Daddy Speaks Volumes Without Saying a Word

Daddy at Shokitin's

My dad enjoying karaoke after Amber’s graduation from The University of Georgia

You ever had one of those conversations that you initially felt the purpose was to benefit someone else, only later you sense that perhaps God may have had a hand at orchestrating the time of that particular conversation for your benefit as well?

I believe I recently experienced that exact situation.

On Monday, December 3, 2012, my dad and I discussed how we felt God was bringing my daughter, Amber, through a season of relying totally on Him for everything that she could possibly need as she would head off to YWAM, a mission training school in Colorado Springs on January 10, 2013. My dad said that Amber was going to have to trust God and not allow circumstances cause her to doubt, which is exactly what I had just told her. We also talked about believing the whole Word of God.

I felt this was confirming what Amber and I had previously discussed.

My dad and I talked in-depth about trusting God and standing on His Word for approximately thirty minutes, until my step-mom called and our conversation was cut short. At that point in time I did not know that this would be the last extensive conversation I would enjoy with my dad.

I would be able to briefly hear his voice one last time on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, when I called him to inquire the status of a friend’s wife that had been hospitalized.

Then at 9:47 a.m. on Friday, December 7, 2012, as I was drinking a cup of coffee, my phone began to ring, showing my dad’s number.  I answer it, expecting to hear my dad’s voice, only to hear my baby brother telling me that he has just found our dad, alive, but unresponsive. He had already called 911.

As I am running across the road to my dad’s house, I keep saying, “Please God, let him be ok, Please God, let him be ok.”

The first responders are already there. I try to be strong but it’s really hard to see my dad like that. I go to my brother, he puts his arm around me and we just stand there as we watch them work on our dad. As they sit him up against the bed; I go put my hand on his head and begin to pray out loud so he knows that I am there. I then move out of the way, so that the first responders can do their job.

I call my friend, Jamie, while they are working on Daddy, who prays with me over the phone. Thank you so very much, Jamie : )

All of our family meets at the hospital, not knowing exactly what has happened. After a few hours have passed and tests are run, they call all of us in the room, and tell us that Daddy had a massive bleed deep in his brain and now there is no brain activity. We are devastated! All of our family except my sister that lives in Illinois is here. She and her family are on their way.

They tell us they will move him to ICU and we will have a few days to decide what to do.

On Saturday the doctors tell us that another scan shows his brain is absorbing some of the bleeding. He is even moving around and opening his eyes. But this is only the beginning of what would be a rollercoaster ride for the next two weeks of my dad’s physical improvements and relapses.

I am a big believer in the Word of God. I believe there is power in speaking the Word. I continued to speak specific scriptures over my dad. I truly believe the reason God gave us His Word is to teach us, to prepare and equip us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Our words make a difference. We can speak positive or negative. “The tongue can bring death or life.” Proverbs 18:21

I stood firmly on God’s Word, believing for my dad’s healing, no matter what the doctors would say, and praying over him each time I was in the room. I reminded him numerous times of our last conversation about trusting God and standing on His Word. Even though he was unable to speak I felt sure that he understood what I was saying.

After some signs of improvement at first, we were hopeful. He then contracted pneumonia, which we felt was serious, but turned out not to be the fatal issue.

The doctors told us that the bleed had caused such damage, that he would probably not be able to lead a productive life, even if when taken off the ventilator, he could breathe on his own. We as a family had to make a decision of whether to keep him on the ventilator or take him off, since he could not speak for himself, and had no living will.

Then one day as I was taking my authority, as it says to do in Luke 10:19, over the thief, that I knew was trying to steal my dad’s health, and claiming the abundant life, which Jesus came for him to have; (John 10:10) my dad began to squeeze my hand extremely hard. I opened my eyes and noticed he was looking directly at me. I said “Daddy you remember what we talked about, don’t you, trusting God and standing on His Word? That’s what I’m doing for you.”

The intensity of his stare deep into my eyes, not only told me with certainty that he understood what I was saying, but perhaps he was trying to tell me something in return. What was it? As I continued my conversation with my dad, I felt I realized what he was trying to tell me. It was as though Daddy was saying, “Yes, I remember our conversation, Do you?” I felt at that point I knew that Daddy meant I had to trust God, because He knew what was best for Daddy.

Later that night, I couldn’t sleep, my thoughts went back to my conversation with my dad on December 3, 2012. During our conversation, I mentioned to my dad how God not only provides all that we need but, “If we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us our heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4  My dad commented, “Sometimes our heart’s desires are not what is best for us though, so God may not give them to us.”

My heart’s desire had been for my dad’s physical body to be healed and made whole so he could stay here on earth with his family, but I felt as though my dad was saying I had to trust God to know what was best for him. I know without a doubt that God can and does provide physical healing here on earth, but if my dad’s physical body were still here, he would have to deal with sickness and disease and many other things, just as we all do.

