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Crazy Days

6 Mar

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

Here it is … March 6th already!  It was -6° this morning as the warm sunshine streamed through the window and the fireplace kept me toasty. Yesterday was a snow day from work, gifting us with somewhere between 7 and 9 inches of fluff, depending on where I placed the ruler. I tried to be a good steward of this unexpected free time, making the most of each moment, knowing that soon I will be adjusting to a new schedule.

Crazy days? Yep! Life seems to have exploded in my world since I last wrote. These last three weeks have been the kind of crazy that causes me to make sure I’m holding on tight, closing one eye but peeking out with the other, afraid that I’m going to miss something! Some events are good, others are great and fantastic, some are not so wonderful and even sad, while others simply reflect life as it is … life. For my sanity’s sake, here is the condensed version of the last 3 weeks …

  • A friend in Albuquerque and my sister-in-law had surgery.  Both are doing great!
  • Friends brought home their 79 day-old baby, a 1 lb. 9 oz. micro-preemie born at 25 weeks … she’s healthy & growing like a weed!!
  • My mother was supposed to have flown out for a visit – but several crazy reasons why she didn’t.
  • A life-long dear friend from our beloved Southport Church of the Nazarene passed away. He was 91 years old. A grand reunion took place not only in Heaven, but at his funeral … I wish I could’ve been there.
  • Cole, Kim and Lillie have all been sick with one thing or another in the past 3 weeks.
  • Tim had a ‘routine’ nuclear heart stress test – everything seems to be good.
  • My great niece was born 2 weeks early … welcome Lyla Kay!
  • It snowed 5 inches. A few days later it snowed 3 inches. Yesterday it snowed 7 more inches.
  • Cole and Lillie

    Cole and Lillie

    Our Loves came and spent the night and we went sledding in the fresh snow.

  • Another friend has cancer.
  • A fun-filled visit from Tim’s mom last weekend
  • Refresh. A group of ladies that will meet in my home once a month … starting soon.
  • I applied, interviewed, and accepted a new job. I then gave my 2 week notice at the law firm.
  • I realized that nerves can cause heart-attack symptoms … my arm/chest has been hurting from time to time.

I’m sure my life isn’t any more crazy than yours. Plans change, babies are born and people die every day. Everyone has loved ones who are not well, and the details of our everyday can sometime overwhelm us and cause stress and anxiety, which will often take our focus off of Jesus. These days have been crazy, but at the same time, there has been a Constant, a Presence, and an Assurance that Jesus is in control.

Won’t you join me today in keeping our focus on Jesus even in the midst of the crazy full days of life?

Until next time,
Debbie

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

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

 

Mother’s Day Weekend

16 May

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

This time last week I was waking to the sound of a couple barking dogs and feeling refreshed after my long journey on the road. My iPhone and I left work on Thursday afternoon and arrived in my mom’s driveway several conversations later. Driving the long distance between my house in PA and hers in Indy is always improved as I talk to friends and family along the way.

It was December since I had last been with my momma – when she flew out to celebrate an early Christmas with our family … and an October birthday visit was the last time I had been in Indy. No matter how much time has passed, mom’s Chihuahuas, Ginger and Walker, always greet me at the door with an exuberant welcome! It felt good to be home … my childhood home, where my parents raised me and my brothers.

The moms and daughters at Steak & Shake

The moms and daughters at Steak & Shake

The weekend started out with a bunch of hugs and laughter when mom and I met my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for lunch Friday noon. The same fun-loving, silly mold was used for these two ladies and we’re always guaranteed a great visit! A celebration of Amy’s birthday made our time together even more special! Until next time, sweet ladies …

 

Aunt Debbie and Remington Kimber Wells

Aunt Debbie and Remington Kimber Wells

Another form of a birth day celebration was next on our agenda as we drove the few miles to my youngest brother’s home to meet my 6 day-old niece. Remington Kimber was bright-eyed and awake for our visit, giving plenty of opportunity for several photos to be taken. What a doll baby – lots of dark hair, pudgy little nose, and a sweet momma and proud papa besides!

