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 : )

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.