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To Sturgis and Back

24 Aug

The Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:8

 

For the past year, my husband and 3 co-conspirators have been planning a trip, a marathon of sorts, to the Black Hills of South Dakota…to the infamous Sturgis.

 

The Iron Butt Award was the first order of business on their ride out, qualifying with over 1000 miles in a 24-hour period — traveling a great deal of that first morning in rain, followed by many hours of unrelenting sunshine before night fall when they finally stopped to bed down in Stuart, Iowa. This certificate of great endurance and manly honor will look wonderful hanging in his office at work! (wink wink)

 

August 2016

Mt. Rushmore

Purposefully avoiding the crazy party atmosphere of the Sturgis bike week by a few days, Tim, Nathan, Terry and Charles took day trips to see Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devil’s Tower and to ride the Needles Highway. Curves, switchbacks and winding corkscrew roads made for the perfect motorcycle experience for these guys.  With 4400 miles traveled, the beautiful landscape with national landmarks, parks, and gorgeous scenic overlooks made excellent memories for Tim and a desire to take a variation of this trip and share it all with me.

 

August 6, 2016

Welcome home committee

So what did I do while my husband was traisping across the country? Determined to not sit at home and worry, I took a trip of my own to Indianapolis and then a road trip to visit a very special uncle in Kentucky and my dear aunt and cousins in Big Stone Gap, VA. What an awesome week of fun with family and friends, followed by about 24 hours with our son in Baltimore, thanks to Verizon Wireless. Having spent the week in the DC area for business, Ryan tacked on a few extra days to his trip so he could spend some time with Kim’s family and then be part of the welcoming committee when Tim and I returned home.

Aug 2016

Tim’s ride

We all have mountains in our lives … for some, they are currently off in the distance while others are actively winding back and forth on the curvy roads of life, enduring the persistent sunshine and heat, hoping for shade around the next bend.  Others are steady travelers, often riding into rain showers while others have to stop to take cover in the midst of a heavy downpour.

Wherever you are on your journey of life, won’t you join me as we lift our eyes to the mountains?  Our help will always come from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let our feet slip, He watches over us as we sleep, and HE is our shade, keeping us from harm … watching over us as we come and go.  Thank you, Lord!

Until next time,
Debbie

I lift up my eyes to the mountains
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm
He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:1-8

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle 2015

2 Oct

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all people to Myself.
John 12:32

 

My Mommy heart was full and overflowing as I peered out the window to catch my last glimpse of Mt. Rainier … until next time. The view of that majestic peak symbolizes my excited anticipation of being with my son and his future bride … and represents to my heart the awesome Love of God that continually watches over Ryan and Brittany.

 

As Tim and I boarded our Southwest Airline early last Thursday morning, my mother in Indianapolis began her own journey … both flights converging at the Sea-Tac Airport just minutes apart. What a joy to be welcomed to Seattle by our son and my mom! Those moments of hugs and kisses were just the beginning of a 5-day adventure that will forever fill our hearts with priceless memories!

 

On the day we arrived, just a quarter of a mile from Ryan and Brittany’s apartment was the scene of the fatal accident involving a tour bus of international students and the Seattle Duck Tour. This created quite a delay in getting to their home, along with a change in our itinerary of riding the Duck Tour later in the weekend.

 

Ready for church!

Ready for church!

Speaking of our itinerary, the list of places to see, foods to eat, and things to do over the next several days was extensive, and we were successful in accomplishing all but a few. Ryan and Brittany took time off from work to be our entertaining and personal tour guides and warmly opened their home to us with comfy accommodations and delicious meals! We ate out at some of our favorite spots and enjoyed the brew of coffee that is so famous in Seattle. We drove across the floating bridge and enjoyed the misty view of the Snoqualmie Falls, and we walked through Pike’s Market as we stopped from time to time to graze on cheese curds, crumpets and tasty bakery treats. We rode the elevators to the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center and spent the afternoon with a bird’s eye view of our host city and its surrounding towns. We spent leisure time cheering for the Colts, Broncos, and the Seahawks, watching an assortment of movies each evening, and Brittany and I spent a few hours shopping at the world’s best Goodwill where we found awesome deals to compliment our wardrobes!

 

As the blood moon eclipsed over the eastern skyline of Seattle on Sunday evening, my heart knew that it needed to prepare for the inevitable good-byes that would soon take place the following morning. Our favorite Seattle brew of Cafe Vita graced our Monday-morning breakfast table and within a short time I was once again hugging and kissing my loved ones. Grateful beyond words to have finally shared the special experience of Ryan/Brittany and Seattle with my mother, I sent her in the direction of her flight back to Indianapolis, knowing that I will see her again in just two weeks for my annual birthday visit. Discussion of a hopeful visit to our home in celebration of Christmas and the New Year kept the tears at bay as I embraced our kids and told them thanks for allowing us to come and spend a few days with them. I always feel that my hug is just not quite long enough nor tight enough to fully express my love to them.

