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One Year at CASA

16 Mar

When Jesus spoke again to the people,
He said, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

While the world around us is focused on candidates, primaries, and all that goes with an election, life still happens…the good and the not-so-good. In my immediate work day, little children continue to be taken into protective custody and placed into foster care homes. Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, deplorable living conditions, drugs and alcohol addictions, domestic violence – and the list goes on and on …

 

Nearly every day in the York County CASA office, I sign children into our playroom … a safe and fun environment where kids can be kids while their world comes together in a court room to discuss their future. ‘Bio mom and dad’ stand before the judge, usually stammering and stuttering, full of excuses as to why they have not made much progress toward the goal of getting their children back … if they even show up at all. Foster parents, attorneys, caseworkers, service providers, a CASA and other professionals speak on behalf of the children whose lives are currently upside down.

 

Today is March 16 … my one-year anniversary as the receptionist for York County CASA. I am blessed beyond measure for the awesome opportunity to be a part of this program! Even though I am not personally trained and sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children, I do have direct participation in the process of being a voice for the children.

 

Not only am I thrilled with the mission of what I do for CASA, I thoroughly enjoy making new friends with many people who also work in the County Court House! We have laughed and cried together, shared stories and prayer requests … and it always warms my heart to look across the hall to see a smile and a friendly wave directed toward me as I walk by!

 

I always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in my prayers.
I remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith,
your labor prompted by love, and your endurance
inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 1:2-3

In the midst of major election campaigns that are full of promises to fix, to renew, and to make great again, I am committed to be fully devoted to the Only One who can make good on those kind of promises! While I celebrate my 1 year CASA anniversary today, this song will be playing in my heart as I walk through my mission field that God has laid before me in York County, PA. Won’t you join me as we stand united in the wonder of His love .. we follow after the One who gave it all, Christ alone be praised!

Click here to listen to the song  …    https://youtu.be/LW3XPazLHg0

 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Until next time,
Debbie

Still Celebrating Christmas!!

22 Jan

Lord, You have been our Dwelling Place
throughout all generations.
Psalm 90:1

 

There has been a cute little monkey bank sitting in various places in our home since Cole Michael was born in 2009. It has been emptied a few times, with the contents accumulating to enough cash to do something fun and meaningful. Along with the assistance of a great sale on Southwest.com, I booked two flights to Indianapolis and presented the best, once-in-a-lifetime Christmas present to our grandson… a trip with Mimi to visit Mimi Wells and family!

 

The details of our visit would be very boring for most, so I will spare you. However, the specifics about a 6 year old little boy are priceless gems to share. His views, his comments and his actions are note worthy and things I want to remember!

 

Jamba Juice! A simple act of giving him options and talking with him through making a decision was fun and I could tell he felt important as he carried his Jamba Juice cup onto the airplane.

 

Pilot Cole

Pilot Cole

So as we were standing in line to board the plane, we heard someone behind us saying ‘excuse me!’ as they made their way up through the line coming toward us. The gentleman in uniform approached us and as I ushered Cole to get out of his way, I asked him if he was the pilot. Within moments, he and Cole had a conversation that ended with an invitation for Cole to join him in the cockpit of the plane. The flight attendant just inside the plane asked my traveling companion if his name was Cole and said that the pilot was waiting for him. Pilot Tim took pictures for Mimi while Cole sat in the pilot’s seat with his hands on the controls. What a fun way to start a late night flight to Indy!

 

Our shuttle ride from the airport to Mimi Wells’ house was provided by my policeman brother and his wife. Even though Cole slept part of the way there, he was impressed with the flashing lights and loud siren display that Uncle Tim put on for him.

 

Sleeping! I gave Cole the option of sleeping alone in my old bedroom or together downstairs on a queen size bed. I could tell he wanted to be with me, but he seemed rather concerned that he might fall out of bed since the bed was not against any walls. So, I decided to sleep on the side of the bed where Cole is used to having a wall … and this Mimi became his wall. This wall was kicked, head butted, covers stolen, coughed on and snuggled against. But when I felt a little arm wrap around me and pull me tight with a ‘good morning Mimi’, all bumps and bruises to the wall dissipated.

 

Morning devotions!   Great anticipation was in the air that first morning for a fun day of play with cousins Jax and Lyla, but first Mimi wanted to start our day off with Jesus. While we were still in bed, I pulled up a Really Woolly Kids video on my phone and we watched the silly antics of Jacob and Gracie Woolly and their family, who are sheep. The story talks about The Shepherd bringing us back to Him when we have wandered away. Like a light bulb that went off with an ah ha moment, Cole chuckled and said “Mimi! Jesus is the Shepherd! Do you get it?!? They’re sheep and He’s the Shepherd!” What an awesome way to start our day!

