Archive | January, 2014

Company is (was) Coming!

25 Jan

Love the LORD your God with all your heart
Deuteronomy 6:5

The scheduled visit was put on the calendar a few weeks ago which pumped great incentive and fresh motivation through my veins to get my house in order. It’s not like my house is in shambles on a regular basis, but there are details and areas of my home that need some extra attention to make it worthy of a guest.

Besides her normal responsibilities as mom, wife, and pastor’s wife, my sister-in-law, Amy, has been the sole care-giver of her recuperating husband and is in need of a small vacation. Her husband was in a motorcycle accident in August, which required surgery and many months of therapy, and recovery. David encouraged Amy to take a break and fly out for a short visit. Her flight was booked and plans were being made, and I began doing special projects around the house…you know ~ the kind you do when someone is coming to visit.

Our guest room is only a guest room when the air mattress is filled and covered with bed linens. That happens on occasion when the parents come with our Little Loves. Other than that, it looks like it could be an office, due to the desk, swivel chair and filing cabinet. But it hasn’t ever functioned as an office since we’ve lived here. We both have laptops and they go where we go, which is hardly ever upstairs…except when our Little Loves are here and then we are in the bedroom across the hall.

Treasures on my book shelf

Treasures on my book shelf

The spare room

The ‘office’

Last weekend, cleaning supplies in hand, I decided it was time to get the guest room ready for Amy’s arrival in a few days. There were piles upon piles of paid bills, insurance policies, statements and receipts all over the desk top, from months and months of neglect of filing and organization. I quickly scooped them all up into a couple boxes and stuffed them into the closet, where I will tend to them later when I have more time. I made sure the bed was in order with plenty of air and clean sheets, after which I sat down at the desk to begin the task of dusting. For the first time in a very long time I took a good look at this room. As I drew in breaths of the sweet smell of unlit vanilla candles, the real contents of this room began to speak to me. Items that represent life, friendships, love, ministries, and Jesus. A semblance of this room, minus the air mattress, was in our home in Albuquerque and again in West Harrison, Indiana. It was always somewhat of a sanctuary for me then … a quiet haven to retreat to for my daily devotions, prayer, and writing. Pictures are everywhere of my friends, wall plaques and hangings that were special gifts, and a gazillion things kept, saved and cherished from some of life’s most precious people and moments. But to be perfectly honest, I have avoided this room for the past couple of years. From the tiniest little smiley face sticker stuck to the bulletin board to the bookshelf full of books, this room reminds me of another time and another place, a place far away from where I am today. At least that is what my head has been telling me…but as I began to dust ceramic cows, picture frames, and hanging snowflakes, my heart began to tell me otherwise. I have missed being in the sweet, quiet, sacredness of this room. So, with a few minor changes and tweaking that will bring the room up-to-date, just maybe I’ll pull the glider/rocker from Cole’s bedroom from across the hall and find that even in a different time and a different place, there is still a place for this room and all its treasures.

Getting back to Amy’s visit, she was supposed to be here now. But life as we know it is quite unpredictable. Tim was sick last weekend and I have been sick with the flu all week. Thankfully, Amy was flying Southwest and it was not a problem to reschedule her flight for another date. In the mean time, my little room is freshly dusted and ready for me to start enjoying its sweet presence once again!

Maybe we should all ask ourselves if we are ready for company that is scheduled to come. For the most part, my house was ready. But there was one room that had been neglected and unkept … just enough to ruin the entire visit for the one coming. Jesus is coming someday ~ is your heart ready? Do you have a room in your heart that you have neglected and have kept closed off? God requires our whole heart … not just part of it.   Won’t you join me in allowing God to make our heart His home?   Listen to Women of Faith sing My Heart, Your Home  http://youtu.be/Of3IVr3G-Bc

