Saturday, February 29, 2020


Usually, we're glad to experience EXTRA.

Like today.  February 29 is an EXTRA day.  Leap year only occurs once every four years.  But here we are in a leap year and we're blessed with an extra day in February.

(I'm especially thankful because I've had an unusually busy month.  This extra day means I can have at least two posts for February of 2020.  In this case, EXTRA is a blessing.)

We also enjoy EXTRA when we find it attached to words like:

  • Savings
  • Toppings
  • Time
  • Money
  • . . . feel free to fill in your favorite Extra.

Our family has been extra blessed to have Mom Hawley visiting us for two weeks.  We think the last time she came was when Kristin and Cody were married in 2015.  This is the first time she has come to stay with us for such a long time.

We've tried to get her here for years reminding her how many of her friends would LOVE to visit family in FL during the winter months.  This was the year.  It's been a little colder than normal so we teased and said she brought the cold weather with her.  But she's having a great time.

We've been able to watch Noah play t-ball.  (A new adventure for our entire family.)  We've introduced her to catfish which she discovered she likes.  She's been with us for a couple of baby-sitting adventures.  She went to have her hair done by Joy at school.  And she was the star guest at a McGhee family s'more party.

Our church family is also loving on her in big ways.  One lady, Burnette, heard how much Mom likes her special Christmas fruitcake.  So what did Burnette do but make one for Mom?!  What an Extra special gift.  She has been given jars of home made jam.  Everyone has lined up to give her a hug.  And she's heard story after story of how this church loves her son, their pastor.  EXTRA!

Frank and I have also experienced some of the EXTRA's you don't typically enjoy.  For example:
  • Charge
  • Sick
  • Slow
  • . . .again, feel free to add your own word.
A small tickle in Frank's throat on Tuesday turned into a full blown extra special cold.  He was totally out of commission for two days.  Which meant I had to jump into high gear  in order to teach the Bible study on Wednesday and visit the hospital on Thursday.  John and Kristin helped cover the other empty spots.  

Then Friday, I gave in to the same bug and ended up sleeping most of the day.  EXTRA rest was required and I acquiesced.  Hopefully, tomorrow everyone will be back on track, healthy and whole.

So here is my hope for you today, Dear Reader.

May you and those you love be EXTRA blessed.  
May you feel EXTRA loved by our Heavenly Father.
May you stumble upon EXTRA opportunities.
May you offer EXTRA hugs and forgiveness to those around you.
May you find that forgiveness coming back to you in EXTRA measures.

Blessings to you all!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Radio Silence Broken

It feels like I've been on radio silence since the first of February.  But I promise, there was a legitimate reason.  Several legitimate reasons, in fact.

First off, Frank and I flew to North Carolina to speak for a couples' retreat.  Our lifetime friends, Pastors Buddy and Cheryl Denton were hosting the event for their church in Askewville, NC.  We stayed together at the beautiful river home of a friend in their congregation.  The cold weather was a treat for these FL hearts.

We really do enjoy participating in marriage retreats because we see such wonderful fruit.  We share stories that help couples laugh together and finally realize, "Hey!  We're not the only ones who struggle with these questions." 

Of course, every speaker worth their salt knows, you teach best out of your own experiences/ victories.  And there never ever has been a victory without a struggle.  Which means, your own marriage is going to be tested before you're allowed to teach others.  Are you tracking with me? 

Yep.  We love speaking for marriage retreats but we're well aware of the price that must be paid for that privilege.  No matter, the fruit is always worth the effort.

Teaching at the Retreat
Lifetime Friend, Cheryl Denton
We left early on Monday morning to drive two hours south to Dunn.  Why?  Because when you're that close to your mom, you make the extra effort to see her. Even if it only means a quick lunch together and a few extra hugs.  Mamas are special like that.

Frank and Mom Hawley

We enjoyed the bonus of getting to see our adopted daughter, Amanda there too.  She spun her own crazy schedule into high gear and met us at the local diner with two of her three precious boys.  After lunch, Frank and I drove the hour back to Raleigh to catch our flight home. 

Adopted Daughter, Amanda

Teaching 8 times in 3 days made for weary travelers

Then February is birthday month in a BIG way with our family.  First off, it was the NINTH birthday for this guy - none other than Spencer Matthew Schreck!  He is the one who MADE us grandparents.  What a treasure this kid is to us all.

Spencer gave me a hug on the Sunday before his special day and announced, "Noni, you will have a nine year old grandson in just three days!"

I returned the squeeze and lovingly corrected him, "Yes, your birthday is just around the corner.  Papa and I are so excited.  But you're turning 8, Sweetheart, not 9."  (Silly little fella trying to rush it.)

He looked me almost directly in the eye (he will be taller than me soon) and set things straight.  "Noni, I'm 8 right now.  I'll be 9 on Wednesday!"

It almost took my breath away to realize he was right!  Oh, my how time flies.

Then, five days later it was time to celebrate the girl who made us parents.  Kristin made her appearance during the middle of a snow storm when we lived in the Asheville, NC area.  We've always been thankful for the semi-truck that slowly plowed the way for us to make it the 30 miles to the hospital.  We were the only two vehicles we saw on the road that night.  What a gift!

Kristin, Cody and Parker

Kristin is now a happy mommie taking care of her own little family.  She serves alongside us at Garden Grove Church helping with everything from music to toddlers to administrative details.  Frank and I aren't real sure how we were chosen to enjoy all our children and grandchildren living in the same location.  But we know it is an unusual GIFT.  And we grow more grateful every day.

Finally, today is the birthday of the lady who made me a sister.  Vonnie turns double nickels today and is still the cutest blonde around.  This picture was taken during our first ever "sister getaway" this past summer.  It may have been the first but we certainly hope it won't be the last.

Mom always called us "Chocolate & Vanilla"

In between all this travel and celebrating, we've started new connect groups at our church.  We've held multiple meetings, attended the funeral of a dear friend, made hospital visits, gotten our house ready for a special visitor.  And tonight we'll marry a lovely couple and attend their wedding dinner.

Life is never boring, that's for sure!

I want to leave you with a scripture that has become especially powerful for Frank and for me.  This particular promise is recorded in The Passion Translation.  Psalm 139:5  "You've gone into my future to prepare the way and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.  With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me."

Isn't that a splendid thought?  As we choose the path God has laid out for us, He goes ahead of us preparing the way.  He protects us from the past and His hand of blessing is resting on us.

I hope this verse speaks to you as it has to me.  Have a Blessed weekend!

How about you? Is there a particular month that has lots more birthdays for your family?  Have you been caught off-guard by the birthday of a grandchild?  We'd love to hear about it in the comment section below.....