Welcome To My Monday Morning

(One of my favorite verses. I even wear it daily on a bracelet I had made.)
Romans 12:12 ~ Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

As I start my day, I am so blessed to look at this Thankful Tree on my kitchen table and see the leaves of thanks that my family has hung on the limbs. Now… When I first woke up this Monday morning, I wasn’t so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It takes me a few minutes or so to wake up.

Nevertheless …..
Truly a beautiful and refreshing sight to see gratitude in even the smallest things. Makes me want to leave it up all year long. Definitely a tradition that I plan to keep going for years to come.

Traditions are something that I’ve been mulling over for a little while now. For those who are new here, my Daddy died April 1st of this year. Yeah. Man.. Seems surreal to even type that sentence out. We are all still grieving and going through the motions and emotions. Don’t even know what Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years will look like this year.. Except.. Different.

For my mother, it’s even harder. As her daughter, it’s so hard to watch her suffer and being that God gifted me with highly sensitive empathy, I feel the emotions around me times 10. I am a fixer. A doer. Tell me what to do and I’ll try my best to make it better. But, this is something that I can’t make better. For her. For me. For my children or my siblings.

We are all different. Grieving different. And that is OK!

For those of you who have lost a parent or husband or wife, and if you were extremely close to that loved one, you know what I’m saying.

So back to the traditions. Honestly, I don’t know what it will look like. I just know that I want to bring glory to God even in the midst of grief. I know my family has been held in HIS arms for the past 7 months. There’s no doubt that my God has sustained us.

I don’t know how people who don’t know Jesus personally survive.

I know I’m not alone. I know we are not the first family to have been through these kind of hard times.
I know.

I ask you to pray for us. Especially momma. I also ask for ideas and advice on how you may have coped during the holidays while grieving. Seriously.. Share. It may help more people than you know.

Before I go, I want to say a special Thank You to those who have reached out when it wasn’t convenient. To those who have shared their hearts with me about their losses and offered prayer and support. Thank you to those who have encouraged me and been there through it all. You may not even realize that you did anything at all. But you have. Thank you for the prayers most of all.

We know where Daddy is.. So we have peace and comfort and hope. But… Anyone who knows the loss that we feel knows that the grief comes in waves and so if you see someone who is sad or has tears in their eyes or even who is laughing and smiling, know that there is NO TIME LIMIT for grief. There really is no end point honestly. Those who have told you that it ends or goes away.. They either had a different relationship with their lost loved one or they just don’t know what to say. It’s ok. Listen to your heart. I’m listening to mine.

Until Next Time,

Heather

P.S. I am not on social media right now. Sometimes you hear a still small voice during your morning quiet time and you know you must be obedient. I’ll only be on my photography page to post for clients as needed. If anyone needs to reach me you can comment here on the blog, text or call me, email me, or visit 😉 .

I also want to recommend a book that someone I highly admire wrote. I just know that we would be great friends if we lived in the same town! She speaks boldly. She writes her heart out. She doesn’t pussyfoot around. She is Lisa Whittle and the book is : I WANT GOD.
I received the book probably six weeks ago but GOD.. Yes, God knew when exactly I needed to read it. It challenged me and convicted me to seek HIM even more than I already do. Which led to breaking away from social media. My blog will still post to it but I will not be on to check comments, etc. If you want to comment.. Comment here. Love you all! ~HD

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Spending Time Alone

 

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copyright heatherdawkins.com

 

What happens when you don’t really want to BE PRESENT?

You know…

The days that you want to be alone. Zoned out. On an island even. The days that you just want to withdraw into the shadows.

The days when you are just completely mentally drained. Feeling like you are pulled in a thousand directions.

What about those days?

Do it. Spend some time alone. Just you and Jesus.

Alone time is necessary. It is for me. I recharge with alone time.

Look at Jesus. He went off by himself to get away from crowds and to pray. Sometimes he took his disciples with him and sometimes he went all by himself. He needed time alone as well.

Mark 7:17 ~ Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used.

Luke 5:16 ~ But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Matthew 14:21-23 ~ About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children! Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray, Night fell while he was there alone.

