of the ladies shake their heads, lightly touch their noses, step back, or give any other delicate indication of a "bad breath encounter". But I know they were thinking it! Smile.

Today's lesson: Especially on the busiest days, slow down long enough to touch your toothbrush and make sure you used it before heading out.

Ewwww! Just writing about it makes me want to go brush my teeth again today! Smile.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Too Short for a Real Title

There is an absolutely hilarious story brewing in my heart to share with all you dear reader friends. I mean really hilarious!

Unfortunately, the "busy button" for my life is currently stuck on fast forward. All those resolutions about better time management -
  • Stop and smell the roses
  • Stroll instead of run
  • Breathe in the joy of life
  • Develop friendships not ulcers
  • And on, and on, and on........

Yeah, I fully intend to embrace some of those as soon as is humanly possible! Smile.

But for today - I will simply say:
This is Sheri Hawley reporting in. Still alive and well. Keeping busy on the front line of activity. Believing that God has incredible plans in store for 2011.

Hilarious story soon to follow!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Around 4:30 yesterday morning, I remembered WHY we have dogs!

Some days, pets are just such a nuisance that you ponder their true value. And your more logical brain raises questions like, "Does this animal add to my life or take away?" "Wouldn't life just be easier without them?"

Immediately I can think of a dozen or more inconveniences Bella and Gracie bring to my busy world. You know the list:
  • Hurry home because the dogs haven't been let out all day.
  • Can't stay on vacation an extra day - no one to care for the dogs.
  • Big bags of dog food that need a crane when purchased at Sam's.
  • Can't take a walk without the dogs because you feel guilty.
  • Must take a bag on walks with the dogs or the neighbors won't like you!
  • "Which one of you chewed my socks again?!!"
  • A yard which must be de-fertilized before guests come for outdoor fun.
  • Blond Labrador hair EVERYWHERE!
I could go on but why bore you with the aggravations of being a pet owner. You probably have your own list if you have pets.

But I promised you a revelation. I awoke well before dawn yesterday and finally went to the living room so as not to disturb Frank. Out of habit, I reached over and opened Gracie's kennel door on my way to the couch.

She stretched the full length of her little Shih-tzu self, yawned loudly, then sauntered casually over to where I was settling in.

Bella (the horse-dog) had already circled me a couple times and plopped down in front of the love seat. But after lightly jumping to my lap, Gracie looked up studying my face.

Her little muffin head turned first to the left, then to the right as her big black eyes searched mine. Her under bite (which we call her Elvis-lip) made the quizzical look even more comical.

I gave her an absent-minded smile and a quick scratch behind the ears, but she remained very focused. My book didn't distract her, nor did my shuffling around to find the most comfortable spot. She just kept sitting there, watching my face.

Suddenly it dawned on me. She sensed that I was uneasy and was offering comfort in the best way she knew how.

After reading a while, I finally dozed back off. When Frank woke later, he said that Bella immediately asked to go out. But Gracie chose to stayed curled inside the bend of my knees as I slept there on the sofa. A faithful sentinel.

For all the aggravation and inconvenience and chewed socks and bags of "stuff" I've carried and dinners shortened and dog hair vacuumed etc, etc, etc. Pets still give a very big return for the effort.

Yep, Gracie definitely gives more than she takes! Guess I'll keep her. Smile.