Archive | March, 2013


29 Mar

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us
New Birth into a Living Hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

He excitedly jumped up from his chair, whirled around to the crowd of party on-lookers and busted out with “Water Wheels! Water Wheels!”   I glanced over at his momma with a quizzical look, and she could only shrug her shoulders in return as her son obviously knew all about this fun bathtub toy.  CARS Hydro Wheels, along with many other nice gifts will supply my young grandson with countless hours and hours of playtime!

As I do each year when my kids, and now my grandkids, have a birthday, I take a trip down memory lane and look at pictures.  Last weekend was no exception as Cole Michael celebrated his 4th birthday.  The haunting memories of the events surrounding his emergency birth six weeks early still seem so fresh to my heart.  With tears in my eyes, I relived those frightening moments that stretched into many days as this tiny baby was forced to make an early entrance due to severe pre-eclampsia.  But those days quickly turned into weeks, months, and now years.  Four of them!  Each year comes with a gazillion photos taken, every one telling the story of how God enabled two people, instantly-turned-parents, to care for and nurture, love and provide for this little boy I affectionately call Bubbas … short for Bubbalicious!

Cole checking out the birthday cake and bird launcher

Cole checking out the birthday cake and bird launcher

Having been sick with the flu just days before the grand celebration, Cole was still alittle on the reserved and quiet side as he walked into the fully transformed Sunday School room (at their church) to find he was surrounded by ANGRY BIRDS and their pigs.  For those of you who may not be up on the latest electronic games, this seems to be a favorite among old and young alike … and is most often found and played on smart phones and ipads.  In the game, players use a slingshot to launch silly wingless birds at pigs stationed on or within various scaffold-type structures, with the intent of destroying all the pigs on the playing field.  Mom and dad’s cell  … and even Mimi’s have been handed to Cole since he was very young … and his chubby little fingers have mastered the concept of the game and have kept him quiet and entertained on many occasions.

Cole paying close attention as his Dad reads a birthday card.

Cole paying close attention as his Dad reads a birthday card.

Several game stations were set up around the birthday room, where little kiddos could throw balls and knock down boxes or pin the tail on the ANGRY BIRD.  There were fruit and veggie plates, along with pepperoni pizza … and birthday cupcakes / cake  ~ each in ANGRY BIRDS décor.  Cole entered the room and slowly walked around, taking it all in … lingering at the gift table and eyeing the packages with C-O-L-E written on each card.  The evening before the party, I heard his parents talking to him about how people will give cards with their gifts and that it is important to read each one first before opening the gift.  Troy told him that he needs to listen to what the card says and then he will also find out who the gift is from, so he can then thank them.  From Mimi’s perspective, I was most impressed with how Cole listened and followed through on those instructions.  Before opening each gift, he patiently sat beside his Daddy and listened as the card was read.  His little buddy Bella was sitting next to him as he opened his presents.  When Troy read the card that said “from Bella, Irina, and Brian”, Cole reached over, touched her arm, and with a big grin, said “Thanks, Bella!”

Saturday was the party day.  His actual birthday was Sunday, March 24th.  Even though we set aside a particular day to celebrate his birth, in all reality, we celebrate this precious little life every day!  Most days, there is usually a moment or two that Cole wants to hold the phone and tell his Mimi something exciting about his day.  This causes me to think about my relationship with Jesus.   Today is Good Friday.  Sunday is Easter.  We all have great reason to celebrate and rejoice as we consider the death and resurrection of our Savior.  But let’s not stop here.  After the Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies have all been eaten, and the last chorus of “He Lives” has been sung, let’s determine in our hearts that we will continue the celebration of His life, death and resurrection … for it is only through His life that I can truly live…

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
 I do not set aside the grace of God,
for if righteousness could be gained through the law,
Christ died for nothing!
Galatians 2:20-21

It is only by His example that I lay down my life for others …

This is how we know what love is:
Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.
And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
1 John 3:16

I have friends who lost husband, father, and grandpa just a few days ago to cancer … much pain and suffering was endured ~ but now David has a new body and is celebrating Easter at the nail scarred feet of Jesus!

I want to know Christ and the power of His
resurrection and the fellowship of
sharing in His sufferings,
becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow,
to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11


Just like we celebrated Cole’s birth, and will continue to celebrate his life all year, let’s celebrate our New Birth into a Living Hope through the resurrection of our Jesus!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us
New Birth into a Living Hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish,
spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,
who through faith are shielded by God’s power
until the coming of the salvation that is
ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while you may have had to
suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire–
be proved genuine and may result in praise,
glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen Him, you love Him;
and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him
and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9


Until next time,

If you get this post by email,
please go to the actual website to check out
some of the new family pictures along the right side.




Happy Birthday to My Ryan!

18 Mar

I have no greater joy than to hear
that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4

At my weekly OB appointment I was told that I had already dilated to 3 cm and would most likely be having a baby within the next 24 hours. Our little 2 ½ year old daughter and I made the most of the day, making sure that everything was ready for the next few days of excitement. The nursery was well stocked with cloth diapers and sleepers, and arrangements for childcare were made for the big sister. Arby’s was our fast food of choice that evening for dinner, followed by a bath for Kim. As I bent over to kiss my precious little girl goodnight, a very fast-paced labor began when my water broke. Although excited, I’m sure Tim moaned with regret, as he had just taken a dose of Nyquil in hopes of a sound night’s sleep to ward off the symptoms of a head cold. He knew there would be no rest for the drugged … and he was right. Less than 3 hours later, our little boy was born.