Come and make my heart Your home
Come and be everything I am and all I know
Search me through and through
Until my heart becomes a home for You
A home for You oh
Home for You oh
Let everything I do open up a door
For You to come through
Then my heart would be a place
Where You wanna be
‘Til my heart becomes a home for You
‘Till my heart becomes a home for You

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Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Love the LORD your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today
are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9

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Hands of Time

10 Jan

My times are in Your hands.
Psalm 31:15a

Life is full of illusions, each one based on perspective…especially when it comes to time, don’t you think?  As a little girl, I vividly remember that summers were long and seemed to never end … going fishing with my Daddy,  playing board games on the front porch with the neighbor kids, riding my bike, catching lightning bugs in the dark, and reading until I fell asleep each night.  Then I think back to when I was expecting my two children.  Despite being sick at all hours of the day or night along with the aches and pains from sharing my body with a growing baby, I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant!  But even with all of the excitement and anticipation, those were truly the longest 9 months ever, with the biggest illusion of all time following … the next 30 years were but a mere blink of an eye!

According to the dictionary, an illusion is an erroneous perception of reality.  Of course, every day in the past 30 years truly had 24 hours each, and some of those hours were long and grueling.  In fact, the teen years seemed to last forever … not sure if the next moment would have attitude or a gesture of affection.  But here we are, over a decade later, and those crazy years seem like yesterday…

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

I have even come to realize as I walk hand in hand with Jesus, that my own spiritual pathway can be full of illusions.  Countless times through the years, the circumstances of life have literally knocked the breath out of me, leaving me frightened and anxious, not knowing what to expect as I round the next corner of my journey.  That’s where faith comes in … and I mean blind faith.  The kind that leaves me no other option but to hang on to the Hand Who promises to strengthen when I am weak.  The kind of faith that trusts when there is no understanding.  My personal perspective of total and complete disaster has always been salvaged by the redeeming Hand of Jesus …

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
(this present life)
are not worth being compared with the glory
that is about to be revealed to us
and in us and for us and
conferred on us!
Romans 8:18 Amplified

A little over a year ago, Kim, Lillianne and I spent a few days with my mom in Indianapolis.  I was reminded during those brief days together how life is full of illusions, and how quickly time seems to slip through our hands.

Keep His decrees and commands,
which I am giving you today,
so that it may go well with you and your children after you
and that you may live long in the land
the LORD your God gives you for all time.
Deuteronomy 4:40

Oct 2012
Each hand represents life …
life that continually reaches out
Mimi Wells, Mimi, Momma, and Lillianne

Today is January 10th … and tomorrow is already an illusion.  Where does time go?  The following is the devotional reading from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest from December 31.   Won’t you join me in leaving the Irreparable Past in His hands, and reaching out into the Irresistible Future with Him?

Security from Yesterday. “God requireth that which is past.” At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.

Security for Tomorrow. “For the Lord will go before you.” This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to. He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our rereward. God’s hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.

Security for Today. “For ye shall not go out with haste.” As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.

Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and REACH out into the Irresistible Future with Him.

Leave the past to the mercy of God,
The present to the love of God,
The future to the providence of God.

Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6

 

God’s goodness and mercy are no illusions … I’m grateful that they will follow me all the days of my life.

Until next time,
Debbie

Happy New Year from the Van Hooks!

1 Jan

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

Just a few days ago, Tim and I celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our little loves and their parents in their Baltimore home.  A couple weeks previous, God blessed us with an extra special Christmas visit from my mother when we received our 4th snowfall of the season while she was here.  What fun we all had as we took turns sledding down our big hill and watching the pure delight in the eyes of our little loves.  And now as the New Year arrives, we anticipate a belated Christmas celebration with our kids from Seattle.  We learned long ago that there’s so much more to celebrating Christmas than what we do or where we are on the 25th of December.  It truly is a season … a Spirit of celebration that centers our focus on the gift of Jesus and His birth.

