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’Tis the Season

25 Nov

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Papaw and Cole

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  People all over our good country gathered with family and friends in celebration of gratitude and thankfulness.  This year was no exception in my own heart for realizing the true significance of this holiday.  We have much to be thankful for.  Tim and I are both employed, and we have a nice home in which we live.  Our children are healthy, happy, and will be with us for Christmas.  Just a week ago, Tim underwent a heart catheterization during which a new stent was placed inside the stent that he received in November of 2004 while living in Albuquerque.  The original was 99% blocked, creating chest pain and discomfort that necessitated intervention.  A few days past Tim’s emergency medical situation, I had a minor hernia repair and am taking advantage of the quiet days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday to rest and to heal.  We are truly blessed this year by doctors and medical professionals who know how to take care of our bodies when they fail. 

Today is the day after Thanksgiving.  Many followed the traditional holiday feast by going out late, or early, as the case may be, to shop and find the first great deals of the Christmas season.  Others are busy transforming their homes with festive garland, lights, and décor that somehow ushers in this special time of year with its music, its gifts, and its Love.  Today is exactly one month until Christmas Day.   We all have much to do between now and then, but let’s not get so caught up in the hurry and the rush that we forget the season of Thanksgiving!  It was a season in which we celebrated the birth of brand new babies and still anxiously anticipate others.  A season in which we were pleased with successful surgeries that gave hope to scary diagnoses.  A season in which there was God-given peace over life-changing events and decisions.  A season of rejoicing over long awaited answers to prayers, and the continued realization of God’s gift of breath and life, His grace, and His mercy each and every day.  Please join me as we place the Christ Child’s manger in our focus again this Christmas season, that we still hold on to the Spirit of Thanksgiving and keep it with us into the New Year. 

Until next time,
Debbie

“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus,
because He will save His people from their sins.” 
Matthew 1:21

 

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 Christmas decorations … 2011 

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And Then The Floods Came …

9 Sep

I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures
of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember
the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures
of every kind on the earth.
Genesis 9:15 -16

 

Taking advantage of the final 3 day weekend of the summer, my hubby and I took off for the New Jersey shore early Saturday morning.  With the impending forecast of rain threatening our mini-vacation, we spent as much time on the sand and in the sea as possible.  Having just returned from our big family vacation with our kids and my mother only four short weeks ago, we anticipated a bit different time of relaxation.  Mingled with the usual noises of the beach and crashing surf was the distinct sound of an occasional snore coming from my husband’s resting body.  I sat comfortably in my sand chair, reading, sunning, laughing at the birds, and people watching.  The little ones were the most intriguing … so much so that Papaw initiated a spontaneous invitation for Cole to bring his parents up for the last day of this holiday weekend.  Prior plans, along with a wet and rainy weather outlook helped make their decision to stay in Baltimore.  Much to our surprise and delight, the sunshine remained bright and clear for most of the day on Monday for those of us who decided to take our chances.  After driving through and admiring the old Victorian and spiritually established beach town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, we headed home.  It was there that we found the rain.

 

Weather forecasts are unpredictable.  I guess they are that way by nature, because weather itself is unpredictable.  To a certain extent, we can be warned about incoming weather, but there always needs to be room for error, change, and adjustment.   This time was no different.  We heard that it was going to rain … the remnant from Tropical Storm Lee was coming up from the gulf coast.  Little did we know that it was going to rain and not stop raining for nearly 60 hours straight, with very small pockets of eerie silence as the rains would momentarily calm down to a sprinkle.  But without fail, the torrential downpours would begin once again, adding to the puddles and gathering ponds and lakes of water everywhere.  Now one of the things so special about south central PA are the many creeks and small streams that literally finger their way through the country side and valleys.  Branching from the stately Susquehanna River that flows through the heart of this picturesque area, they quickly began to overflow their banks and flood everything in their paths. 

Pizza Hut in Hershey, PA

In our former life back in the ‘90s when we used to live out here, a large percentage of our time was spent in the Sweetest Place on Earth.  Our beloved Hershey is one of the worst flooded areas in our local vicinity.  The Swatara Creek flows through the west end of town, where its excessive waters have gathered in great depths in roadways and parking lots, destroying restaurants, businesses, homes, and the zoo.  All up and down the Susquehanna River, from Maryland to New York, widespread damage and destruction is taking place as crest levels are rising to their fullest.

We have been blessed by living where we do … our home is located on the side of a ‘big hill’, as our grandson Cole calls it.  It certainly is not monumental, but from the perspective of this 2 year old, he huffs and puffs and grunts a bit as he carries his kick ball “up the big hill, Mimi!”  He then turns around and kicks the ball and chases it as it naturally races down the hill to the back of the yard.  It is the perfect slant and incline for snow sledding in the winter and slippy slide in the summer!   It is this slope of fun that has protected our home from water damage caused by the heavy rains and flooding. 

In a few days, the rains will cease.  The waters will recede.  The damaged will be rebuilt.  The destroyed will be cleared away and replaced.  Somehow, people will find the hope, the desire, and the motivation to do what is necessary to carry on with life. 

