Monday, March 25, 2019

Day ONE!

Today is the first day of the REST of your life!

We've all heard this statement many times.  But the simplicity of this truth has hit me in a fresh way.

Frank and I had the privilege of attending a memorial service yesterday afternoon.  The service took place in Pennsylvania so we were part of the hundreds watching via live-stream.  The service was a 2 1/2 hour celebration of life.  The life of David Andrew Kyllonen.

"Sheri, did you watch the entire service?"

We did!

"Was he a family member?"


"Was he your former co-worker?  Pastor?  Professor?"

Well, the answer to that would be Yes and No.

You see, Dave Kyllonen was a mentor to us.  He and his precious wife Judy (married 60 years) had three daughters.  Just like us.  Dave and Judy served as pastors, evangelists and people with a love for missions.  Just like us.  They were passionate about family and faith and helping family embrace their faith.  Just like us.

So when we met them in 1995, we were immediately drawn to them.  Their daughters were serving God even though their dad had been involved in ministry all their lives.  We wanted to know how they did it!

The Kyllonens quickly became more than acquaintances.  They welcomed us into their home (which was a class A motor home at the time) and into their hearts.  They came to our little pioneer work on the coast of NC and ministered to our congregation of 100 as though it was 1000.

Did I mention that Dave had ministered to thousands?  He was a founding member of The Couriers, an internationally known men's singing group.  As bass singer for The Couriers, Dave had experienced every kind of ministry venue.  Huge crowds at conventions and churches were commonplace.  Scores of albums recorded; magazine articles; a book or two.  They even sang regularly on syndicated television,  He had traveled to all fifty states, every province of Canada and several foreign countries when we first met.

But he and his family came alive each evening as they brought hope and a challenge to our fledgling church plant.  We were completely taken in by such integrity!

During that first evangelistic outreach in our community, we all realized they had also come to drop a new vision into the hearts of the Hawley family.  Dave and Judy, along with their three daughters and their families generously affirmed our work and took time to become friends to each of our daughters.

They were the first to say to us, "Of COURSE, you could do what we're doing!  You absolutely could travel to churches and sing and encourage people to fight for wholeness in their families. Don't waste time looking at what you don't have in your hand, look at the resources you DO have.  Make today Day One of your next season!"

They were the ones who inspired us to finally "hit the road" in the summer of 1999.  What followed was a huge leap of faith and a six year season of our lives.  It wasn't an easy path but it was one we look back on with joy.  We will forever be glad that we dared to dream, took that leap of faith and acted on our dream.

During our first encounter, Dave preached a message on following your dreams.  We wrote down every point and rehearsed it sitting around our own dinner table with our girls.  Together we pondered the truth of his message and dared to begin dreaming for our own family.

I want to share the key points, which I still have memorized, with you:

D.  Dreams give us DIRECTION.  Don't keep plodding along with one day exactly like the other.  Dare to dream and see where those God-sized dreams will lead you.

R.  Dreams require RISK.  It's a proven fact, you will have to risk something in order to follow your dreams; perhaps your nice safe way of life.  But remember, the outcome will be worth the risk.

E.  Dreams fulfilled will take EFFORT.  Everyone hits a wall when pursuing their dream.  It takes tenacity and faith to get up, get over the wall and keep going.  Make the effort!

A.  Dreams will test your ATTITUDE.  Can you find something to be grateful for in the middle of the struggle?  Check your attitude.  Stay optimistic.  Believe that God can and He will.

M.  Dreams will MOTIVATE the dreamer.  Once you've articulated what you hope to make happen, keep that vision clear.  Let it motivate you; drive you during the darker turns in your journey.

S. Dreams all have SEASONS.  Most dreamers in scripture and in history have had to wait decades to see their dreams fulfilled.  But rest assured, when the season is right, your dream WILL be fulfilled.

Isn't that powerful?

Isn't it powerful that even after he has gone on to meet the Savior he served, Dave is still "preaching" hope and encouragement through today's post.  I think he'd be happy to know that.

So I bring the challenge to you, dear reader.  What dream of your heart needs to be re-visited?  Polish it off.  Consider again the people that will be impacted by your risk.  Listen to the motivation stirring in your soul, perhaps THIS is the season for fulfillment.

Make today DAY ONE in moving toward seeing that dream come about!

How about you?  Have you stepped forward in a dream?  Tell us about it. Is there a mentor that has been important in your life?  Leave a tribute here in the comment section.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ode to Routine

Routine may seem an odd thing to laud but that's my exact intent for today's post.  Let me explain.....

When our girls were little, I worked very hard as a stay-at-home-mom.  I also kept up with Frank's schedule of church events, led our choir and produced musicals for the Christian school the girls attended.  But my number one job was that of Mommie!

When Meagan was first born, we only had one vehicle.  Even though Frank's office was a short 10 minute drive away, this still meant I spent many days at home with three little girls.  It was not unusual for me to be home with them for two or three days in a row.

Let me just step away from the main theme for a moment and cheer for ALL stay-at-home-parents!  Those days will be forever etched in my memory.  Some days were wonderful and some days were the pits.  Can't lie. But that season passed far more quickly than I could ever have imagined.

A dear friend shared this wonderful line with me, "Sheri, the days drag and the years fly.  Enjoy them while you can."  True Words!

As I was thinking back on that time this morning, I thought of the daily routine I established for us.  With so little that changed from morning to night (little children seem to be in a constant state of need) I soon realized I needed something to signal the start and end of my "working" hours.  That signal would help me transition and offer some sanity to my crazy days.