After sensing in my heart this was what my dad was saying, there was such a battle within me. Do I go to my dad and say, “It’s ok, you don’t have to fight to stay here for me, for us.” Would I be giving up? Will that make my dad feel like I am giving up on him? I was so torn.

They were already calling hospice in.

On December 20 around 10:45 a.m. they took Daddy off the ventilator. It was an especially emotional time. I wanted to be in the room, but I couldn’t watch. I buried my face in my husband’s chest. He talked to me as the nurse removed the tube, “He’s doing great. He looks good. Almost there. Ok, you can look now.”  Several of us stayed back with Daddy for a while. I didn’t want to leave until I knew that he was stable. All of his vitals remained reasonably stable with medication to help him rest throughout the day, until the evening.

Sometime in the late afternoon, I remember going out in the ICU waiting room. My sister, Sharon, and Mr. Dennis, my dad’s good friend, who had been with us throughout the whole time, stayed in the room with Daddy. Then Mr. Dennis came to the door and said the nurse thought we should all come back.

The nurse told us because he was working so hard to breathe, Daddy’s heart could wear out within the hour. We went and got the grandkids from the waiting room, gathered around Daddy, loved on him, talked to him, each one of us said what we wanted to say to him. Then we began to sing Christmas Carols. Yes, we sang Christmas Carols right there in ICU room # 11.

They moved Daddy to another room on another floor, so that we could all be together as much as we wanted. More family came and joined us kids and grandkids, my step-mom and Mr. Dennis in the room. And we filled up the whole waiting room with Aunt Mary, Uncle Laverne (aka Glen), Vicki, Roger & Teresa, Steve & Belinda, Kevin & Kaye, Lee & Laney, Brother Johnny & Ms. Darlene, Tim & Courtney, (what would we have done without our precious Courtney,thank you for taking such good and loving care of Daddy).

More singing continued. We laughed. We cried. We loved on Daddy and each other. My sister, Cindy, and I shared a little couch that night. My brother-in-law, Matt, snored, which, quite honestly didn’t bother me in the least. I am used to much worse. My sister, Sharon, didn’t sleep at all. She stayed right by my dad’s side all night long. Every time I opened my eyes she was right there beside him. I don’t know for sure when my brother, Eldon left. I remember seeing my sister-in-law, Sheree, in the early morning because she brought coffee. I need my coffee. My baby brother, Eric, and my step-mom stayed there in the room with us until sometime in the early morning, I think. I don’t recall the exact time they left. My Aunt Mary and her two daughters, Belinda and Teresa stayed well into the early morning too I believe. I’m not sure when Mr. Dennis left. Seemed like he was always there. He’s just become part of the family.

Hospice had scheduled a bed to be delivered to my dad’s house the next morning around 9:30. They were to transport my dad home around 12 or 12:30. We were informed that the bed did not come with sheets, so I made a Wal-Mart stop and picked up sheets, some new pillows, a new cotton blanket, and a few other things that Courtney had told me that we would need.

I went to my dad’s house and me and my brother, Eldon, got the bed ready. It wasn’t long and Daddy was home and settled in. Next thing you know, everyone was there. One Hospice nurse told us, if you are a loud family, then be loud, if you are a loving family, love on him. Well; we are loud and we are loving; so that’s what we did.

Once again, we laughed, we cried. My brother, Eldon, brought out the photo albums. Lot of laughing going on there. Then, the singing began again. My brother-in-law, Matt, sings so beautifully. I love to hear him sing. Anything. And he did, and we all sang together. But one of the most treasured moments for me was when I was standing beside my dad holding his hand, and my sisters, Sharon and Cindy, were standing directly across gazing so lovingly at Daddy, and we were singing, don’t recall the song,  I looked up at Matt, wondering if he wanted to come and join us, and he just nodded toward Cindy as if to say, “She’s got this.” I looked at both of my sisters with such joy and pride in my heart while they so elegantly sang to our dad, as he was getting ready to go and meet our Lord and Savior.

One thing the Hospice nurse told me that has stuck with me. If you are with your loved one when they take their final breath, I can’t think of a better place to be. It’s like being in the presence of the Lord. How awesome is that?

As hard as it was to watch my dad struggling to breathe; I couldn’t leave. We were all gathered around him, in his favorite spot at home when he took his last breath.

We buried my dad on Christmas Eve morning. I felt sure that there would not be many people able to attend the service because of the holidays and the suddenness of the situation. The funeral home attendant instructed us to sit as closely as possible as he was leading us out into the sanctuary because “it was standing room only” he said.

