Monday, June 27, 2011

Testimony Time

Will you be joining us on the 23rd of July?

Meagan and I carefully counted this morning and realized that if we don't count the wedding day itself, we are now at 25 days! You heard me right, only 25 more days until the wondrous event.

Now, that probably does not elicit the quivering in your mid-section that it does in mine. But then, you probably aren't looking at a frilly, white doily "To Do List" like mine either. Smile.

So many things have fallen into place so easily. The church. The cake. The reception location. The invitations (going out tomorrow morning.) THE DRESS!!!

I don't think we've been in a false sense of calm............but there is a definite pedal-to-the-metal-urgency about the next two weeks.

I forgot to share with you a great wedding testimony. One of many that Nathan and Meagan will rehearse for their children in years to come.

This one is about the MOB dress. (That would be mother of the bride. Smile.)

Frank went with me to scope out possibilities about three weeks ago. Dillard's just happened to be having a terrific sale on (drum roll please) finer dresses. I'm not sure how those compare to not so fine dresses but that's what they said.

I tried on multiple styles in multiple sizes due to the mid-section I mentioned earlier. Sigh.

A gorgeous, royal blue number caught my eye. It flowed beautifully and although it had very little bling, it did have lots of meticulous detailing. It zipped effortlessly and would only need to be hemmed to qualify as a perfect fit.

But alas, it did not have the appropriate sticker. The one signaling: "SALE".

Each selection had to pass the eyebrow test.

You know. The test that requires the wearer to come out of the dressing room; do a little pirouette in front of the observing husband; then turn quickly to catch his first response.

For me, it's always been imperative that the look of the dress cause Frank's eyebrows to go up. When that happens, the dress is a KEEPER! Smile.

The eyebrow test okay-ed three different dresses. Of course, the royal blue was one of them. That has always been a good color for me.

I mentioned to the lady helping me that it didn't have a mark-down sticker.

"No," she answered patiently. "This one wouldn't."

"Of course not" I sighed. And at $220.00, it did NOT fit in the MOB budget.

At the last moment I asked, "Would you just scan that ticket for me, please? You know, just in case." I chuckled and started gathering my things. The other dresses were lovely too and one of them would do just fine I reasoned.

"OH!" It was the sales lady.

"Oh, MY!" she sounded quite startled. "Oh my GOODNESS!"

I turned toward her.

"This dress has missed three mark-downs! I can't imagine how that happened!" She was checking again.

I waited quietly until she looked up. With shocked, disbelief she reported, "This dress is marked down to $54.00!"

"I'LL TAKE IT!!" I hadn't intended to shout; it just kinda happened. Smile. "The Lord must have been hiding it just for me!" My enthusiasm was contagious.

"Well, I guess He was" she replied with a big smile.

So now, the beautiful royal blue kiss from heaven dress is at the alterations shop being hemmed. And on July 23rd, I'll have a secret hug from my heavenly father to keep me encouraged. Isn't that just like Him?!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Shortest post in history!


Because I have only an hour to pack, shower, dress and meet my ride in Tampa.

I'm off to Jacksonville to participate in one of my FAVORITE events - speaking to women!

This weekend, the second part of the Pen FL HOPE Tour takes place. Our state women's director graciously invited me to preach the closing sermon. To say I'm excited would be an understatement. Smile. (Requesting a few quick prayers on my behalf.)

I also wanted to thank Janet for her fun comment on yesterday's post.

She asked if Meagan realized this great table arrangement meant everyone would ask her to do the decorating from now on.

Apparently, a really wonderful Thanksgiving dinner by Janet one year became Christmas and other holidays at her home forever after! I know what you're saying! Smile.

When I asked for prayer, I probably should have included Frank in that request too. He will be playing "Super Poppa" this weekend.

John has an all night lock-in for the youth. Kristin, Meagan and Joy (after the lock-in) have planned a "bachelorette" weekend. And I'm in Jacksonville.

