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Happy New Year ~ 2015

30 Jan

You make known to me the Path of Life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

Some may think that I’m a bit late, but I choose to say that I embraced every moment of the Christmas season that I could. Now that the trimmings and the tree are all down and put away, and everyone has gone back home, I am going to devote some specific time to send greetings to all of our family and friends as yet another year has completed its chapter in our book called life.

Snowstorm that brought 23" of snow!

Snowstorm that brought 23″ of snow!

One thing most of us across America had in common in 2014 was our crazy winter weather! Our little town always seemed be in an overactive band of snow, burying us under several more inches than others in south central PA. Mimi and Papaw’s ‘big hill’ provided a lot of fun times and memories for our little loves when they and their parents could visit.

 

Enjoying a nice spring day in Maryland

Enjoying a nice spring day in Maryland

Needless to say, warm and sunny spring days eventually came, which brought new adventures, the first of which when Ryan flew in for a few days in March. He came bearing gifts for a belated Christmas celebration, and in turn we sang Happy Birthday to him!

 

In April I made a long-over due trip to Louisiana to visit dear friends, a journey of the heart that will forever be changed and grateful for much that has often been taken for granted. Mother’s Day weekend was spent with my mom in Indy, with the added joy of meeting my newborn niece, Remington. Then just a couple of weeks later, Tim and I spent Memorial Day weekend in Ohio at a small reunion of friends who volunteered and worked with us on the campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque. What a blessed time we had together in those days and again at this gathering!
Mingled in between trips, the grand-kids’ birthday celebrations and the everyday routine of work and life, we were packing and preparing to move. We finally found a house to buy and de-clutter became my new motto. By mid-June, we were moved in and getting settled, excited to spend time with Ryan who was once again out east … this time on a Verizon business trip with some added time for family!

 

My Mom and our family at the Wells Reunion

My Mom and our family at the Wells Reunion

The adventures continued as Mimi loaded Momma and the kiddos in her van and we drove to Indy for the Wells Family reunion in July. What fun to share those of my little family with my precious aunts, uncles and cousins! The traditional annual August 5th weekend birthday celebration once again found us at the shore with Kim and her family, enjoying the surf, sand, and sun. Then a few weeks later, Tim and I took advantage of frequent flier points for a long-over due visit to our beloved Albuquerque! The hospitality of our host family was a blessing, the itinerary of visits with friends and church family was heart warming, and just the experience of being there in that special place we called home for nearly 10 years was simply over-whelming.

 

In Florida with Becky and her mom Pauline

In Florida with Becky and her mom Pauline

September arrived with an invitation to meet my life-long ‘best bud’ in Florida for a few days of respite with her, following the death of her husband on August 1st. Beach therapy was the theme for our time together as childhood friends tried to make sense of life and its uncertain path … all the while being confident that God is the one true certainty on our journey.

 

Another leg of our journey was our annual motorcycle trip to Toms River, New Jersey and our visit with Pastor Del and Patsy Bieber. What fun we had as we spent time with their family, shopped at a local flea market, ate some outstanding food and as always, enjoyed our Sunday morning of worship with our seaside friends. Several weeks later, it was our privilege and pleasure to host these friends in our own home as Pastor Del preached in a local revival service.

 

Tim's Mom with her children

Tim’s Mom with her children

Indiana became our destination of necessity throughout the fall months due to the 6 week battle with cancer and passing of Tim’s step-father on September 23. Life with its reminder of our fragility and total dependence upon God once again knocked on the doors of our hearts. After a lot of prayer and thoughtful consideration, Tim’s Mom …has moved back to PA to be closer to the majority of her children.

 

My brothers Tim and Jay, me and Mom

My brothers Tim and Jay, me and Mom

Christmas season! We attended Christmas programs and parties, spent time with family and friends, and simply enjoyed the beautiful season in our new home. Christmas Eve travels took us to Indiana for a few days to celebrate Jesus, His birth, and several other family birthdays with my Mother, brothers and their families. Our trip was highlighted on Sunday morning when my brother Tim and his wife, Courtney, dedicated Remington Kimber Wells to Jesus.