The service was beautiful, with my niece, Bethany, playing the piano, my daughter Amber, and niece, Shelby, reading a very touching “Grandfather” poem, my cousin, Courtney, reading a rather inspirational poem, and my brother-in-law, Matt, on whom we can always rely to touch our hearts with his glorious voice, sang two beautiful songs. Two of my dad’s long-time friends, who are pastors, conducted the service, one of which read an amazing poem that my sister-in-law, Sheree, wrote herself. There were tears, but there was also laughter throughout the church. Yes, laughter. One of the pastors that has known my dad since I was young, told some funny stories and made us laugh. More than once.

How can we laugh? We know where my dad is. Do I miss him? Absolutely! You better believe it. Every day. It hurts like crazy! And there is nothing anyone can say or do to make it go away either.

About a week after the funeral I began to have time to just think about things. Down time, you know. Christmas was over. No more going back and forth to the hospital. No more having to run around and do stuff. We had our first family dinner without my dad. That was extremely hard for me.

Then I started thinking, what I was I doing that morning, the morning it happened? How long had Daddy been lying there and I was just across the road. My brother had described how he found my dad; and I will never forget how he looked when I got there. The thought of my dad lying there fighting for his life, and me directly across the road. I felt so guilty. I felt like I had let him down. Those images would not go away. I couldn’t get rid of this guilt.

I keep a journal. On this same morning I noticed that God had laid someone on my heart to send a scripture to just one hour before this happened. How can I trust myself to hear God’s voice if I can be casually drinking a cup of coffee while my dad is lying across the road literally fighting for his life?

Here I was again, not doubting God, but doubting my ability to hear God’s voice especially where the people closest to me are concerned, and this time my dad’s life was literally at risk because of it. I failed him when he needed me most.

Why did God not lay my dad on my heart? I do not blame God. No. I just felt so guilty. I have continued to wrestle with this over and over for the last three last weeks.

Then once again, my dad’s look from that day in the hospital room, came back to me, as if to say, “Do you remember our conversation? You have to trust God completely, that He knows what is best.”

I also know that this feeling of guilt is not of God, and Daddy would not want me to carry it around either. It doesn’t help me or anyone else. Romans 8:1 says “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Knowing that my dad had an intimate relationship with Jesus, that he has been given the ultimate healing, has eternal life, and that I will be with him again, does give me peace. As I said, I miss like crazy, but I think on one of the things that I heard my dad refer to so many times.

A long time ago my dad used to drink and smoke, but he quit, and he would say, “Me and the Lord quit drinking, and me and the Lord quit smoking.” That was his way of referencing Philippians 4:13 to his life “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” He knew that in his own strength he could not overcome these things, just as I cannot overcome the deep sadness, the void, and the guilt that I feel, in my own strength.

I continue to remember my conversation on December 3, 2012 with Daddy about standing on the Word of God, Hebrews 13:5  tells me that “God will never leave me or forsake me.”

John 14:27 tells me that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

And I love this, because I know that Daddy has a mansion that he is enjoying right now. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

And  2 Corinthians 5:7-9 says “For we live by believing and not by seeing.Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.”

I know that my dad is home with our Lord, and they would both want me to continue to share with others of God’s love and grace, and that the only way to eternal life is through Jesus Christ.

Yes, Daddy Continues to Speak Volumes Without Saying a Word.

May you all be extremely blessed,

Sheri Haskins : )

daddy and ms betty thanksgiving 2My dad and step-mom at Thanksgiving 2012. This is last picture I took of my dad just twelve days before he collapsed.

group grad photo

My daughter, Amber’s, graduation from The University of Georgia May 2012.

family shokitin photo

Family photo after karaoke fun at Shokitini’s

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011, our last Christmas with Daddy.

DSCN3351

My daughter, Kara’s 15th birthday, May 2012.

me and daddy after football game

Me and my dad on New Year’s Day 2012 after watching football.

DSCN3487

Father’s Day 2012

Advertisements

My Home is a Hardee’s in McDonough, GA

Hardee's

Hardee’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our youngest daughter, Kara, is a sophomore in high school, but in the last week of her 8th grade year, she and I, unwillingly, and at the mercy of my GPS, went on an adventure that left me extremely frustrated. Kara, on the other hand, I believe, actually enjoyed the incident. Ever since that day it has become an ongoing inside joke at my expense each time we travel. Honestly, I really don’t mind laughing about it now; but at the time, it was not funny at all!

Just to fill you in; that particular year, Kara was in Honor’s Chorus, and they were traveling to perform in Tifton, Ga. which is not very far from where we live, and I well-know the way there without the use of my GPS. I did, however, follow the school bus, since I did not know the exact location of the school where they would be performing.

I had planned on Kara returning with me to her school after their performance to meet with one of her teachers to catch up on some work. Leaving the school in Tifton, which did seem to be way out in the middle of nowhere, I wasn’t at all concerned about finding my way back. Clearly, I had my GPS if I couldn’t remember all the turns that we had taken.