 

Once back to the house, I ventured out to the garage to see how daunting my next task was going to be. 17 years ago when our family moved from PA to Albuquerque, we left several boxes for safe keeping … items we didn’t necessarily need right then, but didn’t want to get rid of, but knew we didn’t have the room to store them where we were going. Since I drove out, and since we’re finally buying a house that has plenty of room for such storage, [‘Buying a House’ … an upcoming blog] I began to open boxes of keepsakes … or not so keeping. Such mixed feelings overwhelmed me as I found mold and mildew that had wreaked havoc on some of the contents, creating a pile of trash instead of treasures. My favorite find was a particular set of 3 long boxes that I knew were filled with memories from my high school years, CB radio days, and mementos of young loves. Oh my! [‘Keepsake Treasures … or Not’ – another upcoming blog] Gratefully, the items that held most value to my heart were fine and I began to load my car till it was full and overflowing – barely leaving enough room for travel bags and driver! The grandkids will be excited to find some ‘new’ toys to add to their assortment of playthings at Mimi and Papaw’s house – but probably not as excited as their mom and Uncle Ryan will be! Care-A-Lot car and castle, complete with all of the Care Bear gang … Hot Wheels, Match Box cars, and even a Tonka truck or two!

 

Mother's Day with my momma

Mother’s Day with my momma

TV shows, computer updates, and enjoying the front porch swing filled in the gaps between projects and family time. 15 of us gathered for dinner on Saturday evening, laughing at the antics of 2 year-old Jaxon as we all took turns cuddling Baby Remi.

 

Mother’s Day was filled to the brim – an unexpected and extremely special visit from Louisiana, [‘Joe Talhelm … a Film Documentary’ …  another upcoming blog!] church service with family and friends, lunch out with my precious baby niece and her family, followed by my long drive home. It was a day that was without a doubt ordained by God … a gift. I’m trying my best to always seize the moment – to appreciate every aspect of the day, giving praise to the One who raises and sets the sun. Won’t you join me in seizing each moment … every morsel of time … and every blessing?

Until next time,
Debbie

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my recent trip to Indy 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.10202527516323935.1073741854.1076414018&type=1&l=0aaf67d0b2

A New Calendar

11 Jan

I lift up my eyes to You,
to You whose throne is in heaven…
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till He shows us His mercy.
Psalm 123:1-2

 

Cole and Lillianne

Cole and Lillianne

Halloween - cowboys!

Halloween – cowboys!

One of my favorite gifts this year is my 2013 calendar.  Its pages are unique and unlike any other calendar in the world…it was custom designed just for me!  With the flip of each new month, another special picture is highlighted to view, reminding me of many loves, special occasions, and God’s hand-picked blessings that are mine.  Then with the addition of my own personal notes on specific dates, the New Year is off and running…ready or not!

In anticipation of the New Year, I posted a status on Facebook asking my friends for suggestions of something new to add to my daily devotional time.  How fun to read the variety of responses, including 14 different recommendations and a promised gift in the mail!  Sure enough, a few days later I received a package from my dear friend in Long Pine, Nebraska, with a copy of one of her favorite devotionals inside, Every Day Light by Selwyn Hughes.  The reoccurring message in the first few days of this book is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