It will be up to Poppa alone to give John some assistance during this, his first overnight adventure with the amazing Spencer!! Pray people! Smile.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Centerpiece Idea

I've been writing this post for three days - in my head!

With almost 30 days til the wedding (AAGGGHHHH!) my life isn't really my own. But we're making it; balancing the tears with laughter all along the way.

My topic choice is late. But it also seemed to be very important that I write this. So, thanks for bearing with my choice to ignore "time-sensitive-blogging-etiquette."

Because there were so many things going on this past weekend, we opted to celebrate Father's Day on Saturday. Just worked better for our crew.

Meagan took on the task of preparing the table; a very big part of Hawley celebrations. I was cooking. And everyone else came skidding in on two tires just in time for the meal (and the clean-up afterward. Smile.)

Kristin usually decorates our festive tables and Meagan felt a little lost. Then this great idea hit her.

"Mom," she said. "What's one object that would describe Dad to you?"

"I'm not following you," I was busy trying to force the chicken to boil faster!

"You know," she insisted. "Just one object that would make you think of Dad. Something that describes him."

"Oh, okay. I'm with you now." I put down the spoon. (After licking it, of course.) "Um, I'd say a book. Yes, definitely I'd describe him with a book because he's always loved to read."

Next thing I knew, she was on the phone to her sisters and brother to get their input.

The result was a centerpiece we will use again in our celebrating. Thought you might like to use the idea as well.

When we gathered to eat, the center of the table was adorned with the following items representing Frank Hawley:
  • A pair of weights: Dad is the strength of our family.
  • A book: Dad is a lifelong learner.
  • A Noah's Ark (Closest we had to a Mac Truck): Because Dad gets the job done.
  • A bunch of flowers: Dad is a creator.
  • Red and yellow tissue paper bunched together like flames: Dad is passionate.
  • A football: Dad reminds us often to have fun.
As the meal began, we prayed a blessing for this guest of honor. Then Meagan proceeded to share the significance of each item in the odd-looking arrangement. And the different family members who had chosen them. Several pairs of teary eyes looked on.

It's still sitting there. A silent reminder of how much that man is appreciated and respected by his family. Feel free to steal the idea. Especially if there is someone in your family who needs to hear how they're seen by those closest to them.

Time needed to gather items/info? Half an hour
Expense incurred? Nothing (everything was on hand)
Length of time the memory will last? Pretty much.......Forever

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Team Concept

Have I mentioned that I absolutely LOVE being part of Garden Grove Church?!

Well, please allow me to mention it now.

We wrapped up the 2011 season of vacation Bible school last night and it was simply an amazing time. (I say "season" because we all know, VBS is much more than the five nights it takes place! Can I get an exhausted "Amen!" from some workers? Smile.)

This year, Kristin used the curriculum written by our very own Linda Schreck! Entitled "Mountain Movers," it focuses on the power of prayer. (Contact me if you'd like further information - little commercial there.)

Amanda wrote and directed original skits performed by our very own GGC Players. Ed, John and Frank created a mountain range that covered a third of the stage, floor to ceiling. Treama organized dinner for the workers each evening. The list goes on and on.

Crafters, floor helpers, snack prep-ers and dispensers, prayer partners, high-fivers, scripture teachers, offering takers! Well, you get the idea.

One worker came just to meet more people in the church family. What a great idea! (Can you tell I'm trying to encourage you to get involved in the summer program of your own church?!)

And if I were not related to her, I would rave endlessly about our amazingly talented children's pastor: Kristin Hawley. Let me simply paint this scene and I'll leave the conclusion-drawing to you.
  • Not only did Kristin recruit and organize a fabulous team.
  • Not only did she prepare a fresh program for each evening complete with games, songs, prizes, crafts, etc.
  • Not only did she greet new children, juggle emergencies and cheer workers.
  • She also delivered the nightly Bible lesson; holding scores of wiggly, giggly children totally captive! (Grown-ups as well.)
Yeah. Frank and I pretty much sat in the back praying for each service and expressing gratitude that this anointed young minister has chosen to share her talents with our congregation at this time.

