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Divine Appointments

3 Mar

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
   all the days of my life…
Psalm 23:6

Happy Anniversary to Morsels of Mercy!!  It’s so hard to believe that it’s already been an entire year since I posted my first entry.  As you can see, I’m throwing a festive celebration by changing the theme of my blog to something bright and vivacious, updating family photos and periodically switching items around.  The new look will add some pizzazz and excitement as I continue to share more of the precious mercies of God.

Since I’m on the subject of mercy, I want to throw out a couple morsels for you to chew on…

While living in Albuquerque a few years back, I used to travel often to attend conferences, meetings, and to visit family.  With every flight I took, I settled into my seat with anticipation of the Divine Appointments that God had on my schedule for that day.  Conversations would take place, names would be exchanged, and nearly without exception, another request would be added to my prayer list.  Even though the travel isn’t as far, nor the destinations as exotic, God is still sending Divine Appointments my way. 

I have had the privilege of meeting Lavonna, whose father was recently diagnosed with cancer.  I do not consider it a coincidence that I rode her morning commute to downtown York for two weeks while on my first temp assignment.  Divine Appointment.   Surgeries  …  Bill, Bruce, Michelle ~ all people associated with the County office where I was working.    All Divine Appointments.   Another co-worker who is a concerned mom with a son deployed in the Navy… Divine Appointment.    As I have left one job and am starting another temporary position, I will continue to pray for those whose paths I have crossed, and anticipate the new journey that God has in store for me around the corner. 

Prayer requests are made each time I get on the phone with my dear friends in Cincinnati  ~ more Divine Appointments.  Having our precious grandson in our home from time to time for overnight visits is a most blessed Divine Appointment.  This little guy, who is nearly 2 years old now, needs to know that his Mimi fervently prays for him and for his family.  Another vital Divine Appointment is time spent on my knees daily for our own son and his sweet girlfriend.  Some appointments are kept faithfully everyday while others are unexpected and given prompt attention.

As said so perfectly in Streams of the Desert  ~  March 2 …

“Meet Him alone.  Meet Him regularly.  Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you; and face the regular and the irregular duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act.”

 It is a privilege to open God’s appointment book each day … to thumb through the scheduled times along with the unexpected moments  ~  all that lead to Divine Appointments … and Divine Appointments lead to more morsels to share with you.  Thank you for your continued interest and support while we celebrate a new year of Morsels of Mercy together!

Until next time,
Debbie

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Breath of Heaven

24 Dec

                                                                                                The Spirit of God has made me;
   the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 33:4

 

The songs of the season are one of my favorite things about Christmas!  There are tunes dating back to when I was a little girl and soundtracks from childhood movies such as Rudolph and Frosty.  Carpenter’s Christmas Portrait would be the winning answer for a trivia question asked to Kim or Ryan  …   “What is THE #1 album that means Christmas to you?”  There are fun songs that playfully express the sounds of the holidays while there are melodies that fill the air with nostalgia and memories of days gone by.  Timeless Christmas carols with their message of a Savior born to take away our sins  …  and newer songs of praise  ~  all drawing me into an attitude of worship. 

A few weeks ago, I caught the familiar sound of a song I’ve heard countless times, but for the first time ever I actually listened to the words…really listened.   Hopefully on this Eve of Christmas Day, you will find a moment of quiet, and you can also listen to this song and allow the words from Mary’s own journey to be the cry of your heart.   

Click to play “Breath of Heaven”  … sung by Point of Grace.

Just like Mary, I have traveled many moonless nights … dark and cold nights where I was so tired and weary from the burdens I carried.  And yes, I’ve also wondered … “what have I done?”   Do I honestly believe that You have chosen me … for this, my life’s journey?

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father You have come
Chosen me now to carry Your son
 

 

Frightened and alone, I have silently waited in prayer … Be with me now, be with me now.

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone must I walk this path alone
Be with me now, be with me now

What a precious prayer … how intimate … how personal … how desparate

Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me … Breath of Heaven

Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your Holiness
For You are Holy … Breath of Heaven 

I, like Mary, have doubted and questioned … but I offer all I am, for the mercy of His plan …
so help me be strong,
help me be,
help me …

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place
But i offer all i am for the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong, help me be, help me

Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me … Breath of Heaven 

Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your Holiness
For You are Holy … Breath of Heaven

 

A portion of a devotional, dated Nov 28th ~ Streams in the Desert ~ reads …

“And the wind that blew from the sunrise made me hope in the God who had first breathed into my nostrils the breath of life;  that He would at length so fill me with His breath, His mind, His Spirit, that I should think only His thoughts, and live His life, finding therein my own life, only glorified infinitely.” 

 

Won’t you join me, this night before Christmas, in asking God the Father to fill us with His breath, His mind, His Spirit … to think only His thoughts, and to live His life, finding therein my own  ~  to be near us, to lighten our darkness, and to pour over us His Holiness … Breath of Heaven?

Till next time,
Debbie

This is what God the LORD says–
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it: 

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Isaiah 42:5-7

 

 

 

Merry Christmas from the Van Hooks!

21 Dec

Our beautiful children!