Kara asked me if there was a Wal-Mart close by. I told her to input that information in the GPS. We started to head to Wal-Mart, but decided it was out of the way and would take too much of our time, seeing as her teacher would be waiting for us at her school. I told her that I remembered passing by a Walgreen’s on the way. We could just stop there.

After deciding not to go to Wal-Mart, we then changed our destination to “HOME”. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was in Tifton, and was not familiar with the particular area at all, but had my trusty Global Positioning System.

Not thinking anything at all about where “HOME” might be, I followed where my GPS was leading me, straight to Interstate 75. Now, for those of you that don’t know, normally to get to Tifton, I don’t take I-75, but I thought, after arguing for a few minutes with my wonderful navigation system, I would follow where it was guiding me and, hopefully, it would have me exit to my usual route before long.

My husband called and said that there were tornados reported in Albany,GA, which is approximately 40 miles from Tifton. In asking our location, I told him we were on 75. He asked, “Why in the world are you on 75?”  I explained to him about not knowing the surrounding area of the school, and how we had entered in the location of the nearest Wal-Mart, but changed our mind, then reset our destination to “HOME”, and this is where it led us. I told him how I had argued with the GPS, but it seemed determined for me to go this way, so I was looking for our normal course. He just said to be careful.

It started raining really hard. You could barely see the road signs. I tried to watch for the exit signs but visibility was minimal. I proceeded to drive at a slow even pace, thinking a few times that we may have to find a place to pull over. Finally the rain let up.

As Kara and I were riding along and talking, I realized nothing looked familiar to me. It seemed as though we had been on the road for quite a while, but I attributed it to the sluggish-moving traffic.

After stating my concerns of not recognizing anything at all, not even the names of any of the towns, we decided to pull off at the next exit. Kara asked, “You want me to check and see where “HOME” is?”  “Why would home be any different than it has ever been?” I said. “It has been the same place for the last 15 years”, I told her. “I don’t know.” she said.

She proceeded to check and found that “HOME” was Hardee’s in McDonough, Ga. “What the Heck?” Excuse me, but I don’t know how in the world that even happened. We live in Southeast Georgia, almost to the Florida line if that tells you anything.

Now, my daughter, Amber, was at UGA in Athens, for three years, and we would go and visit her. My dad and stepmom do borrow my GPS at times. I guess in the midst of all of this traveling and switching back and forth, somehow our home address got changed. Don’t ask me how, but it did.

When we finally got to a place to get something to eat, we found out that we were in Cordele, Ga. We had been headed to McDonough the whole time. In other words, we we had been traveling in the opposite direction since leaving Tifton.

Kara loved it. I was not having a good day at all. I was trying my best to get her back to the school so that she could get caught up on her work.

Although I knew my destination and my usual route, I allowed myself to become misdirected and distracted. I lost my focus of where I was originally supposed to be going. I ignored the quiet, calm, familiar voice of the Holy Spirit, that I sensed trying to get me to stop for a moment before leaving Tifton and check my GPS to find out WHY it was leading me on a different route. I was in such a hurry to get Kara back in time to finish her work that I became more focused on the task at hand, not Who gives me the strength to accomplish the task. That, I believe, is where I went wrong.

How many times in life do we start out doing what God has called us to do, then somehow wind up going in the opposite direction? We may continue doing good, and God can definitely still use us, but just think how much we could be missing out on if we fail to be still and quiet, and wait on Him, and listen for His direction.

Peter got distracted by the storm when Jesus called him out of the boat to walk over to Him. Peter was certain where he was going as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but as soon as Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to lose sight of his destination, and began to fear, doubt, and eventually started to sink, until Jesus stretched out his hand and grabbed hold of Peter. Matthew 14:28-33

For those who would like to stay in the center of God’s will, it can be true in life, whether in our professional careers or our personal relationships, we may set out knowing our original destination point, feeling certain we are still headed in the right direction, we might get deterred or distracted, oftentimes by circumstances that may arise or even by individuals that may be a part of our lives.

Ocean Hiking TrailIf we feel that God has called us to a specific purpose, our vision can become distorted and our hearing unclear when interrupted, maybe not intentionally or purposefully, by individuals that enter into our lives and possibly even family members, and cause us to veer off our initial path. But we can regain our focus if we stop and take our eyes off of everything and everyone else, return our focus on God.

Erwin McManus writes in his book Unleashed

“Yet even with all the noise pounding inside your head, you will still clearly hear the voice of Christ and His call if you listen carefully enough.”

Isaiah 30:19 promises us “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go, whether to the right or to the left.”

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Isaiah 48:17

James 4:8 tells us that if we “Draw near to God He will draw near to us.”

