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Company is (was) Coming!

25 Jan

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

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

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

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

Treasures on my book shelf

Treasures on my book shelf

The spare room

The ‘office’

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

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

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

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

~~   ~~   ~~   ~~   ~~   ~~   ~~   ~~

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

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

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Louise

21 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

Louise Doyle

Louise Doyle

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

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

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

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

Until next time,
Debbie

General Assembly

28 Jun

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Me and Linda Clark

Me and Linda Clark

Within moments of my delayed arrival, I made my way to the registration desk, where I picked up my visitor bag full of information and found my dear friend, Linda.  Linda’s husband pastors a church on the SWO district, and we have been friends since my days at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center.  She was one of the few people I had made specific plans to spend time with, so we sat down to visit as we ate our food court pizza.  Having a friendship that is based on long-distance communication and not personal interaction, it was a special treat to get to actually spend time with her.  Since an unexpected trip to the ER with my mother was the alternate activity of the morning, the time together with Linda went by too quickly.

After Linda and I said good-bye, I headed back into the building that had already been haunting me with memories from 8 and 12 years ago when Tim and I were there as official exhibitors, experiencing the ‘other side’ of General Assembly.  Feelings of the heart began to surface as I walked around by myself for a little while, running into friends, acquaintances, and colleagues from our former lives when we worked for Nazarene Indian Bible College and the General Church.  There was a hint of sadness in my spirit as I remembered the multitudes of visitors that came by our NIBC booth in 2001, many of them we had worked side by side with as their Work and Witness teams had come to Albuquerque to work at NIBC. Those were extremely long and exhausting days at General Assembly, but oh how wonderful!   Every evening, we went out to eat with someone new … often including our friends Rusty and Nancy Bellomy as well.  Oh, how life has changed since then.  As I strolled through the World Missions side of the exhibit hall, my already-wounded heart took another leap back into time … remembering back to 2005 when Tim climbed up on tall ladders as he literally helped to construct the large exhibit.  Our then USA/CANADA Work & Witness booth was visited by our former W&W team members, along with others who were excited to work in various areas of the country.  And yes, life has changed so much since then.  Before leaving the area, I saw John Cunningham, a former colleague who knew first hand the passion and calling I had for missions … it did my heart good to stand and visit with him for a few moments.  We spoke of family and grandchildren.  That conversation brought me back to reality and where God has placed me now.  I was able to walk out of the exhibit hall with a smile inside.

Several weeks before, I put a post on Facebook asking my Nazarene friends if any of them were coming to Indianapolis for the Assembly.  I received a few comments, which I noted, but I also made some phone calls to friends who didn’t respond.  I was greatly disappointed that my friends Becky and Nancy were not coming from Louisiana and Nebraska, as well as Jenee Noriega and her family from New Mexico.  Since my flight into Indy was bringing me out for several days and there were few friends on my priority list, my mom and I planned for a two-day trip to West Virginia to visit my bed-fast uncle.  (Another story for another blog).  In the mean time, little hints were beginning to be dropped on Facebook of a possible upcoming surprise.  After begging to be told, my heart soared into the Heavens to find out that Jenee Noriega and her brood was coming to Indianapolis!  MY Jenee in MY Indianapolis!!  I don’t expect most of you to understand the depth of my heart here, but I could literally write an entire book about this young woman and how God miraculously transformed her 19 year drug-addicted life and sin-ravaged heart into something brand new!  Jenee was the tangible and personal answer to a prayer prayed by two friends in ministry who desperately wanted to help the addicted.  Clean and sober now for nearly 10 years, Jenee and Stevie have a testimony that is exciting, vibrant, and relevant still to this day.  Knowing that I wasn’t going to see them until Saturday, even as I walked off of my plane Wednesday evening, I smiled as I took deep breaths, knowing that I was breathing the same air as my precious friend and her family! As I traveled to West Virginia the following day with my mom, and I saw the pictures that Jenee was posting on Facebook of her family already at the Assembly, I told story after story to my mom about Jenee and her previously messed-up life.  It has now been 7 long years since we said good-bye in Albuquerque … since I have seen her face-to-face, since I have held her precious children in my arms, and since I have hugged that big man-of-a-husband we all fondly call Stevie.

Jayla & Destanee with Scottie Albuquerque 2005

Jayla & Destanee with Scottie
Albuquerque 2005

Anxious to finally find them, Jenee and her family left the Kidz Zone and I my nostalgic walk in the past … and we met in the wide hall way among hundreds of people going this way and that way – but it didn’t matter to us!!  Hugs and kisses, laughing and crying, smiles and quizzical looks from the children, taking pictures and more pictures!   As I held Jayla and then Destanee in my arms and squeezed them tight, my heart nearly burst as I realized that these two girls had no idea who I was, but I knew them!!  I brought out a picture of the two of them sitting on my back porch swing beside Scottie … they were out watching the hummingbirds play around the feeder that morning.  This was a picture I no doubt printed out at the time and mailed to their momma, who was in the Bernalillo County Jail.  Tim and I, along with others, were helping Stevie take care of their girls while Jenee was in jail for relapsing on cocaine.  The girls laughed at the sight of themselves so many years ago, but had no memory of the moment.  Bre’ Asia will soon be 7 years old … I was there and was one of the first to get to hold her after she was born.  I still say that she was the whitest black baby I’ve even seen!  And now there is Davion … born on Sept 4, 2007 – this was my first time meeting this handsome young man who looks so much like his daddy.  What a joy beyond words … a joy that took away the sadness and replaced it with a grateful heart.  The remainder of my attendance at the General Assembly was accompanied by this precious family.  The girls were ushers Saturday evening, so this allowed us special seating, which was a nice perk.  An added treat to the night was to stop and visit with Pastor Gregg and Robin, Kristen and her two little girls, and Grandma!  After the evening service, hungry tummies of all ages were satisfied as we enjoyed hamburgers and milkshakes at Steak & Shake.   It was so nice to be able to hug them all good-night, knowing I would see them again the following morning!