The green one-eyed Monster

The green one-eyed Monster

I often write about God’s very personal and intimate communication with me … well, He can also be very humorous.  Last Saturday, our kids in Baltimore moved from their townhouse of 2 ½ years to a much larger home that they are purchasing.   Mimi and Papaw spent the entire weekend with them, helping where needed.  After two marathon days of cleaning, packing, and the actual move of house and home, we all fell into bed late Saturday night.  Tim and I always take up residence on the futon, which is located in the basement / play room, this time next to a bin of toys that the previous owners left behind.  Sometime in the dark wee hours of Sunday morning, a man’s voice broke into our sound sleep and very clearly said, “Whatcha looking at?  I’ve got my eye on you!”  Jumping out of bed, not having a clue where I was or what I was doing, I began to realize our surprise visitor was coming from the bunch of toys next to our bed.  By the light of my iphone, I began to dig through the playthings until I found the culprit, who must’ve settled in his resting place just enough to apply pressure to his “PUSH HERE” arm which makes him talk.  When Tim and I retrieved our unwanted guest, we laughed as we pushed his arm repeatedly to hear all of the silly things he can say.  I looked for the on-off switch, put him back with his friends, and crawled back into bed.  A few days later after I opened my package from Nebraska and began to read the devotional, I thought of our green one-eyed monster friend who said …  “whatcha looking at?  I’ve got my eye on you!”

One of my most loved Bible stories is in 2 Chronicles 20  ~  King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah were facing large armies which they could not possibly destroy.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard  and said:

 

    “O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.  O our God, did You not drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?  They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for Your Name, saying,  `If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in Your presence before this temple that bears Your Name and will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us.’

 

 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory You would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.  See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession You gave us as an inheritance.  O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”


All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.

 

Did you read that?!  All the men with their wives!  And children and little ones!!  All of their lives were at stake here … even the little ones!

 

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.


 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to You: `Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not Yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ “

 

Oh!  You must pick up your Bible and read the rest of the story!!  God does deliver them and does so without them even having to fight!

What’s going on in your life today that has you afraid and discouraged?  What big army is lurking in the distance, ready to crush and destroy you?   I know several people who have recently lost loved ones while others are quickly losing their battles or are suffering with long-term illnesses.  The unstable economy leaves us all with realistic questions of concern.  The escalating  violence in our communities put us all on guard for the safety of our families. Everywhere we look, there are problems, heartaches, and concerns.

As written by Selwyn Hughes in Every Day Light,

“The reason our problems often seem overwhelming is because we allow the things of time to loom larger in our gaze than the things of eternity. The tiniest of coins, when held close to the eye, can blot out the sun. Let’s begin to lay hold on the truth that life works better when we know how to glance at things but gaze at God. Seeing Him clearly will enable us to see all other things clearly.”

In the beginning of this New Year, in the midst of all the legitimate concerns of life and death … Above all, won’t you join with me in keeping our gaze Heavenward?  Today is January 11th.  In just a few tomorrows, the calendar will flip to February, and then on to March. Before I know it, my calendar will have the Halloween Cowboys up, quickly closing in on Christmas again.  Time does not miss a step on our journey called life.  Let’s keep our eyes fixed on the One who never disappoints and will be with us all to the end.

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 12:2-3

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

The Quiet Morning

16 Sep

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

 

Sigh … It’s Friday.  Earlier this morning as I knelt in my room to pray, I was immediately drawn to how unusually quiet it was…

There is still traffic in a hurry on the road in front of our house, but it seems like there just might be a little less of it at this hour of the day.  

The all-too familiar sound of rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning, has finally given way to clear, quiet blue skies today. 

The sun is shining brightly through both of the bedroom windows, desiring its warmth to take some of the early morning chill out of the air. 

Being bundled up in my long robe takes away any silly thought of running the furnace, and we certainly do not need the air conditioner … so the usual sounds of comfort are hushed this morning. 

The television that has been watched more than normal this week has been turned off  ~  So grateful for the convenience of a DVR during weekends such as Sept 11th

Mimi and Anticipation are hand-in-hand anxious for next weekend when Cole is expected to come and stay for a few days … but all the tractors, cars, trains, and trucks are still and in their proper places for now. 

A very brief good morning from Cole was already enjoyed as he and his Momma were meeting other friends for a fun day at their county fair.   So my cell phone lies quietly by.

The phone ringing along with the drama of my place of employment is someone else’s responsibility today.