 

Five days before as we neared our descent into Seattle, my heart sank with disappointment as I realized that we were sitting on the wrong side of the plane in order to see Mt. Rainier. Knowing that the weather while in Seattle can sometimes be overcast with clouds that hide any view of the mountain, seeing it while above the clouds is always a guarantee … that is as long as we’re seated on the correct side of the plane. As I was making mental notes to pick better seats next time, our pilot began to do a dance in the sky, twirling our plane into a complete circle, literally allowing me full view of that majestic mountain that towers above everything else in view. What I’m sure was a maneuver ordered by flight control in order to get into the proper flow of air traffic, God used it as a very personal gesture, showing His huge heart of Love to me!

 

Now as I once again leave behind Mt. Rainier, the beautiful city of Seattle, and those two precious children, my prayer is that our God will continue to watch over them, that He would be their Constant Companion, and that I can rest in His promise to always draw their hearts to His.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.
John 12:32

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

 For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you.
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge
of His will through all the wisdom and understanding
that the Spirit gives,
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and please Him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,

being strengthened with all power according to
His glorious might so that you may have
great endurance and patience
and giving joyful thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the
inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of
darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14

If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures that I recently posted on Facebook, feel free to click this link…whether you have Facebook or not!  Enjoy!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10205896195298804.1073741892.1076414018&type=1&l=a015608a95

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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Beach Therapy

19 Sep

Be at rest, once more, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
Psalm 116:7

With great excitement, she leaned across the dinner table and asked me if I had ever been parasailing.  I giggled as I quickly responded with a ‘no, but I would love to!’

For you see, on August 9, I stood in the surf on Fenwick Island Beach, Delaware watching a boat pull a pair of parasailers.  I allowed my mind and heart to daydream about how fun it would be to someday parasail in Florida with my best bud.  That day, just 8 days after her husband’s death, Becky and her family were part of my every breath and thought as they were celebrating Joe’s life in Crowley, Louisiana … some 1300 miles away.

Back to the dinner table in Florida on the evening of September 11th … with great animation, I told my story to Becky, exclaiming over the fact that her invitation to me to join her for some beach therapy was not presented for nearly another 2 weeks later after my Fenwick Beach moment.  In fact, it was the same day I finally took a small zip lock bag of sand that I had gathered from that weekend on the beach and mailed it to her, the sand representing her hope of getting to Florida soon for some much needed rest.  I placed that sand-laden card in the mail … and later that morning I chuckled out loud as I read Becky’s email invitation to me to join her and her momma in Florida in September.

God does things like this in my life quite often.  I guess He knows He must keep it somewhat simple, but yet for me they are Red Sea moments.  Sand in a zip lock bag, just picked up by the mailman, followed by an immediate invitation to Florida.  Thoughts and hopes of parasailing with my dear friend on the same day as her husband’s memorial service  …  to be parasailing with her a month and 3 days later!!  Also, my airfare was provided by a frequent flier charge card that had accumulated enough points to send me to Florida for a minimal fee.  I do not believe in coincidences … my steps are ordered by the God Who loves me in every way possible.

A man’s mind plans his way,
but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.
Proverbs 16:9 amp

I flew on September 11th.  I arrived in Tampa without incident and was warmly welcomed by the hug of a lifetime … one that expressed deep sorrow and disbelief, but a gratefulness and excitement for the few days we had together.  Two friends reunited after tragedy and loss … together for some beach therapy.

Therapy comes in different forms – for Becky, the beach has always been a place of relaxation and respite.  Her parents retired several years ago in Florida, giving her the perfect setting for fun vacations with her family.  Now just one month since Joe’s death, Becky and her momma planned a short time to get away for some much needed quiet time and rest.  Becky and her family have been extremely busy in the past few weeks while they sort, toss, organize, box, and donate items that have accumulated over the past 22 years of living in the church parsonage.  A much smaller place just down the road is where Becky and Pauline will call home … anticipating a move-in date of early October.

Our days together in Florida were full – leisure morning time with coffee and a simple breakfast followed by a couple hours of beach time.  Most early evenings were spent with Becky’s extended family who also live in the area, giving me a chance to see people I had not seen in many, many years, and to meet others who are newer additions.  Hallmark movies were the choice of late evening entertainment, sending us to bed with hearts full of gratefulness for another blessed day.

