Archive | June, 2012

Four Special Ladies

29 Jun

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God;
He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love
to a thousand generations of those who love Him
and keep His commands. 
Deuteronomy 7:9

A special gift was delivered just two days after Christmas in 1937.  Belonging to a family of two young boys and their parents, this newborn baby brought grace, sweetness, and all the other charms only a little girl could bring into their lives.  She grew up in a little town in Brown County, Indiana, later met a young man, fell in love, and they married …

Missing her older brother’s birthday by only four days, this chubby baby was the answer to that young couple’s prayers to have a little girl.  That autumn day in 1960 was only the beginning to her journey of love, family (including a baby brother a few years later), and a relationship with Jesus that has grown more and more dear through the years.

A tiny and perfectly created baby girl was an unexpected and special birthday surprise to her Daddy  ~  that most popular day in August of 1983.  Later joined by a little brother,  this sweet girl grew up surrounded by a family that loved and supported her, and the strength of faith to face the joys and challenges of life …

A most specific request of prayer was answered just two months ago as weeks of a troubled pregnancy finally delivered a beautiful baby girl.  Having been excitedly welcomed into the family by parents and big brother, this special little lady has a lifetime of Love and life just waiting for her to experience …

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The townhome in Baltimore was bustling with activity as the hour finally arrived when the flight from Indianapolis was due.  Mimi Wells was the anticipated special guest of honor.  And honor it was as she held her great granddaughter for the first time.  Once again, love that spanned the years of generations melted four hearts, but this time it was even more special …

Mimi, Mommy, Baby Lillie and Mimi Wells

Since the birth of Cole Michael in 2009, our family has shared in the heritage of four generations.  But we now have a little girl that brings a different dynamic to the celebration.   A celebration that embraces giggles, recipes, hair ribbons, and shopping … and a specific way of caring for those we love.  These four special ladies have each other to go to for wisdom, for prayer, for shelter, and for love.  We not only share in the same heritage of family, faith, and love, we still have today and tomorrow to continue adding to those memories and moments of life.

The wildfires of life are burning out of control all around us … but in the midst of these difficult days, there is Jesus.  Jesus is there, giving us strength, hope, and His very presence in the middle of it all.  And then sometimes, there is an added blessing of four special ladies … with their common threads being Mimi Wells, Mimi, Mommy and Baby Lillie  — all unique and individual, but all connected by love.

Until next time,
Debbie

Four Generations

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The Same Air

15 Jun

You will guard him and keep him in
perfect and constant peace whose mind
[both its inclination and its character]
is stayed on You, because he commits
himself to You, leans on You,
and hopes confidently in You.
Isaiah 26:3
The Message

Oh my!!  My heart ~ such inexpressible longing …With fingers poised on the keyboard, I will try to sort out my feelings and aches.  Oh how much good it would do my heart to pull up next to a kindred spirit, to take a few deep breaths in, and to pour out what is inside.  Not just to share, but to lay down a very burdened heart.  Since writing has always been my therapeutic refuge, here I am.  Please remember that the venting is more for my good and you are simply along for the read.

The past several days have been consumed with news ~ the bad nearly smothering and snuffing out the very life of the good.  It all started with a desperate attempt at getting all the yard work done before spending the remainder of the week in Baltimore to visit with my mom and Kim’s little family.  In a rush, I neglected to tend to the proper maintenance of the riding mower.  It ran out of oil.  It died.  It’s bad enough that we now have to buy a different mower, the deceased one wasn’t even ours!  It belonged to our landlord.  Sigh …

In one week’s time, there were 3 people who I knew that passed away.  Frances Zeilinga was the mother of one of my oldest brother’s childhood best friends.  Even though I hadn’t seen Frances for many years, there is a sense of finality when parents of our friends are beginning to pass away.  Just a few days later, my own childhood best friend’s father passed away.   Becky’s daddy had been miraculously healed of cancer many years ago and God blessed him with nearly 30 additional years to enjoy life and family.  Just a few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with cancer once again, endured a battery of treatments and was finally beginning to feel better.  Then simply in his sleep last week, he bade farewell to his earthly body and was welcomed into the arms of his Savior, leaving behind his wife of 6 plus decades, children, grandchildren and greats.   Another couple days later, Pam Carnder’s ‘fairy tale’ finally ended when her beloved husband, Steve, passed away after his long 5 ½ year battle with cancer.  Pam and I worked together at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center … a faithful participant of Munchy Monday, my 2009 summer prayer partner, and a dear friend.

Cancer is rearing its ugly head in the life of another dear friend.  Back in the ‘90s when our family lived out here in PA, but in the Harrisburg/Hershey area, Sandie and I were pretty much inseparable ~  we worked together, went to church together, and our families often vacationed together.  Recent visits for evaluations, tests, and results have proven to be alarming and quite sobering as she is facing extensive treatments and procedures in attempt to defeat this disease at its own evil game.

