Archive | December, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

21 Dec

In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in Him, and He saved us.

This is the LORD, we trusted in Him;
let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9

Have you ever noticed that in my midst of the busyness of Christmas, there are questions everywhere?  All are demanding answers in order to stay in the fast track of the season.  What size does he wear?  What color of ribbon goes with this wrap?  Should I bake sandies or sugar cookies?  How much money are we suppose to spend on the office gift?  How many places do I set at the table?  All legitimate queries needing a response to complete an action or thought …

What child is this, who laid to rest
on Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
while shepherds watch are keeping …

Newborn Lillianne

Newborn Lillianne

A child sleeping … the most precious news of the year for the Van Hook family was the birth of our second grandchild, Lillianne Hope Arndt.  This sweet bundle of pure joy was born early on Sunday morning, April 29.  She arrived one day early of her planned entrance, healthy and happy to finally meet the little boy behind the loud and animated voice that she had heard for the past 9 months.  3 year-old Cole has adored his baby sister from the first moment he saw her, laughing and giggling at her, accepting the simple fact that she now belonged to him and his family.   What a thrill it was to also share those first few days at home from the hospital with our son, Ryan, and his girlfriend Brittany.  They didn’t want to miss out on this awesome family event of welcoming Miss Lillie into our world.

Seattle Duck Tour

Seattle Duck Tour

A couple months later, our east coast family flew across country to spend the week of July 4th with Ryan and Brittany in Seattle.  What gracious hosts they were as they made us feel very comfortable in their home, fed us like royalty, and showed us the sights of the city.  The Space Needle, Pike’s Place Market, a Seattle Duck Tour, and the zoo were just some of the fun places we visited.  The highlight of the week was the BBQ in the park we had with Brittany’s family from Spokane.  It was very special to finally meet the parents and sister that belong to the girl we all have fallen in love with. The nice and relaxing vacation was certainly an answer to prayers, for having a rambunctious 3 year-old and an infant along for the occasion was potentially hazardous to everyone’s well being and sanity!

Speaking of nice and relaxing, Tim and I love to take advantage of our less stress and more spontaneous life-style these days and the fact that we only live 3 hours from the Atlantic Ocean.  We found ourselves at the shore on 3 different weekends this past summer, enjoying the sand, sun, and surf.  One fun weekend included Kim, Troy, and the kids, and another weekend we stayed with some friends in Toms River. We take our beach chairs and umbrella to the water’s edge and just soak in the day, after which we dine at one of our favorite DDD joints and head home.  We have become quite the fans of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network Channel.  Living in such a close proximity to a few large cities, we have found several unique and quite tasty establishments that have been featured on the popular reality show.  Honey’s Sit and Eat in Philadelphia, Joe Squared in Baltimore, and 10th Ave. Burrito in Belmar, NJ are three of our favorite places to eat.  Since Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc on our summer playground, we are anxious to take a drive out there sometime after the first of the new year…just to see what we can see ~ and to hopefully stop for a burrito.

Mimi Wells met Miss Lillie in June

Mimi Wells met Miss Lillie in June

 

Tim has become quite the domesticated husband this past year … he loves to cook and bake, trying new recipes, and also finding fresh produce at local stands as much as possible.  We have come to realize there are more than 4 seasons to our year … there is strawberry, blueberry, peach, corn, tomato, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and apple season!  We were busy with each one, and our freezer is full and running over!!  My mother chuckles and says that we are a couple nuts squirreling away for the winter!

Lillianne met Grandma Van Hook on Thanksgiving

Lillianne met Grandma Van Hook on Thanksgiving

Both of our mothers are in relatively good health, (my mom had her gall bladder removed in October), both had 3 new great grandbabies born this year, and these two precious ladies still live in Indiana. We are very excited to be able to spend time with them both over the Christmas holiday!  We don’t get to see them as often as we would like, but they are loved more than words can express.

We also don’t get to see our son, Ryan, and his girlfriend, Brittany, as often as we would like.  He is still working for Verizon Wireless and she as a medical transcriptionist.  Weekends of playing ultimate Frisbee with his buddies, keeping up with the latest sport, and relaxing at Starbucks with a good read are some of Ryan’s favorite things…and Brittany, of course!  They are spending the Christmas holiday with her parents in Spokane this year, enjoying their family traditions … so we will greatly anticipate a visit from them later in the winter!!

Work remains stable for us both, for which we are grateful!  Tim continues his position as installation manager at Kitchen Saver, staying very busy with all of his responsibilities.  A few months ago, I was asked to add more hours to my week at Robert Clofine Elder Law Firm, working 32 hours as the office assistant.  I have diligently protected my Fridays, for they are truly life-giving morsels that help retain my sanity by providing me time to write, shop, clean, travel, and have fun with my grand children and daughter.