In Hebrews 13:5, God says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So many wonderful promises in God’s Word for His children, and He honors each and every one.

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind.” Numbers 23:19

You are not called to live the same life as everyone else, your life is unique before God, your path is yours and yours alone” Erwin McManus – Unleashed

May you follow the path that God has for you, and if you get off course, just “Be still, and know that He is God.” Psalm 46:10

May you all be extremely blessed,

Sheri Haskins : )

Ref, That’s Gotta Be Unnecessary Roughness, Right?

As I said in my last post; our grandson, Mason just started playing flag football. Even though I am new to this and don’t know all the rules; I feel quite certain that tackling your opponent to the ground and sitting on them, over and over again, would be considered unnecessary roughness, or at the very least, unsportsmanlike conduct, right?

Well, apparently; I have different ideas of what the rules of flag football are.

The thing is the coaches on the opposing team weren’t saying anything to their players about it; and neither were the referees. Nothing. At all. Not even a reprimand to the kids. Really? Are you kidding me? Finally one mom on “our team” told her child, “When he comes at you next time; you tackle him.”

Referee

Referee (Photo credit: Brandon Giesbrecht)

Someone jokingly told our daughter and son-in-law that Mason would put some hurting on some kids if he did that. He is a solid boy, if you know what I mean. They both replied at the same time, that not only would Mason NOT do that; but if he saw someone do it, he would tell the person doing it, to stop; and then he would help the person up that got pushed down. That is just how he is.

I noticed that my son-in-law, Kenny, called Mason over to the side and told him that he was doing a good job. He gave him some pointers, some football jargon that I didn’t understand, gave him a high-five, and again told him he was doing a good job. Not once did I hear him encouraging Mason to use the same tactics the other team was using.

I have to say; I was extremely proud of my son-in-law, and extremely proud of both of them for how they are raising our grandkids. What a great example they are setting, not only to Mason, but to whomever may be watching them.

Part of Mason’s cheering section.

Aunt Kara & Uncle Jacob

If you feel you have been attacked by the hurtful words or actions of someone and revenge is alluring to you; Romans 12:17-19 says:

We should “Never pay back evil with more evil. We should do things in such a way that everyone can see we are honorable. Do all that we can to live in peace with everyone. Never take revenge.”

Mason with his dad after the game. Mason’s team went on to win 28-0.

May you all be extremely blessed,

Sheri Haskins : )

Who’s Your Biggest Fan?

Our grandson, Mason, just started playing flag football. My husband, Roy, and I were unable to make it to his first two games. I told our oldest daughter, Amber, Mason’s mom, that we would be at his next game. She told Mason that he would have some surprise guests at his game, but did not tell him who it was. Mason’s other grandparents told him personally that they would be there; so he was expecting to see them.

Amber told me later in the week how excited Mason was when he saw we were there. That stirred within me a flood of memories of someone who, though they no longer are here in body, are forever in my heart, and I believe was my biggest fan.

My grandmother, Lucy Hickey, was always there for me, not only on special occasions, but when I needed someone to talk to, or wanted to watch something scary, but didn’t want to watch it by myself. She would take care of me when I was sick, staying up as late as it took, sitting by the fire until my ear would stop hurting, and I could finally go back to sleep.

Oh, she would make me work too, but I didn’t mind. From cutting okra and pulling corn early in the morning, to picking and shelling peas and butter beans.

I remember being right beside her in the kitchen as she dropped scalding hot tomatoes in a sink full of cold water. I could hardly wait to plunge my hand in to see if the skin was ready to peel off. I thought that was the coolest thing.

And; she would tell me what I needed to hear; sometimes, not exactly what I wanted to hear. But; she did that because she loved me. I miss that.

I can still hear her voice even though it has been eleven years now since she has been gone. It saddens me to think that Mason nor any of our other grandchildren will ever have the opportunity to meet her. But; as I look around at the lives of her children and grandchildren that she has touched with her love and generosity; I realize that she will be known to our grandchildren because she lives through us.

I would like to be able to say that I, in return, was Lucy Hickey’s biggest fan; but I would probably be standing in line with many others claiming the same thing. So I will have to share that title with those whom she so wholeheartedly cheered for over the span of their lives.

Although I haven’t spent as much time with my grandchildren as I would have liked; I hope that I have many more opportunities to prove to them that I am their “Biggest Fan”!

So, Who Do You Feel Is Your Biggest Fan?

This was my Grandma’s last birthday with us. My husband was snapping random photos of everyone. I can literally hear my Grandma saying, “Roy, you sucka, stop that”, as he was taking this picture of her.

I hope that each of you have had someone in your life to cheer you on; and may you be, in return, someone else’s “Biggest Fan”.

