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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

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Silent Sweet Germs

25 Jan

Put on the full armor of God
so that you can take your stand
against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:11 

 No such thing, huh?  I didn’t think so either, until I woke up the other night miserable ~ tossing and turning … my stomach, that is.  An early morning sudden run to the bathroom (pun intended) was the first of many, including body aches, feverish chills, and an extreme lack of energy.  I did have enough oomph about me to try to analyze where this mess came from.  I got a flu shot, and I haven’t been around anyone that has had the stomach bug … or so I thought.

Cole and Lillianne at Papaw and Mimi's house

Cole and Lillianne at Papaw and Mimi’s house

Last weekend was a delightful one as Mimi and Papaw’s house was a lively place, full of little people activity, noise, and love … Cole and Lillianne came for a couple overnights, and oh what fun we had!  So much fun that Cole asked if we could come home with him and sleep over at his new house.  Sorry Bubbas … we both have to work the next day.  Little did I know what awaited me the next morning …

Miss Lillie pointing at you!

Miss Lillie pointing at you!

So, it is now Friday.  By now, we have come to the conclusion that our little stomach bug culprit was Miss Lillie.  She’s such a sweetheart, most always a very happy baby.  She is a very meticulously nosey child, with her pointy finger always out, wanting to poke around and look at things.  We find her quite irresistible … needing to often kiss that little pointy finger, along with her chubby cheeks, and giving her squishy hugs.  Once again … little did we know what was brewing on the inside of this precious child while she was being so irresistible. The convincing proof was some horrific smelly dirty diapers on the last day she was with us, along with some unusually fussy moments.  By then, it was too late.  Besides, how did we know?  Lillie is constantly cutting teeth, having 4 already, and this growth process sometimes causes such symptoms as well.  We never dreamed that she was silently and ever so sweetly carrying around stomach flu bug germs.

So, I know for a fact, that germs can be silent and sweet.  So does Lillie’s entire family, including the dog.  Momma believes that she and Lillie have actually had it twice, since they both felt better for about 2 days then began all over again with the miserable routine.  Bless their hearts!   I’m sure Kim is continually spraying the house with Lysol, trying to get that ol’ bug out of there!   She’s probably also thinking about putting little face masks on her little loves until the flu season is past just to add more protection to their flu shots.    Makes me think about the scripture in Ephesians about putting on our armor …

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God
so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

 

As the verse above says, our real struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against Satan himself.  For this reason, we do need to stay fully clad in the armor of God ~ at all times!  Just like Lillie with her little finger, sometimes Satan very meticulously will point us out and try to draw us away very quietly and ‘harmlessly’ until all of a sudden we realize we’ve been duped.  Our armor was not on tight, we were missing a piece, or we did not stay alert to the schemes of Satan.

 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled
around your waist, with the breastplate
of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness
that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the
flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the
sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert
and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:14-18

 

Won’t you join me in the midst of this extremely contagious flu season, to not only often wash our hands and take extra vitamin C, keep the doctor’s phone number handy, but continue to kiss and hug the babies.  All the while, Satan is roaming to and fro seeking who he may devour … let’s keep our full armor on, properly in place, polished, and ready for the spiritual battles we face.

 Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.

Until next time,
Debbie

P.S.  If you are reading this from the automatic e-mail you received from Morsels of Mercy, please click here https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com/ to go to the actual website and check out all of the extra family photos!

Red Sea, Gall Bladder & a Hurricane

9 Nov

You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

 

The offer to buy a companion ticket expired Aug 30.  In true form, my daughter and I made our decision that final day, purchasing two airline tickets to Indianapolis for the end of October.  Excited to introduce our new little one to extended family and friends, we were making it a ladies’ weekend away, since 6 month old Lillianne can fly free until she’s two years old.

Flying to Indy!

My mother did some strategizing of her own as she scheduled her foot surgery for nearly a month before our anticipated arrival.  Once Mom got settled following the procedure, all was well as she adjusted to hobbling around the house with her left foot encased in the boot.  After a couple weeks, I did begin to take notice that Mom sounded really tired and she often mentioned that there was discomfort in her abdomen that would come and go. Then just a week before our flight, it became very apparent that Mom was in a great deal of pain.  So those whose watch she is on, on a regular basis, took her to several doctor appointments and tests, coming to the conclusion that it was likely her gall bladder giving her fits, and that surgery was a great probability.  As Kim and I did our final packing for the trip, we switched clothing around for hospital and home instead of friends and family, restaurants, and church.