 

Star Wars light sabers!

Star Wars light sabers!

Hide and Seek!    Jax and Cole hid while Mimi stayed in the family room counting. They usually burrowed underneath Jax’s bedcovers with wiggles and giggles, taking away all challenge of finding them! When Mimi’s turn came around to hide, somehow I was able to successfully do so by simply standing behind the curtains, feet showing and all! They ran by me every time! Jax decided he didn’t want to hide, so Cole hid alone. I leisurely looked in each room, expecting to find him beside Lyla’s baby bed or in the tub behind the shower curtain, but all was quiet and Cole was nowhere to be found! After searching for several minutes, I faintly heard a clue — something about the room where you take a shower. I walked back into the restroom and I looked behind the door, behind the shower curtain … there was nowhere else to hide, so I started to leave the room. Then I heard another small noise and I followed it to behind the door … in the clothes hamper! It’s one of those soft sided ones, and sure enough, there he was, all curled up in a ball with his hood over his head, looking like dirty laundry! Needless to say, Cole won the prize for the most creative hiding spot!

 

 

Cole's drawing of a dino

Cole’s drawing of a dino

Let’s keep movin’!    Cole woke up with a fever on Saturday morning, so our plan to meet up with family at the Children’s Museum had to be cancelled. Thankfully, his fever broke mid Sunday morning, so we decided to take him then. I think Cole fell between the prime ages for the museum … too old for the hands-on little kids’ stuff that depends on the child’s imagination … he truly wanted to dig for real dinosaur bones … not pretend that he was! Then he was also too young to be interested in reading very many of the informational placards that helped him understand what he was looking at. When I would attempt reading them to him, he kept saying “let’s keep movin’!”   The dinosaur area was by far his favorite area — he was able to draw, dress up like a dino, and interact with a group of kids his age. When going back to Mimi Wells’ house, I asked him what his favorite part of the museum was … and he said “All of it!”  YAY!!!

 

“You sleep with Papaw!” After sleeping 3 nights as a wall with a sick kid who rooted and rolled around, I explained all of this to Cole and said that I was very tired. He reminded me that I sleep every night with Papaw and that he probably moves around in the bed and he knows that Papaw snores! He then pulled some logic by telling me that this was the last night together and that since he was feeling better he wouldn’t wart around as much. Besides, he said that we need to have devotions together first thing in the morning and it would best if I was there with him. Ok, Buddy …. this one last night!

 

I’m sure Cole is old enough to remember this trip – especially with all of the pictures I took! It’s important to me to do all I can to give him some very special memories, not only of our time together, but of time spent with my precious momma, his Mimi Wells. I also show him pictures of my Dad and talk about Grandpa Johnny, wanting my grandson to know that his great grandfather would’ve loved him so much! At the same time, I want to share Cole with my own mother … so she has a chance to know that her great grandson is a very special little boy. I look forward to doing the same with Cole’s little sister, Lillie, in a few years … also giving her glimpses into the Godly heritage that is mine and hers!

 

Throughout our weekend together, I repeatedly wished Cole a Merry Christmas, wanting to express the celebrative spirit in my heart that centers on Jesus and continually prays for this 6 year-old little boy as he grows into a young man that honors Jesus with his life! Won’t you join me as we pray for our little ones daily … and those that are not so little any longer?

He tends His flock like a Shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart.
Isaiah 40: 11

Until next time,
Debbie

Your Love Never Fails

11 Nov

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

Our little granddaughter loves life!   She loves to sing.  She loves to perform.  I believe in her little 3 year-old heart that she loves Jesus.  You put all of that together and you get Lillie in a variety of entertaining conversations, situations and performances!

 

This past summer’s VBS filled Lillie to over-flowing with songs, scriptures, hand motions and excitement!  Just last week when Lillie and Cole were going to the doctor for their annual flu shot, she reminded her big brother about being “strong and courageous, do not be terrified!”  Lillie’s simple trust in Jesus and the scripture that she repeats over and over and over has begun to set a firm foundation of real faith and Relationship for this little girl.

 

Another favorite and very repetitive past time for Lillie is to sing.  If there are hand motions to the song, then she’s all about it!  And if it’s a song that she has learned from a Disney movie, she choreographs the song herself and literally puts on a show that must be watched by all!  She’s so fun!