Life rolls on so quickly and sometimes you wonder if all the effort matters.

But when we saw those little faces lighting up, heard their laughter, watched them responding......
The only appropriate answer is YES; it matters very much!

Even my graying head remembers my earliest VBS experience at the Presbyterian church down the street. Hopefully, we've created a few "lifetime" memories for many of these little ones as well. And maybe even a few lifetime choices to follow God!

I love being part of such big plans camouflaged as fun.

Happy Father's Day!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Making of a Man

When do we stop being excited to see one another?

I’m talking about those moments when we unexpectedly spot someone we love. Our eyes widen, we throw our arms open, and we gasp in a way that says, “You are AMAZING! I can’t believe you’re here with me!”

This weekend Frank and I had the opportunity to spend two days at the beach. (Thanks Lift Church for the use of your mission house.) And we relished our time watching people as they interacted all around us.

We had a couple of favorites.

One was a little guy, about eighteen months old. Carefully clad in sun retardant clothing and a slightly over-sized ball cap.

His young dad had multiple piercings, extravagant “body art,” and interesting beverage choices. Smile. But he was totally enamored with his little boy.

We weren’t close enough to hear actual conversation but dad’s body language said it all.

Everything the toddler did caused the dad to throw his arms in the air with pleasure. Clapping and cheering erupted spontaneously. And the wind carried the marvelous laughter of the little fella’s response.

There was no question that the dad was thoroughly enjoying the day with his boy. It made us smile.

Then we spotted a surfer.

A family set up their chairs and umbrella just to our left, making us spectators for a rite of passage. Obviously this dad was an experienced surfer and he intended to teach his young son the art of riding waves.

Over the course of a couple hours we observed the making of a man.

Our location on the gulf side offered no real waves but the gentle surf was perfect for this project.

Instruction. Practice. Fall. Repeat. Instruction. Practice. Fall. Repeat. Again and again the dad patiently took his son through the paces.

The dad never raised his voice or waved in frustration. He just continued to retrieve the board. Offer a steadying hand. Nodding his approval when a fall was avoided.

The boy looked to be about eight years old. And with every attempt, he seemed to gain confidence. His body language had initially communicated that he was starting out timid and uncertain. But he displayed a definite swagger by the end of the training session.

An older brother took a few turns and even the sister. Mom served as photographer. But this day belonged to the middle son. The man in the making!

We glanced over periodically to check his progress. Dad continued to coax his little boy into trying things that would frighten many grown men. And the boy becoming man, loved it!

Even though young and frightened, he kept trying because dad was saying, “You can do this!” The child believed and then began to behave as though his dad knew exactly what he was saying. What a gift!

Mom snapped a few pictures of the kids on the surf board. (Dad balancing it beside them and beaming with pride.)

As she did, I wanted to run over and tell them, “Drink this in. You think it will happen a million more times. But it won’t. Take a few more pictures. Be sure the sapling man is looking into the camera. Make certain to capture Dad’s approving smile. Mom, come around and get a shot of you all together. This is a life-time moment.”

But, of course, I didn’t. You can’t really tell other people these things. They have to live it for themselves.

They packed up and headed on, congratulating the middle man as they went. And a whisper came to my heart.

“You can do what you think you can’t, Sheri.” It was my own heavenly Father. Speaking words of approval and affirmation to me.

And I realized that just like the little boy, I needed to believe then begin to behave as though my “Dad” knows what He’s talking about. Because, He does, dear reader. He is making us into strong men and women of faith. And He knows exactly what He’s doing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Gracie has squeezed in next to me as tightly as her fat little backside will allow!

And I must admit the truth – I love it. For all my fuming and fussing about this stupid fur ball and her trouble-making, I love having her next to me.

I still maintain that Frank and the kids chose to give me a shih tzu just so I could say what she is on really rough days. “Little Shih Tzu!!” (Outright cursing is frowned upon for ordained ministers. And especially for Southern lady ministers! Smile.)