Just yesterday, another precious friend with whom I’ve shared life and also death … in the hills of West Virginia, Cindy suffered a heart attack and was life-lined to a larger hospital where she had a stint inserted in her severely blocked artery.  Having just spoken to her on the phone and hearing her weak voice just added to the ache that is mounting inside.

The trees on the grounds of Bonita Park

If the morning reports or the evening news has caught your eye in the past week concerning the wild fires that have devastated south New Mexico, this has also heaped sadness and sorrow to my already bleeding heart.  Bonita Park, the New Mexico District (Church of the Nazarene) Camp and Conference Center, was in the direct path of the Little Bear wildfire, which incinerated much of the 200 acre camp.  While living in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years, Bonita Park became very dear to me … several retreats, family camps, and many precious friends had homes there.  Gratefully, the main buildings which support the functionality of the campground, were spared ~ Offices, dining hall, the tabernacle, the local Nazarene church, and some dorms.  But nearly all of the residences, belonging to camp staff, camp volunteers, retirees, and leaseholders who have had camp property since the early beginning years of Bonita Park, perished in the flames.  Original buildings whose walls breathed the holiness tradition and heritage on those sacred grounds are now reduced to ashes.  Scheduled summer retreats, reunions, and camps, including the anticipated annual family camp are all now written in pencil on the camp calendar, waiting on God’s intervention in all areas.

Precious memories have flooded my heart and my mind these past several days as I have thought about each circumstance and each person.  And here I sit in York, Pennsylvania.  The memorial service for Becky’s dad is in Florida.  Steve’s funeral was yesterday in Cincinnati.  West Virginia is several hours away, and even Sandie, who lives the closest, is an hour away.  I won’t even think about how far away New Mexico is.  And then when I get all mushy inside like this, I can’t help but cry alittle more for my son who lives in Seattle … so far away.  Have I mentioned that my heart hurts?

Not everything has been bad … two new healthy babies have been born to nephews and nieces in the past 2 weeks, and my mother-in-law received a good and treatable report from the doctor concerning a health issue.  Also, my precious mother came out last week to meet her little great-granddaughter for the first time.  We had a very special time enjoying the wide span of ages included in the 4 generations.  For these good things, I am grateful!

In the mix of the good and the bad, playing in the background is the extreme static of my own life, reminding me that the dial is not placed just right on the station, and it’s consuming my world with a lot of noise.  Even though the air around me is filled with smoke, illness, death, and static, in order to survive, I am allowing Jesus to carry me close to Himself.  Jesus and I are breathing the same air.

Until next time,
Debbie

19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
   his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He’s all I’ve got left.

 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

Lamentations 3:19-26
The Message

The header picture are deer out in the woods of Bonita Park
March 2006

In Memory … Scottie

5 Jun

Satisfy us in our earliest youth with your loving kindness,
giving us constant joy to the end of our lives.
Psalm 90:14  TLB

Four years ago today,
Our family’s 15 year-old Miniature Schnauzer,
Scottie, passed away…
In memory and celebration of his life,
this was written a few days following his death
**  June 5, 2008  ** 

Scottie not feeling well
May 28, 2008

The other evening, I took it out of my purse and very tenderly clasped it back together.  I lovingly touched each shiny little black bone that decorated the red plaid print of the fabric.  I gently shook the jingles that had always represented life and activity, reading the information listed on the bone-shaped tag.  With a heart filled with gratitude for the gift that has been ours for so many years, tears from a broken heart filled my eyes as I hung Scottie’s collar on the corner of his picture frame.  Our precious Bubby Dog went home to Jesus on Thursday afternoon around 2:45 pm.

Scottie ~ shaved for better health

Scottie Von Schultz Van Hook was purchased on a discounted price tag by our family from an Amish kennel on March 20, 1993 at the age of 4 ½  months.  The runt of his litter, he had contracted ringworm from a fellow cohabitant, so our new pet was quickly taken to the Hershey Veterinary Hospital where they shaved him down and stripped him of his Schnauzer identity.  Looking like a mangy gray Chihuahua, he spent the next 6 weeks in a strict regime of being bathed and dipped, all the while we were very careful to wash our hands as we loved and nurtured our little pup.  We were greatly successful in correcting his skin condition, bringing health to his young body and staying clean ourselves.

Scottie on the back deck
1995

The new friend and playmate for all weighed in at 7.4 pounds on that very first trip to the doctor in Hershey.  By the time he was nearly 6 years old and eating treats from the Work & Witness teams along with chips and salsa in Albuquerque, he tipped the scales at 12.7 pounds!  But within the next few years, he and I began to take morning prayer walks along the ditchbank road that ran beside our home, so he became quite fit and trim.