Stevie, Jenee Jayla, Davion, Destanee & Bre' Asia

Stevie, Jenee
Jayla, Davion, Destanee & Bre’ Asia

Once back to my childhood home, with a heart that was full to the brim, I crawled in bed beside my mom and talked and talked and talked.  I once again told story after story, this time, current ones from today…how the Joy of Jesus so radiates from Jenee and Stevie’s hearts that It literally overflows onto whoever will listen!  My favorite listener was my own Pastor Bud, for in those brief but jam-packed moments, Jenee and Stevie shared their testimony, excitement, and gratefulness to a God who delivered them from addictions and sin.  I finally wound down long enough to sleep a few hours before heading downtown again for the morning worship/communion service.  This time, Mom and I went together in a van with Bill Denny and a few others from my beloved Southport Church … conveniently dropped off at the front entrance.  After finding seats and saving more for Jenee and Stevie’s family, I stole away for a few moments to mingle with the crowds and to give hugs to Sandia friends, Cynthia and Pete, Julia, Therese and a few others.  Later as I sat between my mom and Jenee, sharing the experience of communion with both, along with thousands of Nazarenes world wide who love Jesus, my heart tried to absorb every morsel of that moment.

Me and Cynthia Myers

Me and Cynthia Myers

Good-byes were necessary that early afternoon as I climbed back into that church van and mom and I headed home.  Just as I was reminded by my brief chat with John Cunningham, life is full of a lot of things these days.  Family is most definitely at the top of the list.  For the final few hours I had left with my mom, we spent it enjoying family…eating together, laughing, watching the antics of my brother’s 16-month old grandson, and simply loving life and thanking God for His gifts.

The Church of the Nazarene has General Assembly every 4 years.  Church business meetings, elections, worship services, workshops, reunions, and wonderful fellowship always takes place.  It has been in Indianapolis 5 times since my first attendance in 1989. Once again, my own personal trip to General Assembly was full and overflowing!  I have come back home with a refreshed heart!  Sometimes the distance seems so far and the miles so many, but God reminded me that He always has my best interest and His plan at work.  I am deeply grateful!  Won’t you join me in thanking God for His plan?

Until next time,
Debbie

Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

 

“God’s purposes are bigger than our hearts”
~ Still written across the top of my computer ~

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

Where Were You?

31 May

You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Psalm 139:2-3

It was unusual for me to turn on the small television in the kitchen first thing in the morning, but that day I did. I was shocked and shaken as I watched a plane crash into the second twin tower in New York City. Tuesday, September 11, 2001 ~ just moments after 7 am local time in Albuquerque, NM.

Seven months pregnant and needing a diversion to the normal routine of our day, I sat down in front of the TV with our 2 ½ year old Kimberly to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger lift off from the east coast of Florida. Along with the rest of the world, I was aghast at the sight before my eyes as the smoke plumes streaked across the sky, indicating that something had just gone horribly wrong. January 28, 1986 ~  right before lunch that day … Indianapolis, IN.

It was a Friday morning. Having been back in Indy several times since Daddy had taken a turn for the worse, areas of our house had progressively gotten out of control … like the front hall closet. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by the contents of that small area, sorting and trying to bring some organization back to my life when the phone rang. Thankfully the phone was right there beside me, since I had just talked to my mom about a half hour before. She had called from the hospital, giving me an update on my dad. This time, at first I wasn’t sure who it was, for she was crying, but I quickly recognized the voice of my Aunt June. My mind immediately couldn’t make sense of what she was telling me, for my mother had just told me that the doctor said that even in his extremely critical condition, Daddy seemed to be improving. But Aunt June was telling me that we just lost him. Middletown, PA … June 24, 1994 ~ around 9:30 am.

I had been out mowing the yard and pulling weeds – with a new grand baby just an hour away, I would’ve much rather been in Baltimore that day, but the chores at home still needed my attention. It was Friday – my day off from work, and I had just walked into the garage to get something when my cell phone rang. I remember smiling inside as the name of my friend popped up on the front screen of my iPhone. I answered with excitement, but quickly realized from the tone on the other end that this was not an ordinary social call. Her voice sounded very serious and matter of fact as she shared with me that she just found out that she has breast cancer. My heart immediately began to hurt and my brain began to reel with questions as I listened to the details she had to offer concerning symptoms, tests, diagnosis, and treatment … June 1, 2012 ~ in my garage in Red Lion, PA.

Sandie and I became the best of friends somewhat by default as we shared the very same small office space in the back of magnolia Music in Hershey, PA in the early to mid 1990’s.  Having initially met Sandie and Kevin at church, they offered me part-time work in their music store where I did a variety of duties and tasks, including collection calls on past-due accounts. I worked along side of many different people during those 6 years of employment, but none as close as Sandie and I. Not only did we share the work load of the office, but we shared the joys and the sorrows of life. We cried and prayed together. We laughed a lot. We kept each other sane as we also shared that very small office space with her husband, Kevin, who, for some reason, gave me a nickname … and still calls me ‘Trouble’. Not only did we work together, we used to vacation together, along with another family. We would camp at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, where we almost got evicted from the campground due to Scottie, our barking miniature schnauzer. Oh the memories! Our three families used to ride bikes on the weekends together. Those more adventurous ones would mountain bike on Saturdays and then the kids and I would join in on the fun after church on Sundays as a bunch of us would ride along the streets in Hershey and outlying areas around our church. We would often go to one another’s homes after church on Sunday nights, play miniature golf, or go swimming in the Walters’ pool. What fun we had!