 

The final hoorah for the year was awesome as Ryan and Brittany flew in from Seattle and our entire family spent several days together in our home … still celebrating Jesus and Christmas, New Year’s, and Brittany’s January birthday. Gifts were exchanged, countless games of Memory (and others) were played, creative paper airplanes were flown, and so much tasty food was prepared and enjoyed! Girls went shopping, family came to visit, a few movies were watched, and we worshiped together on Sunday just a few hours before good-byes were said. Every moment of every day, I tried to soak up each and every morsel and speck of family love I could … to hold me until next time!

 

As we begin a new year, I would like to share a page from ‘Jesus Calling’ …

June 12
Let Me prepare you for the day (year) that stretches out before you. I know exactly what this day (year) will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it. You would like to see a map, showing all the twists and turns of your journey. You’d feel more prepared if you could somehow visualize what is on the road ahead. However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today (this year): Spend quality time with Me.

I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey. My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way. Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need to redirect your thoughts. Thus, you can walk through this day (year) with your focus on Me. My abiding Presence is the best road map available.

 

2014 is behind us and a new road lies ahead. May the comfort and the peace of God’s constant Presence be the Guide and Direction for you and yours for this new year.

You make known to me the Path of Life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go
with you and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

Until next time,
Debbie

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If you would like to read the unabbreviated version of 2014 and more,
please feel free to visit my website and read till your heart is content!  https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com/

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How Long Has It Been?

1 Aug

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

 

OH.  MY. How long has it been?  Over two months, you say?  I deeply apologize for not writing sooner, but it certainly was not done so out of neglect.  My heart’s desire and priority is to write and to do so often … but life and its priorities often trump my heart.  Such is the case of late.

 

Life has been full…full of excitement, busyness, travel, heartache and change.  As brief as possible, I will back up and attempt at highlighting the past couple of months.  Where do I begin?

 

Our new home

Our new home

Let’s start with one rainy Sunday afternoon in April.  We had our realtor show us a house that had just been listed the day before.  As we walked through the front door, we sensed immediately that this home was different than any of the others we had looked at. It was bright inside with big beautiful windows and high ceilings, large and nicely painted rooms, and the price was right. Three days later we made an offer.  Within 24 hours, we knew we were going to be buying a house!

 

De-clutter became my new motto.  I started with closets and drawers, and I was serious.  It was time to look at each and every article of clothing and make a decision.  Items that didn’t make the cut began gathering in large bags in the front hall, later to be donated, while drawers and closets were neatly organized and ready to be packed for the move.  I spent hours and hours and more hours in the basement sorting and going through boxes of stuff that we hadn’t had room to do anything with for years!  As the stack of donated items grew, a true sense of accomplishment began to settle on me, helping to make my tired and sore feet feel better!  I also sorted through keepsakes.  Years and years of them.  I’m not a hoarder by any means, but I am a keeper.  There is a difference.  I love to keep things that bring back memories of special people, times, and places.  Well, my life has been full of all of these, and I’m talking literally full!  I decided it was time to continue the de-clutter process and down-size my treasures by taking a lot of pictures and scanning letters and documents.  As the trash bags filled with countless items, my heart and home began to feel liberated.   I am a blessed woman, and this whole process greatly reminded me of this fact!

 

The sellers were relocating out-of-state and their timeline was flexible, so we agreed on a closing date of June 12.  This gave us plenty of time to continue to methodically de-clutter, organize, pack, and be ready without a huge rush.  Moving is certainly not a foreign word to us, but moving just on the other side of town is definitely a different concept…and even nicer reality!  And then God gives us the best house-warming gift of all when Verizon flew Ryan into Baltimore for a business trip just 2 days after we closed on our new home.  Our entire family (minus Brittany) was together for Father’s Day, and then the following weekend for the big move.  What a hand-picked blessing from God Himself to my heart, allowing me to share this special time with both of my children.