Once again, we are in awe of God’s blessings, His great mercy, and His precious gift of His son Jesus as we celebrate this Christmas season and enter into the New Year.  As the song writer penned … “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.”

 

Bahama Cruise

This year has been eventful!  Our grandson, Cole Michael, celebrated his first birthday in March.  How quickly that year seemed to fly by, and how quickly this little guy is growing and changing!  Following our trip out to PA for his birthday party, we headed on down to Florida for our vacation.  In celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary (July 11th) we enjoyed a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas, then soaked up some Florida sunshine for several more days before heading back to reality.  Reality consisted of the normal things of life, like home and work, but it also suddenly included helping to take care of my mother who fell and shattered her elbow while we were away on vacation.  After surgery, months of physical therapy, doctor visits, and lots of help from us kids and her church family, Mom is continuing to gain use and strength of her right arm and hand. We are so grateful for the Lord’s touch on her as she has slowly healed!

Our son-in-law, Troy, graduated from Penn State University this past May.  With his degree in Security and Risk Analysis, his new career as a consultant relocated this little family to Glen Burnie, MD, located on the south side of Baltimore.  Up until their move, Kim worked at the Courtyard by Marriott where she was the Assistant General Manager.  Now she is blessed by being able to stay home with Cole full time, employed by the cutest little toddler around!   Kim enjoys working out at their local gym where she takes Zumba and other exercise classes.  She is also involved in the Mom’s group at Grace Pointe Church of the Nazarene.

As the busy days of spring collided into the even busier days of summer, Tim was offered and he accepted a new job in the state of Pennsylvania.   September 1, just two weeks short of beginning our 5th year at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center, we relocated to Red Lion, PA.  He is now employed by K/S Remodeling Systems, where his talent for detail and craftsmanship is utilized on a daily basis to refurbish and remodel kitchens.   This is very similar to what Tim did when we lived in PA back in the 90s.   We are renting a very nice home that is very roomy and spacious for when our family gathers in, which happens quite frequently since we moved.  Kim and her family only live an hour away, so we are overwhelmed with the blessing of being able to watch Cole grow and become his own little person.  His favorite things in the whole world are tractors, and Dora the Explorer, fire trucks, cars, animal crackers, puzzles, and his dog all coming in tied for second place!   He is so much fun and has brought such joy to Grami and Grampi’s life!

Not wanting to miss out on the excitement of our move, Ryan flew in for a visit and spent a week with us.  Since it was his first time out to see his sister’s new home as well, we all took the time to relax and enjoy some of the favorite sites of Baltimore for a few days.  The highlight was our trip to the beach and to play in the sand and ocean with Cole.  Once we got back to our house, there were boxes to unpack, and furniture to arrange, all the while we had lots of fun and cooked lots of yummy food in our big kitchen!  Family time is such a blessing!!

Regis Philbin, Mom, myself, and Kim

Christmas began early in December at our house this year.  Kim and I surprised my mom with a trip to New York City and tickets to be on LIVE with Regis and Kelly!  What a fun time we had!!  The following day, Ryan and his girlfriend Brittany flew in from Seattle to join the festivities that had already started a few days prior.  We enjoyed lots of family fun playing Wii, going bowling, watching movies, and enjoying a houseful of good cooks.  “Fake Christmas” was celebrated as gifts were exchanged, stuffed stockings were emptied, and Cole rode around on his new tractor. 

Cole and his new TRACTOR!

As many of you already know, I love to write and started a blog back in February.  Morsels of Mercy is just that ~ short stories inspired by God’s mercies through my journey of life!   https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com     Many of the details of this past year that I skipped over here in my Christmas letter you can read about in my blog.  Enjoy reading!!

Christmas week is now upon us, and we will be back in Indiana for the holiday.  As we travel the many miles and gather with our families, my heart and thoughts will be turning toward many of you who are hurting this Christmas season.  I will be praying that you will find Jesus to be so much more than a baby in the manger, but that He will be your Healer, your Comforter, your Strength, your Everything. 

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great mercies
we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning:
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:21-26

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!!
The Van Hooks

 

Tim & Debbie
Troy, Kim, Cole & Tadpole
Ryan & Brittany
My mom, Wilma

Our family

Tractor

27 Oct

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose
mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.
Isaiah 26:3 

 

The tractor that pulled the wagon to the pumpkin patch

Not quite sure how it happened, but our little grandson loves tractors.  Perhaps it was the John Deere tractor book that sat among all the other children’s books…a tractor tire at each corner so it could roll around on the shelf.  Maybe it was because his Grandpa Arndt took him for rides around their property on their lawn mower tractor, or … just because.  For whatever reason, Cole loves tractors.

Cole really enjoys anything that has wheels, moves, and makes noise.  He becomes quite animated with the various sounds that vehicles make and he is pretty good at differentiating between them all.  Our home sits along a very busy road and he will always respond when he hears something loud that goes down the street.  His eyes will get big, he’ll sort of gasp with excitement, and then make the appropriate noise that matches what he heard. His favorites are motorcycles, loud trucks or cars, and fire trucks.  He loves to stand at the window in our bedroom that faces the busy road and watch the traffic as it comes and goes.  Excited bounces up and down, gasps of delight, motor noises from his cute little lips, and fingers constantly pointing … all the while saying CAR, TRACTOR  ~  with an occasional ‘HOOO  HOOO’ when he thinks he sees a dog over at the neighbor’s house. 

