Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Read on for the latest Embrace the Grace news report!

Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Smith now have an accurate due date for young baby Smith.  October 21, 2013!

They went for the first ultra-sound yesterday then kept us in stitches at family dinner as they relayed the stories from the afternoon!  I can't share details on such a public forum. 

But suffice it to say that in addition to doctor offices and ultra-sound techs there were full bladders, dancing feet, strong heart beats (from ONE baby) and two smiling faces!

Meagan was a bit disappointed that they aren't having twins.  She had her head all set for a set.  (Nathan did not seem to share her disappointment.  And I can understand why!)

If anyone was ever meant to be a Mommy, it's Meagan Elizabeth Smith.

Fortunately, Nathan knew before proposing marriage that his beautiful bride was also known as "The Baby Whisperer."  He DOES share her excitement about the little one that will soon be in their arms.

We're all hoping that the Smith off-spring will have Dad's curly hair.  Terms like "poker straight" and "stick straight" have been the description of Hawley hair all these years.  Some natural curl will be a delightful change!

It was sweet to watch Nathan keeping an eye on  Meagan as the evening grew late.  He must have sensed the moment she started getting tired.

"Ready to go?" he asked it quietly but pointedly.

"Yeah, I guess so."  Meagan responded.

She got up and began gathering her things.  No protests about being on spring break or wanting to stay with her sisters a little longer.  She knew that Nathan knew she needed rest.

He took her hand as they walked down the drive to their car.  She patted her tummy as she often does these days.

The smile on my lips filled my entire heart.

Excellent mommy-to-be!  Protective dad-to-be!  Blessed baby-to-be!! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Travel Joys

"Sometimes it is a great joy just to listen to someone we love talking." - Vincent McNabb

A perfect quote for the week I've just experienced!

Last Wednesday, Kristin and I flew into Springfield, MO for the purpose of sharing with ministry students on the campus of Central Bible College.  Such an honor to be given that opportunity!

We started with a class designed to teach young preachers to preach.  16 men; 1 woman.  Kristin and I did a team teaching for about 30 minutes then opened the floor for questions.  And great questions they were!

The students saw the chance to glean information from two perspectives at once - the employer and the employee.  Each one hopes to land a position in a church or faith-based organization upon graduation.  So the questions came with serious overtones.

They asked what employers would be looking for.  They asked Kristin how it felt to lead people older than oneself.  How do you develop a team?  What is it really like to be a woman in ministry - typically a male position?  Our time with them flew by!

And so it went with each mentoring group; each team we met; each individual encounter!  They plied us for information, took notes, studied our faces, nodded in understanding/appreciation.  We loved every minute!

Seeing ones we've known for years like Rachel, Jada and Chelle who now live in MO, was a bonus.  Our hosts, Alan, Tricia and Allison Baker are life-time friends.  So being with them was just the frosting on the cake for us!

I had the privilege of preaching in chapel on Friday.  As the students came to the altar following the sermon, I had tears in my eyes just watching the passion they were expressing for following God. 

May I submit that our world is NOT going to hell in a hand basket.  Not while young people like that are coming on the scene.  Just Sayin'!

Why the quote?

Because as I listened to Kristin teach, my heart swelled with gratitude and joy!  Some may wonder why one so young would be given such a platform.  I think God put her there because of all her years of behind the scenes service.

At 14, Kristin became a helper for children's church.  She has served missionaries and ministers as a nanny.  She just completed her tenth year working with the children of Garden Grove church.  (Yes, she got here before we did.)

Every Sunday, she makes sure teams are in place for toddlers and Kidz Zone.  Every Wednesday night, she walks part way with her "neighborhood babies" seeing them back home safely.  Every summer she plans, preaches and directs Vacation Bible School.

So to stand back and listen to her share HER heart for ministry was such an honor! 

Many spend a lifetime seeking the spotlight and never find it.  Others spend their lives searching for opportunities to serve and are surprised when the spotlight of God's affirmation shines on them brightly.