Our children
1995

Scottie loved the outdoors!  In his earlier years in Pennsylvania, he would insist on going out in the snow with the kids … and I mean snow!  Deep snow!  Snow that would engulf him as he tried to run through it, always coming back inside the house with ice chunks hanging from his Schnauzer fur.  In the summer, he even enjoyed going for nice refreshing dips in our friends’ swimming pool  ~  doggie paddle, of course!   In Albuquerque, we all learned the hard way about sticker burrs and goat heads.  When we first moved there, Ryan and Scottie were out playing and began chasing each other around the house.  Before long, Ryan turned around and wondered where the silly pup had gone.  Not too far!  After a few laps around the yard, he began to slow to a dead stop.  He had prickly thorns and stickers in the bottoms of his precious paw pads and all in his under belly Schnauzer fur!  Once again, it was a great identity icon for the boy, but he was always a portable Velcro strip!  A few years later when our daily routine included the ditch-bank road, we visited with the cows, horses, lamas, other canine-type creatures, and birds.  Scottie always thought he was bigger than he really was, so when a cow or horse was up against the fence row munching on the tree leaves, Scottie would stand there kicking out his back feet and would growl, as if they better take notice that HE was there.  Since moving from the desert to Indiana, we adapted to our new outdoors.  Here he barked and got all upset at the many deer that would visit our front yard and surrounding areas.  They were big enough for his aging eyes to see.  The squirrels, rabbits, and wild turkeys would usually go unnoticed.  He had become an old-man dog …

On the back of his favorite chair
2003

In his earlier years, Scottie was well-known for his yappiness.  He wasn’t a yippy dog, but a yappy one.  One that loved to bark.  After comparing notes with other Schnauzer owners either at the vet or at the groomer, we found that this breed of dogs was quite vocal.  So much so that when camping at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with all of our friends, the campground officials requested us to come to the office one day when we returned from the beach.  Apparently, our yappy pup didn’t like being cooped up in the camper all afternoon and announced this continually to anyone willing to listen.  Needless to say, in order to finish our vacation at the ocean, we had to quickly find a dog kennel and board Scottie for the remainder of the week.  Much to my dismay, a few other times he had to stay in a kennel overnight.  No matter how nice the kennel mom was or how many interesting yard ornaments she had for him to pee on, I just couldn’t stand the thought of him sleeping in an out building with only a fence between him and a strange dog.  Thankfully, after that when he couldn’t travel with us, he was able to stay with friends or family.Scottie was the happy and excited door greeter!  Just taking the garbage out and coming back into the house 20 seconds later you would get the royal treatment!  He was the rug under the table that picked up the crumbs.  He was the one that snored first in bed every night.  He was the one that left dirty paw prints across the floor when it rained.  He was the one that when aggravated because you were gone too long, got into the bathroom trash.  In his failing health and picky appetite, he loved the food brought home from Higher Ground’s dining hall ~ BBQ meatballs, prime rib, chicken strips, hamburgers, pulled pork, roast beef, etc.   He was the one that would always come looking for you if he woke from a nap and didn’t see you nearby.   He was all of these and more  ~  but to me …

Scottie and his Mommy

He was by all means, my third child.  I am now, for the first time, an empty-nested mom.  Kim got married in 2005.  Ryan just graduated from college & will soon be starting a new job in Seattle, WA.  Up until now, I still had my 15 ½ year old.  Sigh …   Scottie was also my exercise partner ~ we walked many miles together in many places.  He was my confidant ~ always a great listener and never tried to interrupt.  Many times, he was my altar.  I would kneel beside wherever he was resting and I would pour my heart out to God with him right there.  I’m sure he felt the cry of his mommy’s heart and his precious little spirit joined me in prayer…he was my prayer partner.  During difficult days, Scottie’s love was faithful.  In the midst of transition, Scottie’s love was steadfast.  When the home was filled with tension and turmoil, Scottie’s love was authentic and constant.  That little being gave me companionship, joy, purpose, and an assurance of knowing that I was very, very special to him … and that he loved me.   Dr. Gaston prescribed stronger meds for Scottie on April 17, knowing that his aging heart was tiring.  I began whispering words of love into those precious ears that couldn’t hear very well anymore.  I would tell him that he’s been the best gift God has given to our family.  I would talk of Heaven and the fact that Jesus was there, along with his Grandpas and some of his friends.  I even told him that when it got too hard to breathe, it was ok to go.  I promised to see him again soon.  Thursday afternoon as Tim cradled Scottie’s near-death body in his arms, I smothered his little face with teary kisses, breathing in the sweet, sweet smell of his skin for the last time.  Within moments, he was finally at peace.  Real peace.