Life does go on … and in its course through the years, it will once again send the heavy rains causing the flood waters to rise.   Much like the circumstances in our lives, the heavy rains come, heartache and sorrow flood our lives and causes damage and destruction.  In the midst of these storms, won’t you join me in asking Jesus Himself to shower on us?  Shower His love, His faithfulness, and His mercy.  click here to listen to the song  Heavy Rain by Adam’s Voice.

Until next time,
Debbie

 

For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 
and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood
came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the
coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be
taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding
with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day
your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known
at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch
and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready,
because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Matthew 24:38-44

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

A Mother’s Day Prayer

8 May

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4

Happy Mother’s Day!

Moms sacrifice body, emotions, and mental stability in order to nurture and love another human being.  There are as many different scenarios as there are moms.  Every unique experience  could be written and sold as a best seller to those in their own world.  The following is a borrowed story, penned by a dear friend a few years ago on Mother’s Day.  His short narrative tugs at my own heart strings as I celebrate this special day in honor of my Mom and my own motherhood …

“Swept Away

There is a two hundred year old stream side mill in Allentown, New Jersey, known as the Black Forest Restaurant.  Featuring German cuisine, it is a favorite eatery for my wife.  So that is where we headed to celebrate Mother’s Day 2008.  Patsy has been and continues to be a great mom, and it is always a wonderful privilege to honor her.

Surrounding the restaurant are a variety of small shops filled with antique and artsy stuff.  They are a magnet for my wife.  Beyond the shops is a winding path that parallels a noble brook.  It is a magnet for me.  So we bid farewell to one another and became temporarily lost in our respective magnetic fields.

As I followed the wood-chipped walkway through springtime’s blossoming flora, I inhaled deeply the sweet elixir of wild rose and honeysuckle.  Blackbirds, robins and sparrows sang joyfully from behind leafy curtains.  I stopped to listen to the chorus of a favorite hymn, and that is when I heard the cry.

Baby Duck

Rapid-fire peep-chirps of distress were coming from somewhere upstream.  Listening to determine the precise location, I soon became aware that the source of the siren was approaching.   And just then, riding on the current, coming around the bend, floating down stream was recently hatched duckling.  Most likely this little peep had wandered too far from his brothers, sisters and mom and had been taken captive by the rushing madness of a storm swollen stream.

For the next twenty minutes I tried desperately to rescue the little fellow while the current whisked him farther from home.  Unfortunately the creek’s bank became too muddy and steep, and stream-side’s briars became impenetrable.  There was nothing left to do but stand and listen as the peep-chirps faded.

Following the path back to civilization I could not help but contemplate about Mother’s Day, families, and the currents of this world that too often sweep our own children into danger.

“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 upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children!”
Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Therein is our hope! 

Your servant in Christ – Pastor Bieber”  **

Mother’s Day is a special day of celebration!  Celebration of our moms for their love, their prayers, their care, and their gift of life to us.  It is also a day of celebration for the privilege and the awesome responsibility for the priceless and eternal gifts God gives to us as mothers.  This tender little story will always tug on my Mommy heart as I daily spend time on my knees for my children and their loves, just as I’m sure my own mother stays on her knees for me and my brothers and our families.  The undercurrents of life are strong, but there IS hope when we love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength.  Join me today as we celebrate our moms, and as we continue to pray for our families.

Until next week,
Debbie

** Del Bieber is Pastor at Tom’s River, New Jersey Churchof the Nazarene
You may subscribe to his written stories by contacting Pastor Del at trnazarene@juno.com
You may also subscribe to his podcast (you listen to him read his stories) at http://jerseypilgrim.blogspot.com
Thank you, Pastor Del!

Hot Flashes

14 Apr

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name…
Psalm 103:1

  

Back in the day, I remember sitting on the bleachers during soccer, softball, and baseball games to cheer our two kids and their team mates on to victory.  We sat there through all kinds of weather.  The earlier games of the season would require that we brought blankets to wrap up in to stay warm, but as the weeks progressed, the temperatures would rise, and before we knew it, it felt like summer.  The sun was hot and sometimes accompanied by a welcomed breeze.  As a young mother in her early 30s, I made the most of those days by having plenty of suntan lotion, cold water, and sunflower seeds.  Little did I know then, that undoubtedly somewhere on the bleachers was some kid’s grandma watching the game.  I can now only imagine the conversation that took place between that grandma and the younger mom … the mom complaining about how hot it was outside in the sun, and the grandma quickly replying that she has NO idea about hot! 