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine was going through difficult days when a Pastor friend called her out of the blue and asked what was going on.  God laid my friend on her heart, and she knew she needed to call and find out how she should be praying.  We were completely in awe of God’s hand in her life at that exact time, so we named that a “Parting of the Red Sea Moment”… a moment when only God could literally move the sea, or move someone to make a phone call, or to coordinate a much-needed surgery with a pre-scheduled visit.  My oldest brother, Jay, was on vacation all week … a week set aside to cut firewood for the upcoming winter … placed in the books at the Martinsville Post Office back in December 2011.  Tim’s sister, Amy, was cleared 2 weeks prior to have Friday off from work in order to spend the day with us girls and have lunch with her mom. Instead, she was able to sit with us at the hospital during my mom’s surgery, bringing us lunch, Mountain Dew, and lots of laughs!!  God was dishing out Red Sea Moments left and right!!

Mimi Wells with 4 of her 7 great grandkids
A’yden, Leyton, Jaxon, and Lillianne

What a privilege it was for me to be caregiver for those few days we were in town.  Before settling down to bed each night, Mom and I would pull up my Facebook on my  iPhone and read all of the sweet comments from dear friends and family … from 20 different states and 2 countries!!  It was like opening a mailbox full of get well cards, knowing that they had been thinking about her and praying for her!    Each day was a new day, gaining more strength, reclaiming her lost appetite, looking more rested, and feeling better.  Family times were extra special, as babies Lillianne, Jaxon, and Leyton (all second cousins, within 4 months in age) were introduced to one another, mommas and daddies compared stories, and Great Grandma (Mimi Wells) had several photo shoots with the children.

The first night we were at my Mom’s, my husband called and briefly mentioned something about a big storm coming up the east coastline … wanted to know if I had been listening to the weather.  I laughed at his silly question, thinking back over the extremely eventful day.  With surgery scheduled the following day, there was no thought about a storm and very little time to watch TV.  Sometime on Saturday, the realization hit us that our return flight into Baltimore could very possibly be cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.  We literally spent 2 hours on hold that night with the airline, waiting to ask questions about cancellations, refunds, and rescheduling.  If we made the decision to not fly, then it would cost us.  If we waited on the airline to cancel the flight, then we could rebook at no cost.  We decided to trust the airline … if they choose to fly, then we would be along for the ride. So, on the way to the airport, we received the recorded message that our flight into Baltimore was cancelled.  Knowing that our hubbies were back east, weathering the storm alone (Troy had Cole’s assistance!), we were disappointed but yet relieved to not be sharing the same air space as the hurricane.

The first unexpected day was pretty much a wash, literally, as we were glued to the Weather Channel, watching the reports of flooding, fire, wind, power outages, and extreme devastation.  Having friends and family in the path of the storm was unsettling, knowing that our own homes could be damaged or be without power for days.  But as the hours passed, so did the winds and rain.  Grateful reports from home came in that there was no loss of electricity and that all was ok.  The brunt of the damage was closer to the shore … our beloved New Jersey beaches, the gorgeous homes and communities where we visit each summer ~ much of it flooded and destroyed.

Our last day with Mimi Wells was a productive one as we were determined to turn off the Weather Channel and work on some projects that we had already started for her.  By the day’s end, we were all packed again, ready and hoping for an early morning flight back home.

I often write about my personal relationship with God … how He and I have a special vocabulary, and He literally speaks to me through His Word.  A couple of days before our scheduled flight to Indy, my morning devotions had me reading in Lamentations 3 …

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

 

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.

 

They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”

 

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:19-26

 

Those 2 days before our trip, I knew right then and there that it was Mom’s gall bladder … and that my God was telling me that He had it all under control.

A few days later, before getting out of bed the morning of Mom’s surgery, I snuggled up next to her, and I prayed for her.  I asked God to guide the doctors and nurses as they tended to her that day, and thanked Him for parting the Red Sea so I could be there with her.  Just minutes later as I was having my devotions, Our Daily Bread had me reading in Joshua 2.  My heart began to soar as I read verse 10, knowing that once again, my personal and loving God was shouting to me “I LOVE YOU DEBBIE!!”