 

More on the house later …

 

May 2014

NIBC friends

Just 2 weeks before we closed, for Memorial Day weekend, we drove to Wadsworth, Ohio for a weekend with friends.  This event was put on the calendar last fall – a reunion of sorts for friends who had worked / volunteered at the Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque while we were there a few years ago.  There were 12 of us who gathered there that day … to reminisce, to catch up, to laugh and cry, and to thank God for bringing us all together then and now.  Since that day in May, one of our dear friends, Carol Hileman, has gone on home to be with Jesus.  She and her hubby, Leonard, were the cooks at NIBC for many years.

 

Nearly every waking moment in the month of June was consumed with either packing or unpacking.  An occasional motorcycle ride, yard sale, or trip to Lowes was thrown in the mix, but it was a blur of busyness.

 

Cole Michael Lillianne Hope

Cole Michael
Lillianne Hope

July has been more of the same, with a few more opportunities to sit down and appreciate what has actually taken place.  Then a couple weeks ago, the house was filled with the awesome sounds of little people and their love for Mimi, Papaw and life!  What a great weekend of getting them settled into their new big bedroom that they now share, exploring the small stream that runs through our back yard, and soaking up every morsel of love they give to their grandparents!

 

July 2014

Me, my brothers, and our Mom

Then this past weekend, my heart was filled with more love of family as Kim, Cole and Lillie drove out to Indy with me to attend the Wells family reunion, hosted by my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Russell in Brown County.  There were over 70 of us there … I know my Daddy would’ve loved every minute of the time together!  In his honor, I edited my parents’ home movies and put together a “Wells Family Version” … nearly 80 minutes of clips from 1961 to 1987 ~ Christmas parties, birthday parties, family picnics, weddings, vacations, etc.  Several family members took a copy home, anxious to see themselves back in another time and in another place.

 

Kim and I added an extra few days to our trip to visit with some friends and other family, making our trip complete with lots of fun, great memories, and tons of pictures!  And considering that our time on the road was longer than expected, Cole and Lillie travelled very well and made Mimi and Momma very happy!

 

So, here I am today.  I’m finally making the time to do what my heart has wanted to do for weeks!!  I also feel like I need to post a sign that says “Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of the move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.

 

As I put closure to my thoughts today, my heart desires to express yet another dimension to my life.  As I sit here in my little town in south central PA, my precious friends in Crowley, Louisiana are literally watching the sands of time quickly empty the hour glass on Joe’s life.  My recent visit to Cajun country in April will always be one of the most cherished trips of my life, as I spent several days with Becky and Joe and their family.  Those were the days when Joe, even after just having his 7th surgery to remove melanoma, would get a burst of renewed energy and go into the kitchen and cook an entire meal for us, excited to be of help, although he couldn’t eat any of it himself.  In his raspy yet cheerful voice, Joe and I reminisced about days gone by … and about what God was doing in his heart and life even then as he continued to face this dreaded and vicious disease.  That was April.  A couple weeks ago after receiving the devastating results from his latest scans, Joe was given 3 months to live and was put on hospice care.   The miles between me and Becky are so, so many, but yet our hearts are very connected, as I was so frequently reminded in these past few months as I sorted through my treasures, finding multitudes of letters, cards, pictures, and keepsakes from a lifetime of friendship.  After returning from my trip to Louisiana, I picked up my own copy of Jesus Calling, which is the devotional book that my best Bud reads every day.  Somehow I wanted us both to know that although we cannot talk every day, our hearts were on the same page … literally.  This morning’s words comforted me …  since I cannot be there with my precious friend during these long exhausting days of caring for her dying husband, Jesus reminded me that she is never alone … “My Presence watches over you continually.  I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

 

Won’t you join me just now in whatever situation you find yourself in … of knowing and embracing the truth that you are never alone – His Presence watches over you continually.  He has engraved you on the palms of His hands.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

 

See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands;
your walls are ever before Me.
Isaiah 49:16

 

Reflecting His Son

27 May

   Be Holy for I am Holy.
 I Peter 1:16

The following is the devotional that I shared two weeks ago at a friend’s church in Lawrenceburg, IN.