Girls breakfast out during a visit to PA in March 2003

Girls breakfast out during a visit to PA
in March 2003

Through the years and as life separates by time and distance, our friendship stayed intact. We would both have to admit, though, that it was only attached by threads at times, due to the many miles between Albuquerque and Hershey. But when our family would return to the area for our annual Christmas visit, we would almost always re-connect and catch up. Even when just a few years ago we moved to the Cincinnati area, we made a point to see one another when possible. Now that we have moved back to central Pennsylvania, we have no excuses. Especially now. Since her first diagnosis, Sandie and I have made the time to have lunch together, and then along with our husbands, we have begun to meet for Sunday lunch on a regular basis. Just a few weeks ago, we all went on a nice Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride together, stopping mid-way for an ice cream cone and a ‘butt break’. We laughed about how we used to spend our Sunday afternoons riding together 20 years ago … and how we have gone from pedals in our 30’s to motors in our 50’s!

A year has gone by since that day in the garage. From those initial tests, Sandie found out that the breast cancer was also in her liver and her lymph glands. They immediately began a cocktail of treatments by IV, which she received on regimented intervals, leaving her without hair and energy. Over the course of time, PET scans showed great improvement, allowing a slight change in the medication given. Due to the nature of this particular cancer, however, she and the IV treatments will be life-long companions. A recent test result confirmed new growth again in the breast, so a double mastectomy was elected as the best form of total eradication. Surgery was a week ago this past Tuesday. A few days later, with lunch and Starbucks in hand, I spent a delightful afternoon with my friend and her puppies, Mocha and Weezly. We reminisced about years gone by, laughed a lot, filled in some of the details that had fallen through the cracks of time, and laughed some more. As our hearts were soaking up every morsel of life, conversation flowed, tender moments of expected concern were shared, and a time of prayer sealed our time together as we said ‘till next time’. With a prognosis that doesn’t promise her gray hair and a rocking chair on the front porch, I can promise her my undying friendship and support, my continual prayers, and my love.

Sandie and Kevin

Sandie and Kevin

Where were you? Where were you when you received that call, or when you heard the news? What were you doing when the crisis of your life took you to your knees and caused you to cry out to God? As I think back to those moments in my own life … I was just me … being me, doing what I do, being in the moment. Just as I am … makes me think of the old hymn of the church as sung by Travis Cottrell, with an added chorus … click here http://youtu.be/TGXDfxWM2r0 to listen

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am

Wherever you find yourself to be, in that moment, won’t you join me in going to Jesus, Just as I am?

Until next time,
Debbie

Yellow Day

4 Feb

.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

 

I was so thrilled to see that the incoming call was from my friend, Valerie … knowing that she was among some of my dearest friends in all the world.  She held in her hand a new iphone, which was requesting my iphone to connect the call so we could not only talk, but see one another.  Face Time is the correct term for this wonderful technology, which brings back childhood memories of watching the futuristic cartoon ‘The Jetsons’. I was then carried from lady to lady, laughing together as I got to say hello, blow kisses, laugh some more, and even received a tour of the hostess’ new home.  What a joy it was to share in that brief moment with these friends, thanking God for their commitment to one another and to Him.

A week ago tonight was a special evening of love and support for a dear friend of mine who lost her husband just days before Christmas.   A unique group of ladies, with hearts as big as Cincinnati, gathered together to shower Debra with gifts of yellow.  This special tradition of cheer was born this past summer as these women desired to brighten up the day for another hurting friend whose husband lost his long battle against cancer.  These Munchy Monday girls continue to stand by one another in celebration, sympathy, friendship, and love … spurring each other on spiritually as well.

Deb opening her sunshine basket of YELLOW

Deb opening her sunshine basket of YELLOW

Since I am here and they are all there, I wrote a letter and mailed it inside a greeting card so that Debra would have it to open that night along with the other gifts.  I would invite you to sit down for a few moments and share another morsel of mercy in my life as you read my heart to my hurting friend…

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Dearest Debra,

Today is your YELLOW day!  To be honored with such a fun day means that life has not been real pleasant for the recipient.  For that, I am so sorry.  Words cannot even begin to express my feelings when I think of your loss, your hurt, your confusion, your disbelief, …  In our small and meager attempt at showing you our love in the midst of your circumstances, here we are, bearing YELLOW.  Mine is a bit different than the others, due to the distance that it had to travel, so let me explain…

I was at Kohl’s last week, returning items from Christmas.  I also had YELLOW on my mind.  I started in the house wares department, looking for a big bright YELLOW bath towel, hand towel, and wash cloth.  I found them!  I wanted you to be reminded each time you wrapped yourself in the plush towel that you have friends who love you and embrace you with our love, ultimately representing the love that Jesus has for you.  His arms of love and comfort are always there with you, even when ours cannot be! He will also hold you while you cry, and then wipe the tears away.

I then went on a search for bright and cheery table placemats.  I found 2 round woven YELLOW ones, matched them with spring print cloth napkins, and then looked for coffee cups of YELLOW.  I wanted you to be reminded each time you sat down to eat, that you are never eating alone.  “Give us this day, our Daily Bread.”  Jesus is our Daily Bread.  He will always be the unseen guest at your dining room table.