You see, it is OK to spend time alone. Away from the crowds. Time spent away in prayer is vital for recharging, refocusing, and connecting with God.

The LORD rested on the seventh day when creating the heavens, earth, sea, and everything in them. HE blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (see Exodus 20:11) Don’t you think that a day of rest is important then?

Mark 2:27,28 ~ “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

What are ways that you find solace? Ways that you rest on a busy day? Or do you? It’s important to find those little moments each day. Moments to feed the soul, focus the mind, and connect with our Heavenly Father. Real rest is found when we meet with HIM.

{ New here? Let’s be blog friends! I would love to encourage you.. Sign up here. This is Day 10 in the 31 Days series that I am joining this month. There are some really great writers who are participating! If you have missed any of the previous posts, you can find them all here in the first post.}

Until Next Time,

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New Year New Me

New Year New Me

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 NLT)

It’s been quiet here on the blog. Not because my mind has been quiet.. Because it has not. My mind and soul have been overloaded lately. When that happens, I still write, I just don’t publish. Sometimes it’s quiet on here because God is allowing me some time to learn and grow and even rest.

Learn and grow … I’ve definitely been doing that.

Last year God pulled me back from leading a women’s bible study. I wasn’t quite sure as to why at the time. I still obeyed. Around that time, our oldest daughter, a high school sophomore, began expressing an interest in being in a private school or being homeschooled. She’s a wise teen with big plans and dreams for her future. We looked into both, prayed about it, and sent her back to the public high school.

Still praying. Still growing. Learning new things about myself. Learning that boundaries were biblical and good and healthy. Studied a book called Boundaries by Henry Cloud / John Townsend. I did some bible studies on my own, and completed reading and studying through the entire Bible for my first time ever.

Through the last half of last year, I had shingles.. Which was very rare for someone my age. Stress can cause them to appear to anyone who has ever had chickenpox. I was definitely under some stress. My husband had a back injury that had him confined to the bed and then with a walker for several weeks. Things fell apart in different areas and other things fell together.

I got well, He was healed while on vacation. I mean healed. Instantly.
God was good and always faithful.

We also suffered a tragic loss of a family member in December of 2013. God has been faithful and good to our entire family through that as well. Our family’s faith in God is what has sustained everyone. I honestly don’t know how those who don’t have a relationship with God survive the hard, tragic, and trying times in life.

Now on to 2014. After much prayer and research and more prayer, we signed our oldest up with a wonderful Homeschool group… Classical Conversations. She had her first official day of school this Thursday and we couldn’t be more pleased! Never say never… No, really.. Because that’s what I had always said.

God orchestrated every event and meeting and circumstance in a way that led me to meet with a fellow blogger, friend, and homeschooling mom. Which in turn led to us following HIS call on our life. To begin this journey with one of our children. Praying that our youngest will decide on her own to join as well.

Oh, I forgot to mention something. I was asked in the fall to speak at a girl’s conference at a local church. Talk about out of my comfort zone. The thought scared me to death. Me? Yes, HE said.. me. So, after much prayer and seeking wisdom from other Godly women, I agreed. Why? Because praise GODHE uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary. Thank goodness, HE also equips the called. AND… Because I don’t plan on speaking MY words. I only want to speak HIS. If one girl’s life is impacted, then I can handle a little stage fright.

I’ve learned to balance my life. Put my husband first, after God. I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no. That it is NECESSARY to eliminate stress. I’ve learned that it’s okay to set boundaries. I’ve learned that I do not have to allow negative opinions to affect me. I’ve learned that sometimes God requires me to do things that make no sense to me or anyone else at the time. I’ve learned that I do not have to make everyone happy and that I can’t. I’ve learned to be still and bridle my tongue. I’ve learned to set limits. I’ve learned to trust HIM more.

I can’t wait to see what else I learn this New Year!

It’s a New Year and each day HE is making a new me.

As a quote I found yesterday on Pinterest says: “I may not have always known what I wanted to be, but I’ve always known the kind of woman I wanted to be.”