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate)
and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us;
and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty),
such glory as an only begotten son receives from His father,
full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.
John 1:14 Amplified

 

For out of His fullness (abundance)
we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with]
one grace after another and
spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing
and even favor upon favor
and gift [heaped] upon gift.
John 1:16 Amplified

 

Out of His abundance, God provides for our every need …  Tim continues to be busy working for Kitchen Saver as the Installation Manager, and I remain at the Elder Law Firm of Robert Clofine where I work in the office.  When not working and the weather permits, Tim and I enjoying riding our ‘new’ motorcycle which we bought in June.  When not on the bike, we love spending time in the kitchen, looking for new recipes, creating healthy dishes, smoking meats, and eating tasty foods.  We grew a small garden this past summer, freezing much of what we grew and buying even more at local produce stands.  Our freezers are once again full and overflowing, providing us with tasty treats throughout the next year.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Out of His abundance, God provides one grace after another!  I think of our trip to Seattle in the fall … what a great time we had with Ryan and Brittany!  They are gracious hosts, always providing us with warm hospitality, great food, and wonderful memories of another special time together!  This particular time, we included a short trip to Portland, Oregon and another few days to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Our other travel destinations were Indiana, West Virginia, New Jersey and Ohio, not to mention the trips here and there all on the motorcycle and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Of course, we can’t leave out the all-important short journeys back and forth to the south side of Baltimore to see our little loves and their parents.  And in April, Kim’s house was full and running over as Uncle Ryan and Auntie Britt, along with Mimi Wells came to visit and to be present at Lillianne’s baby dedication.  We have certainly been blessed this year by being with friends and family!

The Arndt Family

The Arndt Family

Out of His abundance, God provides His favor!  The Arndt family purchased a house in January of 2013, and have had no problems spreading out into all corners and cubbies of this nice large home.  Both Troy and Kim turned 30 years old when celebrating birthdays this year, while Cole will turn five years old in March and Lillianne two in April.  Troy continues to be employed by Booz Allen Hamilton and has two remaining semesters in the process of earning a master’s degree in Cyber Security via an online program through UMUC.   Kim enjoys being a stay-at-home mom, with a new twist to the routine as Cole attends preschool three mornings each week.  Their family is extremely involved in various ministries at Grace Pointe Nazarene Church in Severn, MD, where they have an awesome network of friends and church family!

Ryan and Brittany   at a friend's wedding

Ryan and Brittany
at a friend’s wedding

Out of His abundance, He provides favor!Ryan is still employed by Verizon Wireless and is currently working at a store in Bellevue, WA – literally in Microsoft’s backyard.  Brittany changed jobs this year and loves her new position … working for the University of Washington at Harborview in the Internal Medicine Department as a Project Coordinator for the residents and medical students.  She has her sights set on medical school, so her spare time is spent studying so she can take the entrance exam this coming spring.  In Ryan’s spare time, one would most likely find him with a good book at a nearby coffee shop, playing Frisbee, or watching the sport of the season.

Out of His abundance, God provides spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing!  If nothing else existed in my life, knowing Jesus as my Redeemer and Savior would be enough.  But God has gifted me this year with special blessings that I will forever hold dear to my heart!  I was able spend time with special friends that I had not seen since we left Albuquerque 7 years ago.  Also, my continued prayers for my co-workers, boss, and myself have finally begun to tear down guarded walls of tension that have made for a better work environment and opportunities to talk about Jesus.  My prayer list is full of names that belong to people I know and love – some with illnesses and diseases, others with relational troubles, those that have lost loved ones, while still others need to know the life-changing love of Jesus.  I’m daily learning that a life of true obedience to God is one of spiritual blessing … overflowing from His abundance!

Well, another year has quickly flipped the pages of our calendars … a year full of God’s gifts, favor, spiritual blessings, and grace.  As we move forward into 2014, let us not forget that it is in Him that we live, and move and have our being.

For in Him we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:28

Our prayer is that you had a wonderful Christmas, and that it will be followed by an awesome and an abundant New Year!
Tim and Debbie

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