In the stillness of my prayer time, I remembered someone’s status on Facebook from the other day that said something like … What would you have tomorrow if you were able to keep everything you thanked God for today?  Diverting from my normal list of people, too many to name, and asking God to help this situation and that, I began to simply name names.  In the continued quietness, I thanked Him for family, dear friends, those who are very ill, those who have lost loved ones, those who are hurting because life is just difficult.  I thanked Him for things, places, events, and most importantly, I thanked Him for Jesus.

There’s just something special about the quiet this morning.  I know Where it has come from.  Just yesterday, I prayed and asked God to meet me when I woke up.  I no longer  want to wake up and immediately think about the stress, the drama, and the concerns of life before I first feel His presence and His love for me.   My God is so faithful.   

Click Be Still and Know by David & Charlene Adams

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

 As I sit here next to my place of prayer, scrunched down into the generational shared Big Bird Chair, except for the occasional vehicle on the road and the clicking of the keys on my computer, it is still very quiet.  As much as I would love to move up to the comfies of my bed and covers and spend the day reading, the stillness has motivated me to get busy.  There is an exercise video recorded on that wonderful invention of a DVR that is calling my name. There are people who are having yard sales and need to sell items they no longer want, and there are items of theirs that I would like to have.   I need to mow the lawn and do some light housekeeping chores. 

Won’t you join me in the midst of the busy days ahead?   If you ask Him to, Jesus will also be there waiting on you when you awake.  Spend some time alone with Him and be still.  Once we get up from our little quiet spot and on purpose enter the world of busyness, we can do so and KNOW that God is with us and takes great delight in us!  And when everything around us gets noisy, full of life and activity, He has promised to quiet us with His love.  He says He will rejoice OVER YOU with singing.  Wow!  God sings over us!  I wonder what song He will sing today …

The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:11

 

Have a wonderful busy, but Quiet day … listening intently to hear the beautiful voice of God singing …over you!

Until next time,
Debbie

 

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of sea gull taken at Belmar Beach, New Jersey on September 3, 2011.

 

 

Flat Belly Diet

21 Apr

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God —
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

 

Mimi and Cole ~ April 2011

I have never been overweight.  I’ve often classified myself as petite instead of the usual adjectives that people come up with, such as skinny, little, tiny, and of course, I can’t leave out short.  My height and my weight have always gone hand in hand.  Petite.  That’s me, that is, until I began to reach the underlying shadows of turning 50 years old.  I began to notice that I couldn’t eat just anything (and everything) I wanted and still remain in the same vicinity on the scales.   Portion control became my new rule as I filled my plate with delicious meals during our former life at Higher Ground.  Thinking the slight chub around the middle would immediately disappear once we moved away from all the tasty temptations, I found it to only increase.  Tim and I now have time to spend together in the kitchen preparing new recipes and enjoying them.  We decide to go out to eat more often now, looking for hole-in-the-wall places that usually serve exceptional food.  We snack in the evenings as we watch TV … and we gifted ourselves with a meat smoker for Christmas, so we frequently enjoy scrumptious pulled pork and cornbread.  As the scales continue to tip past the point where the needle stood underneath my pregnant form so many years ago, it’s time to call HALT!!   When the day comes that our Kim is once again with child and her bulging baby tummy is the topic of her young toddler, I’m afraid that Cole will look over at his grandma and pat MY tummy and say “Mimi’s Baby?”   

So, for the first time in my life, I am on a diet.  I don’t need to lose a lot of weight.  Only 10 -15 pounds.  Inches are more of my target, knowing that clothing will fit better, and I will be healthier.   To keep from sounding like I’m whining, I will simply say that I have felt miserable, extremely unhealthy, and even concerned that my middle girth was getting the best of me.  I know it is time to become mature, responsible, and loving toward my own body and health. 