May you all be extremely blessed,

Sheri Haskins : )

Take A Walk on the Mild Side of Athens

Athens, Georgia – Where, if you dare to go anywhere near Sanford Stadium, on any given Saturday between the months of September and December during a home game, you will find it to be extremely crowded and loud with Georgia Bulldog fans. It can be exciting, if you like that sort of thing. Never thought that I would, but I certainly got caught up in it after attending my first game back in September 2010, and am now forever a DAWG fan. GO DAWGS!

   Me and my daughter, Kara, at our first Georgia Bulldog game September 2010. My daughter, Amber, was in the student section.

After that day, you could find me standing in front of my tv shouting “Go! Go! Go!” as Brandon Boykin ran a 100 yard kick return against Kentucky, and never, if at all possible, to miss another game again. 

My daughter, Amber, first began her education experience at the University of Georgia in the Fall of 2009 and will be graduating this coming Friday, May 11, 2012. I can’t believe it has gone by so fast.

Athens, Georgia – a place where just a quick run for a few groceries might bring you an encounter with one of these.

But Athens certainly has much more to offer if you take the time to look around; as I hope to show you from my recent visit there.

My youngest daughter, Kara, was on spring break the first week in April.  She and I decided to take that week to visit Amber. With only a few classes to attend and a minimal work schedule for the week; Amber was available to spend some quality time with Kara and I, and take us to see a few places that she has discovered while living in Athens these past three years.

I am not much for driving on the interstate, but to make it to Athens, well; that’s just part of it. So began our adventure to Athens with our GPS and our lovely lady with the British/English accent. Kara loves changing the language on that thing.  Now, if you are the person that drives 85 on the interstate; I am probably the one you fuss about. Oh; I drive the speed limit; because I don’t want to get run over; but goodness; I think 70 mph is fast enough.

I was so glad when we got off of I-75 at Macon! Give me two lane back roads where I can let my windows down and smell the sweet aroma of honeysuckle any day, versus the interstate where everybody thinks that when the speed limit changes to 60 it really means 75, and when it says 70 it means 80.

We had great traveling weather. It was absolutely beautiful from Macon to Athens on those two lane roads with our windows down, taking in the fresh air, where at one point Kara said, “Do you smell that? Is that honeysuckle?” “Yes, I believe it is”, I said.

Couldn’t be more perfect, until . . .  we got maybe 15 miles from Amber’s place and it started raining; and it was beginning to get dark. I don’t see well in the dark. Raining and dark, not a great combination for me. Being as Kara and I have not had the chance to visit Amber at her new place, we were just relying on our GPS to get us to the road Amber lived on; then we had instructions to call her.  Seeing as I am driving, Kara calls Amber and gets further instructions; not a good idea. After missing the turn several times, I pull in somewhere, don’t know where exactly, put Amber on speaker phone, and get step by step directions, which eventually leads to her saying, “Just keep driving straight. I see you, Mom. Don’t you see me? I’m waving at you.” “No, Amber, I don’t see you.” Kara says, “I see her, Mom. She is standing there on the right waving her arm in the air.” Finally she comes into my very strained eyesight. What should have taken only a 5 minute drive, took about 20 minutes for us to locate Amber, but at least we arrived safely.

Now, first night of visit + young girls = up all night talking.  Who am I kidding? Girls together in the same room = late night talking. Good thing Amber didn’t have an early morning class the following day. Good thing I didn’t have to get up early : ) The very first thing Kara wanted to do after Amber got out of class, was to visit a place that Amber frequents often, Menchie’s frozen Yogurt ,where you can mix whatever flavors you want and add your favorite toppings. This is self-serve. I got chocolate and Irish Mint with dark chocolate chips. Oh my, it was scrumptious!

We followed that up by visiting a locally owned video store and renting “The Muppet Movie”, for watching MUCH later that night. Oh, but we had to get ready for an evening at Wesley first. How amazing that was! Amber is on leadership there. All the leaders meet, worship and pray before the service begins. I was so amazed at the dedication of these young people. That was only the beginning, though. As I entered the sanctuary; I was blown away by the mass of college kids present in this place. It was packed on a Wednesday night. Every single seat was filled. They, then began sitting on the floor in the center aisle, in the back, and on the sides against the walls. “So this is what my daughter is a part of” I thought to myself.  My heart was filled with such joy as I joined in with hundreds of UGA college students who, so unashamedly worshiped God.  I was astounded that as Amber, Kara and I were leaving at 10 pm; so many were still standing with their arms outstretched to honor, glorify and worship our Lord Jesus Christ. For any of you parents that may have kids that are considering continuing their education at The University of Georgia and they would like a place to get connected with other believers; Wesley is a great place. Amber and her best friend, Anna, got plugged in immediately their freshman year at UGA.