We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea
for you when you came out of Egypt, …
…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below
.
Joshua 2:10 & 11

Four days later and wondering if it was really safe to be flying home, my devotions were in Psalm 32.  Verse 7 jumped out at me …

 You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Selah

With confidence, I shared the verse with Kim and reassured her that despite the storm and the unsettled weather still along the east coast, God was safely going to take us back home.  Thank you, Father, for loving us so!

That Wednesday was an uneventful day … Lillie travels like a pro, taking everything in stride … flirting and smiling at anyone who looks her way.  Once landed in Baltimore, her eyes sparkled even brighter as her big brother held her hand all the way home.

Since we’ve been back home, Mom has gotten the pin out of her toe and is slowing making progress in getting out and walking without the protective boot.  Her small incisions from the gall bladder surgery are healing and she is regaining strength and hopefully putting some meat back on her frail little body.  I’m so looking forward to spending more time with her over the Christmas holiday … every moment with my momma is a precious moment!

Our hearts are still hurting for those still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  Tim’s youngest sister and her family live on Long Island, just 4 blocks away from having lost everything.  Their everyday routines have been disrupted as the simple things like gas, groceries, and errands are no longer simple.  Our pastor friends, Del and Patsy Bieber in Tom’s River, New Jersey report that Samaritan’s Purse has set up headquarters in their parking lot, and that their church is very involved in the care of people in their area.

As we all think back over the events of the last few weeks, including the election just a few days ago, won’t you join me in continuing to pray for people everywhere whose very existence has been ravaged by the storms of life?  God wants to wrap His arms of Love, Mercy, and Hope around each of us … not just in His Red Sea Moments, but all the time.

Until next time,
Debbie

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

** The header photo was taken at Avon-by-the Sea, New Jersey … August 5, 2012.

The Same Air

15 Jun

You will guard him and keep him in
perfect and constant peace whose mind
[both its inclination and its character]
is stayed on You, because he commits
himself to You, leans on You,
and hopes confidently in You.
Isaiah 26:3
The Message

Oh my!!  My heart ~ such inexpressible longing …With fingers poised on the keyboard, I will try to sort out my feelings and aches.  Oh how much good it would do my heart to pull up next to a kindred spirit, to take a few deep breaths in, and to pour out what is inside.  Not just to share, but to lay down a very burdened heart.  Since writing has always been my therapeutic refuge, here I am.  Please remember that the venting is more for my good and you are simply along for the read.

The past several days have been consumed with news ~ the bad nearly smothering and snuffing out the very life of the good.  It all started with a desperate attempt at getting all the yard work done before spending the remainder of the week in Baltimore to visit with my mom and Kim’s little family.  In a rush, I neglected to tend to the proper maintenance of the riding mower.  It ran out of oil.  It died.  It’s bad enough that we now have to buy a different mower, the deceased one wasn’t even ours!  It belonged to our landlord.  Sigh …

In one week’s time, there were 3 people who I knew that passed away.  Frances Zeilinga was the mother of one of my oldest brother’s childhood best friends.  Even though I hadn’t seen Frances for many years, there is a sense of finality when parents of our friends are beginning to pass away.  Just a few days later, my own childhood best friend’s father passed away.   Becky’s daddy had been miraculously healed of cancer many years ago and God blessed him with nearly 30 additional years to enjoy life and family.  Just a few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with cancer once again, endured a battery of treatments and was finally beginning to feel better.  Then simply in his sleep last week, he bade farewell to his earthly body and was welcomed into the arms of his Savior, leaving behind his wife of 6 plus decades, children, grandchildren and greats.   Another couple days later, Pam Carnder’s ‘fairy tale’ finally ended when her beloved husband, Steve, passed away after his long 5 ½ year battle with cancer.  Pam and I worked together at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center … a faithful participant of Munchy Monday, my 2009 summer prayer partner, and a dear friend.