These are exciting days for Kim and her family!  They just bought a home and will be closing on the sale at the end of this month.  They are moving from a rented townhome that greeted them 2 ½ years ago with nice accommodations and room to expand, into a much larger house that will provide extra space for growing children and all that accumulates with a family of 4 and a dog.  We are happy for them in their find, for it is still about an hour and 10 minutes away from us, located in a great school district, and close to their church.  Cole is a Benson Buddy in the Caravan program on Wednesday nights, and his parents are on the leadership committee for their Encounter service on Sunday nights.  Troy runs the sound and Kim is in charge of the coffee bar.  They are also involved in a weekly Bible study group, MOPS, retreats, and welcoming first time visitors.  Theirs is a busy and full life … just as it should be!  Troy is still employed by Booz Allen Hamilton and in the process of earning a master’s degree in Cyber Security via an online program through UMUC.  Kim is working full time at home with Cole and Lillie … a job that has the best benefits of all, such as warm hugs, dirty diapers, snotty noses, and slobbery kisses.

This Christmas season, now as a Mimi of two, I find myself asking questions from my heart as I look at Cole and Lillie in awe, … ‘who is this child, asleep here in my arms?’  I can only imagine the questions that the shepherds, the wise men, and even His own parents asked as they gazed down at the Baby before them.

Who is this child asleep on the manger?
Tender and mild, this intimate stranger
Recklessly, wildly loving a dangerous world

Who is this light invading our darkness?
Glorious night, the sun rising for us
Conquering might, He captures the hardest of hearts;
we sing…

Little did they know at that time, what all was wrapped up in that tiny bundle of Life!  The Answers to their questions have filled hearts to overflowing, offered forgiveness, redeemed broken lives, restored marriages, healed the sick, and brought hope to the hopeless.

What child is this?  This is our God!!
Click here to listen to the song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JIVojLyymE
Long Hollow Baptist Church Choir and Travis Cottrell

This is our God, living and breathing;
call Him Courageous, Relentless and Brave
This is our God, loving and reaching;
scandalous mercy and mighty to save


Hallelujah, this is our God; hallelujah, this is our God
Hallelujah, this is our God; sing praise…

Who is this One Who will not condemn us?
Why would He come to shoulder our sentence?
Nothing we’ve done will keep Him from giving us grace.

Who is this one?
We watch and we’re speechless God’s only Son,
embracing our weakness He overcomes all death,
and He frees us to live;  and we sing…

This is our God, suffering and dying;
call Him the Hero, redeeming the lost
This is our God, love sacrificing;
all that is holy, accepting our cross


Hallelujah, this is our God; hallelujah, this is our God
Hallelujah, this is our God; sing praise…

Oh, this, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring Him laud
The babe, the Son; the glorious One
The babe, the Son of Mary.

Won’t you join me, not only this Christmas season, but all year long, in responding to the difficult questions of life, with the One true Answer…

This is our God, living and breathing;
call Him Courageous, Relentless and Brave
This is our God, loving and reaching;
scandalous mercy and mighty to save.

This is our God, suffering and dying;
call Him the Hero, redeeming the lost
This is our God, love sacrificing;
all that is holy, accepting our cross…

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Tim and Debbie

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A Pocket of Christmas Sadness

13 Dec

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 46:4-5

In the midst of the joyful carols, twinkling lights, and buying gifts for my loved ones, I recently found a pocket of sadness that I couldn’t seem to shake.  Somewhere in between “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and the wreath that I hung on our front door, my heart fell hard, and it was several days before it was able to get back up again.  In the early morning darkness that greeted my somber soul, I made a mental list of reasons for my depth of despair.  When they were all added together, somehow they all justified the extreme slump of spirit or at least gave an excuse for the tears that would easily spill over at any moment.

Our beautiful children!

Christmas 2010

As the calendar begins to come to a close each year, the holidays always have a way of sweeping me up into its clutches of planning, decorating, shopping, and anticipating the thrill of having my family gather in.  This is one place where my heart stumbled and fell down, for it is not ‘our turn’ for any of the kids to be with us this year for Christmas.  I truly thought I was more mature and responsible … beyond feeling such an ache for my children.  But I thought wrong.  It’s Christmas, and I miss them!

Friends have always been such a blessing to my heart.  I am certainly grateful to have renewed the connection with some of my precious friends from living in Pennsylvania years ago … but I left behind many others in several parts of the country.  It’s Christmas, and I miss them!

Then there’s my Daddy… He’s been with Jesus now for 18 years.  It’s Christmas, and I miss him!

Writing has always been very therapeutic for my hurting heart, so I gave consideration to pouring my heart out into letters to a few select souls.  But instead, I will reach into the archives of my blog and re-post my Christmas letter that I wrote last year to my Daddy.  Aside from some statistical family details, each word still describes my heart and the precious bitter-sweet memories of Christmases past.