After leaving Wesley; we headed to back Amber’s to watch “The Muppet Movie”. Yet another late night; but it was a great night. The girls couldn’t believe that I actually stayed awake through the whole movie. Neither could I.

The next day we met Amber’s discipler, Nico, pictured below with Amber & Kara at Marti’s at Midday, a local family owned restaurant, where I had a half “Matthew’s Favorite”, which is a smoked turkey sandwich on homemade honey wheat bread, with homemade pita chips and fruit. YUM! I was stuffed! Amber & Kara shared “The Mary Frances”, which is their homemade chicken salad sandwich, with pita chips and fruit. Amber said that she can never eat a whole one by herself. We sat out on their deck at an umbrella table, enjoying the lovely weather, wonderful fellowship and great food. It was truly an amazing day.

We made an afternoon trip to America’s Thrift Store where I picked up a new outfit for a total of $2.41.  Can’t be that. I found out that they are a Christian organization and have several different locations in Georgia and Alabama.

While in Athens, Kara, who had just finished reading the first two books of  “The Hunger Games”, wanted to see the movie. I was told that I had to read the book before we could go. My spare time was spent reading, so as not to disappoint her. Amber had previously seen it, but was more than willing to see it a second time. I finished the book. We went to see the movie. That will definitely be a talk for another time.

We were told by Amber that a “must see” place was The Botanical Gardens. The featured picture at the top of the blog of the girls, was taken there. We took a blanket, our books, and of course, the camera.

 Now, this is my kind of place – peaceful and quiet, and so beautiful.                 As we walked through the herb garden, pictured below, the girls would say “Hey, Mom, smell this.”  Me, oh brilliant one, would stick my face right down in it and take a big whiff! I woke Sunday morning with a sore throat. By Monday I could hardly breathe; but it was fun at the time.

The gardens even come with artwork. To the left of this sculpture are some steps that the girls and I followed that led down to an open area where we were able to spread out our blanket and relax and read for a while. I had the opportunity to follow-up with Catching Fire, the second in the series of “The Hunger Games”, while Kara was already well on her way into Mockingjay, the third of the series; and Amber was reading Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. For more pictures of our trip to the Botanical Gardens click here. On Easter Sunday, the girls and I went to church, had lunch at Cracker Barrel, and took a peaceful walk along the Oconee River which runs right behind Amber’s place.  Kara and I followed Amber down the steps away from houses and concrete and people, to a path that runs alongside the river; until we reached a place of utmost tranquility. A perfect way to end our stay in Athens. To see more pictures from our walk along the Oconee River click here.        

Empty Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg Carton & Peter Pan Peanut Butter Jar – Ugh!!

I have to say that the way holidays are so commercialized, makes me a little sad. We hardly see one go by before there are displays for the next one. Of course it is up to us, individually; to celebrate the true meaning of each one; don’t you think? But I have to admit that I do enjoy some of the sweet treats that come with the holidays.

This Easter, my youngest daughter, Kara, and I were in Athens visiting my daughter, Amber, who will be graduating from UGA in May. Kara and I returned home that evening to find some treats that my husband had bought for us, chocolate bunnies, chocolate covered marshmallow eggs (one of my favorites), peeps, & M&M’s. Yeah; I thought it was sweet of him.

I, of course opened my chocolate covered marshmallow eggs first. Like I said; this is one of my favorites. Well; I had no lack of help eating my eggs, which is fine; I don’t mind sharing. So, Friday, I am at home all by myself, all of my eggs have been gone; and I see Kara’s carton on the coffee table. I’m thinking all day, “I’ll just have one of hers.” I mean; she and Roy helped eat mine.

So, I go to get one, after thinking about it all day and; it’s empty! “Seriously? Are you kidding me? Why is it on the coffee table and not in the trash can where it should be? Why would you, whoever ate the last one, leave it here to tease me, to make me think about wanting my favorite Easter treat all day long? Really? What was the purpose in leaving this empty carton on the table?”

“Ok, Sheri, it’s not that big of a deal.” But, I have had a taste for that all day, just thinking about it. You know that feeling? You have your mouth set for something, then, there’s the letdown. Oh, well no need dwelling on it. What good will that do?

So, I pick up the empty carton and take it to the trash. I then see an empty Peter Pan Peanut Butter jar on the kitchen counter. “Really? Why is that not in the trash as well? Can no one remember where the trash can is?” I think to myself, “What purpose was that serving on the counter; taking up space?” But then again, “What purpose does an empty water pitcher serve in the refrigerator?” I have better question, “What purpose does a boat motor serve in the kitchen by my freezer?” Can anyone answer that one?

As I am pondering the answers to my questions; I feel a gentle tug at my heart, as if God is saying, “Just let it go.”