Cancer is rearing its ugly head in the life of another dear friend.  Back in the ‘90s when our family lived out here in PA, but in the Harrisburg/Hershey area, Sandie and I were pretty much inseparable ~  we worked together, went to church together, and our families often vacationed together.  Recent visits for evaluations, tests, and results have proven to be alarming and quite sobering as she is facing extensive treatments and procedures in attempt to defeat this disease at its own evil game.

Just yesterday, another precious friend with whom I’ve shared life and also death … in the hills of West Virginia, Cindy suffered a heart attack and was life-lined to a larger hospital where she had a stint inserted in her severely blocked artery.  Having just spoken to her on the phone and hearing her weak voice just added to the ache that is mounting inside.

The trees on the grounds of Bonita Park

If the morning reports or the evening news has caught your eye in the past week concerning the wild fires that have devastated south New Mexico, this has also heaped sadness and sorrow to my already bleeding heart.  Bonita Park, the New Mexico District (Church of the Nazarene) Camp and Conference Center, was in the direct path of the Little Bear wildfire, which incinerated much of the 200 acre camp.  While living in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years, Bonita Park became very dear to me … several retreats, family camps, and many precious friends had homes there.  Gratefully, the main buildings which support the functionality of the campground, were spared ~ Offices, dining hall, the tabernacle, the local Nazarene church, and some dorms.  But nearly all of the residences, belonging to camp staff, camp volunteers, retirees, and leaseholders who have had camp property since the early beginning years of Bonita Park, perished in the flames.  Original buildings whose walls breathed the holiness tradition and heritage on those sacred grounds are now reduced to ashes.  Scheduled summer retreats, reunions, and camps, including the anticipated annual family camp are all now written in pencil on the camp calendar, waiting on God’s intervention in all areas.

Precious memories have flooded my heart and my mind these past several days as I have thought about each circumstance and each person.  And here I sit in York, Pennsylvania.  The memorial service for Becky’s dad is in Florida.  Steve’s funeral was yesterday in Cincinnati.  West Virginia is several hours away, and even Sandie, who lives the closest, is an hour away.  I won’t even think about how far away New Mexico is.  And then when I get all mushy inside like this, I can’t help but cry alittle more for my son who lives in Seattle … so far away.  Have I mentioned that my heart hurts?

Not everything has been bad … two new healthy babies have been born to nephews and nieces in the past 2 weeks, and my mother-in-law received a good and treatable report from the doctor concerning a health issue.  Also, my precious mother came out last week to meet her little great-granddaughter for the first time.  We had a very special time enjoying the wide span of ages included in the 4 generations.  For these good things, I am grateful!

In the mix of the good and the bad, playing in the background is the extreme static of my own life, reminding me that the dial is not placed just right on the station, and it’s consuming my world with a lot of noise.  Even though the air around me is filled with smoke, illness, death, and static, in order to survive, I am allowing Jesus to carry me close to Himself.  Jesus and I are breathing the same air.

Until next time,
Debbie

19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
   his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He’s all I’ve got left.

 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

Lamentations 3:19-26
The Message

The header picture are deer out in the woods of Bonita Park
March 2006

Zumba

28 Feb

A heart at peace gives life to the body…
Proverbs 14:30

Sigh!  Hold on a minute – let me catch my breath!  Sigh!

Ok …Wow!!  An hour of non-stop, energy exerting, muscle moving, body bouncing, serious sweating activity!  Included in our membership at Gold’s Gym is the privilege of participating in any of the classes provided by the facility.  Tuesday night at 6:30 is Zumba, and tonight was my third week to join in the fun.  I say fun loosely, for this fun is a lot of work, but when that hour is up, although I am totally exhausted and spent, I really feel like I have accomplished something monumental.

Zumba is a Latin inspired fitness program involving dance and aerobic moves.  Dance has never been in my vocabulary, let alone in my repertoire of activity, so I rather feel like I have multiple feet and they all have lead in them.  But, in my defense, I at least keep moving in the general direction that all the others are going … attempting to shake, kick, pump, and stretch at all the right times.

According to Google, “Zumba exercises include music with fast and slow rhythms, as well as resistance training.  The choreography incorporates cumbia, hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, tango, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves.  Squats and lunges are also included.”  With my only dance experience consisting of some form of a slow dance at our daughter’s wedding 6 years ago, those various names of dances and moves are quite overwhelming.  I have to admit, that once in the classroom and surrounded by all the other younger women, I smile and do my best to not trip over my own feet … or worse, theirs!!