You know what it’s like when you first move … you must find new doctors, dentists, hair stylists, and the list goes on and on.  For those of us who move to a different state, some of those chores are even more dreadful.  Last fall, right before our auto insurance was about to expire, we took care of getting our drivers license, insurance, and then plates.  I had been out job hunting that day, so dressed in my nice professional attire, I made my way to the MVD.  I waited in line to take the short test, waited in another line to have my picture taken, and waited again to pick up my license.  As I finally walked out to my car with my new photo ID, I chuckled to myself as I looked at the picture.  The silly computer operator messed my picture up!!  You know when you are working with photos and you don’t grab the corners of the picture just right? You end up squishing the picture or, as in my case, you chub it out!   There was my face with chubby cheeks!  Hehe!!  Oh well!  Next, I needed to run my new license over to an insurance agency where we were getting a quote ~ they were waiting to add my license number to their form.  I walked in with my card in hand and quickly explained how goofy the photo looked … all because the employee at the MVD wasn’t too computer savvy.  The woman on the other side of the counter looked down at the photo … looked back up me … and back at the photo and said  ~ I think it’s a good picture!   Seriously?   I shrugged her comment off, figuring that she had left her reading glasses back at her desk.  It certainly was NOT a good picture!   Ok … now jump ahead through the calendar a few months to February.   I was hired for a temporary position in theYork County Administrative Center, requiring that I wear a photo ID badge.  I marched up to the second floor where the HR department was and once again stood before a camera and smiled.  The nice woman on the other side of this counter handed me my new card … and oh my goodness!  There were those same chubby cheeks again!!  Could both of these people be that irresponsible with their technique of transferring pictures onto cards?  Honestly!  As I walked down the steps and back out to my car, a light bulb clicked on.  Maybe it wasn’t the workers after all.  Is it possible that I could really look like that?  I mean, I look into a mirror a gazillion times a day!  We all do!  I haven’t really noticed that my cheeks are that chubby.  Sigh!!  But I suppose it’s possible that now at the age of 50 and the metabolism not being what it used to be, this could be a true reflection of how I really look!  Wow!   Thinking back about as I stood there in front of the camera, my image was reflected on the lens of that camera and was captured on the computer, that then printed out my picture on those ID cards.  The lens was able to reflect  my dark hair, my pretty outfit, and my chubby face, but it was unable to reflect who I really am.  Who I really am on the inside.  Just to make this clear … we ALL reflect what’s on the inside of our hearts to the world around us.  WHAT we reflect is our choice. 

When we stand in front of the mirror every day, we check that reflection to see how we look … really messed up, cute, blah, just ok, or even attractive  … or NOT attractive.  And if we find that we are not, then we do what we can to fix that, don’t we?  We would never think of leaving the house first thing in the morning without looking in the mirror to make sure everything is in its rightful place.  Now I did say attractive.  I don’t necessarily mean that we are hung up on making sure we are drop-dead gorgeous, because at this age, I guarantee that is not even a possibility.  But I do try to look pleasant and nice-looking  ~  which when turned around says looking nice.  Even the word appealing is appropriate here.  If I were to walk out of the house and enter the front of door of my work place in my grungy but comfy sweats, a big t-shirt, and my hair caught up in a hand band  …  oh and in my monkey house slippers, I would not be considered attractive, nice-looking or appealing … meaning that those I work with would not necessarily want to be around me.  We all can agree that we want to look nice, right?  And pleasant?  And appealing.  All are synonyms for ‘Attractive’. 

 Let’s take the word attractive to a deeper level.  The inside level.  At any given moment, whether you have taken the time to look in the spiritual mirror or not, you are reflecting the inner you.  Who you really are.  Scripture says in Matthew that the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.’  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man `unclean’.

Notice that scripture doesn’t specify that evil is just the things we do or the words we speak … what makes a man unclean comes from his heart.  It’s a heart issue.  What does your heart reflection look like?  Is it attractive?  Is it appealing?  Does it make other people want to be like you … or to have what you have inside?  As hard as we might try to reflect holiness, if the foundation of a holy heart is not reality, then reality will eventually always be reflected.

The first chapter of 1 Peter, verses 15 and 16 are stated very plainly when scripture simply says Be Holy for I am Holy.  God’s design is that we reflect His Son.  It is His design that we choose to confess our sins and repent of them, which means to turn away from them, and then to allow God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

A synonym for reflection is image.  Genesis 1 says that God created man in His own image.  That image or reflection of God became tarnished and messed up because of the sin that took place in the Garden of Eden. 