 

My birthday was last month.  It was a fun time, filled with lots of birthday greetings and fuss (love the fuss!) great food, and a trip to Indianapolis to celebrate with family.  One of the best gifts, however, was not wrapped or even presented to me as part of my special day.  It was a video sent to Mimi, during my workday, of Lillie riding her scooter … singing a very repetitive song with hand motions.  Little does this energetic preschooler know that she has a ministry of sharing God’s Love to those around her … the neighbors, her momma, her Mimi, and now you.  Does she realize the true meaning of the message she sings?  She slurs right over the first ‘never’, but with each and every repetitive phrase, the truth of God’s love that NEVER fails, never gives up and never runs out is being embedded into this tender and impressionable young soul.  Just knowing that is a gift!!

 

We all have things in our life that fail us, that give up and even run out on us…  Appliances, patience, computers, energy, vehicles, jobs, health, money, … and  people. In the midst of a fallen world, our God is Faithful.  Won’t you join me in being reminded of this truth?  Click here https://youtu.be/cZvrBOyWq08  to watch the video of this precious little missionary who continually reminds her world that God’s Love never fails, It never gives up and It never runs out on us!

Until next time!
Debbie

 

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains

On and on and on and on It goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

In death, in life I’m confident and covered
by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid
There’s nothing that can separate
my heart from Your great love

CASA

3 Apr

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon,
that have I given unto you
.

Joshua 1:3

 

I smile and nod as I walk past the sheriffs standing in security at the front lobby of the York County Courthouse. As part of my job, I have done that once a week for the past 4 years, running errands for the law firm – bringing paperwork and payments relating to probated estates to be time stamped and processed, and to record deeds. Now, I walk through those same doors every morning, Monday – Friday. It was just last week that one of the sheriffs smiled at those of us coming in at the same time and greeted us with a warm “Good morning, family!” If hearts can smile, mine did that morning!

I started a new full-time job on March 16th. I am the receptionist/secretary for York County CASA.

Details. You know that God and I love details and there are so many when it comes to the Red Sea moments of my life. Moments that when I’m a bit discouraged and doubt wants to trickle in around the edges, all I need to do is recall each detail, when glued all together, forms a picture perfect memento of God and His amazing love for me.

One Sunday toward the end of January, my friend Donna came up to me in church and hugged me real big and asked me if I was still at the attorney’s office.

Detail … Donna use to work for Express Employment Agency and was instrumental in me getting my two temporary work gigs back in 2011. Since then, she has moved on and is now working for the York County Human Services Department.

The look on my face was answer enough to Donna’s question. She began to tell me about an opened position in a different department of the County, but one that she would highly recommend me applying for. So I did. Long story short, I got the job.

Details … God used Donna once again in my life regarding employment! God blessed me with the opportunity of training Amanda, my replacement, and knowing that she was a great fit for the job! He also worked out His perfect timing that benefited all parties involved and I began my new job on March 16th.

I was beyond ready for a new mission field! I appreciate all the opportunities and things learned while at the law firm, but as scripture says, knock the dust off of your feet and move on! I had already been visualizing in my mind’s eye that I would walk all around inside that large facility, meeting new people, getting to know them, and being Jesus with skin on!

Detail … The morning I called to accept the position, which was the day before I gave my 2 week notice, Streams in the Desert had a devotion that was written just for me! February 25th

Enter Into Your Inheritance

Josh 1:3 – Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you

Beside the literal ground, unoccupied for Christ, there is the unclaimed, untrodden territory of Divine promises. What did God say to Joshua? “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you,” and then He draws the outlines of the Land of Promise—all theirs on one condition: that they shall march through the length and breadth of it, and measure it off with their own feet.

They never did that to more than one-third of the property, and consequently they never had more than one-third; they had just what they measured off, and no more.

In 2 Peter, we read of the “land of promise” that is opened up to us, and it is God’s will that we should, as it were, measure off that territory by the feet of obedient faith and believing obedience, thus claiming and appropriating it for our own.

How many of us have ever taken possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ?

Here is a magnificent territory for faith to lay hold on and march through the length and breadth of, and faith has never done it yet.

Let us enter into all our inheritance. Let us lift up our eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, and hear Him say, “All the land that thou seest will I give to thee.” —A. T. Pierson

The CASA office is located on the 4th floor of the Judicial Center (York County Courthouse). Of course there are elevators in the building, but come on! 77 actual steps, with 5 landings in between, makes for quite a nice work-out, multiply by 4-6 times a day!! I walk down to the mail room 3 times a day, and often will walk outside on my breaks and lunch. I also deliver CASA court reports to various Judges who are located on floors 6 and 7. Then I park ½ a block down the street, so every morning and afternoon I add more steps to my day. I LOVE IT! Everywhere I go, my prayer is that my steps will be filled with the joy of Jesus and that I will meet new friends to whom I can give Him away!

CASASo what is CASA you ask?