Enjoying the surf and sun

Enjoying the surf and sun

The highlight of those days together was the beach therapy.  The white sandy shore of the Gulf of Mexico welcomed us as we slathered on protective lotions and creams and enjoyed the late morning sunshine and the silly antics of the birds.  The original email invitation requested my presence and a listening ear … so every time I heard the name Joe, my heart smiled, knowing that she needed to say his name.  I needed to say his name … and we both needed to hear it.  We talked about their family, their kids and grandkids.  We talked about our past … mentioning people of years gone by and laughing about those days in our shared childhood and teen years.  She shared moments of heartache as she recalled Joe’s last days, things said and events that took place, painting a mental picture for me of those personal and intimate moments in her life.  Tears mingled with our sunscreen and sweat as we laid there on the beach for those brief hours each day, tears that were soon to be washed away by the salty waves of the gulf waters.  How refreshing it was as we enjoyed just being in the water, rolling with the tide and swimming … all the while we continued to share hearts, thoughts, and chatter.

Parasailing fun!!

Parasailing fun!!

Did we go parasailing?  You betcha!  A bright yellow smiley face chute carried two best buds high into the sky where we chatted some, but also found ourselves quiet, lost in the moment.  I’m sure we were both thinking about Joe and why we were together, doing what we were doing.  Just like a camera captures moments in time, I wish there was a way we could’ve captured the emotion of those minutes together … the exhilaration and blessing of flying so effortlessly through the salty air of the Gulf, high above all of the noise and commotion of life … up near the heart of God and the one we just lost.  It was a special time that ended all too soon.

I don’t remember a specific moment or at what age Becky and I first met, but sometime in the mid 1960’s, two little girls found themselves next to one another and must’ve felt a kindred spirit. A spirit that grew deeper as the years clicked by …  Barbie dolls and board games, her house or mine, Bible quizzing and memory verses, nail polish and curlers, alto and soprano, piano, reading, sewing, sleep-overs, boys, … all the way to Joe and Tim.  The two boys that stole our hearts … along with our own love and devotion to the God Who set the course for the rest of our lives.  Many miles have separated us through much of our adult lives, focusing on family, ministries, and the busyness of life.  Often I am finding that it takes crises to pull hearts back together ~ hearts that sometimes do not fully realize the distance that had crept in.

People all around us are hurting.  Some are grieving the loss of a loved one.  Others are in financial trouble while others are terminally ill with no hope of recovery.  Unresolved matters have been left to fester, leaving pain and disconnect in families.  Marriage relationships are dissolving or an accident has turned someone’s world upside down.  In the midst of our everyday, someone you know and someone I know needs therapy.  Therapy comes in different forms … on purpose, be creative and offer some much needed attention to someone today.  Be a listening ear, a warm body to hug, a heart full of compassion that will laugh and cry, and just be there.  Pray. Be there for whatever it takes for healing of their soul to begin.  Won’t you join me?

Until next time,
Debbie

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“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent 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.
 
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** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my trip to Florida
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
 
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Albuquerque

10 Sep

 

 

 The Lord will guide you always;
    He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11

 

As the captain instructed the flight crew to prepare the cabin for landing, I glanced out my window and caught my first glimpse in eight years of Sandia Mountain.  Within minutes, our plane flew over the Crest and the familiar view of the city of Albuquerque sprawled out below us.  Tears welled up as our great Southwest plane made a large circle over top of the South Valley, allowing us to recognize buildings and landmarks.  Once landed and inside the airport, memories of days gone by of the arrival and departure of countless Work & Witness teams pulled and yanked on our hearts.  Needless to say, by the time we entered the airport again 6 days later, our hearts were pretty sore.

 

Following the biggest tug on our hearts, the first item on our itinerary that Wednesday evening was to drive to the former campus of the Nazarene Indian Bible College, which is where we called home for 9 years.  As we pulled in and parked our rented car behind the chapel, we grew silent as we looked around us and saw the extreme disrepair and neglect in every direction.  As we slowly walked around on the very sidewalks that our Work & Witness teams poured, tears once again filled our eyes.  A sadness consumed our thoughts as we remembered students and their families, dedicated staff and volunteers, and hundreds of sacrificial team members who gave of their time, their resources, and their lives to make the campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College a place for men and women to answer the call of God on their lives.  Eight years ago the property was sold.  The Van Hooks packed up and moved back east.  The rest is history.  Thankfully, while visiting with those who purchased the 17 acre facility, leadership changes have taken place along with immediate plans of major cleanup and repair.  Tim and I will be praying for the Sandia Church as this huge task looms before them, and that they will redeem that which has fallen … that which over 66 years ago was a gift from God to the Native American people and to the Church of the Nazarene.  May it once again become Holy Ground and a place that the community can be proud of.