About two weeks ago, Scottie became very restless during the dark night hours.  I felt him chilling at the foot of our bed where he slept.  I tried to console him by reaching down and petting him for a few minutes, but to no avail. My Mommy heart couldn’t stand the distance between he and I, so I pulled him up to my pillow and snuggled him close to my heart.  He curled up tight and nestled his tiny face up under my chin until the warmth from my body took the chill from his.  It wasn’t very long at all before I heard the quick shallow breathing of my precious love begin to slow down, giving him some relief and rest.  His body relaxed and he began to snore.  I laid there overcome with praise to God for this gift.  The gift of love, of life, and of need.  Need for one another.

One of my favorite songs came to mind that night  ~  and I softly sang it to Scottie …  Click on this link  Christ For the Nations Institute to listen to Kari Jobe sing …

The more I seek You, the more I find You.
The more I find You, the more I love You.
I want to sit at Your feet,
drink from the cup in Your hand,
Lay back against You and breathe,
feel Your heart beat …

This love is so deep,
it’s more than I can stand,
I melt in Your peace,
it’s overwhelming.

God is love.  That’s why we can love a tiny Miniature Schnauzer for over 15 years and experience pain and sorrow when he is no longer with us.  Scottie knew and understood love.  That night two weeks before, Scottie melted in my peace and it gave him the comfort he needed to rest.  Thursday, June 5, Scottie sat at the feet of Jesus, then jumped up in His lap and laid back against Him  ~  and breathed!!!    Then, he melted in the peace of Jesus …

Until next time,
Debbie

Colossians 3 and Mimi

1 Jun

Since becoming a Mimi three years ago and having an empty nest of my own for several years now, the joy of little ones in our home once again has awakened a whole new section of my heart that I thought was sound asleep.  These little people are just that – little people.  What a privilege it is to be an active part in their lives and to watch them grow into bigger little people.

Because one of these little people is here with us this weekend and I know my time is limited to sit here in the quiet morning, this will be short.  I was just now beginning my day and having my devotions and I was directed to read Colossians 3:12-17.  As I read, my heart was nudged toward these verses as being just for me today.  Specifically me as Mimi.

Cole and Mimi

First of all, knowing that I’m chosen by God Himself, holy and dearly loved … this puts a big sigh and a smile in my heart!  Then immediately the scripture refers to clothing.  I’m sure Cole doesn’t pay much attention to what I put on to wear each day, but I guarantee that he knows when I am compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient…and even more so when I’m not.  I also must be forgiving.  He IS three years old.   In the midst of his ever-changing and growing mind, heart, and personality, he does do things on purpose.  Even when he wipes my kisses off of his chubby cheeks, he’s testing the waters to see how I will react.  I have decided to make those times special and smile real big as I remind him that the reason he must wipe Mimi’s kisses off is because they are too sweet!  He laughs about this little routine that now occurs more often because his Mimi has a wardrobe furnished by the One who loves her!  And over all of it, is covered in love.

From time to time, we need to ask Cole “Who’s in charge?”  Just in case he forgets, he is then reminded that it’s not him.  Verse 15 reminds this Mimi that the Peace of Christ rules in her heart and that I should always be thankful.  My outward circumstances may not be peaceful and would seem to be nothing that I would be thankful for, but even during those unsettling times, Jesus is my Everything and for that I am thankful.

In a past post, I wrote about Cole and Mimi singing at bedtime with his little Play-A-Song books.  Some nights he is more interested in big trucks, Thomas the Train, or Winnie the Pooh ~ but just last night, he was snuggly and wanted to sing.  I reached for my iPhone and hit the video button as we continued our hymn song fest.  Click on the links below to watch and hear Cole sing with Mimi …

Jesus Loves Me
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIGn5kxbJQ4&feature=g-upl

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xgy6Es1s2tE&feature=context-gau

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjM4rejsYQw&feature=context-gau

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude
in your hearts to God.

 

I read this quote earlier this week  …  through the eyes and heart of a Mimi, my soul longs to do all I can to be a Godly influence for my family … which now includes my two precious grandchildren.

 

Does your one goal, one drive, all of your plans day and night
focus on how to redeem your world?
What you cry about, what upsets you, your tiredness,
is it all focused on the one thing that beats in the heart of God?
Do you see every person with the question
of how you can be a redemptive force in their lives?
Is every situation of your life viewed
with a focus on redemption for the world?
May I boldly say that if this is not true for you,
you have missed the impact of the Gospel of Matthew and especially
this initial call to His disciples [Matthew 4:19]

– Stephen Manley –

 

Verse 1 opens this chapter with the phrase “Set your hearts on things above” … followed by “Set your minds on things above”.  Won’t you join me today ~ even in the midst of all the busyness of life ~ to set our hearts and minds on things above and how we can redeem our world for Christ?  Even the little people …

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

 

Until next time,
Mimi

Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever
grievances you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:12-17