Court Appointed Special Advocates – an advocate for children who find themselves involved in the court system through no fault of their own. The children are victims of child abuse and neglect, and many are in foster care. They need a ‘voice in court’ in order to find a safe, permanent home quickly – whether that means returning to a parent or being adopted. The CASA is a volunteer who serves as the “eyes and ears of the court” by providing a detailed account of each child’s situation to aid the Judge in permanency planning decisions.

  1. to serve as fact finder and gather all information surrounding the child’s case
  2. monitor the case and oversee that all necessary services are being offered, court orders are followed and the case is brought to a swift conclusion in the child’s best interest
  3. Report findings and make recommendations to the court

The York County CASA office is a small group of people with big hearts who recruit, train, and give support to lay people who have decided to invest their time and efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children. I personally answer the phone, scan, email and file court documents, reports, and various types of paperwork, keeping the Outlook calendar up to date with court hearings, meetings, training sessions, and a multitude of other activities that keep everyone busy. Each person has much to do and my desire is to be of service to them all as much as possible … with the final result of making a difference in the lives of children.

Today is Good Friday … my first ‘government employee’ holiday! Original plans were to celebrate Easter with my family in Indiana, but due to being sick with the crud and a fever most of the week, we decided to stay home and fully recuperate.

As we all focus our attention on Jesus, His death and resurrection this weekend, won’t you join me in committing to live every day for Him, grateful for His love, His forgiveness, His redemption, and His faithfulness to you, to me, and to the children!

Until next time,
Debbie

Happy New Year ~ 2015

30 Jan

You make known to me the Path of Life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

Some may think that I’m a bit late, but I choose to say that I embraced every moment of the Christmas season that I could. Now that the trimmings and the tree are all down and put away, and everyone has gone back home, I am going to devote some specific time to send greetings to all of our family and friends as yet another year has completed its chapter in our book called life.

Snowstorm that brought 23" of snow!

Snowstorm that brought 23″ of snow!

One thing most of us across America had in common in 2014 was our crazy winter weather! Our little town always seemed be in an overactive band of snow, burying us under several more inches than others in south central PA. Mimi and Papaw’s ‘big hill’ provided a lot of fun times and memories for our little loves when they and their parents could visit.

 

Enjoying a nice spring day in Maryland

Enjoying a nice spring day in Maryland

Needless to say, warm and sunny spring days eventually came, which brought new adventures, the first of which when Ryan flew in for a few days in March. He came bearing gifts for a belated Christmas celebration, and in turn we sang Happy Birthday to him!

 

In April I made a long-over due trip to Louisiana to visit dear friends, a journey of the heart that will forever be changed and grateful for much that has often been taken for granted. Mother’s Day weekend was spent with my mom in Indy, with the added joy of meeting my newborn niece, Remington. Then just a couple of weeks later, Tim and I spent Memorial Day weekend in Ohio at a small reunion of friends who volunteered and worked with us on the campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque. What a blessed time we had together in those days and again at this gathering!
Mingled in between trips, the grand-kids’ birthday celebrations and the everyday routine of work and life, we were packing and preparing to move. We finally found a house to buy and de-clutter became my new motto. By mid-June, we were moved in and getting settled, excited to spend time with Ryan who was once again out east … this time on a Verizon business trip with some added time for family!

 

My Mom and our family at the Wells Reunion

My Mom and our family at the Wells Reunion

The adventures continued as Mimi loaded Momma and the kiddos in her van and we drove to Indy for the Wells Family reunion in July. What fun to share those of my little family with my precious aunts, uncles and cousins! The traditional annual August 5th weekend birthday celebration once again found us at the shore with Kim and her family, enjoying the surf, sand, and sun. Then a few weeks later, Tim and I took advantage of frequent flier points for a long-over due visit to our beloved Albuquerque! The hospitality of our host family was a blessing, the itinerary of visits with friends and church family was heart warming, and just the experience of being there in that special place we called home for nearly 10 years was simply over-whelming.

 

In Florida with Becky and her mom Pauline

In Florida with Becky and her mom Pauline

September arrived with an invitation to meet my life-long ‘best bud’ in Florida for a few days of respite with her, following the death of her husband on August 1st. Beach therapy was the theme for our time together as childhood friends tried to make sense of life and its uncertain path … all the while being confident that God is the one true certainty on our journey.

 

Another leg of our journey was our annual motorcycle trip to Toms River, New Jersey and our visit with Pastor Del and Patsy Bieber. What fun we had as we spent time with their family, shopped at a local flea market, ate some outstanding food and as always, enjoyed our Sunday morning of worship with our seaside friends. Several weeks later, it was our privilege and pleasure to host these friends in our own home as Pastor Del preached in a local revival service.