That was 27 years ago today. Ryan just missed being a St. Patrick’s Day baby by an hour and 2 minutes.  And oddly enough, his favorite color has always been green. As I looked up my previous blogs for March 18, I decided to repost this one from 2011. Enjoy …

Back in the day, it was not in the usual routine of anticipated visits to find out if the baby growing inside was a girl or a boy. Observations of how high or how low, round belly or round body, fast or slow heart beat … all were used as a means of forming opinions. But the only one true test was that of birth. Having only been in labor for 2 ½ hours, I rejoiced with my husband at 1:02 am on March 18, 1986 to find out that we were the parents of a baby boy! With a little girl already wrapped around our hearts, adding Ryan to our family was a joy beyond words! Blonde hair, blue eyes, and 2 dimples in his chubby cheeks, he was undeniably a Van Hook.

Kim and RyanKim ~ 2 years 7 months Ryan ~ 10 days old

Kim and Ryan
Kim ~ 2 years 7 months
Ryan ~ 10 days old

Growing up with a sister who was quite vocal, Ryan really had no need for many words. Kim understood the language of little people and did a wonderful job of interpreting his gestures and mutterings. But it’s safe to say, now at the brand new age of 25, he is well versed in his vocabulary and does well in communication. Ryan is an assistant store manager for Verizon Wireless in Seattle … looking forward to managing his own store in the near future. Easter Seals speech therapy to Android and iPhone sales!

Super Mario, baseball and Chuck, Caravans, soccer, basketball, cousins, Work and Witness teams, green chilis, Sandia youth group, Mario and Conrad, Gonzaga, …

The memories are endless and the future is before him!

Ryan Daniel17 months old

Ryan Daniel
17 months old

Now that a new generation has graced our family with the life of Kim and Troy’s own son, Cole, I continue to be in awe of God’s Signature upon my life. Being a Mimi is incredibly special … a special all of its own!! So many other grandparents have commented that if they had known having grandchildren was so much fun, they would have had them first. I do not agree. Although being a parent has been hard work, frustrating and heartbreaking at times, there is no greater joy to my heart than my own two children. I love them so!!

I live this day, Ryan, in celebration of you and in honor of God who blessed my life with yours! I thank Him every day for your life, asking Him to surround you with His protection, His love, His grace, and His mercy. Morsels of Mercy!!!
Happy Birthday, my precious son!

Until next time,

For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you
and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life
worthy of the Lord and may
please Him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,
being strengthened with all power
according to His glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience,
and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance
of the saints in the kingdom of light.
For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14

Picaboo, Snapfish, My Publisher… ??

5 Mar

I thank my God every time I remember you.
 Philippians 1:3


Hours and hours. Frustration and aggravation. The finished product just arrived in the mail yesterday … and it looks great, but the journey to get there was long and arduous. If I hadn’t already invested so much time in choosing pictures and designing several pages, I would’ve just simply quit and chocked it up for a bad experience. But every ounce of my effort and time was driven by love, so I plodded on.

I’m a big fan of family traditions, and compiling a bunch of photos each year for my mother-in-law is one of those. I used to sit for hours sifting through digital photos in my somewhat organized folders on my computer, making long lists of jpg numbers, which would eventually get uploaded to the nearest Walgreens. Those 4 x 6 prints of our family’s memories of the past year would be chronologically placed in a 100 page album and then gifted to Grandma Van Hook … and received with joy.

Inspired by my two nieces-in-law (is that a word??), I wanted to try my hand at creating my own photo book. Not knowing anything about the various companies that do this sort of thing, I randomly chose Picaboo because of a deal I found on Groupon. I remember sitting down and spending a couple days in one weekend to compile this project, then within a few short days, the 8 x 10 album arrived in our mailbox … and it turned out beautifully!

The SPRING page ...

The SPRING page …

That was a year ago. Just a few months ago now, back in October, I bought another deal, this time on Living Social. A great deal! For $25, I bought $100 worth of product from Picaboo. I knew that this would not only cover the traditional book of memories for my dear mother-in-law, but I would probably get a couple other projects out of the bundle of goodness! With an expiration date of February 28, I had procrastinated long enough, so mid month, I began to work on the year 2012. How exciting it was as I sat down with my computer and began to sort through photos of the last year, reminding me of the many, many wonderful memories our family had made! The expectation and arrival of Miss Lillianne made my task more daunting, as the volume of photos to choose from multiplied exponentially from the previous year! After several hours of gathering, I began the actual process of creating the book. What fun as I chose different backgrounds, text fonts and colors, and then added my pictures to each page! But it didn’t take but just a few of those pages before I began to realize that this adventure was quickly, but slowly turning into a challenge. The ability to move a photo, to tuck it behind another, or to rotate it into position, was not happening with ease. Error messages kept popping up, and occasional crashes occurred, sometimes totally losing an entire 2 page spread and several hours of work. By the time I was working on July and our family vacation to Seattle, I was about ready to throw in the towel. Out of frustration, I tried to contact Customer Service only to find that they do not list a phone number to call, and their ‘live chat’ would not even work. So I trudged on.

Thanksgiving Page

Thanksgiving Page

By the end of the day on February 28, I had completed my big memory book for 2012, plus a couple other smaller creations that accumulated to my purchased deal of $100, plus shipping. After placing the order for each individual project, a survey was provided, so I vented. I told them how unhappy I was with their ‘updated and improved’ web-based program. I also told them, because they asked, if I would use them again. I clicked on the button ‘I don’t know.’

That’s where you come in. Please give me some feed back on who you use. What company do you prefer when you create your photo memory books? Recommendations from experienced users is what I need, because I love my family. I love taking pictures. I love family traditions.

Through this journey we call life, won’t you join me in preserving the important things?   Relationships, family memories, and our walk with God …

  He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Psalm 90:1

Thanks, kindly, for responding!

Until next time,