There’s just a comfort in having her chubby black and white, mottled-fur body squished against me during my early morning quiet. And usually Bella drapes her big blond body over my feet. Not so delicately, but comforting still.

While meeting with a grieving family yesterday, we saw the gentleman who gave Bella to Frank. Thought you might enjoy the story………

It was Friday and I was working around the house. Frank had gone back to the office to put the finishing touches on Sunday’s sermon. And I was looking forward to some relax time once he finally got home.

When the phone rang and I spotted his number, I couldn’t help but wonder what delay had occurred.

“Sheri, are you sitting down?” His excitement level was off the charts.

“No, but I can be,” was my tentative reply. I pulled out a chair from the dining room table.

“Oh, Honey! Do you believe in the providence of God?!” Okay, so now he had me in the vortex. My mind literally swirled with the possibilities.

The “Providence of God”? It sounded like a truly amazing revelation was coming. A miracle moment!

“Well, we’ve been praying for the property next to the church,” I thought. “Has someone donated it to us?!” My knees went weak.

“Or maybe this is about our own school loans from the girls’ college experiences. Have they been erased?!” My palms began to sweat.

“Oh, my. Has the city asked Frank to be involved in some project?!” My imagination ran wild with possibilities in that split second.

Frank rushed on enthusiastically, “Sheri, this is a miracle! I just got a phone call and you’ll never believe this!”

I could hardly breathe, the anticipation was so heavy.

“ Honey, do you know how I’ve always said I’d love to have a Labrador retriever? Well, Fay’s brother just called me and he has been given a beautiful yellow lab. They are looking for a home and will give it to us for FREE! Can you believe it, Sheri? FREE!! I’m coming to pick you up so we can go look at it. Isn’t this amazing?!

I went totally silent.

First of all, he had always said he wanted a golden retriever, not a Labrador. Secondly, I have never wanted either one without a fenced-in yard and a large dog house located outside! Third, how could a DOG ever qualify as the “providence of God” – even a free dog?

“Honey, are you there?” His voice had all the excitement of a six year old boy on Christmas morning.

“Uh, yes. I’m here.” I tried my best to sound a little enthused.

He continued; oblivious to any hesitation in my voice. “She’s already house-broken. She has all her shots. And they’re giving us everything – her papers, her kennel, her food and water bowls – everything! I just can’t believe this!”

“Uh, Frank. Why are the people getting rid of her?” My question was cautious.

“Oh, they never were home to walk her or play with her. And you know labs, they need exercise.” His joy knew no bounds.

(Please remember that I was, at that moment, home alone, on our day off because Frank was at the office still. Just exactly who did he think was going to exercise this horse if it came to live at our house?!)

“So, are you excited? This will be great! You want to go with me to see her, don’t you?”

“Um, honey. Where will she stay if we take her?” The time for being delicate was coming to a close. This man had already moved a horse-dog into my house. He had visions of the two of them romping through meadows and riding the countryside with truck windows down.

Two problems with that vision: there aren’t any meadows near us and we don’t own a truck!

“She’ll stay in her kennel, Sheri. Really this is NOT going to be a problem. Let’s just go look at her. I’ll be right there.”

In the fifteen minutes it took for him to get home, I wracked my brain for supportive ways to say, “I don’t want another dog! Especially not a BIG dog!”

Nothing was coming to mind.

As we drove to the home of Fay’s brother, Frank talked non-stop about what a blessing this was. If he noticed that my enthusiasm didn’t match his, he didn’t mention it. We were on a quest to procure his dream dog!

We pulled up to a huge yard, fully surrounded by a chain link fence. I hoped this would be a sign to Frank. A big, yellow lab came galloping toward our Tahoe. Ears flopping; tongue wagging; spit flying.

“Oh, Father,” I prayed silently. “If you’ve ever given me wisdom, I need it now! Help me get out of this without hurting Frank’s feelings. That dog is NOT going home with us!”

Famous last words.

As I finish writing this post, Bella is lying at my feet. But her eyes are trained intently on our bedroom door. She is waiting for the love of her life to come out and give her head an absent-minded scratch.