I’m on my way.

I’m living for God.

I’m not backing down.

I’m not entertaining negativity.

I’m seeking HIS WILL in everything.

I’m stepping out, even further out, of my comfort zone.

I’m NOT feeling guilty for saying no to negativity or drama or for eliminating stress.

Lots of new changes this year. One homeschooled by me, one still in public school ( middle school). A 16 year old with a driver’s license… (Learning the real meaning to praying without ceasing). Speaking at an event for the first time, (In front of teen girls). Who knows what else.. I do know that whether it be good or tragic, God is good and will hold me and my family in the palm of HIS hands.

One last thing, I wrote a list of my goals for this year in my journal. Maybe you have already done the same thing, if not, maybe you should.

Just know this… Your goals are great but be willing to let God interrupt your plans. For HIS plans are much better. Even if we don’t always understand them.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Seeking HIS Will,

Heather

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YOU TALKING TO ME ?

Psalm 18:31,32 (NLT) ~ For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.

 

I have to be honest. Sometimes I really do find myself talking back to The Holy Spirit. When I feel there is something way out of my league that HE is calling me to do. I really do say.. in my head.. “You talking to me?”

{As if HE would get me confused with someone else. Not possible. HE is GOD.}

The truth is, I don’t feel comfortable doing every single thing that I am prompted to do. That’s where HE comes in. If HE calls then I can obey or disobey.

I can shrink back in fear, and I have been guilty of this, or I can rest in the fact that HE is who equips anyone who HE calls. If it was ME…then it wouldn’t be HE.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) ~  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

Me…messes up.

Me…gets scared. Really scared. Like, terrified.

Me…wants to sit back and just do my thing..quietly.

BUT.

HE…asks me (and you) to obey.

HE… says “I’ve got this and you are just my tool of choice for this task.”

HE…equips those who HE calls.

 

All of that being said, God has really been working on me lately.

It began back in about April of this year. He pulled me back from leading a women’s bible study for a time. Something that I love doing and still miss! He taught me about getting my priorities in the right order. GOD, My husband, My children, and THEN everyone else. He led me to work on me and the areas that I needed to surrender to HIM.

I obeyed. Not knowing why..just that I HAD to. I waited somewhat patiently for an answer to several questions. I waited some more. Still digging deep into HIS WORD.

Then, HE began opening doors that I never knew would really ever be opened. Doors that scare me. Doors that HE wants opened. Read that again. DOORS that HE wants opened.

There are things that God will call us to do in our lives. If we aren’t listening, we won’t hear HIM. If we aren’t seeking HIM we will miss it. If we are TOO BUSY even with the good stuff, we may miss it. If we say no then we will miss out and at the same time be disobedient. (If you’ve never read some of the history in the Old Testament, you should..you’ll see how disobedience worked out for them.)

It’s really amazing to me how even the Bible studies that I was led to do during this time of alone time are just what I needed. I am currently doing one that has to do with discerning HIS voice. Imagine that! 🙂

God has led certain people into my path who have been obedient to HIM as well. They have spoken truth and wisdom into my life. All because of obedience and answering HIS prompting.

I have lots more to share with you in the days to come, when it is the right time. I am so excited and nervous and scared…but I know that by being obedient to GOD, I am doing what is right and pleasing in HIS sight. That is what matters. 🙂 {AND, I’m reciting 2 Timothy 1:7 over and over in my mind.}

Do I think I am capable on my own to do anything that HE asks me to do? DEFINITELY NOT. That is awesome though! Because of that FACT, HE gets ALL of the glory! 

As I close, I would like to ask you some questions. Questions that are between you and GOD.

Are you intentionally seeking HIS will for you and your family, or are you intentionally not seeking it because it scares you ? (Hey, that is a valid question..)

Are you ignoring HIS voice, or are you making time to hear it ? (it takes intentionality)

Just know that if you find yourself asking, “You talking to me?” , that there is a good chance that HE is. However, to be completely sure, know that HIS voice matches HIS WORD.

