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Our Extra Day!

29 Feb

 

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

Because 2016 is Leap Year, today is the last day of February instead of yesterday! Wikipedia gives a great explanation as to why this extra day is inserted into our calendars every four years, but somehow I feel a great responsibility to not waste this gift of 24 hours! Although it is still Monday and I am still expected to go to work today, I want to do so with my heart filled with the joy of living!!

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

It is a good day to think about the passing of winter and the arrival of spring! I don’t know about you, but I always anticipate each change of season. I look forward to wearing sweaters, boots and scarves in the winter, and I always enjoy a good snow storm or two! But by the time March begins, I’m ready to put away the snow blower and hot cocoa and swap them for a motorcycle and Cherry Coke!

The Blizzard of 2016 did make headlines for the east coast last month, dumping between 2 and 3 feet of snow throughout our local area of south central Pennsylvania. Such wide-spread and consistent depth of coverage closed York City and County government offices for two business days!   Yes please and thank you!!

Our kiddos, just south of Baltimore, received their own Blizzard of 2016, so there was no great appeal to travel north to Papaw and Mimi’s house to go snow sledding. As the neighbors all around us partied in the snow with their little ones, our home remained quiet and the snow-covered yard remained untouched.

Fun Snow Day!!

Fun Snow Day!!

Within a week or so, temperatures rose and the rains fell, melting away some of our huge drifts of snow. But it was still winter. The rain soon became snow again and began to add to the piles once more. Valentine’s Day weekend brought love to our house and so much fun in the snow!   Bright sunshine and warm snow suits kept everyone bundled and warm as our family played and laughed and enjoyed winter and love together on that Valentine’s Day.

Now with the official start of spring being literally three weeks away, I can use this extra day to think happy thoughts about melting snow piles and warming temperatures, beautiful spring flowers and motorcycle rides instead of snow sleds! With the change of seasons, it’s also time to begin to think about seeds and planting a new garden.

 He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven
and crops in their seasons;
He provides you with plenty of food
and fills your hearts with joy.
Acts 14:17

It is a great day to pray! My prayer journal is daily filled with names of people I know who need Jesus. Cancers, relationships, loss of loved ones, drug and alcohol addictions, spiritual needs, health concerns, financial crises, and the list goes on and on each day.

I always thank God for all of you and
continually mention you in my prayers.
I Thessalonians 1:2

 What a fabulous day to encourage someone … or two! A helpful hand, a simple smile, a Facebook post, a quick text or even a longer email can all warm a heart, add joy to another’s day and lighten the heavy load of a burdened soul.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart
and united in love,
so that they may have the full riches
of complete understanding,
in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.
Colossians 2:2

 Since this bonus day is still full of responsibility and duty, I must get ready to start my day! Let’s make the most of this gift, February 29th! I plan to do something that will bring joy, hope, love and encouragement to others today … and everyday!  Won’t you join me?

Until next time,
Debbie

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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

TWO ~ Minnie Mouse Birthday

2 May

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

 

Lillianne Hope

Lillianne Hope

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

 

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

 

Lillie and her microphone

Lillie and her microphone

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

 

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

 

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

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

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

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

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

 

 

Happy New Year from the Van Hooks!

1 Jan

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

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

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

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

 

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

 

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

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

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

The Arndt Family

The Arndt Family

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

Ryan and Brittany   at a friend's wedding

Ryan and Brittany
at a friend’s wedding

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

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

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

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

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

Please feel welcomed to be a regular follower of my blog at
https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

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For those of you who receive my blog via email,
check out the new photos on the actual website at the above address.

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Seattle? Yes, Please!

27 Sep

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
when we pray for you … the faith and love that spring
from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that
you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel
that has come to you.
Colossians 1:1-6

There it is! As I peered out my window at the endless sea of clouds, I saw it! My heart began to stir with excitement as I saw my first glimpse of the awesome and majestic 14,411 foot Mt. Rainier … for that meant my son and his world was within moments of my grasp! Not literally moments, of course, but after a 5 hour flight, it was as good as moments!!

Me and Brittany at The Dish Cafe

Me and Brittany at The Dish Cafe

There she is! After gathering our few items we carried onto the plane and made our necessary stops, we wound our way through the concourse of the SeaTac airport to find the one person who knew us and was happy to see us! Brittany’s bright smile and warm hugs melted my heart as she greeted us, posed for pictures with the disheveled travelers, and graciously chauffeured us to a quaint little local spot for breakfast. With full tummies and contented hearts, we relaxed in the cuteness and comfort of Ryan and Brittany’s apartment, chatting non stop and catching up about life.