Although I’m new to this fun craze of exercising, Zumba is no stranger to our family!   Our daughter, Kim, was persistent and tenacious as she trudged through the pounds of pregnancy and lost them all and more ~ due to her faithfulness to better eating habits, her routines at the gym, and Zumba.  With the upcoming birth of our granddaughter, she is looking forward to summer and returning to the gym to lose those extra pounds gained in preparation for Baby Lillieanne.  Since we both belong to Gold’s Gym, maybe we’ll be able to attend some Zumba classes together – leaving the two grandkids with their Daddy and Papaw.

With the onset of aging and aching joints, I find that having a healthy and active lifestyle with a routine of exercise is necessary for me to be able to function and not feel the maturing process so much.  I also have learned the secret to having Inner Strength that flows out into all areas of my life.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

My inner strength is Jesus.
My contentment.
His heart.
His Word.
His Strength.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and
nourishment to your bones.
Proverb 3:5-8

My trust.
My heart.
His Understanding.
My health.
My body.
My nourishment.
My bones.

Not only in Zumba do I need to pay attention to the instructions, to keep my eyes straight ahead,  follow the one who is leading, and to not swerve to the right or to the left, but in my every day world.

My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet and
take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Proverb 4:20-27

I need to do my best to keep my body healthy ~ for I was bought with a price and am the Temple where God abides …

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

Whether you have a gym membership, participate in Zumba, or walk 3 miles a week to help stay fit … or none of these  ~   They do not even compare to the importance of staying fit spiritually.  Won’t you join me …

… in view of God’s mercy, to offer OUR bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God–this is OUR spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of OUR minds.
Then WE will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–
His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

 

Until next time,
Debbie

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

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

 

Food in Philly

22 Feb

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8
 

Tucked away in the middle of February, close to Valentine’s Day, was a weekend available to go do something fun and unique.  The city of Philadelphia, Google maps on my iphone, delicious food, and pleasant weather all contributed in gifting us with a great time.  We were in no rush, no hurry, and the only real agenda we had was to eat. And we did.

One of our favorite TV shows is “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri on the Food Network Channel.   As he pulls up in his bright red convertible in front of another not-so-attractive place to eat, we enjoy watching as Guy visits the kitchen and finds out the secrets to the success of the establishment.  A combination of fresh spices, unexpected ingredients, and personalized culinary methods usually leave our mouths gaping open and our taste buds longing to sample a bite or two.  Realizing that there are several of these diners, drive-ins and dives within a few hours from our home, we began to dream of the various possibilities of actually getting to taste some of those menu items.  With the help of the internet, our itinerary evolved as we made our way toward the City of Brotherly Love.

Memphis Taproom

Over the course of the next 30 hours, we visited 2 corner dives, 1 diner, and 1 pub, of which was our least favorite of the four places.  Fried kosher dill pickles and a delicious pulled pork sandwich, accessorized by garlic mayo, was our first shared meal (brunch) at the Memphis Taproom.  Then a scrumptious flatbread appetizer at Silk City Diner before dinner, to later return back to Memphis Taproom for a Smoked Coconut Club, which was featured on their evening menu, with a side of onion rings for our final entrée of the day.  We saw a plate of these amazingly yummy looking onion rings on a table nearby, so we spontaneously asked to substitute the usual fries with this favorite of mine.   After thanking the Lord for our food, I scooped up a big handful of thinly sliced, crunchy rings and stuffed them in my mouth – and in the next breath asked the Lord to please extinguish the fire inside.  When our waitress came by to refill our water glasses, I mentioned the extreme spiciness of the onions and she smiled as she explained that this is why they call them Suicide Rings.  Lesson learned – ALWAYS check the menu and read the fine print.

Honey Cristo

There’s something to be said for having to wait in line in order to be seated  – which we did for breakfast the following morning.  We were fascinated as we were offered a couple stools at the front counter of this bright and cheery corner dive called Honey’s Sit and Eat.   Bacon, coffee, the sweet scent of pancakes, french toast, and syrup,  — all those comfy aromas filled the air as we placed our orders to start off another day of adventure.  Once again, we were not at all disappointed in the recommendation of this local fare, apparently agreeing with the continuing arrival of guests, that the food was delicious.

