Archive | November, 2013

Throwback Thursday and Thanksgiving 1998

21 Nov

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
Psalm 100:4

It’s Thursday.  Often in my world of Facebook friends, pictures will be posted that entertain and add a chuckle to the day as we enjoy seeing photos from the past.  Memories of the heart will sometimes be tugged on, and a sigh of “where has time gone” will escape our lips as we smile and shake our heads in disbelief.  In preparation of this fun day called Throwback Thursday, I found myself upstairs digging through boxes of Kodak moments, hunting for some Thanksgiving past.  My search was successful!  As I looked through the pictures and saw the faces of my precious family, my mind took an immediate journey to November 1998.  We were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the time ~ Work and Witness Coordinators for Nazarene Indian Bible College.  In October, we had just moved from one home to another on campus, and were still unpacking boxes and getting settled.  Ryan was 12 years old and from the looks of his bright white smile, he must’ve just gotten his braces off!  Kimberly, our gorgeous 15 year old, was still sporting her new summer short haircut.  And how crazy to realize that Tim and I were still in our 30s … oh my!   Since our family was planning to travel the many miles back east for the Christmas break, we decided that for Thanksgiving we would take a family trip and go somewhere new and exciting and close by … and the Grand Canyon it was!

With plans to only post these pictures today on my Facebook, the thought hit me that I could actually pull up my weekly newsletter from that very same week and post it in my blog.  As a busy missionary family back then, I wrote a newsy letter full of Van Hook life and emailed it to a gazillion people every week.  I did this for many years … and all of these posts are safely stored on an external hard drive, waiting to be put into a book someday!!

Having just driven a few hours into Ohio to visit our friends, Mike and Norma Johnson 2 weeks ago, how fun it was to sit here and be reminded that they were quite the blessing that year to Scottie-sit for us!  In their earlier years, they had already hiked down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon and knew that it was no place for a noisy Miniature Schnauzer!

So, with Thanksgiving 2013 just one week away, I share with you today Thanksgiving 1998.  Enjoy!

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November 29, 1998
Sunday evening

Dear family & friends,

We’re home!  We are unloaded, unpacked, and unwinding.  Kim, suffering from youth-group withdrawal, keys in hand and orders to call home as soon as she arrived, went on to church tonight.  The rest of us are munching on junk food, doing laundry (well, I am), and enjoying ‘no place like home’.  Scottie is also relaxing in the comfy-ness of his home.  Praise the Lord once again for His perfect timing!  Last Sunday, another one of our volunteer couples who come each year to NIBC and help with the Christmas festivities, pulled into the campus with their motor home…guess who very willingly agreed to Scottie-sit?  Mike & Norma Johnson opened their home to our little guy, allowing this Mom much more enjoyable Thanksgiving travels.  There were a gazillion signs prohibiting pets on the Canyon trails – on a leash or in a back pack!  And now since I have hiked back up a trail, that in a 1 ½ mile distance, the elevation rose 940 feet, I guarantee none of us would have wanted to haul Scottie’s heavy 14 pound dog body on our backs, with him barking the whole way, no doubt!  We probably would have been tempted to just leave him on the cliffs…  Just kidding!  No, Scottie celebrated Thanksgiving with the Johnsons, and we are very grateful for their kindness!

This past week was NIBC’s Thanksgiving holiday break.  After putting in so many extra hours of work throughout the Work & Witness season, not to mention preparing for the 50th anniversary celebration earlier in the year, I planned on taking off as much time this week as possible.  I went in on Monday, hoping to be home by noon … ha!  Once you’re in the door, watch out!  I was able to tie up loose ends by 5:00 pm, not setting foot back in the office until an hour before we left on our trip on Wednesday.  I did have to make several phone calls and check in with Kathleen a few times, but I managed to do so from home.  Miraculously, by the time we pulled out for our trip, the house was freshly interior decorated, cleaned, and looking good. How satisfying and refreshing to know that piles of clutter from several months were filed or trashed, stacks of pictures, shelves, and pretties were now hung,  that the ½ inch of dust had been happily wiped away and the carpets vacuumed…    SIGH!  If my house is in shambles (I mean long term stuff!), I am grouchy… if my house is in order, Mom smiles!  It’s a woman thing, I guess.  I am so thankful that I am smiling!!