 

Dusk had stolen the daylight as Tim and I finished our pilgrimage to NIBC.  The sky was dark as we headed north on I-25, but the beautiful lights of the city illuminated our drive and encouraged our hearts as we made our way to the home of our friends, Daniel and Jennifer.  Having just enjoyed the first meal of our ABQ vacation, Lotaburger green chile burgers, we were excitedly greeted by our hosts and were grateful for their warm hospitality!  We were blessed beyond words with the entire lower level of their home, complete with a beautiful guest bath and bedroom, furnished in southwest décor!!

 

August 28, 2014

7 of us met for lunch at the Sandwich Company

Aug 28, 2014

Stevie and Jenee with their children

While Tim and Daniel were busy taking care of guy things, Thursday was my day to spend with the girls.  Mani/pedis were on the morning agenda, as well as an afternoon surprise massage … all special treats with and from my friend, Jenee.  In the middle of our fun day, we met 5 other of my friends for lunch, where we all talked at once and tried to catch up on the past 8 years of life.  The evening was extra special as Tim met me at the beautiful Yarbrough home where Jenee prepared a delicious dinner, complimented by red and green chiles. What a blessing to sit around the table with Stevie and Jenee, their 4 children, Jenee’s father and his lady friend…to participate in family conversations, to watch the various personalities interact, and to soak up every morsel of every moment.  As we all went outside to play in the backyard, I couldn’t help but to thank God for His answer to a shared prayer that was prayed over 9 years ago – His answer was the drug addicted life of Jenee Noriega.  Thank you, Jesus!

 

Aug 29, 2014

Breakfast at Barelas with Mario, Vinny and his 2 boys

Aug 29, 2014

Emilio and Martha

The next morning brought us back down to the south valley where our children grew up, where we met two of our son’s best friends from high school for breakfast … at Barelas Coffee House.  Mario and Vinny – and Vinny’s two little guys, Javier and Joaquin.  What a treat to sit and visit with these boys – now all grown up with adult lives of their own!  My heart swelled with lots of love and pride, along with gratefulness to a God who blessed my son’s life those many years ago with the friendship of these two fine young men.  What an awesome start to our Friday!  Since we were so close, we drove back down to our old stomping ground, this time stopping to visit our neighbors who live behind the NIBC campus.  Emilio and Martha were thrilled to see us, inviting us inside their home where we shared stories of kids and grandkids, work and life.  Taking us out to their large garden before we left, they sent us away with two bags full of freshly picked green chile, jalapenos, and other veggies.  What a treat!!

 

Aug 29, 2014

Dinner at Henriettas with the McKinneys and Mary

Later that evening, Tim and I made our way back across town to find our dear friend, Mary Jimenez, and the 3 of us drove the familiar route to Los Lunas for dinner, where we met Tom and Laurita McKinney.  Once again, sitting inside Henrietta’s and across the table and beside dear friends from NIBC, I found my heart was full and running over.  Several years, a lot of life, and many changes have all taken place … but I will always remember the scripture that Tom, without hesitation, proposed to be the theme verse for the 50th anniversary celebration of Nazarene Indian Bible College in 1998.  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8   As we realized that time had even taken an adverse toll on one of our favorite restaurants, I was comforted by evening’s end to know that Jesus had Tom and Laurita and Mary safely in His unchanging hands.  It was a fun time of catching up, laughing and remembering many, many good times in ministry together!   It was a very heart-warming evening!

 

Sept 1, 2014

Our gracious hosts … Daniel and Jennifer

The weekend arrived and we had set aside Saturday to spend time with our gracious hosts.  Following an adventurous time of early morning travel east of the city, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at a country corner restaurant in Edgewood.  I enjoyed two over easy eggs on top of a chile rellano…oh my goodness!   Since I was literally 5 minutes away from my sweet friend, Sonja, I drove over to visit with her for a couple hours as we chatted the afternoon by.  That evening was quiet, relaxing, and spent at home with Daniel, Jennifer and their bird, Pepe.

 

Aug 31, 2014

Sarah and Cynthia with Sarah’s twins

Sunday was truly a marathon day as there were many people and many places on our agenda!  I arrived at Sandia Mountain church at 9:00 am, where I was given a facility tour by Cynthia Myers … as I greeted and hugged friends, surprising many, and chatting with several.  My allotted hour flew by all too quickly, but my next stop was over 20 minutes away and I needed to hurry.  As I drove to Rio Rancho, I began to pray for Jenee as she was going to be preaching this morning … and I didn’t want to miss it.  Entering the service just moments after it had started, I stood beside my friend as our voices harmonized, both of us in tears as we worshipped the One Who brought us together over 9 years ago.