Having an excellent recommendation from my daughter who found this diet plan to be a great success, I officially began on Monday.  I am currently on Day 4 out of 32.  I spent several days reading through the book, however, before implementing its plan.  Two gals from Prevention Magazine are the minds behind this concept, explaining the health concerns of having too much fat around our bellies and offering great encouragement and hands-on tools to get our bodies back under control.  As I read through the book, I jotted down a few notes that I felt were important to cheer me on my new adventure. . .

Diet is a contract between me and myself.

I am special.  I deserve the time, the energy, and the effort that’s equal to
everything else in my life.

 

So, here I am.  Embracing special me … muffin top and all.  Excited to be nearly finished with the 4 day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart and to go forward for the next 28 days, anticipating better health, better habits, and hopefully, better fit.  In exchange for unhealthy, I’m learning about MUFAs, Sassy Water, Visceral Fat, Waist to Hip Ratio and BMI.

 As Easter Sunday approaches and we gather in worship to celebrate our risen Savior, let us also keep in mind that true disciples of Christ worship Him every day.  We worship Him in all that we do…our relationships, our work, our playtime, our activities, and even our eating.  Jesus gave His life for me … the least I can do is to give Him all of me in return, and that includes my best at giving Him a healthy me.  A special and healthy me.  Won’t you join me in giving our best to Jesus?

Until next time,
Debbie

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2  (The Message)

If you would like more information about the Flat Belly Diet, you may buy the book on line as cheap as $5.00 (including shipping) from Alibris.com, at your local bookstore, or you may actually sign up for a free 30 day on-line trial at flatbellydiet.com

Spring!

8 Apr

                                                There is a time for everything,
 and a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Just yesterday I was sporting a cute little pair of heels that I picked up for a bargain last summer at a yard sale.  Today I feel like cuddling up my toes with a thick pair of comfy socks and slipping them into my boots as I go off to work on this raw and rainy morning.  It’s spring.  Last week it snowed 3 inches.  Four days later we were out on the motorcycle enjoying 80̊  and a sunny day!  It’s spring! 

 Ever notice how noisy spring is?  All of sudden there are birds everywhere … and they are loud!  Even busy little Cole has noticed their vocal existence    ~   “chirp chirp!”   We live just outside of York, PA where a Harley Davidson plant is located.  The roads are Harley silent around here for only about 4 months out of the year.  Guys (and gals) and their motorcycles are loud!   It’s spring!   I’ve heard two chainsaws already in the past month and even a lawnmower!  Thunderstorms have caused little dogs to shiver and hide, while the music of a steady rain sings lullabies to those needing to get out of bed.  Shouts of activity and sport fill the air near the fields where baseball, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee are being played. There are the giggles of little kids, finally able to be outside at the park to play, while moms stand around and catch up with their friends  …  or in our case, a little 2-year old constantly going up and down the slides hollering out “RyRy!” as his Uncle Ryan is watching via Skype and an iPhone.  Spring is noisy!

 As scripture tells us, there is a time and season for all things.  This morning, a dear and precious friend passed away.  Mary Jane had been ill for many years, but she is now dancing in the presence of Jesus and the angels.  Mary Jane has reached her eternal Spring where Life will be full of newness, expectation and satisfaction all at the same time, and freedom.  Freedom, for where the Spirit is there is Freedom.  

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die…
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

 

 Newborn babies cry, toddlers chatter, birds sing, rain falls, and our world embraces life to the fullest!  After a long cold winter, won’t you join me in celebrating a noisy and exciting spring … each day, ALWAYS filled to the brim with the mercies of God!

 

Until next time,
Debbie

Two

24 Mar

Your eyes saw my unformed body. 
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
 before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16

 

 Life took an unexpected twist and turn two years ago and blessed us with the premature birth of our first grandchild, Cole Michael.  A severe case of pre-eclampsia dictated his six-week early arrival.  An emergency c-section delivery followed by 20 days in the NICU was the dramatic start to his little life. 