As I walked through the store and on-purpose looked for more YELLOW, I saw YELLOW sweaters, YELLOW bras, YELLOW earrings, YELLOW shoes, and YELLOW ipad covers.   Then I saw it.  This simple little YELLOW gift card.  It says ‘You’re a Lucky Ducky’.  I have never cared much for the word “luck” because I firmly believe that God has His hand on the heartbeat of all life, and luck has nothing to do with it.  So, instead of it saying ‘You’re a Lucky Ducky’, let’s pretend it says ‘You’re a Special YELLOW Ducky with a Special YELLOW Day’!!  Now you can take this card with you to your own Kohl’s and buy something you need or want.  It doesn’t have to be yellow at all.  But whatever you purchase, please remember this day and the significance behind it … that you are always surrounded by us, your Munchy Monday friends, who love you, pray for you, and care very deeply for you!

Please know that you may pick up the phone any hour of any day or night … you can just cry, you can get angry, you can just talk for a solid hour about your Steve, saying his name as many times as you want.  We can pray together, or we can just catch up.  Do not hesitate to call.   I remember when my Daddy died several years ago now … there were a couple times in the middle of the night that my phone rang …  it was my precious mother.  All she could do was sob on the other end of the line … so all I could do was pray.   Please, don’t hesitate when that time comes that you just need to cry.  Although I’m many miles away, I’m as close as your phone.

Happy YELLOW day, Debra!  May you be showered with many things that will remind you for days, weeks, and months ahead that you are loved, prayed for, and thought of often!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our world is full of circumstances that bring sorrow, disappointment, disbelief, fear, and doubt into the hearts of people all around us…even into our own hearts.  Won’t you join me today in finding someone who needs a YELLOW day and bless their life with the bright sunshine of Jesus, love, and support!

Until next time,
Debbie

 For the LORD God is a Sun and Shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does He withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
Psalm 84:11

A Pocket of Christmas Sadness

13 Dec

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 46:4-5

In the midst of the joyful carols, twinkling lights, and buying gifts for my loved ones, I recently found a pocket of sadness that I couldn’t seem to shake.  Somewhere in between “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and the wreath that I hung on our front door, my heart fell hard, and it was several days before it was able to get back up again.  In the early morning darkness that greeted my somber soul, I made a mental list of reasons for my depth of despair.  When they were all added together, somehow they all justified the extreme slump of spirit or at least gave an excuse for the tears that would easily spill over at any moment.

Our beautiful children!

Christmas 2010

As the calendar begins to come to a close each year, the holidays always have a way of sweeping me up into its clutches of planning, decorating, shopping, and anticipating the thrill of having my family gather in.  This is one place where my heart stumbled and fell down, for it is not ‘our turn’ for any of the kids to be with us this year for Christmas.  I truly thought I was more mature and responsible … beyond feeling such an ache for my children.  But I thought wrong.  It’s Christmas, and I miss them!

Friends have always been such a blessing to my heart.  I am certainly grateful to have renewed the connection with some of my precious friends from living in Pennsylvania years ago … but I left behind many others in several parts of the country.  It’s Christmas, and I miss them!

Then there’s my Daddy… He’s been with Jesus now for 18 years.  It’s Christmas, and I miss him!

Writing has always been very therapeutic for my hurting heart, so I gave consideration to pouring my heart out into letters to a few select souls.  But instead, I will reach into the archives of my blog and re-post my Christmas letter that I wrote last year to my Daddy.  Aside from some statistical family details, each word still describes my heart and the precious bitter-sweet memories of Christmases past.

Dear Daddy,

It would only be most appropriate to sit here and sip on a hot cup of coffee (with cream and sugar, as opposed to your favorite, black) as I jingle Heaven’s portals with a Christmas greeting to you. The sights and sounds of the holidays have a way of tugging at the memories of my heart, and I always miss you so much during this season.

You know that I so enjoy all of the music this time of year, but there is a distinct genre of songs that melt this little girl’s heart into a puddle of warm memories. Just a few notes of one of these songs, and I am immediately transported back to any cold December day in my childhood. Remember how you and I would go shopping together every Christmas and buy gifts for Mom? Every store we went into and every station on the radio would be playing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” or “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”. I loved being with you, Daddy … your funny little quirks of always stopping at the men’s cologne counter to splash a half-dozen different scents of after shave lotion on your face, often taking my own little face in your hands and lovingly pat the potpourri of manly fragrances on my little girl cheeks. A few more songs like the musical rendition of “Sleigh Ride” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” would serenade us as we began our quest for the right gift that year for mom. You loved to have a lot of gifts under the tree for her ~ I always felt like it was your way of showing her how much you loved and appreciated her. Soft and flowing night gowns with matching robes, a new winter coat with accompanying boots, and of course, peanut brittle. Oh, the big gifts were different every year, but we also always got her a box of peanut brittle. I picked up that yummy tradition in your honor until a few years ago when she began to make her own homemade brittle … thinking of you the entire time she’s doing so, I’m sure. Speaking of peanuts, on our way out of Sears and Roebuck, you would usually swing by the snack area and buy you and me a small bag of warm salted cashews. How fun to remember how special that made me feel that you would stop and buy this special treat for me … you and me. I don’t even know if we saved any for mom and the boys.

I had to chuckle the other day as I was walking through the grocery store and passed by the infamous bag of mixed nuts! Do you remember the glass dish that mom got out at Christmas and filled with all sorts of hard candy, oranges, and nuts? I think of you every time I look for something in the utility drawer in my own kitchen and I see the nut cracker and pick. I have so many simple, but oh so special holiday memories of you, Daddy.