Later in scripture, we know from the Christmas story that Jesus came as the New Image or Reflection of God  ~  in Colossians 1 it say that He is the image of the invisible God … or I like to say He is God with flesh on.  Jesus came to restore us back to our original image before sin …  by dying on the cross, by His resurrection from the grave, and by leaving us His Holy Spirit to fill us and dwell inside of our hearts.  Be Holy for I am Holy.

There’s another story in the New Testament about the religious leaders of that day who were more interested in rules and regulations than in a relationship with God   ~  They came to Jesus, trying to cause trouble by asking Him about paying taxes.  Jesus held up a coin and asked them … whose image is on this coin?  They answered “Caesar’s”.  So Jesus said … “Give to Caesar what belongs to him and give to God what is God’s”.  As beings who are fashioned in the Image of our Creator, God longs for us to give back to Him what is His, and that is ourselves.  Our image, purified by the blood of Jesus, then reflecting God’s image … Be Holy for I am Holy.

 There’s an old hymn of the church, entitled “O To Be Like Thee”  here are the words …

  1. Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
    This is my constant longing and prayer;
    Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
    Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.(Chorus) 
    Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
    Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
    Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
    Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
  2. Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
    Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
    Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
    Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.
  3. Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
    Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
    All that I am and have I am bringing,
    Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

I’ve talked a lot about mirrors, reflections, images, being attractive and appealing … but the most important truth that I want us to grasp a hold of is that it’s all about Jesus.  It certainly doesn’t have much to do with our outward appearance, how we fix our hair or how flat our bellies are.  Yes, these things have their rightful places in our daily routine of our social life and being healthy, but what matters most is our appearance on the inside.  Attitudes, bitterness, moods, unforgiveness, and the list goes on and on … the things that will distract, taint, and hinder the reflection of Jesus. 

When your world sees the spiritual mirror of your life, what does it see?  Is the reflection distorted, blurred, and hazy due to the source of the image being broken?  God is extending an invitation to make your spirit whole.  He wants you to bring your sin and lay it at the foot of the cross  … so what you reflect is no longer yourself and the sin that tarnishes your true image, but you reflect God’s Son … Be Holy for I am Holy.

Here’s a song by the Cathedral Quartet, sung by Roger Bennett who died 4 years ago from cancer.  “When the World Looks at Me, Do They See Jesus?”  Click here to listen  May it challenge your heart and even stir you enough to pray about your own reflection to those around you.

Until next time,
Debbie

Completely

20 May
 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength. 
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

 

I was honored with an invitation to be the guest speaker at a ladies’ annual spring banquet last Friday night.  The church was located back in my old tromping grounds of southern Indiana, so I was blessed beyond measure to have 12 of my dearest friends from the Cincinnati area come and see me!  The evening’s festivities began with cupcake chat, singing, and a delicious dinner.  What a joy it was for me as I sat there eating, talking, and listening to the different conversations around the table … trying to soak up every moment of being with my friends so I could tuck away the evening’s morsels of memories and savor them later. 

Most of the gals, plus my Momma!

With satisfied and full tummies, we all made our way back up to the sanctuary for the remainder of the evening.  Moments before I was introduced and welcomed to come up front, a young lady began to sing a very special song.  As the music started to play for her accompaniment, my heart began to swell and my eyes began to fill.  I sat there in that pew, totally transported to another time and another place. 

The time was September 13, 2006 and the place was Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Indiana.  Having packed every item we owned, leaving behind our place of ministry in Albuquerque, NM for the past 9 years and friends too many to count, a new life was before us.  After traveling for 3 days and 1400 miles, we were almost there.  As I followed behind the big yellow moving truck and exited off the interstate, I slipped my Sandia Women’s Retreat 2006 Worship CD into the player and found this special song on purpose.  The message of the words penetrated my being as I once again had to let go and surrender everything to His control.  With tears streaming down my face, we pulled onto the grounds of our new home, ministry, and life.  I sang this song as an act of worship … my heart filled with sadness in leaving friends and ministry behind, and my soul filled with the uncertainty of a new place, new work and ministry, and new people.  Right there in that moment …  Click here to listen