This may seem too personal for some of you, and it probably is.  But you know?  It’s my blog, it’s my hot flashes, and I simply want to share how God shared a morsel of mercy with me yesterday in His attempt to help me through my own ‘personal summer’.  After yet another miserable night of kicking covers off one minute, then waking up an hour or so later because I’m cold from laying there all sweaty and wet with no covers on … so I grab the covers again and snuggle up in their warmth to once again an hour later wake in a new puddle …  (I know some of you have no idea, but there are others of you who KNOW what I’m talking about!)  I feel exhausted!   Not only does this happen at night, but at any given moment during the day.  As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, it’s spring.  One day it’s rainy and in the 40’s and the next day it’s sunny and nearly 85 degrees.  I try to dress according to the weather forecast for that day  …  a light sweater with jeans and a spring scarf to accessorize the outfit.  Something triggers the moment and the radiating heat starts to boil from within.  I’m sure my face is red, my mascara is running, and I wish I could jump into a cold swimming pool.  But I’m sitting at a desk at work, it’s raining outside, and it’s only 45 degrees.  Help! 

Now, these friendly bouts with the internal radiator began a couple years ago while working with my girls at Higher Ground.  All of a sudden I would exclaim about how hot it was in the kitchen … they would all look at one another and with big grins, they would shake their heads and inform me that they were all very comfortable … it was me.  Sigh!  Really?  Seriously?  Every woman hears other OLDER women talk about such things, but there’s always that security of knowing you’re not there yet … in fact, you’re not even close to being there yet.  I know I even thought that it probably wouldn’t even happen to me!   HA!   Well, here I am. 

During my devotional time yesterday morning, not feeling rested from my long night of tossing and turning, God met me.  My daily reading of the book of Psalm took me to chapter 103.  As I began to read out loud one of my favorite passages, God began to speak.  I have always taken scripture very personal, and I believe that is how God once again extended a new morsel of mercy to me in the midst of my current plight.

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name…

 

Inmost being, huh?  I can tell you all about my inmost being!  It radiates and power surges with untold amounts of heat!  Sigh …  Praise the Lord, huh?  Sigh …  ok.   I can do that.   ALL my inmost being?   Ok.    Sigh …    God just encouraged me to praise Him when I lie awake during the wee hours of the morning, uncomfortable with the flashing reminders that I am only getting older. 

 

Praise the LORD, O my soul,and forget not all his benefits—

  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

 who redeems your life from the pit

 and crowns you with love and compassion,

 

I could go on and on about these verses and what they mean to me, but right now, my heart is set on quoting this passage when those moments hit me  ~  day or night  ~  to Praise the Lord from my inmost being for ALL His benefits!  Forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, and compassion!

 

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

Woo Hoo!!  As I read that next verse, I began to cry as I realized that my personal God met me just when I desperately needed Him to.   YOUTH is RENEWED when HE satisfies my desires with good things!!   Praise the Lord, O my soul!

Won’t you join me today as I praise the Lord with my inmost being?  Yours may not be radiating with hot flashes due to your aging body, but let’s praise the Lord together and forget not ALL His benefits!!  Praise His Holy Name!

Until next time,
Debbie

Spring!

8 Apr

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Until next time,
Debbie

Two

24 Mar

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

 

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

Cole Michael ... 2 hours old

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

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

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

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

Until next time,
Debbie  …  Mimi

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

Happy Birthday Ryan!

18 Mar

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4

 

Back in the day, it was not in the usual routine of anticipated visits to find out if the baby growing inside was a girl or a boy.  Observations of how high or how low, round belly or round body, fast or slow heart beat … all were used as a means of forming opinions.  But the only one true test was that of birth.   Having only been in labor for 2 ½ hours, I rejoiced with my husband at 1:02 am on March 18, 1986 to find out that we were the parents of a baby boy!  With a little girl already wrapped around our hearts, adding Ryan to our family was a joy beyond words!  Blonde hair, blue eyes, and 2 dimples in his chubby cheeks, he was undeniably a Van Hook.

Growing up with a sister who was quite vocal, Ryan really had no need for many words.  Kim understood the language of little people and did a wonderful job of interpreting his gestures and mutterings.  But it’s safe to say, now at the brand new age of 25, he is well versed in his vocabulary and does well in communication.  Ryan is an assistant store manager for Verizon Wireless in Seattle … looking forward to managing his own store in the near future.  Easter Seals speech therapy to Android and iPhone sales!

Super Mario, baseball and Chuck, Caravans, soccer, basketball, cousins, Work and Witness teams, green chilis, Sandia youth group, Mario and Conrad, Gonzaga,  …

The memories are endless and the future is before him!   

Uncle RyRy and Cole

Now that a new generation has graced our family with the life of Kim and Troy’s own son, Cole, I continue to be in awe of God’s Signature upon my life.  Being a Mimi is incredibly special … a special all of its own!!  So many other grandparents have commented that if they had known having grandchildren was so much fun, they would have had them first.  I do not agree.  Although being a parent has been hard work, frustrating and heartbreaking at times, there is no greater joy to my heart than my own two children.  I love them so!!

I live this day, Ryan, in celebration of you and in honor of God who blessed my life with yours!  I thank Him every day for your life, asking Him to surround you with His protection, His love, His grace, and His mercy.  Morsels of Mercy!!!  Happy Birthday, my precious son!

Until next time,
Debbie