 

 

Until next time,

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Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Don’t Be A Blessing Robber

 

Photo: HDawkins
Copyright 2013

 

There are times when we least expect it that GOD reaches out and loves on us. We don’t deserve it, none of us do, but HE freely gives us HIS LOVE. I don’t know why it still shocks me sometimes…

My FATHER GOD, HE loves me! So much that HE speaks to me in a language that touches my soul. Through the obedience of a friend that HE gave me..even though we have never met in person. As she said, ” Jesus is KOOL like that.”

Right at the moment when I needed it most, my friend sent me this poem that she wrote…right then… For ME. She said that the words kept coming and she stopped what she was doing and had to type them out. She said that she knew that I had to see it right then. That’s obedience friends! That’s using her gift to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Here is her original work.. She’s a published author.. A talented poet:

To see the truth!!

Oh how some see it!
That look in your eyes!
That feeling of hurt!
That you try to disguise!

The smile you send!
To hide those tears!
The laughter you give!
To fight your fears!

Just be yourself!
For you are loved!
Your healing will come!
From Jesus above!

Despite feeling weak!
You are very strong!
Jesus will help you!
Find where you belong!

Your heart was broken!
Your life has been a mess!
Jesus is healing!
You are beautifully blessed!

Copyright 2013
Jeanie Burkett

Still completely blown away by how my Jesus cares. Time AND Time again. HE is SO GOOD!

My life is blessed. Even in the messy times. Even when times are tough. Aren’t we all a mess sometimes? My life IS blessed. Even on days that I feel weak, HIS SPIRIT IS STRONG IN ME. All of us have fears and All of us hurt at times.

 

Maybe this poem is for you, too. I have a feeling I’m not the only one that ever feels weak or smiles through the struggles, or has yuck days.

 

There IS HEALING in JESUS!

James 5:16 (NLT) ~ Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Amen!

 

God uses us… HIS children, to speak to others and to serve others with whatever spiritual gifts HE has gifted us with. It’s the Holy Spirit using our bodies and the talents that HE enables us with, to BLESS others and to in turn BRING HIM GLORY.

Romans 11:36 (NLT) ~ For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

 

I pray that you don’t refuse the gifts that HE has given you. That’s saying NO to God. That’s refusing to let God love others through you. That’s robbing others of a blessing. I’ve been guilty of that as well. I’d bet that most of us have.

1 Peter 4:10 (NLT) ~ God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

 

My hope in sharing this with you is for you to reflect on times when God blessed you through the obedience of someone. Then, I hope you will remember how you felt and use your ears to listen for when God wants you to obediently serve someone else with your gift.

Blessings to YOU!

 

Humbly HIS,

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Just Take That Step

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Planting & Transplanting

I have gotten into the habit of saying that I have a “brown thumb”. Truth is, I have had a LAZY thumb. Yes, you heard that right.

It’s a matter of discipline. Remembering to water, feed, and weed these plants. It’s a choice. To watch them grow to their full potential or let them starve and die. Before my girls were born and even when they were tiny, I used to love planting and taking care of my yard. Then….I gave it up. Weeds started to grow. Flowers died or either went out of control. It’s really quite amazing to me..how God can take something like gardening and turn it into a teaching moment for me.

Weeds taking over.
Weeds taking over.

 The things the I choose to care about are the things that I spend the most time taking care of. The things that I choose to nurture will in turn produce a beautiful harvest.

I CAN have a “green thumb” if I CHOOSE to! It isn’t a matter of being naturally good at it. It is a deliberate choice. Water, fertilize, feed, nurture, protect….and I will see growth.

I am 2 years into reading and studying the ENTIRE Bible from Genesis to Revelations. TWO years of self-discipline. The reward is KNOWING my Savior like I have never known before. My roots are growing deeper. I LOVE it and I already have a plan in place to read it all the way through again. I am in Ephesians now and when I finish with Revelations, I plan to use my Chronological Life Application Bible next.

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I tell you this not to boast..because it is only by the power of The Holy Spirit in me that I have kept at it. As I begin each day reading through, making notes, and studying it, I pray and ask to read it through HIS eyes and not mine. I also pray that HE would give me the desire to be obedient and the time to do so. If I can do it..You can too!