It’s what she lives for. Well that, and some time playing catch with a tennis ball in the back yard. Thank heavens she is easily amused.

Yes, we became the proud owners of our very own horse-dog that day. Spencer will probably put a bridle on her and enjoy riding around at some point.

But the truth is, she’s never had an accident in the house. She eats very little for such a big dog. She loves Frank and tolerates me rather well. She has huge brown eyes that drip with love and affection. And a perpetually wagging tail that comes in pretty handy on days when I haven’t dusted the coffee table. (Just kidding!!!)

My message for you today, dear readers? Beware phone calls from loved ones that start out with “Are you sitting down?!”

They could just think they’ve located the providence of God! Smile.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ready for Take-off

Do you know the sound jet engines make as you sit poised at the end of a runway just before take-off?

It’s a revving, whining, intensifying sound that indicates something incredible is about to happen. The sound continues to increase until the pilot releases the brake and your aircraft begins “flying” down the runway.

Then “BOOM” you’re in the air with your head pressed back against the seat. Enjoying a temporary facelift for free.

And if you didn’t position it correctly under the seat in front of you, your purse will plop backward. All its contents will start spilling out; rolling toward the passenger behind you. (Please don’t ask how I know this.)

At long last, the pilot levels the plane and the rest of your flight seems tame by comparison to those first few moments.

Well, that sound – the sound of revving engines - is what I hear in my head right now!

Meagan called yesterday while trying to order a beautiful cross to be used in their ceremony. “Do I pay extra for the rush shipping?” she asked. “It says allow four to five weeks for ground.”

“No, Honey. Don’t pay extra. You have plenty of time for it to get here.” I absently replied.

"Mom, you know we’re at six weeks, right?” she sounded calm.

“Bless her heart,” I thought with a smile. She is so excited. There’s no way we’re at six weeks. “Hang on, Honey.”

I flipped open my professional calendar.

I located June 6, 2011.

I started counting the Mondays.

“Baby, I’m looking at my calendar,” my tone was a bit patronizing. “It’s actually one, two, um.....three, four, five, six……….”

And there I saw it. July 23rd. Highlighted. Decorated.

“Meagan! We only have SIX WEEKS!! Good Lord, Baby. We’ve got to get rolling!!!” Suddenly my eyes were bulging and my heart was racing.

“I know, Mom.” She still spoke with great calm.

Whew! How glad am I that Meagan is an organized young woman who knows her own tastes and enjoys planning things? Let me tell you, very glad!

But as for the elements that belong to Dad and me alone? There is a small bit of anxiety right now. Roll into that mix a pinch of insomnia, some VBS, and it’s no wonder I’m looking a little wild-eyed these days.

My friend Shirley called yesterday to help me talk through a meal that will go to a bereaved family later this week. After we planned a few minutes (menu, ladies to call, delivery times, set up, etc.) she said, “Sheri, let me just call these ladies. It won’t take me long at all.”

I got off the phone and wondered if I had sounded bewildered. Usually a meal like that is no big deal to plan.

But then I realized that friends are the “jet fuel” that help us experience a successful take-off during seasons like this. Another blessing to mark with gratitude.

So here we go, dear readers. Forty-six days and counting.

“Please remain seated with your seat-belt buckled at all times.” And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep arms and legs inside the vehicle either! Smile.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Arrival of Summer

Summer has hit full swing!

Oh, I know it isn't yet summer by the calendar. But it's here just the same.

John and Joy have already had the youth group over for a pool party. Vacation Bible School starts in two weeks. Travel plans are in place for later. And we are now under the 50-day count for the wedding!

Friends vacationing in Tampa came over to meet us for dinner last night. Such fun! (One of many perks living in the vacation capital of the world during summertime.)

Kristin and Bryan had traveled together in an SEU tour group for two years. Because we were still evangelists at the time, we had opportunity to meet his family.