 

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing
praise to the King of kings
You are my everything
and I will adore You.

 

Aug 31, 2014

Pastor Jenee

As Jenee got up to preach, I hung onto every word … incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be there at that moment.  My mind kept traveling back to 2005 and 2006 when Jenee was a brand new Christian, struggling to stay above the drugs and the lifestyle that had held her captive for 19 years.  Watching her, not only as she preached, but in the everyday … and even on the phone, the joy of Jesus and her love for Him literally radiates from the inside out of Jenee.    Following her message, there was a small reunion of friends that took place as I greeted old friends from Sandia … and then Stevie’s cousin JoeJoe!  What an awesome morning!  As I drove back across Paseo Del Norte to the northeast side of Albuquerque, my heart was full and running over…thrilled to be back in Albuquerque and to see so many dear faces.

 

Tim had gone to Heights First Church with the Denigs, representing us there and seeing so many people from our past, including Dr. John Griffin from NIBC.  Tim and I shared stories from our morning while we sat and enjoyed a delicious Sunday dinner at Los Cuates with our friends, Daniel and Jennifer.

 

Aug 31, 2014

Bernita, Sandra and Ophie at Apache Ave.

Sunday evening simply topped off a grand and glorious day as we spent the evening with our Native American friends at Apache Avenue Church of the Nazarene.  We all gathered in the fellowship hall for dinner at 5 pm, giving us time to visit and to enjoy some awesome blue corn enchiladas and green chile stew.  We then moved into the sanctuary where we sang hymns in Navajo and enjoyed the evening message by Dr. Julian Gunn.  Nearly 40 people were there, dear friends and acquaintances from our years spent in Albuquerque – some we rubbed shoulders with on a daily basis and others we saw when worshipping together in various church settings.  Tears once again flowed down both of our faces as our hearts swelled with memories of those days, so ordained by God.

 

Sept 1, 2014

Vinny and his momma, Therese

Our final day was filled with packing green chile for the flight home, thanks to Vinny and his Momma for spoiling us rotten!!  “We’re going to be doing chiles tomorrow – let us do them for you so you don’t have to take up your time working on chiles!”  Even though we fussed and said no, they insisted.  Monday morning, we walked away with 30 pounds of roasted green chiles, already peeled and in small freezer bags, frozen, a recipe for chile rellanos, some homemade steak and green chile sauce and a huge smile on our faces and gratefulness in our hearts!!  You don’t find folks like that out east.  You just don’t!  We stopped at a roadside chile stand and picked up 15 more pounds of fresh, non-roasted chile to take home.  Once home, much to the curiosity of our neighbors, Tim roasted them on our charcoal grill, we peeled them and froze them whole for chile rellanos.  Needless to say, our freezer is full of yummy New Mexico goodness and we are happy!!

 

Sept 1, 2014

Green chile

We are grateful for our two Southwest Airlines ‘frequent flyer’ tickets that took us to Albuquerque and even more grateful for their “2 bags fly free” policy that took us and our green chiles safely back to PA with no additional costs!  We have been home now just over a week and we still find it difficult to grasp that we finally went back for a visit … what took us so long?  It had been 8 years since we left.  We both have our unspoken theories, I’m sure … but we did go back. The same God who called us to go as missionaries to the Native American in 1997 met us there when we returned to visit in 2014.  Blessing upon blessing filled those 6 days … and we are anxiously anticipating another trip in the future.  Probably when the freezer has no more green chile.

 

Won’t you join me in rejoicing in the fact that our God is the same, yesterday, today and forever?  Our circumstances change, our children grow up, friendships take on a different perspective, we get older, and our world all around us is always adjusting to a new day … but Jesus Christ will never change!

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

 
“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent 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.
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** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from our trip to ABQ
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
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Life Celebrations

22 Aug
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

 

Going to the shore in early August has become one of our favorite family traditions.  It doesn’t matter which beach or state we choose.  What does matter is that we are all together.  Together to celebrate life.  Like birthdays.  My husband and daughter have a lot of things in common, the most important being their mutual birthday on August 5th.  We have done many things to celebrate theses two through the years, but they have come to an agreement that the sand and surf is where it’s at.