 

Tim's Mom with her children

Tim’s Mom with her children

Indiana became our destination of necessity throughout the fall months due to the 6 week battle with cancer and passing of Tim’s step-father on September 23. Life with its reminder of our fragility and total dependence upon God once again knocked on the doors of our hearts. After a lot of prayer and thoughtful consideration, Tim’s Mom …has moved back to PA to be closer to the majority of her children.

 

My brothers Tim and Jay, me and Mom

My brothers Tim and Jay, me and Mom

Christmas season! We attended Christmas programs and parties, spent time with family and friends, and simply enjoyed the beautiful season in our new home. Christmas Eve travels took us to Indiana for a few days to celebrate Jesus, His birth, and several other family birthdays with my Mother, brothers and their families. Our trip was highlighted on Sunday morning when my brother Tim and his wife, Courtney, dedicated Remington Kimber Wells to Jesus.

 

The final hoorah for the year was awesome as Ryan and Brittany flew in from Seattle and our entire family spent several days together in our home … still celebrating Jesus and Christmas, New Year’s, and Brittany’s January birthday. Gifts were exchanged, countless games of Memory (and others) were played, creative paper airplanes were flown, and so much tasty food was prepared and enjoyed! Girls went shopping, family came to visit, a few movies were watched, and we worshiped together on Sunday just a few hours before good-byes were said. Every moment of every day, I tried to soak up each and every morsel and speck of family love I could … to hold me until next time!

 

As we begin a new year, I would like to share a page from ‘Jesus Calling’ …

June 12
Let Me prepare you for the day (year) that stretches out before you. I know exactly what this day (year) will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it. You would like to see a map, showing all the twists and turns of your journey. You’d feel more prepared if you could somehow visualize what is on the road ahead. However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today (this year): Spend quality time with Me.

I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey. My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way. Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need to redirect your thoughts. Thus, you can walk through this day (year) with your focus on Me. My abiding Presence is the best road map available.

 

2014 is behind us and a new road lies ahead. May the comfort and the peace of God’s constant Presence be the Guide and Direction for you and yours for this new year.

You make known to me the Path of Life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go
with you and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

Until next time,
Debbie

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If you would like to read the unabbreviated version of 2014 and more,
please feel free to visit my website and read till your heart is content!  https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com/

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Is Thanksgiving Tomorrow?

21 Nov

But Jesus called the children to Him and said,
“Let the little children come to Me,

and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God
belongs to such as these.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:15-17

Papaw and his little love

Papaw and his little love

During our lunchtime phone conversation last Thursday, I informed Lillie that Mimi was coming to her house that evening to spend the night and the following day. Apparently, once we hung up, Little Miss sighed real big, smiled, and said “I love Papaw … I love Papaw!” Her Momma reminded her that it is Mimi who is coming, not Papaw ~ and the reply? “I know, but I love Papaw!”

While Cole is busy being a 5 year-old boy in the big world of Kindergarten, Lillianne is the princess that magically wraps her tiny self around hearts and melts them. Her Papaw, however, can somehow reverse that effect and cause this little girl to melt. These two have always had a special heart connection … a bond that started during weekend visits at our house while Mimi was tending to Cole and Lillie needed her own attention. Not to say that Mimi isn’t loved or gets her own special time with the little princess, but besides her Daddy, Lillie’s Prince Charming is Papaw.

The local on-site princess attendant reported a few weeks ago that Lillie stated matter-of-factly … “You love Daddy.  I love Papaw.” OH. MY. I totally expect someday to hear that Little Miss wants to marry her Papaw.

Princess of Everything

Princess of Everything

In the past couple months, I have gone down to their castle to spend time with them on my day off. Both times, Lillie and Mimi have gone shopping … quality girl time! This past Friday was no exception. She chatters the whole time, not missing anything exciting to comment on, giving her own personal opinion on colors and design. One moment her favorite color is bright pink. Around the corner and on the next aisle, it is purple. She giggles at this and she squeals at that. And oh my if we pass by a display of Frozen!! This simple act triggers the performer inside her and she reaches into her little bag for her princess wand and she begins to sing with her arms open wide … “Let it go, let it go … can’t hold it back anymore!” What a delightful time we had together … all the way until nap time, when she snuggled underneath her special crocheted blankets and I sang Jesus Loves Me to my little princess. A few hours later when Daddy came home, it was comical to hear her version of our day together as she told him all about it. She’s such a girly girl!

Not wanting to miss out on all of the grandkid fun, Papaw was talking to Cole and Lillie on the phone the next evening. As the conversation was winding down, Papaw mentioned that he would see them on Thanksgiving when they come to our house and stay for a few days. We could hear the immediate excitement on the other end as they both began to anticipate an upcoming visit with Mimi and Papaw! Then our little princess began to speak … “Is Thanksgiving tomorrow?” Our hearts all melted as we realized the love and excitement behind the question. Momma simply said that Thanksgiving was not tomorrow … and Lillie asked concerning the only other day that she is familiar with … “Is it Sunday?”