Once the kids got home from school on Wednesday, the last minute packing finished, and instructions to the Scottie-sitters given, we were on our way to the Grand Canyon.  Squinting as we drove into the setting sun, we stopped in Navajo land, Gallup, New Mexico, for the  Wednesday special at McD…29¢ hamburgers!  We stopped for the night just a couple more hours down the road at Sun Valley Indian School outside of Holbrook, Arizona.  Extremely cheap accommodations are always available there for our NIBC staff.  We do the same for their people while they are traveling through Albuquerque … this time it was our turn!  We truly appreciated their hospitality!  Waking to a beautiful Thanksgiving morning, we continued our journey to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  Unless you have seen this wonder, words will never ever begin to describe the immense, breathtaking, … And you know what?  Last week, while hiking at Sandia with the family, in mid-picture, my camera died…needing 2 of those tiny round batteries to make it work again.  Being the procrastinator that I am at times, I figured that we would drive by a K-Mart or Wal-mart somewhere between Albuquerque and the Grand Canyon.   Little did I know that Indian reservations make up most of the miles of space between here and there…and the biggie?  You are lucky to find a gas station or a restaurant opened on Thanksgiving Day, let alone a K-Mart, at least on an Indian reservation! I then thought that maybe I could just purchase one of those handy disposable cameras at one of the gift shops … $25 for 17 pictures?  I don’t think so!  Yes, you guessed it!  I was unable to take any 35mm pictures of our day at the south rim of the Grand Canyon!  Thank goodness for the video camera, but it’s just not the same!  Sigh!  When we were able to stop the following day at a Wal-Mart, which was extremely busy with Christmas shoppers, I not only bought the two tiny round batteries that I needed for the moment, I purchased two extra ones for future emergencies!  Good planning, I thought – until Tim spoiled it by saying that they would probably be dead once I needed them in a year and half…

Despite the fact that we have no pictures to show from that first day, what a beautiful day it was!  It is truly hard to fathom the depth, the vastness, the distance of this thing!  From a beginning  elevation of around 7000’, we hiked a trail along a rim, down an elevation of 940’ in a distance of 1 ½ miles.  The round trip took us 2 hours.  Going down made my legs feel wobbly and shaky, but going back up nearly made my lungs explode and my back ache!  But it was great!  To see the views, to experience and make memories … it was all worth it!  Following an exhaustive day of travel and touring, we headed to our hotel, where we swam in an indoor pool and relaxed in the churning waters of the whirlpool…ah-h-h!  Suddenly realizing that it was indeed still Thanksgiving and that there just might not be any restaurants opened, we quickly cleaned up and went hunting for a place to eat. Denny’s was still opened! It was ok…nothing AT ALL like Mom’s Thanksgiving dinner!   Such was our Thanksgiving Day …

Free continental breakfast – Tim always reminds us that a Continental car is nice, really big, and is worth a lot of money…why do they call this pitiful and skimpy idea of a breakfast ‘continental’?  No, we are always grateful for the powdered donuts, toast, Fruit Loops, milk, juice and coffee.  I don’t usually eat more than that anyway!  Every little bit of $$ savings helps!  This was the day for a new adventure.  We had already conquered the south rim of the canyon … on to the north rim! However, what is no more than 10 miles via a crow, is a total of 215 miles via our Saturn!  And usually the medium dots on a map signify sizable towns with Burger Kings, McDs, Taco Bells, but that is not the case in Arizona!  They are simply marking points for travel, with maybe two or three homes in the area.  Finally, we spotted a Chevron gas station which sold hot dogs!   More fun memories for us all!  The miles clicked by, but as we drove through the Painted Desert, traveled across the Navajo Bridge, which safely took us over the Colorado River, which flowed 480’ below us, journeyed beside the Vermillion Cliffs,  then headed into the Grand Canyon Park – North rim…the miles did not matter.  God’s creation is absolutely breathtaking!   With my 35mm camera in hand, we hiked 2 different trails, one having several inches of snow in sections of our path.  The fun of crunching hundreds of pine cones, throwing snow balls, and wondering what belonged to the paw prints we passed … what a day!  Heading north to Page, Arizona, we  treated ourselves to Pizza Hut and a good night sleep.

Being only 10 miles from the Utah state line, we drove just that far, took a picture by the sign, and then  headed southeast.   We drove through the heart of the Navajo Nation, finding it quite interesting to see the sort of homes they live in.  Usually beside a relatively decent home, was a traditional hogan.  This is a small ‘round’ home, made of logs and mud thatched roof.  We saw many herds of sheep and cows … and more beautiful scenery.  Arriving in Chinle, Arizona, we made our last tour stop at Canyon de Chelly  (pronounced de shay).  Due to a rain shower that lasted the rest of the evening and was forecasted not to stop until sometime today, we postponed our hiking until another time.  We did drive through the park, however, and enjoyed many awesome views of another magnificent canyon area, which is  still inhabited by a Navajo community in the lush valley.  Signs that warn of 600’ and 700’ sheer cliffs startled my heart as I then looked up to see my son balancing on all fours on the barrier wall along the cliff’s edge.  Little did I know that there was at least 5’ of rock ledge beyond the wall…sigh!   With a fine mist of rain over us all, we headed to the hotel where our reservations were made.  Much to our dismay, we found out that their indoor pool was not working…on the road again!  With four hours of travel between us and home, we stopped after two hours and checked into a nice hotel at a discounted rate – indoor pool, whirlpool and that free Continental breakfast!   This morning, following a rousing game of Scrabble, through a mixture of sunshine and snow flurries, we headed east for Albuquerque.  Our hearts are very grateful to those Work & Witness teams this past year who lovingly gave our family gifts of money.  We are able to make these special memories with our family because you all gave from hearts of love…thank you!