Seeing them again last night was really a treat. We sat for over two hours talking, laughing, catching up. Of course Kristin came. But Meagan, Spencer and even Joy finally joined us.

All the standard questions flew around the table. "Are you still a surgery nurse?" "Bryan's leading worship at your church now? Oh, wonderful!" "Kristin does children and music? Marvelous!" "Have you ever seen a more beautiful baby than Spencer?" (They assured us they had not! Smile.)

Shared sympathies over losses: Bryan's grandfather/Kristin's grandmother.

Nine of us filled the table and our waitress kept the sweet tea coming. Conversations fluctuated between just two or three people and the entire table at once.

Everything came to a halt when Spencer woke and batted those enormous blue eyes. "Ohhhh!" "He is gorgeous!" "Oh, I can't wait to have grandchildren!" "They are pretty amazing!" "Oh look how he looks at Joy!" "Dimples! He has dimples!"

The men talked over the women as we listened attentively to Meagan's rehearsal of "The Proposal". Romance enthralls women.

We finally decided to move outside to say good-bye. That took another forty-five minutes. Pictures had to be taken. Laughter, of course, accompanied those. There were the normal, "Oh, I meant to ask about...." and "Goodness, I almost forgot to tell you......"

At one point, while everyone was admiring Meagan's engagement ring, I had a moment.

You've had them, right? One of those moments when your heart swells with gratitude and sadness; elation and love? And you somehow know that what you're experiencing is a gift?

I don't understand why we get tears in our eyes at a moment like that. But they did appear!

Mostly, I think all the change of these few months was hitting me in a big way. Other than Bryan's move back to Ohio, not much had changed in the lives of our friends.

Our lives, by contrast.........well, change is our constant companion these days. And I've known for weeks that when summer arrives, a BIG change will occur.

In forty-nine days our baby girl will become Mrs. Smith.

Some may think, "Sheri, you already have one daughter married. This shouldn't be such a big deal for you."

Just as each child is unique, so each marriage brings a seismic shift to the family unit. We only have one "baby daughter" and very soon, her first moniker will be WIFE, not daughter.

It's as it should be, of course. We couldn't be more thrilled that Nathan will be her husband; they are wonderful together.

But that's just it - THEY will be together. And for one more child, we will need to step to the background of their lives and hearts. "The new has come, the old must pass away." A necessary transition, but not an easy one at all! (Deep cleansing sigh.)

So when the tears spring to my eyes these early days of summer - and they frequently do - I try to rehearse the blessings.

Meagan has found her soul-mate and he loves God as deeply as she does. They make each other laugh. Their extended families get along well - huge plus! They both understand hard work, fidelity, honesty. Life will be good.

They will produce grandchildren!
(Not right away, of course. But I can already see little ones with big green eyes and halos of curly blond hair.)

These are the things I'm rehearsing for myself a lot these days. Every little cloud of sadness does indeed contain a silver lining. I just have to reach up and twist that sucker inside out! Smile.

The summer has arrived. I will choose to embrace the joys of visitors and changes and bright days. Knowing that the dark clouds can not hide the silver linings I uncover!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Quarter

So, today marks two and a half years.

Two and a half years since my sweet mom moved to Heaven.

Not that the choice was hers. The battle with cancer had been much longer than anyone anticipated. And the unrelated brain tumor worked more quickly than anyone projected. There wasn't time for any plan then.

Some days it feels like forever ago. And today it seems that I should still be able to pick up the phone and give her a call. Sigh.

I had pondered what I should write today and finally settled on a "Mama Story." She would like that best. So many to choose from but I thought of this one about camp.

Summer camp was a little different for me growing up. I attended a church camp in Marianna, FL every summer. The same one my Mom had attended as a teenager.

And it wasn't the typical activities-driven camp. This was church camp! We went for two reasons:
  1. To participate in the evening services - great music, a rousing sermon by a young evangelist and extended times of prayer. (Seeking God's will for our lives.) AND.....
  2. To find a "date" for the Thursday evening banquet! (Honesty is the best policy.)
I was extremely comfortable with reason one. I loved the music. I laughed and cried during the sermon. I spent lots of time in prayer; I needed it.