Here’s an interesting twist to my story ~ Tim and I joined Gold’s Gym a couple weeks ago.  Since Tim’s hospitalization in November and the insertion of another stent, he decided that after the holidays he needed to begin a healthy routine of exercise and better diet.  Having lost over 10 pounds myself in the past year, due to a change in eating habits and consistent exercise, I was in full support and agreed to meet him most evenings on his way home from work so we could exercise together.  After 10 days of membership and a great start toward his goal, yes … we went to Philly to eat!  We shared most everything we ordered, drank only water (except morning coffee and juice) and we walked.  Between our late breakfast and our late lunch on Sunday, we walked through the historic district of the city, catching sites of old monuments, buildings, and streets that help document our country’s freedoms and history.  With the help of my cell phone’s mapping software, we were able to track our course of tourism as it also calculated the miles of exercise…a total of 5 miles to be exact.  Needless to say, the calories burned paved the way to our last stop on our ‘Triple D’ tour … Good Dog Bar.  The items ordered here were not anything to brag about, so we were glad we had the added bonus of redeeming a Restaurant.com gift certificate to offset the cost of the meal.

Work, gym, household chores, and eating at home have all resumed again.  That’s ok … it’s all called life.  Just as the chef will crush fresh spices and herbs to obtain the fullest and richest flavors available, and then mix with specific ingredients to create a delectable and unique tasting dish ~ this is all done in order to attract those who have such a wide array of choices of places to go eat, satisfying the pallet of those who visit their establishment. The great Culinary Expert of our lives does the same.  He takes the various facets of our existence, separating and crushing where necessary, sifting, stirring, and combining at just the right moments ~ all aspects of the process playing a huge role in the Purpose of God’s great plan for our lives.  Won’t you join me in allowing Him to prepare us from scratch, so we will be attractive and of good flavor … bringing glory and honor to Him with our lives?

Until next time,
Debbie

Prepare it with oil on a griddle;
bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering
broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
Leviticus 6:21

For we are to God the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
   2 Corinthians 2:15

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

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

What is That Flutter Thing?

2 Feb

My flesh and my heart may fail,
 but God is the Strength of my heart
 and my Portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

  

“Beautiful” was the first comment from the ultrasound technician yesterday morning as she looked at the image on the screen in front of her.  This one word, simple as it was, sort of gave me a small sense of peace.  My reactive response of ‘Aww’ generated an explanation from the one in charge as she informed me that “beautiful” was her way of saying that the image on the screen was clear and was in full view – not that we had an immediate diagnosis and that all was great.  So, the nerves kicked in again as I laid on my left side with cold ultrasound goo oozing beneath the magic wand that somehow transferred an image of my heart onto the monitor.  Diane told me that since I am so tiny and there is not much open space inside of me (I guess that’s a compliment), that my lungs kept getting in the way of viewing my heart, so I had to exhale and hold my breath for what seemed to be a very long time.  And I had to do this several times throughout the photo shoot, praying each time that my lungs had shrunk enough for her to capture the view of my heart that she needed.  I’m not sure if the office interior decorator planned the placement of a particular picture on the wall just so, but it was perfectly situated for me so that I could see my heart on the monitor in the reflection of the glass.  It was really fascinating as I could feel the beat of my heart beneath the pressure of the magic wand, in perfect rhythm of the indirect view I had of the pulsation and movement of this vital organ that was busy keeping me alive. 

A moment of pure honesty and transparency here … it seems that ever since we have moved back to Pennsylvania, there has been a deeper sense of awe in my soul toward the brevity of life.  Having lost my father nearly 18 years ago, experiencing the premature birth of my first grandchild, Tim being diagnosed with coronary artery disease and having 2 stents,  …  and just the realization that I am no longer a young woman with little kids tagging behind me.  I work in an office where people come and go – some are stooped over with the brokenness of body, others are led in on a son or daughter’s arm, barely able to walk, but all finding it necessary to seek financial guidance and direction from our attorneys who specialize in elder care.  It seems that with each passing day, I am more and more aware that this life is temporary and is only the pathway that will lead me Home.  So, I got a bit mushy inside as I laid there looking at my own heart beating, realizing the frailty of it all.