Your birthday is coming soon, which always means that Christmas is only a few hours away. You were always so gracious, having a Christmas Eve birthday, to excitedly accept your annual birthday gift of new Christmas pajamas right along with us kids! Still to this day, you are always remembered and sung to in the unique Wells tradition … as the birthday cake is shared by many December birthdays each year. “… Happy Birthday, dear Daddy / Grandpa Johnny!”

There is an unmistakable warmth, safe and secure, and happy feeling ~ embraced with all the love a little girl’s heart can hold ~ when I think of you, Daddy … especially at Christmas time. The aromas, the sounds of the holidays, the fun varieties of cookies, snacks, fruit, and the Christmas dinner itself, … and just the presence of our family together. Thank you, Daddy, for sufficiently providing for us, with not only the things we needed, but with lots of love, attention, and security. I know your grandkids still remember you for your extreme heart of fun and love that always made each one of them feel so special. You have great grandkids now, Daddy! Tim is a grandpa to Kailee’s kids, and Jay is just weeks away from holding his first grandson! And I will once again be Mimi as Kim is expecting her second little one in May … her own little girl! Oh Daddy … I miss you so!

You know how busy it gets this time of year, but we all plan to be together once again at your house. You may not physically be there, but you will be there. Your example, your jovial and sometimes feisty spirit, and your love will always be with us! Instead of the 5 of us, plus Mammy and Pappy ~ like it was every year for many years, there will be 25 of us and 3 babies on the way. What a blessed heritage you gave to each of us … yes, you will be there. Make that 26.

The older I get, the more I miss you. There must be something about better understanding the struggles and the hard times of life ~ and wishing that I had paid more attention and spent more time on my knees then than I did. But here we are. The journey for me continues, and I know that my tears will continue to flow from time to time … until they will be dried by Jesus Himself as I am met by you at that great Gate … Someday.

Well, I will hush for now, Daddy. I promise to meet you here again, from time to time, on the pages of my heart. Happy 78th Birthday, Merry Christmas, and I love you!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

Mom with your 3 newest great grandbabies

Mom with your 3 newest great grandbabies

P.S.  It’s 2012 now … Those 3 new babies have come, Daddy … oh what fun they are!  Kailee’s Leyton, Jason’s Jaxon,  and Kim’s Lillianne.  Those little cousins got to meet one another in October when Kim, Baby Lillie and I flew out to Mom’s for my birthday visit.  And speaking of birthdays, this Christmas Eve will be your 79th!  There will be fewer people gathered around the Christmas table in Indiana this year, but you will be there in the hearts of us all.

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas Daddy … I love you and miss you so!

Happy Thanksgiving!

21 Nov

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give
thanks to him in song.
Psalm 28:7

My hubby began to slowly stir as the sounds of the morning radio began to play.  With a shower, a bowl of cereal, and a kiss good-bye, he headed out for another day of work.  My own alarm is due to go off any moment now … which will trigger my actions into the usual morning routine of preparing for my day of work at the law firm.   I will run errands at lunch, and excitedly anticipate the final hour at my desk so I can go home and put the finishing touches to our home before our guests arrive a few hours later.  I chuckle as I think about using the word guests, because they really aren’t.  They’re family and they come for over nights often, but they are booked as our guests for the entire weekend, which has motivated me to make their stay a bit more comfy.

As the house fills with the aroma of dinner tonight, it will also spill over with the noises of life.  Cole will be excited to play with his toys that are exclusive to being at Mimi and Papaw’s house, while Lillie will be giggling as no doubt Papaw will be tickling her and giving her smooches.  A happy Tadpole will be underfoot and under table as we all sit down for a Thanksgiving Eve dinner of smoked pulled pork and baked beans.  A belated birthday celebration for Troy will follow the meal as we enjoy some homemade pie and ice cream.  It will be fun to have my daughter in the kitchen with me tonight as we make preparations for Thanksgiving Day before going to bed. We will work on our contributions for the annual family gathering, tomorrow at Tim’s sister’s home.

Cole and Miss Lillie
at Mimi and Papaw’s house

I look forward to spending some alone-time with Cole as he begins to wind down from his busy and eventful day.  Since he is a regular in our home, we have our own routine for bed time, which includes bath, jammies, and Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore.  I cherish each opportunity I have for him to snuggle with me on our rocker, read a couple books and sing our favorite songs, and tuck him into his bed.  Lillie’s little bed sits quietly in the corner of our own bedroom, where she’s close enough for us to hear her stir at night, but far enough away from Cole’s play during the day.  She’s such a good baby, sleeps soundly all night and always wakes with a smile.  Nearly 7 months old now, she wants to be where the action is, which is usually with her brother.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  For all of the above, and more, I am thankful.   We are so blessed to have the privilege of living only an hour apart from our daughter and her family so we can spend time with them!   To be an active part in Cole and Lillie’s lives, to lend a helping hand when needed, and to just enjoy each one of them as the people that God created and placed in our hearts and lives as our own.  I am thankful for our annual family gathering at Park Place, where we will visit with Tim’s siblings and their families … and my favorite part, his mother … my dear mother-in-law.  The day will be full and over flowing!  The rest of the weekend will be fun as we shop, prepare for the upcoming Christmas season, and just enjoy being with each other…obviously missing Ryan and Brittany, as they are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with Brittany’s family who traveled to be with them in Seattle.