Deep contented sigh!

Thanks to the Bakers for opening their home and their ministry venue to Team Hawley!  To borrow a favorite quote from Frank's hometown newspaper, "A lovely time was had by all!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trials of a Woman Minister

“OUCH!”  Let me tell you, I yelled it loudly and fervently!

For many women, having their eyebrows waxed is a minor issue.  No big deal at all.  A part of personal grooming that must be attended to routinely.

But I dread having my eyebrows waxed more than…....more than…....more than I dread a mammogram! 

(Apology to all men reading today.  Sorry, fellas, but that’s the truth!)

I must have extra sensitive skin around my eyebrows or something.  This normal procedure that’s so simple for others, causes the area around my eyes to swell and turn a deep purplish red.  

The disfiguration is so severe that people have questioned whether I might be of Clingon descendent.  (You remember those people/creatures from Star Trek?) 

Yeah, it’s that bad!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not waxed my eyebrows since Meagan and Nathan’s wedding! 

The one good thing is that they tend to grow back in very slowly.  And if I’m careful, a pair of tweezers keeps me from becoming an embarrassment to my family and congregation.

But I’ll be in Springfield, MO later this week.  Speaking to young college students.  

College girls tend to take personal grooming to the highest level attainable.  And I refuse to allow neglected eyebrows to overshadow any message the Lord may be wanting me to deliver. 
“Wasn’t the chapel speaker GREAT yesterday?!”  says College Student A.

“I’m sure she was but I couldn’t concentrate because all I could see were her shaggy eyebrows!  Can you believe women let themselves go like that?!!”  replies College Student B.

When we first arrived in Central FL, I worked at Southeastern University.  One afternoon, a couple of adorable girls waltzed into my office.  The giggling, twittering, and hair-flipping of most girls their age flowed in with them.

“Oh, Mrs. Hawley,”  exuded Girl A.  “I love what you’re wearing!  You always look so cute!!”

“Well, thank you, Sweetie!”  I responded with a heart that began to lift on the wave of her enthusiasm.  I did happen to have on an okay outfit that day.

The perky little teen-aged voice went on, “I saw you walk across the cafeteria the other day and I said to my friend, ‘Mrs. Hawley is always so cute!  I hope I look good when I get old!’”  (You can’t make up this stuff!)

So, off to the salon I went yesterday. 

I paid a woman $8.00 to rip eyebrows from their intended place of abode!  I willingly submitted to action akin to torture!  Smiled weakly and even tipped her for causing me great pain!  Went back to the office and found ice for the swelling that immediately ensued!

Oh, what women preachers must endure in order to share the good news!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Favorite Things

Thanks to everyone who has read and smiled and commented and celebrated with us over the upcoming birth of Smith Baby I!   I say "1" because Becky and I fully expect this great event to reoccur at some point in the future!

A "blog family" is an amazing gift!  I must admit that I truly enjoy staying in touch with you through this venue.  Telling funny stories, rehearsing family miracles, commenting on the generalities of life........  It's one my favorite things to do.

This afternoon I leave for Jacksonville, FL to participate in another of my favorite things.

I'm going to take part as a speaker for a women's conference.  INSPIRE is a great gathering of ladies from central FL headed by my friend Sandy Phinazee.  I'm so excited to join them again this year!

Last Sunday, I was honored to be the guest speaker for a church in our area that is predominantly Hispanic.  Fortunately, everyone there was bi-lingual.  (Sure wish I'd payed better attention when Mrs. Register was trying to teach me Spanish.  "Donde es el bano?"  Was my great take-away phrase from that year!  Sigh!)

Next week, Kristin and I will fly to Springfield, MO.  We've been invited to spend three days on the campus of Central Bible College as part of their highlight of women in ministry.