Gardenias from our yard
Gardenias from our yard

In my previous post, Cutting Loose, I talked some about change… and one thing that I am changing is my LAZY thumb. I planted another gardenia bush in my yard yesterday…Gardenias are my absolute FAVORITE flowering plant. I also planted several other pretties in our yard. Then…after getting the “fever” for mint from my precious friend (she knows who she is), I planted mint and hot oregano and a cucumber plant! ME! The self-proclaimed plant killer. The woman whose husband asked her not to buy any more plants to kill,  for the front porch. 🙂

Why? Because I know that I can keep these plants alive. It’s a choice. (if you feel like praying for those plants, feel free 🙂 )

I encourage YOU to step out of your comfort zone and commit to something that you’ve always wanted to do. Just take that step. You CAN DO IT!

Philippians 4:13 says it best, “I can do ALL things through HIM who gives me strength.”

Until Next Time,

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My Family <3
My Family ❤

Thankful Thursdays ~ October 25th

I must admit, some weeks are more challenging than others. Some days it is more challenging to find the joy in the yuck. Those moments when we choose to find the joy in the yuck..those moments define us.

Earlier in the week, I had a day of inconveniences and little aggravations. I caught myself feeling aggravated and stressed out because I couldn’t get something simple taken care of…simply. Ever had a day like that?

Roadblocks.

Detours.

People are watching us. They are watching us to see how we handle the “yuck”. Our kids, our friends, our families, and strangers..Yes, strangers..are watching to see how we (Christians) are handling those things.

I’ll be real honest with you.. It was quite a battle. Fighting self. Wanting to whine and complain. Whining and complaining. Stopping myself from whining and complaining. Feeling guilty. Repenting. Starting fresh.

See, Jesus instructs us to NOT grumble and complain. Being “human” isn’t an excuse. As Christians, we have The Holy Spirit in us..so we aren’t just human.

 

Philippians 2:14 (ESV) ~ Do all things without grumbling or questioning

 

Romans 8:9 (NIV) ~ You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

 

 

Every day we have choices to make. We get to make those choices.. They matter. Even when it’s harder than usual to find joy in a situation that seems like NO joy can be found in it, there IS JOY TO BE FOUND.

 

Even when it feels like a game of hide and seek..keep seeking the JOY.

 

 

“Joy’s a function of gratitude. And gratitude’s a function of perspective. Counting gifts changes my perspective – & my LIFE” ~ Ann Voskamp from her book…One Thousand Gifts

 

“All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him.” ~ Ann Voskamp…One Thousand Gifts

 

 

God cares about the tiny details. HE cares and provides. HE allows. HE knows that we can’t do this thing called life alone. WE can do it with HIS strength.

 

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) ~ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

So, without waiting any longer, let me share with you some of the things that I am thankful for today and this past week.

 

 

1) that THIS is not home. This place.. This world is temporary and my citizenship is in Heaven.

2) for conviction by The Holy Spirit, JESUS in me, that tells me when I’m not glorifying my Savior.

3) that my Jesus loves me.. HE loves ME.. And I’m not always easy to love..

4) for this wonderful group of women (Dstudy group) that I get the privilege to grow with and teach them and learn from them as well..

5) for beautiful..awesome sunsets and sunrises that never grow old..

6) for the pure JOY that my nephew expressed to me when I surprised him with a visit today..

7) for getting Lysa TerKeurst’s book, UNGLUED, for $1.99 today! (on iBooks and Amazon)

 

I guess I’ll stop for now… on here.. But I can promise you that my gratitude journal of 1000 gifts is continuing to grow every single day. For when we continue to look for the good and counting the joy, that is when we know what true joy really consists of. Thanksgiving. Grace. Joy. They go hand in hand.

 

Here is the Simple Truth my friends: There is JOY to be found in EVERYTHING…Because GOD created EVERYTHING & GOD is ONLY GOOD..HE is GOOD.

 

What are YOU thankful for?

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME,