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At the Playground

6 May

Is anyone among you in trouble?
Let them pray.
Is anyone happy?
Let them sing songs of praise.
James 5:13

 

What kid doesn’t like a playground?!   Just driving by the brightly colored community play area will bring shrills of laughter, whining, begging and pleading! Once the child is unstrapped from his or her car seat, a mad dash ensues, followed by darting motions as they try to quickly make up their minds in which direction they want to head first! The big slide or the twisty one? The swaying bridge or the hamster cage? The monkey bars or the swings? It doesn’t really matter where they start … the playground will be a fun place to run and play until it is time to go home.

 

Life is like a playground. I know Forrest Gump thinks otherwise, but I believe it to be true. Just driving by fills a little one’s heart and mind with the excitement of anticipation! There are difference sizes of playgrounds – some only have the basics … swings and a slide, while others look like castles full of adventurous places to climb, hop, jump, slide and run!   And just like life, the playground is always so much more fun if you have family or friends along to play!

 

March 26, 2016

Gettysburg, PA

March 25, 2016

Hershey Chocolate World

It seems that the past few months have been a playground to me! The month of March was full of family excitement as Ryan and Brittany came to visit for Easter weekend! We celebrated Ryan’s 30th and Cole’s 7th birthday with an afternoon spent at Sky Zone, along with some fun mini road trips to local attractions. Hershey was a fun favorite as we visited Chocolate World and the Cocoa Castle playground, followed by the next day of touring the battlegrounds and statues of Gettysburg. There were Easter eggs and baskets, and even some left-over Christmas gifts that were finally exchanged! This Momma had her entire family with her in church on Easter Sunday morning and my heart was truly blessed … full and overflowing! It was a whirlwind extended weekend, full of family fun and love!

 

April 16, 2016

Lillie climbing the blue ladder –  to the super fast slide!

On my playground called Mimi’s World, exciting days were enjoyed by family and friends as we recently celebrated Cole and Lillianne’s birthdays with monster trucks and dancing princesses. On another occasion, the kids also cashed in a Christmas Gift Coupon for an adventure to Cabela’s where they saw hundreds of animals on display, shot guns for target practice, walked through a fresh water aquarium, petted a live goat and fed the fish. To complete our day together, I took them over to the community playground in hopes to zap any remaining energy they might have left before baths and bedtime.

 

The playground that day was the inspiration for an original song, written and performed by our Lillie. Here are the lyrics to her song, so you can follow along …

Click here  https://youtu.be/luieEeDTubl  to watch the music video,
At the Playground…

Lyrics —
I go at the playground with my Mimi,
and I’m there with the blue ladder
then that last slide is super fast …

That’s why I know the playground is special for me and you,
God will make us all the times … at the playground.

~~

Life is like a playground.
You go there with your special people.
You hang on tight as you climb up the ladders and go down the super fast slides!  And you know it’s all special for you and yours…
and God is at the Center of it all …
at the playground!!

Won’t you join me … at the playground?

Until next time,
Mimi

But be very careful to keep the commandment
and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you:
to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him,
to keep His commands, to hold fast to Him
and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Joshua 22:5

 

 

Blinked

28 May

But encourage one another daily,
as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you may be hardened
by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:13

 

How is it possible that Cole is 6 years old already and Lillie is 3?
Our Ryan celebrated his 29th birthday in March.
March and April are two very special birthday months for our family … and it’s crazy to realize we have whooped and hollered and celebrated already and it’s now the end of May.
Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day …
Spring has pretty much come and gone and hot and humid days are already here.
In a few days, the calendars will flip to June.  What happened??

From personal experience, I know what happened. We blinked.

Birthday celebrations are always an exciting time for our little Loves … a special theme and party, lots of friends and family, and oh so much fun! This year was no exception, but yet it was very different!  A family meeting took place mid-March, complete with a huge surprise and negotiations. An agreed-upon plan formulated and the birthday celebrating began!

 

Cole Michael celebrating his 6th birthday!

Cole Michael celebrating his 6th birthday!

Cole Michael turned 6 on Tuesday, March 24th. 6 years old! I know, right?!? He had a very small party on a Sunday afternoon, where wild animals was his theme choice and camo was the popular attire, along with a zebra and a cheetah! Gluten-free camo cupcakes and pizza for the birthday boy, while his guests enjoyed mom and dad’s stromboli and deer poop (chocolate covered raisins) was in the treat bags.

 

Princess Lillie celebrating her 3rd birthday

Princess Lillie celebrating her 3rd birthday

The first weekend of May was a very small delegation of common people (grandparents) who were invited to participate in a Princess celebration. Lillie turned 3 years old on April 29th … a day full of sweet memories of when this little precious girl took her first breath. I think it’s safe to say that ever since that moment, her sweet love has literally been taking our breath away! A Rapunzel cake, Frozen cupcakes and Princess giggles filled our hearts as we celebrated Lillianne Hope’s 3rd birthday.

 

Disneyland, California

Disneyland, California

Then there was a huge surprise birthday celebration in Disney … Disneyland, that is! Anaheim, California was the location and the two birthday kiddos and their parents were among those guests who spent their spring break visiting Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Daisy! Special friends like Lightning McQueen and Mator welcomed Cole and Lillie into their world of CARSLAND, and Anna and Elsa were delighted to take pictures with our Loves. Both of their autograph books are full from cover to cover of signatures which will forever be reminders of the magical birthday celebrations in 2015.

 

The sweet proposal!

The sweet proposal!

Ryan and Brittany spent Ryan’s birthday weekend along the misty Oregon coast, where he got down on one knee, acknowledged his love and devotion, and then asked Brittany to marry him. Phone calls of excited chatter and celebration, pictures of the special occasion and congratulations triggered tears and oh so much joy from this Momma who loves her boy and his future bride!

 

 

Mother's Day 2015 Deb Park, Tim and Nathan with their Mom

Mother’s Day 2015
Deb Park, Tim and Nathan with their Mom

The spring holidays have been filled with family fun, which makes them extra special! Mother’s Day was spent with Tim’s mom and his siblings who live nearby.  Then my mother just flew out to spend Memorial Day weekend with us. Circumstances beyond her control have kept her from visiting since we bought our home last June, but attempt #4 was successful and we had a wonderful time! The weather was perfect, the time together was relaxing, and the kiddos were able to spend some time with us so they could also enjoy Mimi Wells being in PA! It is so special to have 4 generations all together!

 

My mom and me Memorial Day Weekend

My mom and me
Memorial Day Weekend

June is knocking on the door of our calendars, quickly followed by July, August and September. Several dates are marked in red for special occasions, trips, guests coming to visit and fun summer activities. All we have to do is blink and today and tomorrow will be nothing but memories.

Won’t you join me in making every effort to appreciate the people and the moments of today? And as we live in the moments, let us do so for Jesus!

Until next time!
Debbie

 

 

 

 

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful,
unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly
till the end the confidence we had at first.
Hebrews 3:12-14

Make every effort to live in peace
with all men and to be holy;
without holiness no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one misses the grace of God
and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:14-15

 

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 upon 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

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

24 Dec

 

“This is a day you are to commemorate;
for the generations to come you shall celebrate
it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.
Exodus 12:14

Dear Daddy,

Today’s the day! I echo the thought of every child around the world – Today’s Christmas Eve! But for me, in my child-like heart, this day is more than special because of Christmas. It’s your birthday!

As a young girl, I always thought there was something magical about the fact that your birthday was on Christmas Eve … it made the day more fun and added to the excitement and anticipation! Now that I’m all grown up, I realize that you so willingly shared your one day of the year with us kids and Mom, making sure that “all the stockings were hung by the chimney with care”. I love you, Dad!

Remi

Remi

Tim and I are on our way to Indy to spend the next few days with Mom and the family. Family – oh Daddy! Much has taken place since last year’s birthday letter. Your Grandpa heart would be a melted gooey mess these days as Tim and Courtney have been blessed with a new little life. Remington Kimber has brought an unexpected joy to the family, along with her adorable older sisters, Azure and Zarah. I’m sure that Remi’s daddy will fill her heart with stories and tales of her Grandpa Johnny and your love for her all the way from Heaven!

A special blessing will be added to the family in March when another great granddaughter arrives! Jay and Sue are excited as Jason and Leslie will be bringing a little sister home to Jaxon and Bo. I’m sure that you can remember those special days when you and Mom brought us kids home from the hospital … and then your “grandchillren”.

Enough about us here … let’s chat about your news! How about that Joe Talhelm?! I imagine you were a bit surprised to see him so soon! Did he tell you that I flew down to Louisiana to visit him and Becky back in April? Life has a way of turning crazy, unexpected and unthinkably difficult moments into morsels of mercy … wake-up calls , second chances, renewed opportunities, blessings and personal gifts from God. We will never understand  how all of that works.  Then Tim’s step-father, Bill ~ Jesus Himself no doubt introduced you to him. He was a good man, and Tim’s mom misses him so. I know that people say our loss is Heaven’s gain, but that doesn’t make it any easier for those who lost. I read this a few days ago …

“Christmas this year will be unavoidably sad for many people … perhaps for you.
Take heart!
Christmas needn’t be merry to be meaningful.
It’s the Christ of Christmas we celebrate,
not Christmas itself.”

Daddy, as your family gathers to celebrate Jesus during this Christmas season, please know that for those of us who you called your chillren, we will always celebrate YOU on December 24th … and everyday when we see you in the eyes of your siblings, in the actions of your grandkids, and in the hearts of all who loved you!

I love you, Daddy … happy birthday!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbiage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.”

Life Celebrations

22 Aug
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

 

Going to the shore in early August has become one of our favorite family traditions.  It doesn’t matter which beach or state we choose.  What does matter is that we are all together.  Together to celebrate life.  Like birthdays.  My husband and daughter have a lot of things in common, the most important being their mutual birthday on August 5th.  We have done many things to celebrate theses two through the years, but they have come to an agreement that the sand and surf is where it’s at.

 

This year was no exception. Fenwick Island, Delaware was the beach of choice and our hotel was only one block from the sandy shore.  This so conveniently allowed us to load up the beach cart with sand chairs, umbrella, digger, dump truck and the necessary construction materials to make the best sand castle on the east coast, along with the usual towels, mats, and lotions, and we walked the short distance without having to fight traffic and/or find a parking spot several blocks away.

 

August 9, 20145 year-old Cole spent much of his time along the water’s edge, being close enough that the incoming waves kept him as wet as he wanted to be, but not far enough out to scare him or us.  He helped the construction foreman build the castle community, he flew his Spiderman kite, and threw the whistling football back and forth with Papaw.  Lillianne was not as adventurous – no doubt due to the fact that she did not feel well.  She wanted to like the ocean, but the crashing waves kept her from desiring to be a part of it all.  Somehow, though, those same crashing waves melodically lulled her to sleep, where she spent much of her time both days.  All of us bigger kids enjoyed the sand, surf, and sun  … taking turns to be with the little ones and literally soaking it all in.

 

In the midst of the fun and frolic of the weekend, my heart was stretched the many, many miles to Louisiana where my best bud and her family were having their own life celebration.  In the closing of my last blog post, I updated you on my friend, Joe Talhelm.  Later that evening on August 1st,  I received a text from he and Becky’s daughter, Anne.  “Please call me”.  My heart sank as I read those words, knowing.  Anne cried as she told me that she’s so happy for him … no more melanoma, no more suffering, no more pain.  Just 2 ½ weeks earlier, the doctors told Joe that he had 3 months to live.  Joe knew different.  So as I sat on the beach in Delaware, in Louisiana, Becky gathered with her family, Joe’s family, their church family and friends and celebrated a life that lived, laughed, and loved.  Joe was only 57 years old.

 

Tim’s step-father was just diagnosed last week with his own enormous battle with cancer.  Hospital stay with tests upon tests took place, then a return home to get everything in order while he begins radiation treatments.  I make it a priority to talk to my precious mother-in-law often, for although she is facing difficult days ahead and she is already exhausted from the drama of it all, I can tell she and Bill are determined to celebrate life together as long as possible.  Just like Joe and Becky, they are able to do so because of Jesus.  They are celebrating the everyday.

The Lord gives strength to His people;
the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11
August 16, 2014Another recent life celebration was just last Saturday when Tim and I attended the wedding of a very special young man in our lives.   Two 5 year-old little boys met playing t-ball back in 1992 and were truly inseparable until our family moved to Albuquerque in 1997.  Chuck & Mikey were married a few days ago, and we were there to help them celebrate with friends and family.

 

What are you doing to celebrate life?  It’s always fun to throw a birthday party, attend a wedding or go away for an anniversary … and it’s satisfying to the soul to celebrate a life well-lived that has passed away.   But it’s the everyday that really counts.  I came across this saying the other day … “Enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life.”   Won’t you join me in doing this?   Let’s make the most of every opportunity and celebrate life with each moment, for this moment is your life.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

 Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
 ***********************************************************
 P.S.   “Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of the move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.
******************************************************************************************************
** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from our excursion to the shore
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203139143494232.1073741862.1076414018&type=1&l=b9d0add112
***************************************************

TWO ~ Minnie Mouse Birthday

2 May

 Oh, that they had such a [mind and] heart in them
always [reverently] to fear Me and keep all My commandments,
that it might go well with them and with their children forever!
Deuteronomy 5:29

 

Lillianne Hope

Lillianne Hope

Dressed in her own little red and white polka dot Minnie Mouse dress, the birthday girl was caught up in the excitement of yet another birthday party.  Being an invited guest and participant to several birthday parties already, I wasn’t sure if she really realized that all the hoopla was for her this time…until the room erupted into singing Happy Birthday.  At that moment, her little face lit up into a big grin, turned and looked at everyone while adding her own precious voice to the chorus of celebration ~ all the way down to ‘dear Lillie’!  Dear, dear sweet Lillie!

 

With plenty to chose from, Minnie Mouse and the gang have been top entertainers in Lillie’s world for quite some time … relatively speaking for a two year old.  The creative momma once again ran with a theme ~ this time of red and white polka dots and the infamous Disney Mouse, and turned their home into a place of fun birthday celebration!  Lunch was served on the buffet as Hot Diggity Dogs and Peanut Butter and Jelly were the main course, complimented by Daisy’s Garden Veggies and Donald’s Dip, Carabaella’s Cheese and Crackers, Goofy’s Grapes and Minnie Bow Ties.  After tummies were full, games and activities followed … pin the bow on Minnie’s head, Minnie Mouse bean bag toss, and the Disney gang tattoo parlor and coloring shop.  Little ones have so much fun playing party games and simply being together…always wanting to be in the middle of the excitement!  Surrounded by her friends and family, Lillianne helped sing happy birthday to herself and then enjoyed the deliciousness of yet another of her momma’s creatively decorated and very tasty cakes.  Gift time escalated into quite a frenzy of wrap and bows, colorful and glittery tissue paper, and little girls jumping up and down wanting to be the next one to help Lillie open her present! It was all fun … a bit chaotic, but fun!  Among lots of pretty dresses and outfits, princess boutiques, jewelry and shoes, Lillie was immediately attracted to this one gift, which still in the package went straight up to her mouth.  From somewhere deep inside of our Lillie, she is a performer, making this microphone a perfect gift for the little girl who stands on the hearth belting out songs and twirling around as she sings!

 

Lillie and her microphone

Lillie and her microphone

What a wonderful day of birthday fun, ending the celebration with family photos with the grandparents and a Skype session with Uncle Ryan and Aunt Brittany in Seattle.  A very happy but exhausted little Minnie Mouse was taken upstairs for a much needed nap.  It’s hard work turning two years old and being the center of attention all day!

 

It seems like just yesterday when I made my middle-of-the night trip down to the hospital in Annapolis.  I prayed as I waited in the quiet of the lobby for news of a successful C Section and the announcement that our long-awaited little granddaughter had arrived.  That day, Sunday, April 29, 2012, was truly life-changing as we welcomed Lillianne Hope into our hearts.

 

Once again, there’s reason to celebrate!  Won’t you join me in the midst of our busy and hectic day to find a special morsel of life that brings joy and happiness to our hearts?  Let’s on-purpose celebrate!

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

One day children were brought to Jesus
in the hope that he would lay hands  on them and pray over them.
The disciples shooed them off.
But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone,
don’t prevent them from coming to me.
God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”
Matthew 19:13-15
The Message

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my recent trip to Louisiana that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202452320004074.1073741853.1076414018&type=1&l=958d7a6723

 

 

PLANES Birthday

7 Apr

They celebrate Your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
Psalm 145:7

 

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy!

Miniature race flags lined the sidewalk, welcoming the birthday boy as he arrived at his party. Having spent the previous night at Mimi and Papaw’s house, his anticipation level had reached its all-time high and he was past ready for the festivities to begin! As he opened the front door, he was transported into another world – a world where airplanes come alive. The Disney movie, PLANES, was the theme, and Cole was the birthday boy.

Puffy white clouds were hung in the sky while planes of various sizes, shapes, and personalities flew nearby. Jet streams stretched across the open expanse above while airplanes landed at the airport below. Paper airplanes, clothes-pin airplanes and wooden airplanes were constructed, and a giant Dusty Crophopper waited patiently as blind-folded little munchkins pinned propellers all over him.   Little kids and their imaginations enjoyed the various activities and games, all excited to be part of their friend’s special day.

Cole's birthday cake

Cole’s birthday cake

A tasty lunch of deli meats and cheeses were served, followed by cupcakes and birthday cake. Once again, the talented little momma baked and decorated to the hilt and the party was a flying success. The most exciting moments for the birthday boy and his guests, of course, were those gathered around the gifts. Even though most of Cole’s little friends from church are girls, they were all excited over all the toys and presents, joining in the fun of playtime following the party.

Two days after the PLANES party was Cole’s actual 5th birthday – March 24. An assortment of memories always flood our minds and our hearts at this time of year as we recall Cole’s six-weeks-early debut into our family. Those were scary and quite troubling days and weeks, but we are grateful for the miracle of life that God blessed us with in the person of Cole Michael.

Once again I find myself asking you to join me in celebrating life …it seems like I do this often, for there is much to celebrate. Even when the days are dark and life’s circumstances are darker yet, Jesus is our eternal Hope and the Giver of Life…of Eternal Life.

Until next time,
Debbie

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from Cole’s party that I recently posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202235583145788.1073741850.1076414018&type=1&l=7c81a8c7e4

Birthday Visit

21 Mar

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
Psalm 116:5-7

What a pleasant surprise when my phone rang a couple weeks ago and the familiar voice on the other end asked if he could come visit for a few days!  Seriously?  Does Nemo swim?  Within moments, plans were being made and my heart began to fill with joy and excitement!

Since Ryan moved to Spokane, WA to attend Gonzaga University several years ago, the beauty of the northwest and a very special young lady captured the heart of our son.  Now residing in Seattle, the opportunities to get to see he and Brittany are few and far between.  Tim and I flew out for our vacation last August/Sept, but it had nearly been a year since Ryan had seen Cole and Lillie and their parents.  Cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, and a lot of praying took place during the few days of preparation.  A major snowstorm was in the forecast to march across much of the country on the very day of Ryan’s travels, but thankfully it tracked north of his flight plan of Seattle-Boston-Baltimore and he was only delayed a couple of hours.  Thank you, Jesus, for answered prayers!

Cole Michael, the chauffer and his assistant, Miss Lillie

Cole Michael, the chauffer and his assistant, Miss Lillie

Ryan was met by his own personal chauffer and assistant upon arrival at BWI ~  what a cute sight they were!  Thus began the next 3 ½ days of non-stop fun … playing with the kiddos, eating yummy food, catching up with the adults, celebrating birthdays and Christmas, and simply loving family.

Sunday noon came all too quickly when Ryan had to gather all of his stuff and head back to the airport, this time leaving the chauffer and his assistant at home with their parents.  Tim and I were awarded the honors of driving him, soaking up every possible morsel of time with our boy.   Hugs and kisses at the curb, prayers in my heart, and a fleeting glance as our grown son walked out of sight to catch a flight to go home.

Uncle Ryan and his loves.

Uncle Ryan and his loves.

Ryan’s birthday was Tuesday, March 18.  What a blessing to be able to celebrate a few days early with him when he was here.  28 years ago, our little family of three welcomed a tiny new member, never to be the same again.

Won’t you join me in celebrating life today?  Babies are born every day, people we know and love are coming to the end of their journey called life, while others continue in the daily routines of family, work, and responsibilities.  It’s all part of the life God has gifted to each of us … let’s celebrate it together!

Until next time,
Debbie

For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you.
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and 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 giving joyful
thanks to the Father, who has qualified you
to share in the inheritance of His holy people
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

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures that I recently posted on Facebook, feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not!! Enjoy!!https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202208136099629.1073741849.1076414018&type=1&l=b5c84d394f

Happy 80th Birthday Daddy … and Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

“Honor your father and mother”–
which is the first commandment with a promise– 
“that it may go well with you and that you
may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:2

Dear Daddy…

I’m sure the cries of a tiny baby born on Christmas Eve 80 years ago really added to the excitement of Christmas! I wonder, Daddy, if your arrival made the story of Baby Jesus become more tangible for your young brothers and sisters. There probably weren’t many gifts wrapped and placed under the tree in your home in that small coal mining town in the hills of Lee County, Virginia, but there was a new baby.

Oh what a party we would be having today if you were still here with us! The invitation list would be long – friends and family would gather, and those who couldn’t would send cards to you! And what fun you would have reading each and every card, over and over again, for days … adding your own few words to make it say exactly what you felt it should say! We would have balloons, party hats, streamers, and party blowouts that the kids of all ages would enjoy! We would hang a bright banner, announcing that we were celebrating your 80th birthday, and we would take lots of pictures, although you would ‘humbly’ say not to take any pictures of you! We would have cake and ice cream, along with all sorts of snacks and goodies. You would unwrap presents, no doubt with the help of all the little kids who like to do that sort of thing.  I imagine you would get a new pair of pajamas and a maybe new sweatshirt with tiny little painted hand prints all over the front … from the new generation of little ones in our family. We would watch several of our home movie DVDs and have a lot of laughs about how everyone has changed over the years. After everyone would go home and the house would be a bit less chaotic, my family would still be there … in town from Washington, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, for a few days to celebrate you, mom, and Christmas. Since I am still day-dreaming, the normal would be Mimi and Papaw Wells … and all would be right in the world, at least as we know it. What a wonderful day of celebrating you and 80 years!!

Daddy at his 60th birthday party

Daddy at his 60th birthday party

But life is what it is …. fragile. The last bright banner we hung in celebration of you announced your 60th birthday. The invitation list was long, the guests were many, the gifts were fun, and cards were poured over for days and days. After everyone had gone home and the house was a bit less chaotic, my young family was there, enjoying life as it was then with Grandma and Grandpa Wells. However, everything really was not right in the world even then. You had struggled with so much sickness for the past few years and you still were not real well, but we made the most of every opportunity that we had to celebrate you and your life. And that’s what I want to still do, as long as possible … to honor the man who loved my mom, his family and his Jesus. Happy 80th birthday, Daddy!