 

This year was no exception. Fenwick Island, Delaware was the beach of choice and our hotel was only one block from the sandy shore.  This so conveniently allowed us to load up the beach cart with sand chairs, umbrella, digger, dump truck and the necessary construction materials to make the best sand castle on the east coast, along with the usual towels, mats, and lotions, and we walked the short distance without having to fight traffic and/or find a parking spot several blocks away.

 

August 9, 20145 year-old Cole spent much of his time along the water’s edge, being close enough that the incoming waves kept him as wet as he wanted to be, but not far enough out to scare him or us.  He helped the construction foreman build the castle community, he flew his Spiderman kite, and threw the whistling football back and forth with Papaw.  Lillianne was not as adventurous – no doubt due to the fact that she did not feel well.  She wanted to like the ocean, but the crashing waves kept her from desiring to be a part of it all.  Somehow, though, those same crashing waves melodically lulled her to sleep, where she spent much of her time both days.  All of us bigger kids enjoyed the sand, surf, and sun  … taking turns to be with the little ones and literally soaking it all in.

 

In the midst of the fun and frolic of the weekend, my heart was stretched the many, many miles to Louisiana where my best bud and her family were having their own life celebration.  In the closing of my last blog post, I updated you on my friend, Joe Talhelm.  Later that evening on August 1st,  I received a text from he and Becky’s daughter, Anne.  “Please call me”.  My heart sank as I read those words, knowing.  Anne cried as she told me that she’s so happy for him … no more melanoma, no more suffering, no more pain.  Just 2 ½ weeks earlier, the doctors told Joe that he had 3 months to live.  Joe knew different.  So as I sat on the beach in Delaware, in Louisiana, Becky gathered with her family, Joe’s family, their church family and friends and celebrated a life that lived, laughed, and loved.  Joe was only 57 years old.

 

Tim’s step-father was just diagnosed last week with his own enormous battle with cancer.  Hospital stay with tests upon tests took place, then a return home to get everything in order while he begins radiation treatments.  I make it a priority to talk to my precious mother-in-law often, for although she is facing difficult days ahead and she is already exhausted from the drama of it all, I can tell she and Bill are determined to celebrate life together as long as possible.  Just like Joe and Becky, they are able to do so because of Jesus.  They are celebrating the everyday.

The Lord gives strength to His people;
the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11
August 16, 2014Another recent life celebration was just last Saturday when Tim and I attended the wedding of a very special young man in our lives.   Two 5 year-old little boys met playing t-ball back in 1992 and were truly inseparable until our family moved to Albuquerque in 1997.  Chuck & Mikey were married a few days ago, and we were there to help them celebrate with friends and family.

 

What are you doing to celebrate life?  It’s always fun to throw a birthday party, attend a wedding or go away for an anniversary … and it’s satisfying to the soul to celebrate a life well-lived that has passed away.   But it’s the everyday that really counts.  I came across this saying the other day … “Enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life.”   Won’t you join me in doing this?   Let’s make the most of every opportunity and celebrate life with each moment, for this moment is your life.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

 Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
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 P.S.   “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.
******************************************************************************************************
** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from our excursion to the shore
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203139143494232.1073741862.1076414018&type=1&l=b9d0add112
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Throwback Thursday and Thanksgiving 1998

21 Nov

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
Psalm 100:4

It’s Thursday.  Often in my world of Facebook friends, pictures will be posted that entertain and add a chuckle to the day as we enjoy seeing photos from the past.  Memories of the heart will sometimes be tugged on, and a sigh of “where has time gone” will escape our lips as we smile and shake our heads in disbelief.  In preparation of this fun day called Throwback Thursday, I found myself upstairs digging through boxes of Kodak moments, hunting for some Thanksgiving past.  My search was successful!  As I looked through the pictures and saw the faces of my precious family, my mind took an immediate journey to November 1998.  We were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the time ~ Work and Witness Coordinators for Nazarene Indian Bible College.  In October, we had just moved from one home to another on campus, and were still unpacking boxes and getting settled.  Ryan was 12 years old and from the looks of his bright white smile, he must’ve just gotten his braces off!  Kimberly, our gorgeous 15 year old, was still sporting her new summer short haircut.  And how crazy to realize that Tim and I were still in our 30s … oh my!   Since our family was planning to travel the many miles back east for the Christmas break, we decided that for Thanksgiving we would take a family trip and go somewhere new and exciting and close by … and the Grand Canyon it was!

With plans to only post these pictures today on my Facebook, the thought hit me that I could actually pull up my weekly newsletter from that very same week and post it in my blog.  As a busy missionary family back then, I wrote a newsy letter full of Van Hook life and emailed it to a gazillion people every week.  I did this for many years … and all of these posts are safely stored on an external hard drive, waiting to be put into a book someday!!