Group family photo!!

Group family photo!!


There he is! One last shift of work before taking off several days to spend with his parents, I greeted Ryan at the door when he came home a few hours after we arrived. Words will never be able to sufficiently express my heart when that boy of mine wraps me in his arms. It had been over four long months since we were together, so all of a sudden, my world was beyond happy. That first Saturday was completed with a trip to the theater to see Star Trek, Golden Gardens beach, and a big ginormous bowl of homemade guacamole and chips!

We were greeted with bright sunshine and blue sky as we walked over to Caffé Vita for our Sunday morning brew. Coffee and cinnamon rolls jumpstarted our day that then began with worship at Aurora Church of the Nazarene, followed by an afternoon stroll through the Fremont Sunday street market. We then came back, fired up the grill and enjoyed a delicious grilled salmon dinner … family prepared and devoured!!

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Next on our trip itinerary was a 3-hour drive down to Portland, Oregon. Leaving Brittany behind to work, the three of us packed lightly on Monday morning and piled into Ryan’s BMW and headed south. Tim had a few eateries on our to-eat-at list with the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as his inspiration. The first destination on the GPS was breakfast at Pine State Biscuits, where we ate enough food to feed an army! We then drove along the Columbia River to the east, where we stopped to look at several scenic views and waterfalls. The two favorite stops were Wahkeena and Multnomah falls – both breathtaking in their own way. So much so that this Mommy/Mimi heart had to share it all with her loves … thanks to my son who makes sure his mom stays technologically savvy, my iphone5 will ‘facetime’ from anywhere! So as Papaw, Uncle RyRy, and Mimi stood on the bridge as close as the railings would allow, Cole got to see and hear what we were experiencing ~ and he said “Wow, Mimi! A waterfall!!” With 2,783 miles between us, my heart was still tightly wrapped around that little boy, his sister and his parents!!

The Sanchez Family

The Sanchez Family

There they are! Pastor Steve and Jennifer looked the same, except for the two little rug rats they had along with them!! Who would’ve thought?? The last time we saw Jen and Steve was when we left Albuquerque in 2006. No murmurings of little kids were ever spoken and now they have two fine little boys, Ezra (4) and Silas (2). The Sanchez family moved in July where they now pastor the Mollola Nazarene Church. We met them at our 2nd Triple D stop, Podnah’s Pit BBQ, where the food was yummy and the fellowship was wonderful! Definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

CAR2GO

CAR2GO

Our second day in Portland was packed full of tasty treats and a lot of walking! The walking was good since there were so many tasty treats!! Our 3rd DDD stop at Arleta’s Library and Bakery Café offered us a unique and delish breakfast of sweet potato biscuits and gravy along with sweet potato hash browns. We meandered around downtown Portland, checking out Powell’s Book store, the Willamette River, Stumptown Coffee, and the food trucks! Oh … and the countless CAR2GO cars – the little ‘smart’ cars that people can drive for $14 an hour or $73 a day – “Experience spontaneity on wheels: car2go makes transportation flexible. Get in and out wherever you like. Drive as long and as often as you want.” I found them quite fascinating!! After our full day of travels by foot and by car, we arrived safely back in Seattle just in time to take Brittany to dinner and ice cream with us. It was good to be back home!

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Seattle from the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center

Seattle from the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center

Wednesday was a local day of fun – Ryan spent the day with us as we made the traditional walk through Pike Place Market – downtown Seattle. We stopped at our favorite places for crumpets, pizza, cheese, pepper jelly samples, and the original Starbucks – although we didn’t partake there due to the long line. We then walked several blocks to the Columbia Center building, where we went up to the 73rd Sky View Observatory floor. Awesome! Twice as high as the Space Needle for ½ the cost!! An amazing view of Seattle and the surrounding areas in every direction! Mimi once again shared the moment with Cole, who quickly asked if I could show him trains from up there! Dinner that evening was a special treat as we checked out Lil’ Woody’s, a hamburger joint that served the “New Mexican”, smothered with Hatch green chile! Needless to say, we were happy and quite full when we left! Ultimate Frisbee was our evening entertainment, as we watched Ryan and friends play a couple games under the lights in a nearby sports field.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

We woke to our first and only rainy day on Thursday, so Ryan decided to take us for a drive. As we left Seattle, we crossed over floating bridges as we headed east through the Snoqualmie pass toward Spokane. The further we drove, the less it was raining, so once the skies cleared and the sun was shining, we stopped to see the Snoqualmie waterfalls. We really didn’t plan this trip around seeing waterfalls … it just happened that way! Back to Seattle with a quick snack from Paseo Caribbean while we watched the second part of the Batman Trilogy, followed with a late evening dinner at our 4th Triple D stop. Bizzarro Italian Café is literally within walking distance of Ryan and Brittany’s place … very good food!