Me and Mom playing in the snow

Me and Mom playing in the snow

In celebration of the Christmas season this year, mom flew out to spend a few days with us here in Pennsylvania. We exchanged gifts with one another, and Kim’s two kids especially had a great time unwrapping fun presents from Mimi Wells! The highlight of our time was the additional 4” of snow that fell on our already white-covered ground on Saturday, creating a beautiful winter wonderland and an awesome playground for sledding down the big hill! Mom even giggled her way down the slope a couple of times! What fun we all had as we made new memories … and I know that mom was feeling the tug from memories past … of other snowfalls, other big hills, other little people, and you. After nearly 20 years without you, it’s all still bittersweet, Daddy. All of it.

Well, this Eve of Christmas will come to an end, soon to be announcing the arrival and celebration of Christ’s birth. But before it does, I simply ask the Lord to hand deliver this birthday letter to you … so you know that in my heart you are still loved deeply and celebrated not just on your birthday, but everyday!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

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.`

Louise

21 Oct

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4

Things happen that we don’t expect, changing the course of the usual to the unusual. Take today for example. I sit here at home on a Monday because I caught some awful bug that has made me achy with a fever and a nose that won’t stop running. A dear friend in Louisiana was diagnosed with melanoma cancer last December and had his third surgery this morning. And another precious friend of mine is going to bury his wife in Maysville, Kentucky this afternoon.

Munchy Monday girls, including Louise ... the beautiful blonde in the back row!

Munchy Monday girls, including Louise … the beautiful blonde in the back row!

It was just a little more than 2 weeks ago when I made my annual trip to Indy for my birthday weekend. As always, one of my favorite highlights is to drive down to my old tromping grounds just outside of Cincinnati and meet up with my Munchy Monday girls. This time was no exception as 12 of us gathered on a covered back porch overlooking a beautiful evening. I was blessed by being with some of my dearest friends … even if for a brief couple of hours. Although I do talk to several of them on a regular basis, it’s always good to get to see them and breathe the same air. Louise was one of those friends. I call her every Monday morning on my way into work.  This morning was the first Monday affected by the unexpected, changing the course of the usual to the unusual. Louise died last Wednesday.

Louise Doyle

Louise Doyle

This lovely 82 year old blonde was a classy lady. Her makeup was never out of place, her clothes were always in style, and she loved to be in the middle of the fun! The first time I met Louise was at a Southwest Ohio District Ladies’ Retreat, which was being held at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center back in 2006. I was brand new to the area, brand new to Higher Ground, and brand new to the district, so I on purpose went around to the different tables of ladies to meet them. From the first moment of introductions, Louise and the Fairfield ladies warmly welcomed me and I quickly learned their names and made a point to become friends with them. Louise and I seemed to have a special connection, which was bonded even tighter after I moved away a few years later. Our weekly chats on the phone have kept us both current in each other’s worlds and allowed us a chance to share prayer concerns with one another.

“Hey you!” Louise would say as she answered the phone, expecting my call every Monday morning around 8:10 am. Last Monday, she was full of stories about their recent trip to Pigeon Forge to attend the General Prime Time Retreat, along with concern about a mutual friend who was not well and in the hospital. Our usual parting words as I arrive at work are “Talk to you next week!” Little did I know that early Wednesday afternoon I would receive a call at work and the voice on the other end would say, “Puddin? This is Papa Ray … we’ve lost Louise.”

There is still a birthday card on my shelf with her name inside. There are handwritten recipes in my file from her, and pictures of our Munchy Monday girls with her in the middle of it all up in my office. There is a Louise-sized empty spot in my heart and in the heart of all who love her!

Won’t you join me today in doing something unexpected? An act of kindness, some words of love, or a prayer for a troubled soul … something unexpected and positive that will change the course of the usual to unusual for someone today.

Until next time,
Debbie