COMPLETELY 

The secret of life is letting go
The secret of love is letting it show
In all that I do
In all that I say
Right here in this moment

The power of prayer is in a humble cry
The power of change is in giving my life
And laying it down
Down at your feet
Right here in this moment

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

This journey of life is a search for truth
This journey of faith is following you
Every step of the way
Through the joy and the pain
Right here in this moment

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

Right here, right now, and for the rest of my life
Hear me say

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

I am yours and yours alone
Completely

 

As I sat there last Friday night once again listening to this song, I could still smell the freshly mown grass, I could see the deep plush green of everything (as opposed to the very little green and mostly brown that we had grown to love in Albuquerque), and I could still feel the intense ache, fear, and loneliness that enveloped me at that moment in 2006.   But as that young lady continued to sing, my Jesus wrapped His arms of love around me and whispered in my ear … “Look around you.”  There I was, literally surrounded by 3 rows of women who specifically came to see me.  These weren’t just any women.  They were the ones I rubbed shoulders with on a regular basis … at work, at district functions, Munchy Monday, … all from my life at Higher Ground.   We have laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and lived life together.  They were the result of my letting go, laying it all at His feet, and saying I am Yours and Yours alone … completely.  

I am overwhelmed with how personal and loving my Jesus is to me.    He took the past 5 years, placed it all in a box for me, and wrapped it up with a nice pretty bow on top.  He placed a tag on the outside and wrote “I love you, Debbie!” Those girls, especially, know what that means to me.  They are the jewels inside that shine above all the other stuff. 

With tears still in my eyes, it was my turn to come up front and speak.  Temporarily laying my notes to the side, I had to share my journey through those last 5 minutes and express my love in return to my Jesus.     

Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

I am Yours and Yours alone
Completely

I will share the rest of the story … next time.
Debbie

Jesus Loves Me

29 Sep

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son
 into the world that we might live through him. This is love:
not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son
as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends,
since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another,
 God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 
1 John 4:9-12

 

In previous years of experience, after having just moved to a new location … new job, different house, an unfamiliar area, and still undecided on which church to regularly attend, Sundays were usually a difficult day for me.  This past weekend, however, was not that way at all.  Please allow me to take you on a journey  …

When our family lived in the state of Pennsylvania back in the ’90s, I baked homemade cinnamon rolls quite frequently on Sunday mornings.  They were tasty and quick to devour just moments before heading out the door to Sunday School and church.  Knowing that we were driving down to Baltimore to attend church with our daughter and her little family this past Sunday, I was inspired to bake these decadent treats once again and take them with us to share.  With a slight chill in the air as it was raining outside, the sweet aroma of the rolls baking put a warmth in the heart from the memories of when we were much younger with much smaller children…and this put a smile on my face. 

Reminders of ‘home’ greeted us on our hour drive to the Arndts as I received texts from a couple Higher Ground friends, checking on us and sending their love.  Rolls and coffee were enjoyed in the usual fashion, just moments before going to church.  Grace Pointe Community Church of the Nazarene is currently gathering its congregation in a really nice school building as new construction is taking place nearby.  A quick glance in the bulletin advertised Caravans, creating a smile of joy as I imagined my grandchildren earning badges while they learned the Articles of Faith and other core values in this Christian scouting program.  As I stood there in the auditorium sharing in the worship experience with my family, I took notice of the pulpit bearing the Nazarene logo “Holiness Unto the Lord”.  A heart full of gratitude for a prayer answered, knowing that a heritage of holiness upbringing will continue another generation in this Arndt/VanHook home.  The music filled the hall, nothing elaborate with a full orchestra or 50 person choir, but a simple platform of instruments and singers that lifted their talents and hearts in worship as they led us to the Father.  There were songs I didn’t know, but the message of these words spoke to me …

“All that is within me cries.
For You alone be glorified Emmanuel, God with us.
My heart sings a brand new song.
The debt is paid these chains are gone.
Emmanuel, God with us.

Such a tiny offering, compared to Calvary, nevertheless we lay it at your feet.
Such a tiny offering, compared to Calvary, nevertheless we lay this at your feet.”