Cole Michael ... 2 hours old

The miracle of life itself  … the way that God creates little people to grow, develop, and to become bigger little people is an amazing reality.  Just two hours old, Cole’s tiny but deliberate and strong hand clutched the tubes and wires that literally were keeping him alive.  Now at two years old, he reaches out and grasps at life with purpose and enthusiasm, excited to be healthy, happy, and loved.

Gender traits early on revealed this little boy’s favorite toys and obsessions, like tractors, cars, trucks, trains, and balls.  Genetics has already determined Cole’s dark hair and his preference in using his left hand.  Environmental influences have molded a tender and loving heart, a fondness toward puppies, an enjoyment of watching ‘ball’ or ‘cars’ on TV, and an appreciation of discovery and learning new things. 

Just the other day, Cole began to tug at the hem of his momma’s capri pants, thinking they must be hiked up and he needed to pull them down to the proper length.  Later the same day, he was caught taking the honey bear out of the pantry and giving it kisses … believing it was Winnie the Pooh.  Every day is filled with stories of funny little antics that bring joy and laughter to our hearts. 

We will spend today and throughout the coming weekend to celebrate this precious little boy and the miracle of life God has given to us.  Won’t you join me in thanking God, the Great Creator, for His design, His plan, and His purpose  …

Until next time,
Debbie  …  Mimi

PS … to read the full account of Cole’s birthday, read my blog dated March 24, 2010 … called Anticipation.

Snow

19 Jan

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude
in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17

 

The white fluffy stuff has quite the romantic and cozy deceptive charm about it. A bowl of popcorn, mugs of hot chocolate, a favorite person, and a roaring fire in the fireplace…all the while the landscape outside is being transformed from a dreary and bleak site into a white winter wonderland. Along with the glistening beauty and the snowy glow comes the hush…the hush of freshly fallen snow.

The above description is what I call the billboard version of snow or the glossy magazine cover version that truly doesn’t depict reality. Oh, not to be mislead … to a degree it is all true ~ insert the scenario of your choice and add in the bright white hush. But there’s far more to the story of snow than the Hallmark movies would like for us to believe.

South central PA, where we now call home, has been on the outside edge of some of the largest snowstorms of the season for the east coast. Some of our neighbors just an hour or so away have had to dig themselves out of deep accumulations and deal with extreme conditions due to the blizzards that have come their way. Our families and friends we have most recently left behind in Indiana continue to be harassed nearly every 4 or 5 days with a new batch of precipitation, whether it be snow, ice, or rain. Tim is certainly counting his blessings this winter since someone else has the privilege and challenge of constantly plowing the roads and keeping the sidewalks clear of snow at Higher Ground. And once again, the immediate weather forecast is for another bout of snow to soon hit those we love … and it is still January.

Cole sledding in the snow

Our first round of snow at our house in PA took place while we were in Indiana for Christmas. Upon our return, the roads were dry, our driveway was mostly all clear, and the grass was already poking through the melting mess. Then last week, we were gifted with an overnight blanket of the fluff that measured right at 4” on our back deck. The highlight was a few days later when our 22 month-old grandson and his dog brought their parents up for an evening of playing in the snow. Since our house is built into the side of a hill, the side yard was a perfect spot for a little boy to enjoy his first and many more fun times in his sled. What fun we all had in the snow as we looked at it not only through the eyes of a toddler, but through the protective and loving eyes of his parents and the heart-warming eyes of his grandparents.

Two nights ago, more snow fell, along with a crunchy coating of ice. Tim was prepared and parked his work truck at the top of our driveway/hill, making for a guaranteed exit the following morning for work. For me, I was quite proud of myself for getting out our beast of a snow blower and actually getting it to start on the first try. As it crawled along the driveway, it quickly became bogged down with the heaviness of the ice and refused to cooperate with me to clear the way. Reluctantly, I took it back to the garage and instead grabbed the shovel. Grrr! As the morning wore off into early afternoon, I slowly made progress, one shovel of heavy snow/ice at a time. I was reminded of the hours I use to spend at Higher Ground behind a vacuum cleaner or cleaning the many windows of the dining hall … and how I passed the drudgery of that time away by praying. I immediately began to bombard Heaven for the many people in my life who I love … who need Jesus in one way or another. Before I knew it, the driveway was cleared, I had my exercise, and my heart had reached out and touched the portals of Heaven on behalf of many of you.