Having just driven a few hours into Ohio to visit our friends, Mike and Norma Johnson 2 weeks ago, how fun it was to sit here and be reminded that they were quite the blessing that year to Scottie-sit for us!  In their earlier years, they had already hiked down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon and knew that it was no place for a noisy Miniature Schnauzer!

So, with Thanksgiving 2013 just one week away, I share with you today Thanksgiving 1998.  Enjoy!

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November 29, 1998
Sunday evening

Dear family & friends,

We’re home!  We are unloaded, unpacked, and unwinding.  Kim, suffering from youth-group withdrawal, keys in hand and orders to call home as soon as she arrived, went on to church tonight.  The rest of us are munching on junk food, doing laundry (well, I am), and enjoying ‘no place like home’.  Scottie is also relaxing in the comfy-ness of his home.  Praise the Lord once again for His perfect timing!  Last Sunday, another one of our volunteer couples who come each year to NIBC and help with the Christmas festivities, pulled into the campus with their motor home…guess who very willingly agreed to Scottie-sit?  Mike & Norma Johnson opened their home to our little guy, allowing this Mom much more enjoyable Thanksgiving travels.  There were a gazillion signs prohibiting pets on the Canyon trails – on a leash or in a back pack!  And now since I have hiked back up a trail, that in a 1 ½ mile distance, the elevation rose 940 feet, I guarantee none of us would have wanted to haul Scottie’s heavy 14 pound dog body on our backs, with him barking the whole way, no doubt!  We probably would have been tempted to just leave him on the cliffs…  Just kidding!  No, Scottie celebrated Thanksgiving with the Johnsons, and we are very grateful for their kindness!

This past week was NIBC’s Thanksgiving holiday break.  After putting in so many extra hours of work throughout the Work & Witness season, not to mention preparing for the 50th anniversary celebration earlier in the year, I planned on taking off as much time this week as possible.  I went in on Monday, hoping to be home by noon … ha!  Once you’re in the door, watch out!  I was able to tie up loose ends by 5:00 pm, not setting foot back in the office until an hour before we left on our trip on Wednesday.  I did have to make several phone calls and check in with Kathleen a few times, but I managed to do so from home.  Miraculously, by the time we pulled out for our trip, the house was freshly interior decorated, cleaned, and looking good. How satisfying and refreshing to know that piles of clutter from several months were filed or trashed, stacks of pictures, shelves, and pretties were now hung,  that the ½ inch of dust had been happily wiped away and the carpets vacuumed…    SIGH!  If my house is in shambles (I mean long term stuff!), I am grouchy… if my house is in order, Mom smiles!  It’s a woman thing, I guess.  I am so thankful that I am smiling!!

Once the kids got home from school on Wednesday, the last minute packing finished, and instructions to the Scottie-sitters given, we were on our way to the Grand Canyon.  Squinting as we drove into the setting sun, we stopped in Navajo land, Gallup, New Mexico, for the  Wednesday special at McD…29¢ hamburgers!  We stopped for the night just a couple more hours down the road at Sun Valley Indian School outside of Holbrook, Arizona.  Extremely cheap accommodations are always available there for our NIBC staff.  We do the same for their people while they are traveling through Albuquerque … this time it was our turn!  We truly appreciated their hospitality!  Waking to a beautiful Thanksgiving morning, we continued our journey to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  Unless you have seen this wonder, words will never ever begin to describe the immense, breathtaking, … And you know what?  Last week, while hiking at Sandia with the family, in mid-picture, my camera died…needing 2 of those tiny round batteries to make it work again.  Being the procrastinator that I am at times, I figured that we would drive by a K-Mart or Wal-mart somewhere between Albuquerque and the Grand Canyon.   Little did I know that Indian reservations make up most of the miles of space between here and there…and the biggie?  You are lucky to find a gas station or a restaurant opened on Thanksgiving Day, let alone a K-Mart, at least on an Indian reservation! I then thought that maybe I could just purchase one of those handy disposable cameras at one of the gift shops … $25 for 17 pictures?  I don’t think so!  Yes, you guessed it!  I was unable to take any 35mm pictures of our day at the south rim of the Grand Canyon!  Thank goodness for the video camera, but it’s just not the same!  Sigh!  When we were able to stop the following day at a Wal-Mart, which was extremely busy with Christmas shoppers, I not only bought the two tiny round batteries that I needed for the moment, I purchased two extra ones for future emergencies!  Good planning, I thought – until Tim spoiled it by saying that they would probably be dead once I needed them in a year and half…

