Tag Archives: Cancer

Crazy Days

6 Mar

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Here it is … March 6th already!  It was -6° this morning as the warm sunshine streamed through the window and the fireplace kept me toasty. Yesterday was a snow day from work, gifting us with somewhere between 7 and 9 inches of fluff, depending on where I placed the ruler. I tried to be a good steward of this unexpected free time, making the most of each moment, knowing that soon I will be adjusting to a new schedule.

Crazy days? Yep! Life seems to have exploded in my world since I last wrote. These last three weeks have been the kind of crazy that causes me to make sure I’m holding on tight, closing one eye but peeking out with the other, afraid that I’m going to miss something! Some events are good, others are great and fantastic, some are not so wonderful and even sad, while others simply reflect life as it is … life. For my sanity’s sake, here is the condensed version of the last 3 weeks …

  • A friend in Albuquerque and my sister-in-law had surgery.  Both are doing great!
  • Friends brought home their 79 day-old baby, a 1 lb. 9 oz. micro-preemie born at 25 weeks … she’s healthy & growing like a weed!!
  • My mother was supposed to have flown out for a visit – but several crazy reasons why she didn’t.
  • A life-long dear friend from our beloved Southport Church of the Nazarene passed away. He was 91 years old. A grand reunion took place not only in Heaven, but at his funeral … I wish I could’ve been there.
  • Cole, Kim and Lillie have all been sick with one thing or another in the past 3 weeks.
  • Tim had a ‘routine’ nuclear heart stress test – everything seems to be good.
  • My great niece was born 2 weeks early … welcome Lyla Kay!
  • It snowed 5 inches. A few days later it snowed 3 inches. Yesterday it snowed 7 more inches.
  • Cole and Lillie

    Cole and Lillie

    Our Loves came and spent the night and we went sledding in the fresh snow.

  • Another friend has cancer.
  • A fun-filled visit from Tim’s mom last weekend
  • Refresh. A group of ladies that will meet in my home once a month … starting soon.
  • I applied, interviewed, and accepted a new job. I then gave my 2 week notice at the law firm.
  • I realized that nerves can cause heart-attack symptoms … my arm/chest has been hurting from time to time.

I’m sure my life isn’t any more crazy than yours. Plans change, babies are born and people die every day. Everyone has loved ones who are not well, and the details of our everyday can sometime overwhelm us and cause stress and anxiety, which will often take our focus off of Jesus. These days have been crazy, but at the same time, there has been a Constant, a Presence, and an Assurance that Jesus is in control.

Won’t you join me today in keeping our focus on Jesus even in the midst of the crazy full days of life?

Until next time,
Debbie

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

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

 

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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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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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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.
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** 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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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

 

Crowley, Louisiana

18 Apr

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

 

My flight into Baton Rouge landed earlier than scheduled, which allowed some quiet time to sit on a park bench in front of the airport as I waited for my gracious chauffeurs to arrive.  I appreciated the extra time to catch my breath in prayer and anticipation of the next few day’s visit with my dear friends.  Life and its unpredictable way of turning circumstances up-side down and throwing them in your face has done just that to them.

 

Becky's wedding

Becky’s wedding – November 1978

 

As Joe told one of his nurses the other day, Becky and I have been bosom buddies before we had bosoms.   She and I were inseparable as little girls and then into our teen years, growing up in the Southport Church of the Nazarene where our families attended for many many years.  Our love for one another was strengthened by our mutual love for Jesus, piano and singing, Bible quizzing, fun weekends and nearly every Sunday afternoon either at her house or mine.  Memories are piled on top of memories – People called me Becky and they often called her Debbie.  If you saw one of us, you were sure to find the other.  I was by her side on that evening in November 1978 when she said I do to Joe, as she was by mine less than two years later. She shared her maternity clothes and we gave each other baby showers.  But as God sometimes does, He calls pastors and missionaries, so the many miles then between began to separate.  That separation seemed to stretch the very cord of friendship while the busyness of ministries, families, life and other relationships weaved their way into hearts.  But there we were, just a few days ago,  reaching back into time, trying to fill in the gaps with stories full of details and facts of how God has guided and directed our paths through the years…our paths that crossed only on rare occasions … the last being in 2001.  This visit was long-over due, but nonetheless was God-ordained from the start.