I’ve been relatively healthy all of my life, with an occasional incident requiring intervention, but nothing major or life changing.  So, when I began experiencing a strange flutter sensation in my chest a few months ago, I took notice.  The initial doctor’s visit before Christmas started the process of blood work, EKGs, 24 hour heart monitor and a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist.  Everything thus far had checked out ok, but the specialist recommended I have a stress echocardiogram to completely rule out any problems with the heart.  So that’s where I was at 7:00 yesterday morning.  The initial EKGs and heart ultrasounds were all a picnic compared to the “stroll” I had to take on the treadmill, followed by an immediate set of ultrasounds on the heart, done in the first 90 seconds … all the while I’m huffing and puffing and trying desperately to catch my breath.  But remember I’m tiny.  My lungs were in the way.  I had to once again exhale and hold my breath several times.  All I could do was pray and ask Jesus to help me not breathe while everything in me was screaming for air.  Finally the essential photo shoot was over.  With goo dripping down my side and my heart beginning to calm down, tears filled my eyes as I thought of my mother going through that traumatic experience a few years ago.  Or even my husband in Albuquerque when he had to go on his treadmill jog with pain in his chest and extremely high blood pressure.  Sigh …    Within moments, the doctor on duty came in and gave me the good report that all is well with my heart.  Praise the Lord!!

So then, what is that flutter thing?  I have felt it at times in my upper chest, but most of the time, the sensation is in the soft spot of my throat.  It comes and goes ~ some days I feel it all day long, and others I notice it from time to time.  There are even moments when I feel like it sort of makes me catch my breath, and I need to cough to release it so I can clear my air passage.  I have found no rhyme or reason as to what triggers this flutter … time of day or night, my body position, food or no food.  It does seem, however, that stress and caffeine eccelerate the flutter to a degree, but they do not cause it.  Instructions for the test yesterday morning required that I did not consume any caffeine (coffee, chocolate, tea, …) in the 24 hours before the appointment, which I heeded, but noticed that the flutters still came and went despite the absence of chocolate and Cherry Coke.  And because I now can, I am sipping a cup of Starbucks Pike’s Place coffee, freshly made at home…with vanilla creamer and some Splenda ~ and a homemade almond/chocolate chip biscotti to dunk in it!  Yum!   Getting back to the flutter!!  Both doctors who have seen me for the flutter have mentioned that if it’s not my heart, then it could possibly be menopause.  Well, the cardiologist tried to be tactful by saying that it all could be a sign of maturity.  Seriously?  I chuckle right now as I am feeling this odd sensation of maturity.  I don’t know what to think.  It’s not painful, just annoying and distracting.  At least now I know that it is not a heart issue.  Maybe a hinge on the flapper in my esophagus has corroded and doesn’t close properly any longer?  Not sure, but I do hope that someone will be able to give me an answer to this flutter question. 

We all have questions that need answered, don’t we?  If it’s not a physical concern, maybe it’s financial or relational.  Whatever the case may be, we seek doctors, lawyers, counselors, pastors, family, and friends for help.  And we are ever so grateful for these people in our lives who can help answer life’s questions.  I’m also eternally indebted to the One who created me and Who knows the very number of red corpuscles that my heart pumps throughout my body.  He is my Physician, my Lawyer, my Counselor, my Pastor, my Family, and my Friend.  He is Jesus.  Won’t you join me in taking our questions to the One with the answers? 

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:7

  

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

 

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23

 

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23

  

Until next time,
Debbie

For those of you who have been praying for our daughter, she received a wonderful report from her obstetrician last week … her cervix measured the same, but remains stable, so he lifted the restrictions of light duty and encouraged her to return to normal activity ~ whatever that is at 6 1/2 months pregnant.  Thank you for praying, and thank you Jesus!!

~~~

 A note to all of my ‘mature’ lady friends … have any of you experienced this unusual phenomenon?  Perhaps it’s really not that unusual and many of you know exactly what it is … please tell me!   The flutter seems to have the doctors stumped, but I’m sure someone, somewhere out there knows the answer.  Leave your comments below … please and thank you!!

~~~

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

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012