Little people and their inability to process and understand time.  But they certainly do not have any difficulty in processing and understanding love. Do you know that Jesus expects us to come to Him as a little child? Fully trusting. Fully believing. Fully loving. Fully anticipating that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, because it involves my Papaw and I love him and I get to see him on Thanksgiving.

Will you join me this Thanksgiving in coming to Jesus with as much excitement, with as much trust, and with as much anticipation and love that Lillie comes to her Papaw? For such is the Kingdom of Heaven!

Until next time,
Debbie

 

And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change
and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

“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.”

Moments Like These

23 Aug

This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

“Mimi! It’s three days until I start preschool!” There was no denying the excitement in my little Bubbas’ voice as he nearly shouted these words to me on the phone this morning. It’s wonderful that he is literally counting the days, but somewhere along the way, I seemed to have lost track of time since God blessed our lives with Cole. As I know from experience with my own two children, now grown adults living a lives of their own, I simply blinked. I blinked and we are where we are today…three days from my first grandchild going to preschool.

I can’t help but think back to when we first found out that we were going to be grandparents – Kim and Troy mailed t-shirts to us while we were on vacation in Seattle that simply said the names “Grami” and “Gramps”. Those were our names until Cole began to talk, and as kids often do, he changed things up. Gramps became Papaw and I remained nameless … except for the occasional growl that he made when I was around. I wondered if the beginning sound of Grami (the GR) was too much for him, so he just growled at me. He continued to respond like that for what I thought was a long time – as he began saying more and more words. Finally, I just threw out the word Mimi to him to see what he would do with it. I used it in sentences like “Mimi loves you!” “Come see Mimi” … and I immediately became Mimi. In time, he came up with his own term of endearment and often shortens my name to Mim … pronounced ‘meem’. And for pure entertainment and laughs, Cole will on purpose call me Memaw, to which I reply and call him Bobos instead of my usual Bubbas.

Bubbas. Bobos. Cole Bear. Cole Man. And of course, Cole Michael when he’s in trouble. His little sister has her own share of names … Lillie. Lillie Lou. Lou. Little Miss. And before Cole could say his Ls, we would also could her Wiwie or Wou. I have yet to call her by her full name, Lillianne Hope … she’s not been in much trouble yet.

Monday will come and Cole’s momma will take pictures as he stands there all excited for this new adventure called school. His enthusiasm will give her heart a wonderful sense of peace to know that he is ready for this next phase in life … so therefore, she is too. Instructions, reminders, and lots of hugs and kisses will send this little 4 year old off into a world of his own – simply a continuation of learning, experiencing new things, and meeting little friends.

I’ve been listening to Selah’s latest album … and there is a song that refers to moments like these … moments that are important and ones that we will miss if we blink too long.

I’ve changed the words a little to describe my Bubbas … Click here to listen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQzLnEpoatE

“He makes me smile but it makes me sad
To know I can’t get these moments back
So I’m down on my knees help me soak it all in
I want all of this life that You’ll let me live
And when time flies by
Cause my heaven on earth are moments like these”

I will not be there Monday morning, but as Cole’s Mimi, I guarantee you that I will be on my knees praying for that little boy as he walks through those church doors and enters his new classroom. As I have always prayed for my own children, I will add Cole to my request that Jesus will be his Constant Companion in every situation He faces … as a 4 year-old baby boy today and until he breathes his last breath, hopefully, many many years from now.

Won’t you join me in falling down on my knees … we all have moments like these that will slip by all too quickly. May we commit each moment and each love to God each day!

Until next time,
Debbie

Mom in the Middle

17 May

But Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

 

Even though this past weekend was full of fun times and lots of Mimi/Mom love, the ultimate Mother’s Day celebration started in my heart a month ago when our entire family gathered in Baltimore for several days.

Our 2nd airport pick-up!

Our 2nd airport pick-up!

The anticipation mounted for days as groceries were purchased, meals were prepared, gifts were wrapped, and beds were made.  Two trips to the airport completed our guest list as Ryan and Brittany arrived from Seattle and my mom flew in from Indianapolis for what we considered a montage of celebration … Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Baby Lillie’s dedication.   And celebrate we did!  Regardless of holiday or occasion, family love is the best, and this Mommy’s heart was a sponge, soaking up every morsel possible … to tuck away for the weeks and months ahead.