I know that snow is far more than a picture on a Christmas card, but I can’t help but live my life in such a way that in all things, I give thanks.

Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Remember when we were little kids and how exciting it was to sit beside the radio to listen in hopes to hear our school named on that long list of those that were cancelled for the day? How fun was it to bundle up in multi-layers of clothing and snow suits to the point where we could barely move … and head for ‘dead man’s hill’ (that’s what it was called in the woods near our house) and to spend hours sledding, making snow people, and having snowball fights?

Won’t you join me today and throughout the remainder of this winter, to give thanks in all circumstances ~ for the memories, for the fun times with today’s little people, and for unexpected opportunities to spend time in prayer for others. Spring is coming … but let’s make the most of what is before us today.

Until next time,
Debbie

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

“Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
Isaiah 1:18

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:9-11

Ornaments

29 Nov

 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:16-17

 

After the busyness of the past several days of precious family time, I find myself, in the quietness of my thoughts and the sacredness of the holidays, wondering where Thanksgiving is suppose to end and Christmas is suppose to start.  Can we honestly celebrate one without the other?   How fitting that both special days are so close on the calendar!!

Our daughter and her little family spent much of this past week with us in our home for the Thanksgiving holiday.  With a 20 month-old toddler around, we laughed a lot, were entertained by the simplest gestures and words, and watched a few episodes of Dora the Explorer.  Turkey Day itself was shared with a total of 23 around the dinner table at ‘Park Place’ … the home of  Tim’s oldest sister.  This is becoming quite a holiday tradition as the individual Van Hook kids have married and had kids, and their kids are now getting married and having kids…and we can all gather at Aunt Debbie’s house to visit.   What a blessing this year as four baby boys were born into the family since last Thanksgiving!

Once family all went home, I rearranged the living room furniture in order to make room for our Christmas tree.  My thoughts and prayers were going out to several friends who are struggling with life.  My mom’s best friend suffered a heart attack during the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.  The medical staff at the hospital in Greenwood was able to save Nellie’s life with an immediate surgery and procedure … A big thank you goes out to those who work on special days when most of us have time off!  Another friend in Albuquerque lost everything in an apartment fire last week.  A dear friend in Cincinnati is leaning hard on Jesus since her husband’s cancer has returned.  Another precious friend is going through the holidays for the first time without her father, who passed away in August.  It seems that everywhere we look, life is full.  It is full of joy and it is full of sorrow.  Even through the sorrow, we can still have joy as we have SO much to be grateful for! 

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great mercies we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:21-26

 

With the tradition of Karen Carpenter, 4 Him, and Amy Grant filling our home with songs of the season, my heart was still celebrating Thanksgiving as I opened boxes packed full of 30 years of life.  Inside were memories all wrapped up in garland, lights, holiday tins, a musical moose, stuffed Christmas veggies, gingerbread houses made of clay, and ornaments.  Ornaments that tell stories about people, places, events, and times.

As I hung each ornament on the tree, my heart was overwhelmed by God’s love and His mercies, for they ARE new every morning and every year.  Testimonies to His faithfulness hang all over my Christmas tree!  Homemade treasures made out construction paper and paper doilies, complete with school photos, represent sweet blessings all grown up now.  Friendships old and new, special places like Kauai and Venice, and many ‘1st’ ornaments, for the various locations we have called home.  An attitude of prayer filled my living room as I gently placed each memento on the branches, thanking God for the people who came to mind, and seeking Him on their behalf … wherever they are, whatever they are doing this Christmas season, and for their part in my life  ~ sometime between 1980 and 2010.