It would take more time than I have this morning to make a list of things I’m thankful for.  Most likely, my list wouldn’t be too different than yours.  We would all have names of family members, friends, circumstances, places, … all the good things that make life what it is.  So instead, on this day-before Thanksgiving Day (not quite Eve) I will simply extend my heart felt prayer that you and yours will join me in having a blessed holiday weekend, set aside to thank God for His mercies in our lives.  For His forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation.  And above all, for Jesus.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Until next time,
Debbie

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

 

Mike and Norma

25 Oct

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86:3-4

 

We meet all kinds of people throughout our lives.  Some are brief acquaintances while others leave lasting impressions on our hearts.  We are truly blessed to say that we have several that fit into that category, for we have many cherished friendships.  One such couple is Mike and Norma.

The Johnsons walked into our lives, and back out rather abruptly the first time we met … the day our family drove onto the campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College in late July of 1997.  They had been helping to keep Work and Witness teams busy, and no doubt entertained, until the new W&W Coordinators arrived in Albuquerque.  Once the big yellow truck pulled up, and the weary travelers from Pennsylvania crawled out, introductions were made, handshakes were exchanged, and no doubt Mike greeted us with his life-time motto, “I’m filled with the joy of living!”  Gracious to have helped out in the pinch, Mike and Norma were anxious to get back into their vehicle and head to their next missions assignment.

Mike with Ryan and Kim
Christmas 2000

The next few months were busy as we hosted several Work and Witness teams, and before we knew it, the Christmas season was upon us … as was the arrival of Mike and Norma Johnson.  Faithfully, every December, Mike worked along side of Tim while Norma spent the entire month of December sorting through donated items and putting together a large gift bag full of Christmas presents for every student of Nazarene Indian Bible College and each member of their family.  Including several years before we were on staff, Mike and Norma served NIBC for a total of 13 Christmases.  In time, as the educational structure of the Bible College changed, their own personal mission remained the same as they continued to volunteer their time and efforts towards the on-going ministry in Albuquerque.  As the history books now recite, the campus was sold and everyone who once called NIBC home disbursed and moved elsewhere.

Apparently, the lasting impressions were also made on their hearts, as the Johnsons found their way to the hills of southeastern Indiana where we were then on staff at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center.  It was so good to catch back up with our friends and to once again visit on the front porch swing that Mikie had made for me several years before.

The ladies … Carol, me and Norma

Having their home base located in Hondo, Texas for over 10 years, we wanted to visit our friends in their world, but the distance and our own responsibilities prevented that from happening.  This past winter, however, they made the decision to finally retire and move back up to their old hometown in northern Ohio.  Excited that a 6 hour weekend jaunt was feasible, we began making plans for a road trip.

Our mid-October drive through the mountains of western Pennsylvania into the northern hills of Ohio provided a most colorful canvas for our trip.  It was a blessing to finally meet family members and put faces to the names we have heard so much about through the years!  Mike and Norma’s home, their keepsakes, their community, church, and even Miss Kitti was a joy to share with them this past weekend.  It was also a special treat to visit with another NIBC family member, Carol Hileman.  What fun we had at Sunday dinner!

Mike and Norma’s love and dedication for God has been expressed by their love and care for people.  While raising their boys, they were caretakers at a Holiness campground for 22 years.  They later traveled all over the country, serving in various ministries, including Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque and a Navajo mission in Rough Rock, Arizona.  Endless stories, a song thrown in here and there, and countless moments of laughter and enjoyment filled our hearts as we visited.

Mike and Norma

Now, I’m sure that most of you do not know Mike and Norma.  But I do imagine you have at least one Mike and Norma in your life.  Is there someone or a couple, age not important, who has walked across your heart, leaving imprints of love?  Time and circumstances have brought changes to visits, but relationships remain strong.  Although you do not share the same name or blood line, you know that you are still family.  I know that I am a better person today for knowing and loving Mike and Norma.  Won’t you join me today in thanking God for such people?  We just spent an entire weekend with ours … why don’t you call yours or go visit them.  You will be glad you did!  You will be “filled with the joy of living!!”

Until next time,
Debbie

        I have found a wondrous Savior, Jesus Christ, The Soul’s Delight
        Ev’ry blessing of His favor Fills my heart with hope so bright
        Jesus is the Joy of Living, He’s the King of Life to me;
        Unto Him my all I’m giving, His forevermore to be.
        I will do what He commands me, Anywhere He leads I’ll go;
      Jesus is the Joy of Living, He’s the dearest Friend I know.

Demoted

21 Sep

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me,
if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me
–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24

As I look back over the decades of my life, there has been one Constant.  God has always been there.  God has always been tugging at my heart, seeking after me, and longing for me to return His love.  I also realize that all my relationships through life have been interlaced and intermingled through God’s love.  It’s just who I am and have always been.  In fact, a gal several years ago got all irritated with me and said she wanted to be my friend without all the ‘God stuff’.  I chuckled and quickly told her that there is no separating God out of who I am, for then it wouldn’t be me anymore.

Family Christmas Photo
Albuquerque, NM ~ 1997

Ministry has always kept me very busy… missions, women’s ministry, music, Sunday School, etc  ~  with an increased acceleration through the years.  When our family responded to the call of God on our lives in 1997 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to be Work & Witness Coordinators for Nazarene Indian Bible College, our ministry became our job.  Our job was our ministry.  And with the wardrobe of ministry, one never just wears one hat.  Within a short period of time, Tim and I were both sporting several hats, some worn at the same time as others.  But we knew God called us, and we knew He was faithful to help us keep our hats on straight.  In time, God’s call took on a different look, involved more people and additional responsibility, but His mission to win the lost remained priority.  As what often happens when life becomes demanding, exhausting, and our world is shaken up by our circumstances, what is real stands firm while the rest sloshes out and makes a mess.  During this time of my life, scripture grew more dear to my heart, my personal prayer time became my lifeline, and I dug in even deeper as Jesus truly became my Tower of Refuge and Strength.