After picking Ryan and Brittany up on day one, we loaded my van and took an afternoon trip up north to my everyday world.  Ryan wanted to see his dad before the weekend, so a tour of Tim’s workplace followed by an evening visit and a sleepover at Mimi and Papaw’s house completed our very busy day.  The following morning, long after Papaw had left for work, the day began to buzz with the busyness of playtime, a yummy leisurely breakfast and a timely departure to once again head to the airport.  It was now time to pick up Mimi Wells!  As always, she arrives bearing gifts for the little ones.  For the rest of us, her very presence is our gift … what a privilege to have my mother with me to enjoy my precious family.

Homemade biscuits and gravy greeted us all for breakfast on Friday morning, taking advantage of the fact that Mimi Wells was among us!  Playground and a duck pond, a trip to the shopping mall, Papaw’s arrival, and Kim and Troy’s stromboli for dinner completed another family fun day!

Christmas & Birthday in April!!

Christmas, Birthdays and  Mother’s Day in April!!

Saturday was full and overflowing with excitement and anticipation!  Ryan and Brittany prepared the traditional Christmas breakfast of green chili breakfast burritos…and yes, I did say Christmas.  Since our northwest kids spent the not-so recent holiday with Brittany’s family in Spokane, we postponed our own family celebration until now.  We also had a few birthday gifts included in the mound of secrecy, celebrating Ryan and Cole’s March birthdays and Lillianne the end of April.  I believe there were even a couple Mother’s Day gifts, too!  Presents were appropriately wrapped in their unique festive wear, and then clustered underneath a creatively drawn and colored Christmas tree.  A potpourri of gifts were given and received … and great fun was had by all!!

Cousins and their kids...Jason, Jax, Lillie and Kim

Cousins and their kids…Jason, Jax, Lillie, and Kim

We suddenly had to switch gears, literally … and travel 30 minutes, which was half-way to Washington DC to meet up with my nephew and his family for lunch.  They were in town from Indianapolis to meet their newborn nephew, so they accepted our invitation for the cousins and kids to all see one another.  With 3 kids under the age of 4, what better place than a nearby playground to spend some extra time after lunch!  Even the big kids had fun playing on the swings, slides, and see saws!

Our family at Lillie's dedication

Our family at Lillie’s dedication

Sunday was a very special day for our family as we all stood beside Lillianne’s parents as they presented her to the Lord in dedication.  As I listened to the words of their Pastor, I was taken back in time to two separate occasions when Tim and I stood with our families with a tiny newborn in our arms.  So long ago, we too made promises to God that we would raise our two children up to know and love Jesus.  With tears in my eyes, I am reminded of those sacred moments every time we witness another baby dedication … and this time was no exception.  As our own little granddaughter, beautiful in her special dress, was held and prayed over that morning, joy filled my heart as I realized that her parents, we her family, and this church would truly do all we could to ensure that Lillie understands what it means to walk in the way of Jesus and to entrust her life to Him.

Grandma and Pop Arndt joined us on this special day, filling the dining room table to capacity as we all gathered for yet another tasty meal.  When the excitement of the day began to settle and the guests had all gone home, the realization hit that our time together was quickly coming to an end.  We migrated into the kitchen where we simply sat around talking, laughing, discussing, telling stories … just to be together, with no distractions.  Finally, extra suitcases were brought out so the Christmas and birthday gifts could be added to the take-home luggage.  Thank goodness for Southwest Airlines and their ‘bags fly free’ policy!!

As always, family time ALWAYS comes to an end too quickly.  With my van loaded with precious cargo, I headed back to the airport early Monday morning … only this time to say “until next time!”  To hold, hug, and kiss each of my loved ones … I longed to stay in that moment, but I knew that life was waiting for them on the other side of their flights.  I had to let go.

Mimi and her loves in Annapolis, MD

Mimi and her loves in Annapolis, MD

That day was nearly a month ago now.  As we all know, life doesn’t take a holiday nor does it slow down.  The calendar announced Mother’s Day last weekend … and we did celebrate.  A week ago this morning, I drove down to Baltimore, where Kim, the kids, and I spent the day at Dock City in Annapolis ~ walking along the water’s edge, touristy shopping in the many establishments, and tasting yummy treats throughout the day.  Then on Saturday, mother and daughter attended a ladies’ tea at Grace Pointe Nazarene, where Kim was the hostess of our Hawaiian-themed table.  After dinner out that evening with Papaw, Mimi came back home.  The fun weekend with my loves was a wonderful closure to a celebration that started back in April.   Having the privilege of us all being together for those few short days was a gift to my own heart that will last forever.

