Monday, April 24, 2017

Promises and Potential

I really wanted to come up with a doozie of a humorous post for you today.  Seems I've written so much about sorrow and sadness lately; although, that's our life right now.

While sitting quietly this morning and asking God to give me a funny story to share, I was reminded that sorrow is the contrast for humor and you can't genuinely have one without the other.  So, no funny for today.

But I did (once again) stumble across a powerful reminder of why I write.

It's a promise I highlighted for myself three years ago.  Do you underline favorite scriptures in your Bible?  I certainly do.  I'm not sure a Bible is well read until it has highlight markings, a few tear stains and copious amounts of chicken-scratch handwriting.

Marked up Bibles become treasure pieces for those who read them in later years.  As a young minister, Frank asked my dad to save one of his preaching Bibles for him and it started a tradition of sorts.  Dad has now preached from three Bibles for at least ten years each; one to be given to each family of his three children.  A Treasure!

I love reading back through the Bible my mom carried in her purse for the years I was a teen-ager and beyond.  She included sermon notes and key dates in various margins as well as underlining important scriptures of personal promise.  It's faith building for me to read things she was praying about diligently and to be able to look back on the answers that eventually came.

Journals are great.  They help me sort through muddled thoughts and I've had many of them - both journals and muddled thoughts.  But my marked up Bibles are the things I hope my children will cherish most.

So, the scripture I read again today is found in Psalms 92.  At the top of the page I had written, "This passage is why I can START writing @ age 55."  And here's the promise:  "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree....They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright, he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.'"

Beside the scripture, I have the date this promise first jumped out at me - 2014.  Below it I wrote, "My Message."

While we were in NC, one of Mom Hawley's lifetime friends came by the house for a visit.  While there, she told how much she enjoys reading Embrace the Grace.  Then her sister said, "Becky got me reading your blog.  I really like it."

I was so touched that Becky not only takes time to read but that she shares it with her sister and others, she said. Every writer longs to impact their readers.  And my greatest desire is to use some personal story or illustration to remind whoever may read:

  • God is upright
  • He sees us each one
  • He promises to be our Rock
  • He is not wicked - He is LOVE
  • His promises are true
  • He wants us to fulfill the potential within us
If I can use this blog to stay fresh and green; bearing fruit into old age then I will have fulfilled the potential He placed in me.  End of sermon, I promise!

What is one of your favorite scripture promises?  Do you write in your Bibles?  Do you have one passed on to you that has special memories?  I'd love to hear from you today.  Blessings!  





Friday, April 21, 2017

Dad Hawley

On Monday April 10th, Joseph Odell Hawley transitioned to his Heavenly home.  We know we'll see Dad again some day; but for now, our loss is keenly felt and we weep often.

Mom Hawley and two daughters were by his side at the moment of his passing.  We were all so glad he wasn't alone.  Someone of the family had been with him around the clock for over three weeks. Nurses and doctors all commented about how much he was loved.

He was loved.  Deeply!

Frank and I left for NC before dawn on Tuesday.  All three of our girls and Kristin's husband, Cody, left Tuesday afternoon.  They broke the drive up because Joy is within four weeks of delivery.

John and Nathan stayed in FL to juggle children, jobs and home; making it possible for their wives to be at Grandpa's funeral. Have you heard me mention how amazing our sons are?!  Good Good Men Indeed!

Some of you will remember that Frank is part of a "blended" family; a yours, mine and ours group. Dad had two children, Dexter and Marsha from his first marriage.  Mom had Frank.  Then Mom and Dad had Kirk and Terry.  If there ever was a study in how to do blended family well, it's their family.

Almost right away, Frank became extremely close to Dexter who was two years older than him.  Marsha found her spot as the only girl.  And everyone doted on the younger brothers who served to cement the family.  With them, there were no "steps" or "halves."  Everyone was Family.

Sadly, Dexter was killed in a car accident the month before Frank and I were married.  Kirk and Terry were only 7 and 9 at that time.  Frank determined in his heart to be as involved in their lives as an older sibling can possibly be.  Christmas, birthdays, graduations, then weddings and their own children were big cheering points for us.

I've always been impressed with how those three brothers can be away from one another for months at a time then pick right back up laughing, teasing, encouraging one another just as if they'd been together last week.  It's exactly what Frank had most desired even though we've lived far away most of their lives.

There are many funny stories to tell and several poignant ones.  But I decided to simply share the points Frank gave at the funeral.  Sharing at a parent's memorial service is always difficult.  I was especially proud of how Frank carefully wove a rich tapestry using words of comfort, sorrow and humor to blanket the hurting hearts of those present.

Mom and Dad's pastor gave the actual sermon.  Frank wanted to only serve that day as a son telling others about the dad he loved.  These were his main points:

  • Dad wasn't educated but he was very wise.  He had to leave school after the eighth grade in order to work on the farm.  His work ethic was the example for his children.  We're all hard workers and we all went to him for advice.
  • Dad wasn't rich but he was extremely wealthy.  Look around you, the people gathered here are the testimony of his wealth.
  • Dad was tough but he also had a tender side.  He could put us boys in our place, even in our teen years.  His massive hands were weathered and calloused; his handshake could crush a weaker man. But our favorite picture is of him holding our grandson Noah at about two months.  The two are locked in a stare and smiling at one another.  Dad has one huge hand cradling Noah's infant head, the other laid protectively over Noah's tiny chest.  
  • Dad loved us all fiercely and he made sure we knew it.
Our girls sang a precious medley of favorite hymns then the pastor brought a touching message. The graveside service was brief.  The presentation of the flag from his coffin was most moving.  We cried together, hugged one another, laughed at funny memories and shared a beautiful meal prepared by their home church.  (It felt rather odd to be served and to not help clean up.)