 

Becky and Joe's grandson, Layne Joseph ... he picked a flower for 'Aunt Debbie' ... Sha!

Becky and Joe’s grandson, Layne Joseph … he picked a flower for ‘Aunt Debbie’ … Sha!

Frequent flyer points and a burdened heart for my friends encouraged my trip to Crowley, Louisiana, where Joe and Becky have been pastoring for the past 22 years.   It was beyond wonderful to hug my friends, to visit with their children, and to love on their grandson … “Sha!”  Becky’s mom, Pauline, was also there, her sweet smile, big hugs, and stories about Bob warmed my heart with memories.  I ate tasty food, unique to the Cajun culture – fresh shrimp, boudin, crawfish étouffée, and fig jelly, among many other delicious meals.  Within a short walking distance from their house is the Quere de Torte Bayou, which surprisingly looks like an extremely muddy creek.  We drove through a nearby town that stakes the claim to be the frog capital of the world.   While out and about, I noticed that the landscape in every direction was littered with houses on stilts, crawfish ponds and rice fields, while the sky was buzzing with cropduster planes dropping seeds to plant those rice fields.  We visited the ‘Alligator House’ where we held baby gators and gratefully saw bigger ones behind tall fences.  We looked through old photos and smiled at younger faces and slimmer bodies ~ all from a different time and a different place.  However, given the circumstances of cancer and its evil and relentless grip, a special highlight to my visit was to walk into a hospital room Thursday morning and be cheerfully greeted by the patient as he fondly said “Skeeter!”  This is a name Joe gave me back when we were teenagers … as I stood in the outfield swatting mosquitoes instead of catching softballs, on any given Tuesday night at Back Door.   My dear friend’s husband, bearing fresh wounds and battle scars of melanoma cancer on his head, face, and neck, looked like a million bucks to me as we came to take him home after his 7th surgery.  Joe’s charm, his huge heart of fun and tease, his kind and compassionate spirit, and the love and joy of Jesus that fills him to the brim … all of this together and more cushioned anything disturbing that I saw.  It was my extreme pleasure to spend those few days in Joe and Becky’s world – to get a feel for the daily routine that keeps everything and everybody in its proper place at the right time.  I was constantly in awe of the abundance of Strength and Peace that Becky has, that only Jesus Himself can supply to my friend.  I pray that my short visit was a God-given distraction for all in the midst of these uncertain days.

 

Me with Becky and her momma, Pauline

Me with Becky and her momma, Pauline

Sunday came … what a true blessing to be surrounded by such loving and kind church people who warmly welcomed me!  I sat among them in the choir and worshipped with them in song, and for old time’s sake, Becky and I sung one of our all-time favorites from long ago, Fill My Cup, Lord.  Next time she and I are together, I’m requesting that we on-purpose spend some quality time at the piano and we sing until our hearts are content.

As that southern Louisiana congregation sang the final verse of And Can It Be last Sunday morning, the words jumped out at me as an anthem … “Bold I approach the eternal Throne!”  These words have marched across my mind all week as I have not only prayed BOLDLY for Joe, but I have bombarded Heaven for my precious friend, Sandie, and for our friend and former SWO District Superintendent Dr. Carlton Hansen. My own Aunt June just recently had surgery and will soon be starting treatments.  My Uncle Johnse has been fighting the fight of cancer for many years.  I just found a colleague of mine from my days of Work & Witness USA/CANADA, Laura Sylvester … her husband is battling this horrible disease.  Cancer.  I don’t understand, but thank God I’m not suppose to.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Won’t you please join me in praying BOLDLY?  Without a doubt, Joe, Sandie, and Dr. Hansen need a miracle!  Doctors and medicine have nearly exhausted their resources.  I’m sure you also know people in your life who need a miracle.  Let’s unite in our efforts and go BOLDLY to the Throne of Grace.  If we do so, we will obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  I’ll meet you there.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth
concerning anything that they ask,
it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered
 together in My name,
I am there in the midst of them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my recent trip to Louisiana 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.10202372872097926.1073741851.1076414018&type=1&l=7b94ce523e

The Same Air

15 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

The trees on the grounds of Bonita Park

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

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

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

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

Until next time,
Debbie

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

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

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

Lamentations 3:19-26
The Message

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