Kristin and I will each address different classes as guest speakers (one of which we'll team teach).  On Thursday night, we meet with a group of young women studying for ministry.  Then on Friday, I have the privilege of speaking for their chapel service!

I can't tell you what an honor this is.  And to share it with my own daughter just multiplies the joy!

When the girls were in high school, they took turns traveling with me.  At that time, they usually sang for the conference or church.  Now, here Kristin is with eleven years of ministry experience under her belt, ready to share with other young women!  My cup runneth over!

Next month, I travel to Mississippi to speak for another women's conference. 

And right now, I'm in the middle of leading a Bible study at GGC on Wednesday nights.  When we finally got home last night, Frank gave me a hug and whispered, "Good job tonight, Honey!"  That's the affirmation I MOST appreciate.

You see, sharing about God's goodness really is one of my most favorite things to do.

Whether through writing for Embrace the Grace, traveling to preach, or leading Bible study in my own home church.  But the truth is - none of you live with me!

(I know, English teacher friends, it should be none of you lives with me.  Just indulge me a moment, okay?)

Frank spends some part of almost every single day with me.

He lives with the good and the bad.  He held my head when I was sick in the middle of Monday night.  He listens when the teapot of my emotions boils over.  He knows my true self better than anyone else on earth.

So if he can sit in Bible study listening to me teach, come home with the real me, give me a hug and say Good Job?

Well, that's absolutely my favorite thing!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Special Announcement!

What is the most exciting and joyful news that comes to us?  News that causes us all to gasp, then cry, then cheer, then crush the tellers with exuberant hugs?


(No, heaven's!  Not me!  My name is Sheri, not Sarah!)

It's Meagan and Nathan!!

Sometime in October, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Smith will become proud parents for the very first time!

And the GRANDPARENTS on both sides couldn't be happier!

As soon as I could after they shared the news, I was on the phone with Becky so we could squeal and congratulate ourselves on raising such brilliant children who knew we needed grandchildren just as soon as they could possibly see their way free to produce them!  (Sometimes a run-on sentence is merited!)

We really are so very happy for them!

It was determined that the church families should be told yesterday.  So while John was making an announcement, they brought Spencer up to the platform. (That never happens on a Sunday morning, so they had everyone's attention right away.)

On cue, Spencer said, "I a cousin!"  And when John explained that Meagan and Nathan were expecting, the church burst into joyful applause.

(Sadly, I missed that part because I was speaking for a church in another town.  But I got the full report and replay at lunch. Besides, I made the announcement at the church where I was speaking which made that congregation cheer and smile and applaud.  Babies just have that effect!)

Both Meagan and Nathan are surprised, but excited.  They have a good working knowledge of what's ahead because of the year they spent living with John and Joy. 

We're especially thankful that Meagan had already established herself as a hard worker with the school where she teaches.  They, too have cheered and congratulated her!  And when some morning sickness hit, other teachers gladly covered until she could get back to her room.

Nathan smiles and seems to have this way about him that lets you know, "Yeah, I'm pretty pleased about all this!"

His quiet confidence has become even more of a bedrock for Meagan.

They do have some obstacles to overcome and a few uncertainties ahead.  But when Meagan talks about these, she quotes Nathan, "Babe, we're going to be okay!"  "It'll all work out!"  And so on.  (Deep contented sigh from the mother-in-law.)

Several years ago, my sister gave me a great quote in a frame as a gift.  At the time she gave it to me, it was just that - a great quote.  But now that it is becoming the truth of my life, I find I love it.

"Our Family is a circle of Strength and Love.  With every birth and union the circle grows.  Every joy shared adds more Love.  Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger."  

My baby is having a baby!  Oh the joy!!

If you'd like to leave comments of congratulations and tidbits of advice here, feel free to do so.  Meagan routinely reads Embrace the Grace.  AND if you want to keep smiling today, go to  http://smithellaneous.com/ to read the report from the other amazingly exuberant grandmother - Grandma Smith!