Gracious!  Two whole pages!  Please keep in mind that these letters are also pages in our family book…memories are priceless, and I love to document them!  Hey!  December arrives this week!  Time to drag out those boxes full of holiday cheer…ugh!  I just put boxes away!  Oh well!  More memories!!  Until next week…

With my love,
Debbie  

Tim

Tim

The kids and I

The kids and I

Ryan

Ryan

Ryan and the Grand Canyon

Ryan and the Grand Canyon

Kimberly

Kimberly

November 1998

Tim and I on the Navajo Bridge

November 1998

Tim and the kids on the Navajo Bridge

November 1998

Kim hiding out

November 1998

Grand Canyon

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Good-bye October

1 Nov

For You have been my Hope, O Sovereign LORD,
my Confidence since my youth.
Psalm 71:5

It truly seems like just yesterday when Tim and I hopped on the motorcycle and headed east to spend the weekend with our New Jersey friends in Toms River. But it wasn’t just yesterday … in fact, it was the end of September.

Since then, October arrived in its usual fashion of anticipation of family visits and birthday fun, but it didn’t take long before the visit did not include any family and the birthday lost its fun. Thankfully I had two days of enjoyment … Munchy Monday girls on Thursday evening and lunch with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law on Friday. Then the stomach flu and fever hit. My departure from Indy and arrival back in PA on Monday took me straight to bed. Less than two weeks later, a nasty head cold and another fever blindsided me and I’m out of commission for several days again. Now, nearly two weeks more, I’m still coughing and blowing my nose. Where does all of this stuff come from?

Besides being physically off, it has seemed that much of my world has been off kilter. Cancer is wreacking havoc in the lives of many I know. Death has unexpectedly stolen a dear friend and taken others who have been suffering. Addictions, diseases, storms, the inevitable struggles of aging, the concerns of Obamacare, loss of employment, an Albuquerque shoot-out, the destruction of relationships and families … these things and more seem to weigh heavy on my own heart. I have family and friends who are dealing with real life issues that often seem unfair and without much hope.

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Papaw with his 2 loves in the apple orchard!

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Mimi having fun with lots of pumpkin heads!!

Even on this wind-driven rainy first day of November, we all must find our hope! Taking a different perspective on the month of October, there were some bright spots … I DID have a birthday. You would not be reading this otherwise! Although not together, I mutually celebrated October birthdays with some very special people, two of which are my brother and his oldest son. My youngest brother got married on the 19th of this month. He and his bride had a beautiful wedding, blending two families, while creating their own. My precious friend, Louise, is celebrating these gorgeous days of autumn with Jesus and my Daddy – she is no doubt telling him all about my Mother’s two dogs, Walker and Ginger. After many days in the hospital, my Uncle Johnse has returned home with Barbara. Friends have had successful surgeries, treatments, and care for serious health issues. Ryan and Brittany enjoyed several days of vacation in Albuquerque during the balloon fiesta, while just a few weeks later God mercifully protected friends in the same area as they were ministering to the homeless and a gunman repeatedly shot into their crowd. Tim and I had a wonderfully fun time last weekend with our grand kiddos – our annual trek to the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and we even threw in a parade full of candy!! We are truly blessed by these two little loves! For these and more, we give thanks and praise to God … which brings us to this first day of November.

Yes, people are sick. People die. People get hurt. Lives are destroyed by sin and wrecklessness. Dreams are shattered. Politicians lie to us. Fears are realized. Life seems to be turned upside down at times. But, Jesus is our Peace. Jesus is our Hope. Jesus is our Fortress. Jesus is our Rock. Jesus is our Strength. Jesus is our Glue. Jesus is our Protector. Jesus is our Song. Jesus is our Complete. Jesus is our Everything.

Won’t you join me today in saying good-bye to October and welcoming the final two months of this year with open hearts? May we be full of praise and thanksgiving as our hearts worship Jesus, the Christ Child, our Redeemer and our Hope!

Until next time,
Debbie

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness seems to veil His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath His covenant and blood
Support me in the ‘whelming flood:
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound,
O may I then in him be found.
Clothed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before his throne.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.`