I am the Mom in the middle.  My heart swells with an inexpressible love, honor, and respect for my precious mother … and the deepest gratitude to her and Daddy for raising me in a home where I knew I was loved and most importantly, that Jesus loved me.  Then my heart is humbled and in awe of the miracles of life that have literally come from God, through me.  The deep deep love for my own two children will always grip the depth of my soul and keep me on my knees for them until I die.  And the loves of their life have wrapped themselves around my heart and have captured my affections.  And now there is Cole and Lillianne.  I am the Mom in the middle … what a blessed place to be.  I have great reason and cause for celebration!!

I’m beginning to realize that we should be celebrating Jesus and Christmas every day.  Jesus and Easter every day.  Moms and Mother’s Day every day.  Won’t you join me today in living a life of continual celebration of what really counts?

Until next time,
Debbie

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

If you would like to see the entire album I posted to Facebook on this wonderful family time, please click here … https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200291340340933.1073741829.1076414018&type=1&l=b1e084fd75

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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,
Debbie

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

O Be Careful Little Feet

5 Oct

So be careful to do what the LORD
your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right
or to the left. Walk in all the way that the LORD your God
has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong
your days in the land that you will possess.
Deuteronomy 5:32-33

 

Cole and Lillianne are at Papaw and Mimi’s house for a couple days while Momma is away at Women’s Retreat and Daddy is working. What a time we will have together, enjoying life on such a different level than the usual Monday through Friday routine.  I marvel how quickly they are growing, becoming their own little persons.  I am in awe of how God created each of them in His own image … and I know that it is my responsibility as Mimi to help nurture, to help lead by example, and to pray diligently for them both to become the big people that God has dreamed they would be.

Mimi and her loves!

During another fun moment with the kiddos this past summer, I took this photo of our feet.  Three pairs of feet, each pair belonging to a different individual, each pair a different size, each a different shade and skin tone, all the while all three pair share the same blood line and are attached to bodies that were all scrunched together for the picture.  I can’t help but smile, then sigh every time I see this picture, because I know that it will only be a blink in time before those little feet will be as big or bigger than their Mimi’s.  Where will those little feet take them in their lifetime?

I quickly think back to just a couple months ago when our family spent the weekend at the shore.  Cole’s first reaction to the sand this summer was not a pleasant one, irritated by the immediate feel of grit.  But it wasn’t too long before he found that the same gritty sand was fun to play in with his loader and dump truck, and great to run on in the wet surf.  As we left the beach, Cole appreciated the security of his favorite yellow crocks from the hot temperatures of the sand, and at day’s in, he was happiest with clean dry feet all snug and warm in his socks.

Our feet carry great loads, some heavier than others, depending on the activity of the moment ~ how important it is for our feet to wear the appropriate attire for proper care.  Boots, sneakers, flip flops, high heels, flats, and house slippers are among the most common gear for our feet, all serving their purpose in protection, comfort, and decoration.  Scrubs, lotions, and polishes all lend a helping hand in keeping the rough edges smooth and adding grace and color.  And for some, a toe ring adds that special touch of décor and individuality.

It’s imperative to do more than just walk on our feet.  We must care for them…

If standing on them too long, feet hurt.  If the right amount of support is not offered, feet ache.  If not bundled up enough, feet get cold.  If not sufficiently protected by sunscreen, feet burn.  If calluses and corns are not properly tended to, feet get infected.  If walking on a rough and rocky path, feet trip.

Remember the little Sunday School song we sang as kids?

O be careful little feet where you go,
O be careful little feet where you go …
There’s a Father up above
He’s looking down in love,
O be careful little feet where you go.

What an incredible message in this simple song.

O be careful little eyes what you see …
O be careful little ears what you hear …
O be careful little hands what you touch …
O be careful little lips what you say …
There’s a Father up above
He’s looking down in love,
O be careful…

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Ephesians 5:15-17

Each day of our lives, we are faced with decision after decision ~ choices that can be influenced by others, by our surroundings, and by our circumstances … but the responsibility of these decisions belong to us personally.  They all reflect our heart and our core beliefs.  Therefore, we must do all we can to guard our heart…

My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.

Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.

 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

 Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.

 Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.

 Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
listen well to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
Proverbs 4:20-5:2

 

Listen to this song by Casting Crowns … “It’s a Slow Fade”
Click on this link to read the lyrics and listen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wo26sCH-Fw

We must pay more careful attention,
therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
Hebrews 2:1

The simple message in the Sunday School song is a serious one.
Won’t you join me in being careful?
It is a slow fade … people never crumble in a day.
But they do crumble.
Lives are forever changed.
But the good news is that we can throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
We can RUN (little feet) with perseverance the race marked out for us.
BECAUSE WE FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS.
HE is our ONLY hope in being careful.

Jesus is the Only hope for Cole and Lillie … for Kim and Ryan …
for me … for you.

“O be careful little feet…”

Until next time,
Debbie

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3