Cole's favorite toy tractor at Grami's house

Cole has a lot of toys and he plays with a great variety of things.  He loves music, so if a particular toy will sing for him, he’ll twist the knob, push the handle, or pull the string that is required to hear the melody.  He has monkeys, tools, balls, and other little kid toys, but if you were to set it all out on display and let him go pick his favorite, it would be a tractor.  He has his tractors at his house and he has his tractors at Grami’s house.  Both grandpas have yard tractors, and he always gets to take rides with them … I wonder why it seems that he loves THESE guys so??  

Cole enjoys a lot of things, but he most certainly has one focus.  A tractor brings a smile all the way from Cole’s heart.  I’ve thought a lot about this during the past several weeks we have been able to get to know the personality of this little guy and to enjoy his antics.  What is my focus?   What is yours?

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 
Colossians 3:2

 

Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
 For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 

 

Life is busy for all of us.  There’s always work to be done, bills to be paid, places to go, and things to do.   But dare we get so caught up in the duties that demand our attention that we fail to truly focus on why we are able to even take our next breath.  God our Creator desires the TRACTOR in our life to be Him.  He loves us.  In the midst of our busyness, may we fix our eyes, our thoughts, and our hearts on Jesus.  Just like Cole, may Jesus be our last thought as we fall asleep and be our first thought when we awake. 

 

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
 and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
 so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

 

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling,
fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Hebrews 3:1

 

My prayer is that as this little 19 month old boy continues to grow up and learn more and more about tractors, ABCs, and life, that we as grandparents will partner with this young family in teaching Cole about the love of Jesus. 

 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;
 tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,
 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD
 swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Deuteronomy  11:18-21

 

Won’t you join me in allowing the TRACTOR of our lives to be Jesus?

Till next time,
Debbie

My Shepherd

19 Oct

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart.
Isaiah 40:11

 

Have you ever had one of those nights when you wake up after being asleep for only a couple of hours?  I have on occasion, but most recently just a few nights ago.  After turning over and fluffing up my pillow, I found myself wide awake.  I slipped out of bed and walked across the hall to the bathroom.  Once back in bed, the heaviness and warmth of the recently added electric blanket weighed down on me, so I got up again and made my way to the kitchen to get some cold water.  The coolness of the liquid felt good, but only for a brief moment.  I crawled back in bed.  I closed my eyes and tried to settle my mind, but instead, thoughts began to race through my head, wrecking havoc to my heart.  Have you ever been there?  I know that sometimes the Lord wakes me up during the wee hours of the morning and I feel an urgency to pray for someone or a particular situation, but I have also learned from experience that Satan can wake me up as well.  Instead of being able to pray my way out the dark pit I felt myself slipping into, I laid there wrestling with the enemy.  After three hours of restless stirrings, my weary mind and exhausted spirit began to search the archives of scripture that I have set to memory.  The only passage that I could clearly remember was the 23rd Psalm…King James Version, of course.  That is how I memorized it as a young child.  Now in the light of day, I am convinced even more so of the importance of teaching our children scripture at a young age.  Psalm 23 somehow penetrated its way through the blackness of my night … do you think it was because it had been engraved on my heart for so many years?

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I love this!  I claim ownership right here!  He is MY Shepherd!  What more do I need?   Nothing … just Jesus!!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:

I laid there and slowly began to relax as I envisioned being led into a wide open and spacious meadow full of the richness of Jesus … to lie down and be refreshed and restored by Jesus, MY Shepherd.


he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
 for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

Even though some of those paths may be through valleys full of shadows and long nights, I still know that I can trust MY Shepherd that those paths lead me to righteousness … for His name’s sake … It’s not about me, but it’s all for Him!!

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Evil, with all its demons of fear, doubt, bitterness, and all those dark night-time darts that the enemy threw at me tried its best to consume me, but I reached out for MY Shepherd, for He promises that He is with me … His very heart comforts me.


Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

A victorious and overwhelming banquet … for MY Shepherd Jesus and me!


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

My heart began to soar as I came to this verse … my key verse for Morsels of Mercy … a promise to me from the heart of MY Shepherd!!  These precious words also brought to mind a very special song from my days back in Albuquerque in Pastor Gregg’s choir.  Sweet Aroma of Praise …


and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

 

“Forever” began for me just a little over 50 years ago now!   I’m so grateful that I don’t have to wait till I die to dwell in the house of the Lord forever … I can be there now! 

It was the words of this ancient Psalm that finally broke through the tight grip of darkness, and I rested for the remaining few hours of the morning in the sweet presence of MY Shepherd.  It is there that I long to stay.  Where His mercies and His compassions are new every morning … He is my portion, my hope, and I seek Him and wait for Him. 

Won’t you join me?

Till next time,
Debbie

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:22-26