 

Then there were songs I did know, songs that continued to draw me into His presence …

“Blessed be your name, In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow, Blessed be your name
Blessed be your name, When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness, Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name, When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be, Blessed be your name
Blessed be your name, On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering, Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out, I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, Still I will say…
Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away, You give and take away
My heart will choose to say , Lord, Blessed be your name”

Pastor Bolerjack began to relate a story concerning his son who is an avid OU fan and attended the OU vs UC game the night before.  I sat there and had to sort of shake my brain loose and think “Where am I?”  I now live in Pennsylvania, but at this moment am hearing this story in Maryland.  Pastor’s son lives in Oklahoma and attended the game, which was in Cincinnati.  Wow!  A connection … a real BIG connection to our hearts!  I know Tim was anxious to chat with the pastor following the service to tell him that we just left the Cincinnati area and Higher Ground, which is where the University of Cincinnati Bearcats annually hold their pre-season football training camp.  Having just watched the exciting game ourselves, it was quite fun to share this connection with him.  We also inquired of his relationship to R.T. and Pat Bolerjack, who we found out to be his uncle and aunt. More connections were made as we shared of our friendship with them from our days at Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque. 

Moments before at the end of the sermon, as the piano began to play a very familiar song, my heart was moved to tears. A few months ago while working in the kitchen at Higher Ground and it was an extremely busy and tough day, I suggested to my friend that when we felt frustrated and and worn out, we should start singing Sunday School songs to help us through our shift.  Just the day before, this friend had texted me that her work day had been very rough, and at one point she began to sing her Sunday School songs.  I then told her that I’m so glad that she could sing Jesus Loves Me. As I stood there the next morning at the close of the service, the melody of that childhood tune began to fill that church auditorium.  Once again, I felt the extreme love of Jesus, His approval of me, my walk, and my relationship with Him. 

I knew right then that I would write about all of this … a personal, very intimate connection with God Himself, knowing that He hand-picked details of this day, at this time in my life, just for me!  Somehow, I need to express that just believing there is a God, religion, and all the churchy stuff of life is not what it’s all about.  It’s even so much more than a daily routine of Bible reading and prayer time.  It’s a relationship with God, communication with One Another, and as I read this morning in Streams in the Desert, it’s a ‘Peace that breathes music in my breast.’  Do you hear the music? … “Jesus Loves Me!”

Till next time,
Debbie

Every Day Matters

24 Sep

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life
will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it
for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
Luke 9:23-25

 

I’m down to the final days and the final room of unpacking boxes.  Yes, I know. It has taken longer than it should have to get settled.  But I have set a goal for myself that by this time next year, when our year lease on the big brown house is up, I will have substantially gotten rid of a lot of stuff.  Stuff that I have kept for the sake of keeping it.  You know, “so and so gave that to me” or better yet … “I have kept this all these years but do not remember where it came from.”   In order to weed through things like that, it takes time. 

So back to my final days and the final room.  This room was saved for last because I knew it would take me the longest.  It is officially called ‘the office’, but there is very little office work accomplished in this room.  There are two desks, filing cabinets, receipts, pens, paper and paper clips … oh!  And stamps.  But little else that could give someone reason to call it an office.  In truth, it’s more like the Taco Bell/KFC/Pizza Hut combo restaurant!  Ours is the Office/Library/Museum Room.  Along with the office, which we have already covered, is the Library.  I have a very large bookcase, which is full of all sorts of books, from Chilton mechanic manuals to Little House on the Prairie, and everything in between.  My assortment of reading material mostly consists of books regarding the Christian life, written for a variety of different readers … woman, wife, mother, Grami, friend, husband, son, the troubled, the sick, the young, the old, and much more.  The final part of our trilogy room is the Museum.  Cows, plaques, pictures, magnets, forks, mugs, special notes, candles, pillows, old computers, footballs, posters, peacock feathers, a walking cane, forks, and SO much more.  I love people, I love memories, and I love to be surrounded by it all!  This is my room of treasures.  (except the old computers … they belong to desk #2, but still qualify as part of the Museum!) 