Although I haven’t spoken any words aloud; God sees my heart. I haven’t grumbled and complained out loud for anyone else to hear, even though there is no one else around, it doesn’t matter; Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man, or a woman, (in my case) thinks in her heart, so is she.” 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that “although man sees what is on the outside, God looks at the heart.” Whether the actual complaint comes out of my mouth or not, does not change what God sees.

Luke 6:45 tells us that “Out of the abundance of the heart our mouth speaks.” So, if I had continued to feed my heart with how I “felt” about the empty carton, the empty peanut butter jar, the empty water pitcher, and anything else that I could think of from two months ago, because we all that’s how it works (or am I the only that is guilty of that); the grumbling and complaining would have eventually came out of my mouth.

We have to be careful what we are allowing in our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

So, I had to get over those silly little things, just as my family has issues with me that they have to overlook as well.

Colossians 3:13&14 says “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

We have to remember to do as Philippians 2:14&15 says “all things without complaining and disputing, so that we may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world.”

Who knew that it would take an empty chocolate covered marshmallow egg carton and a Peter Pan Peanut Butter jar to remind me of that.

May you all be extremely blessed,
Sheri Haskins : )

Prayer, Hot Broth and Citrus

I don’t know if it is my allergies or a cold; but this week I have felt BLAH. I woke Sunday morning, in Athens, at my daughter’s, with just a sore throat. Upon waking up at my own house on Monday morning; my head hurt and was stuffed up, my nose was stuffy and running at the same time. My throat was still sore; and I had cough; and I was sneezing like crazing. I felt yucky!

I looked in the cabinet and found Dayquil. “Yes, that should help!” “I mean that covers everything, right?” Still; all I wanted to do was sleep; but I had things to do, laundry and other housework that needed tending to. I didn’t have time to rest. “Are you kidding me?” I had been gone the week before to visit my daughter in Athens.

Well, I would do a little, then rest; do a little, then rest. Needless to say; I did not get much done. I thought, “Ok, just don’t push yourself. Get the rest you need now then you will be able to get what you need done later. “It will all be here waiting on you.” “Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about. It will pile up. Yikes!”

So, I tried to do only what “had” to be done each day and let the major things wait until I got my strength back. I didn’t like taking the Dayquil, so I went to WalMart to pick up something that would only “attack” the runny nose, sneezing, & congestion.

I thought “Ok; rest, something to dry up this junk, and in a few days; I should be good.”

A friend of mine just went on a “weekend retreat” with her husband; so in the midst of my returning back home and settling back in; I had sent a text to see how her trip was. In exchanging our details; I told her of my physical condition. Her reply was “Prayer, hot broth and citrus.”

Now, why didn’t I think of that? I mean; why was prayer not even my first thought? Seriously? I’m not trying to over-spiritualize this. I have absolutely nothing against medicine and doctors. For the last two years I have had some wonderful doctors that have helped me tremendously!

Just this morning I was praying with my mom before she was to go to the doctor to have some skin cancers removed; but I didn’t think to simply pray concerning this cold, or allergies, or whatever it is. Why? Was it because I thought it was too small of an issue to present to God? It does say it 1 Peter 5:7 “cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”. It doesn’t say only cast certain cares to God, because others just aren’t significant enough to warrant His time. Was it because I just didn’t consider praying about it all? Oh, I’ll just take some medicine because it’s quick and easy. I don’t have to think about that.

What’s funny is; in spending so much time with God, talking to Him about so much other stuff; it never even dawned on me to say, “Father, You know what, while we are here talking; I am so thankful for everything that You have given me, and Your Word says in Deuteronomy 7:15 “You will remove all sickness from Your people”, so I claim that for myself right now, and I thank You for removing this sickness from me. Your Word also says in Psalm 91:9&10 that since “I have made You my refuge, You, Father, are my dwelling place, that no evil shall befall me, nor any sickness come near me.” So, I thank You, Father, for divine health right now, in Jesus name, amen.”

I think God gives us wisdom to know what to do; but He truly should be our first, not our last resort for all of our cares, concerns and issues; don’t you think? Thanks to my dear friend for reminding me to go to God first; trust Him to bring my healing, and give me wisdom in what other things I can do, and maybe should not do that will help bring restoration to my body.

I used to have earaches really bad growing up. My grandmother would get up with me and sit by the fireplace, with the ear that was hurting towards the fire. She would stay up with me as long as it took for it to ease off. When it finally began to ease off some; she would have her hot water bottle as hot as possible, so that I could lay on it. I remember her using Vicks Vapor rub when we were sick. That stuff would help you breathe.

So, I’m curious how you handle the colds, the allergies, the flu, the toothaches, etc. Do you cover them in prayer, and then have your own method to help with the restoration process? I would love to hear what you have to say.

May you be extremely blessed,
Sheri Haskins : )