Despite the fact that we have no pictures to show from that first day, what a beautiful day it was!  It is truly hard to fathom the depth, the vastness, the distance of this thing!  From a beginning  elevation of around 7000’, we hiked a trail along a rim, down an elevation of 940’ in a distance of 1 ½ miles.  The round trip took us 2 hours.  Going down made my legs feel wobbly and shaky, but going back up nearly made my lungs explode and my back ache!  But it was great!  To see the views, to experience and make memories … it was all worth it!  Following an exhaustive day of travel and touring, we headed to our hotel, where we swam in an indoor pool and relaxed in the churning waters of the whirlpool…ah-h-h!  Suddenly realizing that it was indeed still Thanksgiving and that there just might not be any restaurants opened, we quickly cleaned up and went hunting for a place to eat. Denny’s was still opened! It was ok…nothing AT ALL like Mom’s Thanksgiving dinner!   Such was our Thanksgiving Day …

Free continental breakfast – Tim always reminds us that a Continental car is nice, really big, and is worth a lot of money…why do they call this pitiful and skimpy idea of a breakfast ‘continental’?  No, we are always grateful for the powdered donuts, toast, Fruit Loops, milk, juice and coffee.  I don’t usually eat more than that anyway!  Every little bit of $$ savings helps!  This was the day for a new adventure.  We had already conquered the south rim of the canyon … on to the north rim! However, what is no more than 10 miles via a crow, is a total of 215 miles via our Saturn!  And usually the medium dots on a map signify sizable towns with Burger Kings, McDs, Taco Bells, but that is not the case in Arizona!  They are simply marking points for travel, with maybe two or three homes in the area.  Finally, we spotted a Chevron gas station which sold hot dogs!   More fun memories for us all!  The miles clicked by, but as we drove through the Painted Desert, traveled across the Navajo Bridge, which safely took us over the Colorado River, which flowed 480’ below us, journeyed beside the Vermillion Cliffs,  then headed into the Grand Canyon Park – North rim…the miles did not matter.  God’s creation is absolutely breathtaking!   With my 35mm camera in hand, we hiked 2 different trails, one having several inches of snow in sections of our path.  The fun of crunching hundreds of pine cones, throwing snow balls, and wondering what belonged to the paw prints we passed … what a day!  Heading north to Page, Arizona, we  treated ourselves to Pizza Hut and a good night sleep.

Being only 10 miles from the Utah state line, we drove just that far, took a picture by the sign, and then  headed southeast.   We drove through the heart of the Navajo Nation, finding it quite interesting to see the sort of homes they live in.  Usually beside a relatively decent home, was a traditional hogan.  This is a small ‘round’ home, made of logs and mud thatched roof.  We saw many herds of sheep and cows … and more beautiful scenery.  Arriving in Chinle, Arizona, we made our last tour stop at Canyon de Chelly  (pronounced de shay).  Due to a rain shower that lasted the rest of the evening and was forecasted not to stop until sometime today, we postponed our hiking until another time.  We did drive through the park, however, and enjoyed many awesome views of another magnificent canyon area, which is  still inhabited by a Navajo community in the lush valley.  Signs that warn of 600’ and 700’ sheer cliffs startled my heart as I then looked up to see my son balancing on all fours on the barrier wall along the cliff’s edge.  Little did I know that there was at least 5’ of rock ledge beyond the wall…sigh!   With a fine mist of rain over us all, we headed to the hotel where our reservations were made.  Much to our dismay, we found out that their indoor pool was not working…on the road again!  With four hours of travel between us and home, we stopped after two hours and checked into a nice hotel at a discounted rate – indoor pool, whirlpool and that free Continental breakfast!   This morning, following a rousing game of Scrabble, through a mixture of sunshine and snow flurries, we headed east for Albuquerque.  Our hearts are very grateful to those Work & Witness teams this past year who lovingly gave our family gifts of money.  We are able to make these special memories with our family because you all gave from hearts of love…thank you!

Gracious!  Two whole pages!  Please keep in mind that these letters are also pages in our family book…memories are priceless, and I love to document them!  Hey!  December arrives this week!  Time to drag out those boxes full of holiday cheer…ugh!  I just put boxes away!  Oh well!  More memories!!  Until next week…

With my love,
Debbie  

Tim

Tim

The kids and I

The kids and I

Ryan

Ryan

Ryan and the Grand Canyon

Ryan and the Grand Canyon

Kimberly

Kimberly

November 1998

Tim and I on the Navajo Bridge

November 1998

Tim and the kids on the Navajo Bridge

November 1998

Kim hiding out

November 1998

Grand Canyon