Dear Daddy,

It would only be most appropriate to sit here and sip on a hot cup of coffee (with cream and sugar, as opposed to your favorite, black) as I jingle Heaven’s portals with a Christmas greeting to you. The sights and sounds of the holidays have a way of tugging at the memories of my heart, and I always miss you so much during this season.

You know that I so enjoy all of the music this time of year, but there is a distinct genre of songs that melt this little girl’s heart into a puddle of warm memories. Just a few notes of one of these songs, and I am immediately transported back to any cold December day in my childhood. Remember how you and I would go shopping together every Christmas and buy gifts for Mom? Every store we went into and every station on the radio would be playing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” or “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”. I loved being with you, Daddy … your funny little quirks of always stopping at the men’s cologne counter to splash a half-dozen different scents of after shave lotion on your face, often taking my own little face in your hands and lovingly pat the potpourri of manly fragrances on my little girl cheeks. A few more songs like the musical rendition of “Sleigh Ride” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” would serenade us as we began our quest for the right gift that year for mom. You loved to have a lot of gifts under the tree for her ~ I always felt like it was your way of showing her how much you loved and appreciated her. Soft and flowing night gowns with matching robes, a new winter coat with accompanying boots, and of course, peanut brittle. Oh, the big gifts were different every year, but we also always got her a box of peanut brittle. I picked up that yummy tradition in your honor until a few years ago when she began to make her own homemade brittle … thinking of you the entire time she’s doing so, I’m sure. Speaking of peanuts, on our way out of Sears and Roebuck, you would usually swing by the snack area and buy you and me a small bag of warm salted cashews. How fun to remember how special that made me feel that you would stop and buy this special treat for me … you and me. I don’t even know if we saved any for mom and the boys.

I had to chuckle the other day as I was walking through the grocery store and passed by the infamous bag of mixed nuts! Do you remember the glass dish that mom got out at Christmas and filled with all sorts of hard candy, oranges, and nuts? I think of you every time I look for something in the utility drawer in my own kitchen and I see the nut cracker and pick. I have so many simple, but oh so special holiday memories of you, Daddy.

Your birthday is coming soon, which always means that Christmas is only a few hours away. You were always so gracious, having a Christmas Eve birthday, to excitedly accept your annual birthday gift of new Christmas pajamas right along with us kids! Still to this day, you are always remembered and sung to in the unique Wells tradition … as the birthday cake is shared by many December birthdays each year. “… Happy Birthday, dear Daddy / Grandpa Johnny!”

There is an unmistakable warmth, safe and secure, and happy feeling ~ embraced with all the love a little girl’s heart can hold ~ when I think of you, Daddy … especially at Christmas time. The aromas, the sounds of the holidays, the fun varieties of cookies, snacks, fruit, and the Christmas dinner itself, … and just the presence of our family together. Thank you, Daddy, for sufficiently providing for us, with not only the things we needed, but with lots of love, attention, and security. I know your grandkids still remember you for your extreme heart of fun and love that always made each one of them feel so special. You have great grandkids now, Daddy! Tim is a grandpa to Kailee’s kids, and Jay is just weeks away from holding his first grandson! And I will once again be Mimi as Kim is expecting her second little one in May … her own little girl! Oh Daddy … I miss you so!

You know how busy it gets this time of year, but we all plan to be together once again at your house. You may not physically be there, but you will be there. Your example, your jovial and sometimes feisty spirit, and your love will always be with us! Instead of the 5 of us, plus Mammy and Pappy ~ like it was every year for many years, there will be 25 of us and 3 babies on the way. What a blessed heritage you gave to each of us … yes, you will be there. Make that 26.

The older I get, the more I miss you. There must be something about better understanding the struggles and the hard times of life ~ and wishing that I had paid more attention and spent more time on my knees then than I did. But here we are. The journey for me continues, and I know that my tears will continue to flow from time to time … until they will be dried by Jesus Himself as I am met by you at that great Gate … Someday.

Well, I will hush for now, Daddy. I promise to meet you here again, from time to time, on the pages of my heart. Happy 78th Birthday, Merry Christmas, and I love you!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

Mom with your 3 newest great grandbabies

Mom with your 3 newest great grandbabies

P.S.  It’s 2012 now … Those 3 new babies have come, Daddy … oh what fun they are!  Kailee’s Leyton, Jason’s Jaxon,  and Kim’s Lillianne.  Those little cousins got to meet one another in October when Kim, Baby Lillie and I flew out to Mom’s for my birthday visit.  And speaking of birthdays, this Christmas Eve will be your 79th!  There will be fewer people gathered around the Christmas table in Indiana this year, but you will be there in the hearts of us all.

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas Daddy … I love you and miss you so!