Lighthouse in West Vancouver, BC, Canada

Lighthouse in West Vancouver, BC, Canada

The next two days took me and Tim up to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With Caffé Vita in hand, we borrowed Ryan’s car and drove two hours north to cross the border with our new passcards. Friday kept us in the city, experiencing new sites, eating great food, walking several miles, taking lots of pictures, and simply enjoying the time together. We crossed the bridge Saturday morning to enter North and then West Vancouver where we hiked through rain forests, saw twin waterfalls, then visited Lighthouse Park along the Salish Sea. We arrived back in Seattle in time for a grilled steak dinner and the sweet company of our two left coast kids. It was our final evening together before flying home the next day.

There it is! One thing is for certain … I will always see Mt. Rainier as I fly into Seattle and I will always see it as I fly out. As we boarded the plane on that bright Sunday afternoon, the clouds had cleared, allowing me to once again catch my breath as its massive presence captured my attention.

It was truly a blessing to be in Seattle for vacation. God is a gracious and giving God, full of prevenient grace, protection, answered prayers, faithfulness, and His gifts of family!! It was a real gift to share time, good food, great memories, and lots of love with Ryan and Brittany. I can only imagine that someday, as I enter into Heaven, instead of the majesty of Mt. Rainier, there will be the majesty of Jesus Himself that catches my breath with His presence … as I long to hear Him say “There you are! Welcome home!”

Won’t you join me today in looking forward to that day? Let’s accept God’s gifts of love and forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation, family and life. His gifts of divine appointments and His prevenient grace that can altar the course of eternity!

Until next time,
Debbie

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped
praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order
that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being
strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may
have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom
of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us
into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness
of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures that I recently posted on Facebook, feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not!! Enjoy!!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201126682463964.1073741837.1076414018&type=1&l=f2e1a3712a

Sun, Surf and Sand

2 Aug

  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
T
hey would outnumber the
grains of sand.
Psalm 139:17-18

 

Momma with the little people

Momma with the little people

The after-hours beach crowd was small as the cool of the evening settled upon the sandy shore. The excited anticipation of us big people was at its height after our late afternoon drive through the Pennsylvania countryside to the coastline of New   Jersey.  After parking along the brand new boardwalk, we took two little people to the water’s edge for the first time this season. Not knowing how young feet and tiny toes would take to the gritty sand, we all took off our shoes and walked into the incoming tide.  As the sun was setting in the west, it didn’t take long at all for a little boy to begin running back and forth in the surf, thrilled to finally be at the beach, even if for just a short time.  His sister was not as big of a fan of the sand, but was fascinated by the splash of the salty sea and the spray that made her lips taste most interesting.   There’s truly nothing like watching the sparkle and joy in the eyes of your own little people.  The next two days were going to be a lot of fun!

Dad and kiddos running in the surf

Dad and kiddos running in the surf

Having started when Cole Michael was 2 years old, an annual summer trip to the beach has become tradition. Whether the stay is 4-5 days or just a simple overnight weekend, it has been enjoyable to be part of his experiences and memories.  Of course, the gazillion pictures that I take … from every angle possible to capture every expression given … helps to keep those memories alive.  This year was no exception as we once again set up the beach tent and then accessorized our spot in the sand with chairs, sand castle molds, buckets and shovels, diggers, and dump trucks.  Adding to the fun this year was a very mobile Lillianne.  Wearing the smallest sand shoes I’ve ever seen, Little Miss strutted around with a confidence all of her own.  Her eyes were bright with the excitement of her independence, very limited as it truly was, but nonetheless, she walked through the sand and down into the water … yes, with assistance … and loved every splash, every spray, and every moment in the salty sea.

Daddy and Lillianne

Daddy and Lillianne

Family fun!!

Family fun!!

Cole with this sand castles

Cole with this sand castles

The demolition digger

The demolition digger

Sand castles were constructed by Arndt and Son, then quickly destroyed by Cole Demolitions.  A very contented Lillie Lou sat nearby in her yellow tutu swimsuit, shovel in hand and slinging sand in every direction.  As the noonday sun started its downward descent, a very gritty little girl began to get sleepy.  A quick naked douse in the ocean waves made for a make-shift bathtub, followed by a silky layer of baby powder, a bottle of her favorite beverage (milk) and a warm towel around her tired body … and we soon had a napping 15 month old.  We all took turns as the guardian on duty, while the others continued to play in the sun, sand, and surf with Cole.  By day’s end, happy hearts and tired bodies quickly fell asleep … no doubt dreaming of another fun day at the shore.