Lunch with my mom and brothers ~ 2008

I’m a firm believer that God never wastes anything … and so He once again took a broken vessel and restored it for His use.  The next 4 years placed us right where God knew we needed to be…for such a time as this.  Employment at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center was the ministry behind each paycheck, but my heart longed to be personally involved with people and to shine a light for Jesus. God honored my desire and through the lives of my co-workers and a few other friends, a new ministry was born.  Friendship, encouragement, and accountability were priority to our gatherings, and Jesus was always the Center.  What began as Tasty Tuesday evolved into Munchy Monday … and is still an active group of ladies who encourage one another, love each other, and love Jesus.  Not only was it the season for a brand new ministry, but after many years of living far away from my mother, I then was close enough to travel the hour and a half to see her on a regular basis.  I was there when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and radiation treatments.  I was there during the recuperation period following her fall and shattered elbow.  Although it was short-lived, my time with my mother was a blessing beyond words.

There came a time when we knew that our assignment at Higher Ground was inevitably coming to an end.  Once again, I had to envelop my heart in several layers of bubble wrap as we packed up all of our belongings and moved to south central Pennsylvania … another move, another location, another restart.  With no ministry involvement in the existence of our everyday, this change has been very different, and often difficult for my heart.  Finding a job with the hours I wanted to work was a challenge.  The church we attend is a lighthouse in its area, but we travel quite a distance to get there, which has not allowed us to become part of the fabric of this fellowship.  The only friends we have made are those we work with or in some way associated with our jobs.  As the months have slipped by and it has now been 2 years since we arrived, I have often found myself on my knees, questioning God, pointing out the many miles that separate me from all of my friends and family, reminding Him of the baggage we brought here with us that is still not completely unpacked, and truly feeling demoted.  The ache in my heart for the lost is still as strong as it was in Albuquerque.  My desire is to be a light for Jesus, but I have often felt as though I’ve been stuffed in a dark corner of Pennsylvania with no ministry, no outlet, and no joy.

One bleak day a few months ago, I was talking to one of my friends … Sigh!  Yes, one that I left behind in Ohio.  It’s not too often that I get whiney and begin to pass out party hats to my own self-pity party, but that day I had, and I invited Linda to join me.  Like a good friend, she listened, but like a true and committed friend, she also held me accountable.  Her words to me were God directed as they lassoed me out of the dark clouds and brought me back to reality … God’s reality.  She began to point out the obvious ~ our greatest blessing in living here … our close proximity to our daughter and her precious family.  Being an intricate part in the lives of Kim and Troy, Cole, and now Baby Lillie, is a gift from God’s own hand … the joy, the responsibility, the thrill, and the honor of not only being parents, but Mimi and Papaw.  In the same breath, although this move closer to the east coast took us that much further away from the west coast and Ryan, it offers more opportunity for our entire family to be together more often in the same place.  I’m not sure what else Linda said to me, but her accountability catapulted me into my devotions the following morning. I told God that I was going to begin each day from here on out, expecting to find a passage of scripture that was mine.  I was determined and committed to not leave my place of morning worship without a message from God to my own heart.  Every day since, with very few exceptions, I have done just that.  A couple days following that near fatal pity party, I believe God personally hand-picked a few verses for me that sums up my current ministry…

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care,
watching over them—not because you must,
but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;
not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;
 
not lording it over those entrusted to you,
but being examples to the flock. 
And when the Chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.
1 Peter 5:2-4

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,
“Do you love me?”

He said, “Lord, you know all things;
you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
John 21:15-17

My children and Me ~ July 2012

My primary roles as wife, mother, Mimi, and daughter are ever before me, as these relationships represent the core of my world right now.  My current employment is one of choice, enabling me the time away from the office to be available to help others when and where needed.  And let’s be honest … at this stage of my life, I truly have no authority to correct or discipline, except for Mimi’s little loves.  Most of my influence right now is by example.  That example must have a solid foundation, rooted and grounded deep, so when the winds of life begin to blow around me and those in my world, I can stand firm with confidence in Jesus.  And in that confidence, I can stay on my knees for my family, seeking God on their behalf.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

I have thought a lot about this topic of being demoted, asking God a lot of questions, seeking Him, reading His heart, listening to Him.  In the stillness of His whisper the other day, instead of demoted, I heard the word promoted.  Promoted.  Me?   Scripture does say in Matthew …

And everyone who has left houses
or brothers or sisters or father or mother
or children or fields for my sake
will receive a hundred times as much
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last,
and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19:29-30

  

As I read the devotional for Sept 19th in Streams in the Desert, I had already underlined this paragraph a few years ago …

 “Pruning seems to be destroying the vine,
the gardener appears to be cutting it all away;
but he looks on into the future and KNOWS that the final outcome
will be the enrichment of its life and greater abundance of fruit.”

It seems that I have been pruned and it appears that much has been cut away …

I do know and understand that a totally surrendered heart relinquishes all rights and claims, empties soul of self, and then invites the Holy Spirit to fill and take up residence.   Jesus wants to take my perspective of being demoted, and ultimately turn it into a promotion.