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:16-17

 

I look forward to this special prayer service next year.  My own personal Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration.  I know that my home would never be displayed in a trendy home décor magazine, but that’s ok.  The simple decorations and the tree, complete with icicles and unique ornaments never to be found in a boutique shop, adorn a most sacred chapel of worship. 

Won’t you join me in continuing to give thanks for His blessings as we enter into this Christmas season to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior?

Until next time,
Debbie

You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
You are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
His love endures forever.
Psalm 118:28-29

 

 

 

 

Every Day Matters

24 Sep

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life
will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it
for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
Luke 9:23-25

 

I’m down to the final days and the final room of unpacking boxes.  Yes, I know. It has taken longer than it should have to get settled.  But I have set a goal for myself that by this time next year, when our year lease on the big brown house is up, I will have substantially gotten rid of a lot of stuff.  Stuff that I have kept for the sake of keeping it.  You know, “so and so gave that to me” or better yet … “I have kept this all these years but do not remember where it came from.”   In order to weed through things like that, it takes time. 

So back to my final days and the final room.  This room was saved for last because I knew it would take me the longest.  It is officially called ‘the office’, but there is very little office work accomplished in this room.  There are two desks, filing cabinets, receipts, pens, paper and paper clips … oh!  And stamps.  But little else that could give someone reason to call it an office.  In truth, it’s more like the Taco Bell/KFC/Pizza Hut combo restaurant!  Ours is the Office/Library/Museum Room.  Along with the office, which we have already covered, is the Library.  I have a very large bookcase, which is full of all sorts of books, from Chilton mechanic manuals to Little House on the Prairie, and everything in between.  My assortment of reading material mostly consists of books regarding the Christian life, written for a variety of different readers … woman, wife, mother, Grami, friend, husband, son, the troubled, the sick, the young, the old, and much more.  The final part of our trilogy room is the Museum.  Cows, plaques, pictures, magnets, forks, mugs, special notes, candles, pillows, old computers, footballs, posters, peacock feathers, a walking cane, forks, and SO much more.  I love people, I love memories, and I love to be surrounded by it all!  This is my room of treasures.  (except the old computers … they belong to desk #2, but still qualify as part of the Museum!) 

So back to my final days and the final room.  Yesterday afternoon, I was working on a bulletin board that I have always kept at my desk.  It was full of pictures of my family, cut out and cropped to fit a gazillion photos in one area so I could be blessed every time I looked at it.  Several years has gone by since I created this collage, and life has brought a couple new faces into our family.  So, I took out a few outdated photos and added a few current ones.  I was also combining little trinkets and special treasures from another board I kept at my desk at Higher Ground.  From that board, I peeled off the words  “Every Day Matters”   and stuck it to the bigger board I was working on.  This small three-word phrase comes from J.C. Penney’s sales ads and catalogs.  I remember the first time I saw it and thinking how true it was!  Every day does matter. 

 Here are some excerpts from my favorite devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers  ~  July 28

“We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.”

Every day matters.  Yes, ultimately Heaven is our goal, but it is the journey that really makes the difference.  We must recognize that God is walking on the seas of our lives and that we must allow Him to be the God of our winds, waves and even the calm and peaceful days.  If we don’t allow Him to be the Lord of it all, then scripture tells us that Heaven will not be our end.  Every day matters.

So back to my final days and the final room.  My goal is to have less stuff in a year, and what I do keep will be carefully gone through and well organized.  But a few weeks ago as I helped carry box after box after box into the moving truck … and then back out again two days later, my projected goal and its task seemed daunting.  A year from now will show the difference, but it will be the every day between now and then that truly matters. 

There are countless circumstances in our lives where every day does matter.  Relationships, our jobs, our health, …  you finish your own list.  Please join with me in all these areas of our lives to embrace the truth that Every Day Matters.

Until next time,
Debbie