Flying kites

Flying kites

Morning brew from a local coffee shop jump started our new day … and within moments, kites were flying overhead and the little people were squealing with excitement.  It wasn’t long, however, before an overcast sky blocked the brilliance of the sun, but a little rain shower couldn’t dampen the activities of the day.  Of course the sun began to shine again as we were picking up sand toys and packing away our beach abode.  After dinner, there was a 3 hour journey back to Mimi and Papaw’s house where baths were taken and snacks were given out freely … and the final leg of the return trip rocked the little ones to sleep.

Silly Lillie Lou!

Silly Lillie Lou!

Lillie LOVES the ocean!

Lillie LOVES the ocean!

As we all sat around the lunch table late Friday afternoon, moments before heading to the shore for our weekend getaway, Cole asked the blessing for our food.  At the end of his usual prayer, he added a spontaneous tag of his own, “and thank You for the beach!”   This little person’s heart-felt prayer was a reminder to us all that God cares about all the details in our lives.

We are blessed to live near this young family … to share in the fun times of traditions, memories, and life experiences.  Won’t you join me in doing the same with those around you?  Whether it be family, friends, or even co-workers, let’s make the most of every moment, realizing that God is the Giver of all good things.

Until next time,
Debbie

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for He is our God
and we are the people of His pasture,
the flock under His care.
Psalm 95:1-7

 

Green Chile

24 Aug

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6

While living in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 9 years, we quickly learned that the state colors were red and green … along with the state question “Red or green?”  Chile, that is.

It also didn’t take very long for us to become quite the fans of this staple ingredient, which was served in, on, or beside most every dish served in the Land of Enchantment.

As Work and Witness coordinators for the Nazarene Indian Bible College for those years, we picked up on several fun facts to share with our visiting team members, all the while trying to educate them on the popularity, the heat, and the addictive qualities of the chile.

Did you know that one medium green chile has the same amount of Vitamin C as 6 oranges?  Also, more people consume green/red chile in the state of New Mexico than all of the other states combined.

For those of us who were temporary transplants, but acquired the appreciation and anticipation of its flavorful addition to our meals, we do what we can to keep a stock of chiles on hand.  One confirmation that our move from Albuquerque to the Cincinnati area was God ordained was the fact that an international market by the name of Jungle Jim’s was no less than ½ hour away from our home!  They sold frozen tubs of Bueno roasted green chiles, processed in Albuquerque – mild, medium, hot, and extra hot, so we kept our freezer well stocked.  Since we now live in Pennsylvania, a dear friend of ours in Cincinnati fills her cooler full of our ‘hot’ commodity and it makes for a perfect excuse to get to see her and other friends while visiting our family in Indiana.   Green chile chicken enchiladas and breakfast burritos smothered in green chile have both remained regular menu items for our family.

Roasting our green chile

A week ago today, we received a special 12 pound care package full of fresh Hatch green chile from Albuquerque.  The gift giver was our son who had spent 4 days visiting with his high school buddies, playing ultimate Frisbee, making the rounds at his favorite restaurants, and driving by the old campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College.  Before leaving town and heading back to Seattle, he sent us a picture of 2 burlap bags full of fresh chile, captioned with the question “How can I get you one of these?”  We began scheming and Ryan ended up making a quick trip to the post office nearest the airport where he filled a box for priority mail with his treasures … knowing delivery would be 2-3 days.  Sure enough, by Friday evening, our home was filled with the unique aroma of roasted green chile ~ our method was crude, but simple and efficient.  Following an award-winning recipe from an Albuquerque web-site, we treated ourselves to chili rellenos for dinner.   The following day we completed the task of roasting the remaining 11 pounds of chile and storing them away into the freezer … which caused visions and dreams of another shipment… or maybe even a visit of our own back to the place, the people, and the food that we left behind.

Scripture talks about hungering and thirsting after righteousness  ~  To satisfy our own personal hunger and thirst, Tim and I have gone to great efforts this summer to store away fresh fruit and veggies in the freezer, along with some meats and now green chile.  Makes me think about how much effort is put forth to hunger and thirst after Jesus.  Won’t you join me in seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, with a real hunger and a real thirst for Him?

Until next time,
Debbie

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

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