Just over 10 years ago at a ladies’ retreat in New Mexico, this song gripped the very core of who I was at that moment in my life … and the message still echoes the cry of my heart today …

“Everything I am, all I’ve done, and all I’ve known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all”

Click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THHu5QPjB_4
to hear I Surrender All … by Clay Crosse
(After listening/watching the video, simply click on the BACK arrow in the left corner to come back to the blog)

Won’t you join me today in allowing what might seem to be a demotion in life ~ whether it be relational, employment, circumstances, physical, spiritual … trusting God with all the details of the heart?  As we relinquish and surrender, Jesus becomes our Promotion.

Until next time,
Debbie

I Surrender All lyrics
Songwriters: Hamm Regie Glenn; Moffitt David E

I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I’ve constructed by the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand

In the middle of the battle I believe I’ve finally found
I’ll never know the thrill of victory till I’m willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I’m laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain

So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly lay down
I surrender all the triumph for it’s only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
Well I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

Everything I am, all I’ve done, and all I’ve known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all

I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
That all my kingdoms fall, that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

Labor Day Mini-Vaca

7 Sep

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42

There were several options floating around as possible destinations for the final long weekend of the summer … and we chose the one that combined a few of our favorite things, and topped it off with a visit to Toms River, New Jersey.

Having taken two weekend trips already to the beach this summer, we put the car on auto pilot and headed the 3 hours east to the sandy shores of New Jersey.  Our early morning arrival at the board walk secured us a front-row parking spot and a short distance to walk to the ocean with our strategically packed bags, beach umbrella and sand chairs.  Since the day was still young and only a handful of seasonal guests were already set up, we claimed our spot at the water’s edge and were in awe at the calmness of the sea.  It looked more like a lake than an ocean that continually slipped further and further away as the tide went out.  We pulled the umbrella and dragged the chairs down closer to the surf a couple times, and by afternoon, children were giggling, older kids were skim boarding, and people of all ages were wading out to where the waves were finally picking up some momentum and adding some splash to the day.  That is usually where Tim will be found.  He loves to go out as far as he can in the water and still barely touch … and just roll with the flow.  Literally.  When he’s not bobbing up and down in the waves, he’s back up on the sand taking a nap in the sunshine.  For me, the act of sitting and doing nothing is very foreign to my normal daily routine, but at the beach, it’s acceptable and embraced…what luxury!!  So, I enjoy watching people and sometimes reading.  After a full day in the sun and surf, a quick clean-up and change takes place in the bath house, followed by a delicious dinner at our favorite local DDD spot (Diners, Drive-in and Dives) and a leisurely evening drive south to find some friends of ours.

Toms River, New Jersey has been a special place in my heart ever since 1996 when a pastor friend of ours accompanied Hershey Nazarene Church on a Work & Witness trip to Albuquerque, NM.  In the next 4 years, Pastor Del returned to Nazarene  Indian Bible College a few times with teams from his own congregation, this time working with our family as the host Work & Witness coordinators and giving us the privilege of getting to know all those fine folks from New Jersey.  Through the years, a connection has remained in tact due to the creative pens of my friend and I.  Del Bieber can tell a story like no other and has captured my attention every time he publishes a new devotional.

Del and Patsy Bieber

Having received an invitation to stay at their home during one of our weekend jaunts to the shore, Tim and I graciously accepted and found our way last weekend to the parsonage of Del and Patsy Bieber.  It did my heart so much good to simply sit and mutually share about life, family, health, prayer concerns and the memories that originated the friendship.  I love to hear missionaries share their stories, feeling every fiber and thread of their narrative … and I feel much the same way toward Pastor Del.  He’s been a missionary to the people in his world for more than three decades, and he also has stories that I could sit and listen to for hours!  Pastor Del is not only a pastor, he is an avid hunter, a sportsman, a photographer, a writer, a narrator, a PopPop, father, husband, and friend.

Sunday morning was a highlight for me as I always anticipate God’s personal and intimate communication with me when I worship…our ‘secret’ vocabulary, if you will.  I’m one that enjoys the newer songs of today … popular praise and worship, but my heart is truly lifted to another level of worship as I’m carried back to my roots when I join a congregation to sing a familiar hymn.  Even though I can recite every written word as I harmonize to When We All Get to Heaven and I Will Serve Thee, the fact that I no longer sing them very often just magnifies the message of these old-time favorites.  In a warm embrace of God’s love to my soul, the service was closed with an extra special hymn that I remember all so well … gathered around the piano with two dear friends and singing from the depths of our hearts …

Sometimes the day seems long, Our trials hard to bear.
We´re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear to catch his bride away!
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day!

CHORUS:
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Mr. Fox

It WILL be worth it all … but until that day when we do see Jesus, won’t you join me as I follow the example of Pastor Del in being a missionary to my world?  Whether there is a certificate of ordination on the study wall, several pounds of deer bologna in the freezer, a beautiful stuffed critter by the name of Mr. Fox in the corner of the living room, or Spike, a lively spider who eats mosquitos by the porch light at the back door, in our unique and special ways, let’s do all we can do to be Jesus to the people in our lives every day.

Until next time,
Debbie

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
 In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

PS  –  I would highly recommend a listen to Pastor Del’s sermon from this past Sunday, Sept 2.  It is not yet posted on the church’s website, but check back from time to time until you see it listed.  It’s part 2 to “You Ran Well”.  You will enjoy it!
http://www.tomsrivernaz.com/

Also, Pastor Del writes and then narrates a devotional … Enjoy his creativity and his love for nature, his family, and life.
http://www.jerseypilgrim.com/