So back to my final days and the final room.  Yesterday afternoon, I was working on a bulletin board that I have always kept at my desk.  It was full of pictures of my family, cut out and cropped to fit a gazillion photos in one area so I could be blessed every time I looked at it.  Several years has gone by since I created this collage, and life has brought a couple new faces into our family.  So, I took out a few outdated photos and added a few current ones.  I was also combining little trinkets and special treasures from another board I kept at my desk at Higher Ground.  From that board, I peeled off the words  “Every Day Matters”   and stuck it to the bigger board I was working on.  This small three-word phrase comes from J.C. Penney’s sales ads and catalogs.  I remember the first time I saw it and thinking how true it was!  Every day does matter. 

 Here are some excerpts from my favorite devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers  ~  July 28

“We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.”

Every day matters.  Yes, ultimately Heaven is our goal, but it is the journey that really makes the difference.  We must recognize that God is walking on the seas of our lives and that we must allow Him to be the God of our winds, waves and even the calm and peaceful days.  If we don’t allow Him to be the Lord of it all, then scripture tells us that Heaven will not be our end.  Every day matters.

So back to my final days and the final room.  My goal is to have less stuff in a year, and what I do keep will be carefully gone through and well organized.  But a few weeks ago as I helped carry box after box after box into the moving truck … and then back out again two days later, my projected goal and its task seemed daunting.  A year from now will show the difference, but it will be the every day between now and then that truly matters. 

There are countless circumstances in our lives where every day does matter.  Relationships, our jobs, our health, …  you finish your own list.  Please join with me in all these areas of our lives to embrace the truth that Every Day Matters.

Until next time,
Debbie

Love Notes

16 Sep

The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”
Luke 1:28

 

Just this morning, on a paper towel tucked away in his lunch box, I wrote a few words of affection to my husband.  During the recent visit to our daughter and son-in-law’s home, I caught a glimpse of a note lying on a dresser in their bedroom.  It was from him to her, no doubt written in the wee hours of a morning before he went to work … for her to find as she woke a few hours later to the giggles and sweetness of their toddler.  Earlier today, I slipped a couple cards into the mail, with sentiments of love and prayer for friends. 

Two weeks ago this evening, Tim and I pulled down into the driveway of our new home.  Life had already set an incredible pace of busyness several weeks previous, including packing, work, more packing, and more work.  Once the big white truck was unloaded and returned, that pace continued for a few days in order for our household to function while our kids came to help us get settled.  Boxes were emptied, their contents placed throughout, allowing the house to quickly become our home.  What joy it was to cut open the protective tape from the sides of each box and to randomly come across a love note written somewhere on the box!   The gift givers were my precious friends from Higher Ground with whom I’ve worked side by side in the kitchen now for about a year. 

“Is the salad bar finished yet?    Love ya, Chrissy”

 

“Don’t worry  –  Be happy!     Love, Pat”

 

“Are you there yet?  Gonna miss you!  Don’t be too persnickety!
Ha! Ha!   Joy”

 

“Debbie, do you miss me yet?    I promise to come visit you! 
I wuv you so much!  Love Courtney”

 

“Hi   Miss you already    BP”

 

“- Tim and Deb –
Do you know that you are blessed and highly favored? 
Have a great day!
Love, Pat”

 

“   😮     I love you   BP”

 

 

“I’ll fly away!”

 

As the girls were using the products from these boxes, instead of their usual routine of breaking down the boxes for easy disposal, they took them to the back, often with a marker and a message.  How delightful it has been during these days of unpacking to reach into a box and find a simple greeting  …  a love note. 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be
 thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I Tim 3:16

 

Throughout the New Testament, the various authors of the Bible penned letters which became God’s personal love notes to us.  Scriptures offer direction, love, correction, accountability, encouragement, and friendship.  With God’s Word as our only true example of love, will you join me as I desire to stay alert to the nudgings from the Holy Spirit … and to give notes of love that will express support, prayer, encouragement, accountability and friendship?

I have several more boxes to unpack  …  and I do so with great anticipation of more love notes!

Till next time,
Debbie

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts,
known and read by everybody.
You show that you are a letter from Christ,
result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:2-3