For me the signal was . . . Tennis Shoes.

Yep, when I put on those tennis shoes each morning they became the signal to my internal self that my "work day" had begun.  I may or may not have time for a shower.  I may or may not get to eat breakfast.  I may or may not speak to another adult during those first hours.  But the tennis shoes meant I was in "Go Mode" and there would be no slowing down until nap time.

There also came a definitive moment each evening after dinner when I would ceremoniously remove the tennis shoes.  I would joyfully replace them with my well-worn bedroom slippers.  Those shoes also sent an important signal to my desperately tired internal self, "It's okay to take a deep cleansing breath now.  Every single girl made it safely through the day.  Good Job, Mommmie! Time to wind down."

Simplistic, perhaps.  But it was a routine that served me well for over 20 years of being a full-time Mom.  There were a couple of other routine staples for me during those early days.  Sesame Street was the only tv time each morning.  Then, I would listen to the radio until two teaching shows came on each Monday through Friday.  I listened faithfully to Chuck Swindoll and then to Focus on the Family.  Both radio shows made me feel less isolated and kept me learning; vitally important.

I also took the girls for a walk everyday that we could manage with the cold mountain weather.  This meant I loaded all three little blondes into a stroller built for one child.  Kristin would sit in the actual seat and hold baby Meagan, who I strapped in.  Then Joy would stand on the frame behind them holding onto the handles going up beside her.

It was no easy task pushing those girls uphill, over two more city blocks, past the local pharmacy,  back downhill toward our home.  But the routine of those daily walks became important.  It meant we were getting fresh air, looking at something besides our tiny house and often praying for people or pets we encountered along the way.

I wish I had a specific story to share from one of those walks, but I can't remember even one.  The point was that we made the trek so often, not that we rehearsed any of the single moments.  And I guess that's the entire point about routines.

Whatever your routines may look like, don't forget to celebrate them.  They have purpose.  They serve as anchors, keeping the rest of life stable.

My life has been totally devoid of any semblance of routine for several weeks now.  Getting ready for Israel; traveling 7000 miles from home; experiencing a new culture; new climate; new people; new food; coming home and trying to reacclimate.   Travel is definitely NOT for the faint of heart.  I guess that's what triggered my Ode to Routine today.  There are some things we don't miss until they're no longer available in our lives.  Those are my rambling thoughts for this routine Monday . . . .

I'd love to hear about the routines in your life.  Especially routines you recognize as being beneficial.
Please tell us about them in the comment section below.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Shalom! We're Home!

Israel Was Resplendent!

It seems impossible that we've already gone and returned home - but time slows for no one.  Our ten days were full to the absolute brim with walking and sight-seeing and laughter and tears.  Such a RICH experience on so many levels.

We landed back in Miami around 8:30 Friday morning.  We made it home to Winter Haven around 3PM.  I'm working diligently to get myself on local time. Keep moving even though all you want to do is go to bed. One short nap Saturday. Lots of water consumption. Light meals.  Keep Moving!  Finally fall into bed around 9.  Even though we've been home three days, I'm risking heavy eyelids to sit still and write this post.

I'll probably write about experiences over the next couple of weeks but I wanted to quickly share a few of my favorites today.

  • Boat Ride on the Sea of Galilee - Last time we visited, the weather was too bad and our boat ride was cancelled.  This time, we went early in the morning and it was phenomenal.  Our captain just happens to be a Messianic Jew.  (Meaning he has accepted Christ as Savior.)  We glided across the sea while Daniel led us in worship songs.  Frank read the passage about Peter walking on the water - that very water.  I looked over at the mountainous terrain and realized Jesus would have seen those same hills.  My tears fell freely!
  • Prayer Time in Gethsemane - Our tour guide was extremely thoughtful about setting up special moments.  He made an appointment for our group to have the prayer garden all to ourselves for 50 minutes.  They literally locked us in so we wouldn't be disturbed.  We started out together as Frank read the passage from Luke; then we dispersed, each finding a quiet place to pray among the ancient olive trees.  It was a holy time.
  • Dinner with Amanda - We have a friend named Amanda who works in Jerusalem.  She was just a teen-ager when we first became acquainted with her family during our evangelist days.  Since she lives 7,000 miles away now, we definitely needed to connect with her.  We offered to bring things from the States for her but the only items she requested were peppermint gum and organic peanut butter. :-)  It was a delight to introduce her to our team, share stories and even close the evening with prayer.  When you open your arms to offer a hug, the world becomes a brighter place.
  • Broken-down Bus - The power steering went out on our tour bus and it ended up being one of my favorite moments.  Of course, there's more to it than that.  I wanted a group shot before we left Tiberius so I asked our guide if we could turn into an overlook.  It "just happened" there was one at the next light.  As we made the u-turn, our steering went out.  But fortunately, we were all set with a fabulous view of the sea and a blue, cloudless sky.  Our jackets made the cool breeze bearable.  So while our tour guide and driver scrambled to make new arrangements, we held an impromptu Sunday service overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  We sang and Frank shared a devotion.  We prayed together and spent some time journaling.  Only later did we realize our guide and driver were relieved by our response to the trouble.  God never wastes anything.
I guess I'll let those do it for now.  My eyelids a drooping and that's dangerous.  Time to get up and start moving again.  I trust your week will hold surprise blessings hiding among the troubles!