But reason two? Let's just say that was pretty much a "no go" for me.

I was too bashful to approach any fellas or even act interested in them. If a boy so much as smiled at me, it meant ridiculous blushing and outlandish giggling on my part. (I'm blushing again now just thinking of the embarrassment.)

Mom was aware of awkwardness. (Back then we just called it plain ol silliness.) And the summer that I turned 15, she decided to do something to help me along.

She had willingly volunteered to serve as a driver in our camp caravan. We always left Pensacola at 6:00 AM even though the camp was only three hours away. These camps drew hundreds of kids and late arrivals slept on cots in odd locations.

Once settled, everyone reported to the Tabernacle (indoor chapel) for orientation. My best friend, Susie and I made our beds, stowed our suitcases, brushed our hair and hurried to find seats near the front of the chapel.

Mom had lingered near the back of the huge auditorium. As the original social butterfly, my mom had friends from across the state that she wanted to see before leaving.

Just before the camp director came to the stage, an amazing thing took place.

A BOY came and sat down right between Susie and me. A CUTE BOY. A REALLY COOL BOY. Dark, wavy hair; big blue eyes; bright, gleaming smile!

And he started us!

I was dumb-struck.

No words would come out of my mouth. I just kept wondering, "Did he mean to sit down here?" "Does he think we're someone else?" "Who is this guy?" "Where did he come from?"

Susie regained her composure first. She managed to smile and answer a couple of questions. I just kept sitting and starring.

The director took the microphone and instructed the boys to sit on the right, girls on the left. As quickly as he had come, the handsome stranger was gone. Susie and I sat in awe.

This was going to be a GREAT year at camp!

What we did not know was that Mom (ever aware of her daughter's ineptitude) had intervened.

Seems she had spotted the handsome teen as he ambled into the back of the chapel with several of his buddies. Mom called him over to her and asked if he would like to part of some fun.

"Do you see those two girls up near the front?" she asked. (She pointed out the wallflowers: Sheri and Susie.)

"Yes Ma'am." (He was a proper southern boy.)

"Well, I'll give you a quarter if you'll go sit down right between them and start talking to them."

A QUARTER?!! That's all it took?!

Apparently so. Smile.

Unbelievable, right?! Yes, that's just how my mama rolled. No, I did not make this up. But that was why we loved her so.

And always will.......

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The world is different at 5 AM.

Quiet. Still. Hopeful. Unsullied. (Insert satisfying, deep breath here.) Peaceful.

I guess that's why I enjoy my early mornings so very much. (When the "internal alarm clock" routinely goes off before dawn, you need to find positives. Smile.)

But I can't really say I mind.

It's like all the world belongs to me, Jesus and two silly dogs. Time isn't an issue. There's plenty before I have to get moving. So I drink in the luxury afforded. Sitting. Pondering. Reading. Praying. Listening. Breathing.

The two loudest noises are the air conditioner kicking on and dog tags clinking as one of the mutts shakes her head. Occasionally, I can hear someone snoring or even talking in their sleep. That causes a little smile.

I think early mornings allow me to come back to center. Eastern religions teach the importance of meditation. And while their focus is skewed, the basic concept is true; taken from Scripture.

" soul waits for You in the night watches...." ".....You are brighter than the morning star...." "...early will I seek You...." " quietness and confidence will be my strength..." "I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me...."

Once the television and I-pod and telephone get going, peace becomes more elusive. But in those delicious few moments before everyone and everything else takes over, it is quiet.

And solitude truly breeds calm.

Granted, some days it is a discipline. The demands of the coming day and the press of unfinished business can scream loudly in the darkness.

But when I intentionally choose my thoughts. When I dictate the recording in my head. When I rehearse truth and promises - the giants of doubt disappear.

In their place remains an assurance. Nothing is going to happen today that God and I can't handle together.

Next time you find yourself awake earlier than you'd like, join me won't you? It just may become your favorite time too.