We were shocked when we looked up to see our dear friends, Steve and Becky (Nathan's parents) in the hallway of the chapel.  They had just closed their Easter drama with a final performance the night before; drug their exhausted bodies out of bed before dawn; then drove the three hours to be with us by 10:30. We were overwhelmed by such an act of love and Meagan just burst into tears. 

Our own church and several individual families sent beautiful flowers.  The little hometown florist was especially impressed that she had received an order from New York.  Our precious friends John and Linda (John's parents) were there in spirit, too by way of their lovely arrangement.
I'll close today's post with a rather long passage of scripture Frank read at the memorial.  It's written by an older man (Paul) to his apprentice (Timothy).  What I'm using is from a more modern translation which I enjoy.  Please take time to read over it slowly.  And may our hearts be both encouraged and challenged:

 "And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don't want you in the dark any longer.  First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.  Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.
And then this:  We can tell you with complete confidence - we have the Master's word on it - that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind.  In actual fact, they'll be ahead of us.  The Master himself will give the command.  Archangel thunder!  God's trumpet blast!  He'll come down from heaven and the the dead in Christ will rise - they'll go first.  Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master.  Oh, we'll be walking on air!  And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master.  So reassure one another with these words."








Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Curtains

There is such a thin curtain between our world and eternity.

Thanks to many prayers, some caffeine, a few phone calls and lots of good music I made the ten hour drive to NC safely.  Then it was straight to the hospital where the truth of that opening statement began to sink into my heart all over again.

Dad Hawley has rallied some but everyone continues to take turns staying with him through the night.  Mom Hawley takes the day shift, arriving at dawn and leaving just before dark.  (We all know she can't keep up this schedule but prying her away right now would be impossible.)

He sleeps quite a bit even though they've pulled back on the pain meds.  His vital signs remain weak but steady.  And he talks occasionally.  Yesterday he informed Frank's youngest brother that everyone had left him up there without any money at all.  Terry put a $10 bill in the pocket of his hospital gown.

Then there was the midnight "conversation" Dad had with his own mother who passed away over 30 years ago.  Frank sat silently in the dark; just listening.  Not daring to interrupt as he knows so well about the "thin curtain" fluttering between our world and eternity.  We've observed many loved ones catching glimpses of Heaven as they approach the threshold.

I think Dad is a little bit like Paul the apostle who said, "I want to go on to Heaven because I know the joys waiting for me there.  But I also want to be here for you.  Such a dilemma!"

Kristin and I were able to put finishing touches on Mom's little apartment.  (Actually, Kristin worked tirelessly to unpack, sort, and arrange what everyone had spent days packing.  I just came on the scene in time for the fun stuff.)

We dashed around town all day Thursday comparing prices and collecting necessary odds and ends. Frank came by long enough to put nails in the walls for us.  Pictures were hung, rugs and throw pillows arranged, kitchen/closets/bath organized.  The finishing touch was, of course, curtains hung at the windows. They provided the pop of color and polish needed to complete each room.

When Mom had left that morning, she had to carefully wind her way through a maze of chaos. Boxes stacked high against each wall; bits and pieces of stuff everywhere.  She was so frustrated and anxious; she told Kristin, "This will NEVER feel like home!"

Thursday evening she stepped into a totally organized and decorated haven of peace.  She stopped at the door and began to cry.  "It looks just like a picture in a magazine," she whispered.

Mom was totally surprised.  She had no idea what joy and loveliness was waiting for her as she stepped through the doorway that evening. We couldn't have been happier and may have shed a few tears, as well.

Lorrie (another sister-in-law) was simultaneously trying to help move Mom Hawley and her newlywed daughter.  Getting Mom settled will be a huge relief to all our family there in the town. Now everyone can focus on Dad's care.

In the middle of it all, we received news that a dear member of our church named Bonnie had unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse and in a matter of hours stepped through the curtain from this world into eternity. We were in total shock as I had just spent time with her before coming up and thought she was doing better.

As the Lord would have it, Frank just happened to be on the phone with her family when she transitioned.  They put him on speaker phone and he was able to pray with them.

We will be heading back to FL for her memorial.  It won't be easy to leave our family here but knowing the truth about the "thin curtain" gives us comfort:


  • We will see Bonnie again! 
  • When Dad steps through, he too will be more alive at that moment than he ever has been here.
  • Christ made this assurance possible for all of us who simply believe.
  • Living well here (forgiving, loving, releasing things) prepares us for our future there.
  • Like Mom, we have no idea what joys are waiting for us all on the other side of the curtain called Life.
  • Walking with Christ as our guide is the ONLY way to fully live in this world!

As I sit writing, a cool breeze is fluttering the curtains I can see. I hear the gentle song of wind chimes in the distance.  I'm aware there is so much I can't see or even begin to comprehend.  But in our moments of uncertainty, we look up to our Savior and sing with the saints of old, "Many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand.  But I know who holds tomorrow and I know He holds my hand."  









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