Tag Archives: Christmas

Happy New Year from the Van Hooks!

1 Jan

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

Just a few days ago, Tim and I celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our little loves and their parents in their Baltimore home.  A couple weeks previous, God blessed us with an extra special Christmas visit from my mother when we received our 4th snowfall of the season while she was here.  What fun we all had as we took turns sledding down our big hill and watching the pure delight in the eyes of our little loves.  And now as the New Year arrives, we anticipate a belated Christmas celebration with our kids from Seattle.  We learned long ago that there’s so much more to celebrating Christmas than what we do or where we are on the 25th of December.  It truly is a season … a Spirit of celebration that centers our focus on the gift of Jesus and His birth.

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate)
and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us;
and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty),
such glory as an only begotten son receives from His father,
full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.
John 1:14 Amplified

 

For out of His fullness (abundance)
we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with]
one grace after another and
spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing
and even favor upon favor
and gift [heaped] upon gift.
John 1:16 Amplified

 

Out of His abundance, God provides for our every need …  Tim continues to be busy working for Kitchen Saver as the Installation Manager, and I remain at the Elder Law Firm of Robert Clofine where I work in the office.  When not working and the weather permits, Tim and I enjoying riding our ‘new’ motorcycle which we bought in June.  When not on the bike, we love spending time in the kitchen, looking for new recipes, creating healthy dishes, smoking meats, and eating tasty foods.  We grew a small garden this past summer, freezing much of what we grew and buying even more at local produce stands.  Our freezers are once again full and overflowing, providing us with tasty treats throughout the next year.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Out of His abundance, God provides one grace after another!  I think of our trip to Seattle in the fall … what a great time we had with Ryan and Brittany!  They are gracious hosts, always providing us with warm hospitality, great food, and wonderful memories of another special time together!  This particular time, we included a short trip to Portland, Oregon and another few days to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Our other travel destinations were Indiana, West Virginia, New Jersey and Ohio, not to mention the trips here and there all on the motorcycle and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Of course, we can’t leave out the all-important short journeys back and forth to the south side of Baltimore to see our little loves and their parents.  And in April, Kim’s house was full and running over as Uncle Ryan and Auntie Britt, along with Mimi Wells came to visit and to be present at Lillianne’s baby dedication.  We have certainly been blessed this year by being with friends and family!

The Arndt Family

The Arndt Family

Out of His abundance, God provides His favor!  The Arndt family purchased a house in January of 2013, and have had no problems spreading out into all corners and cubbies of this nice large home.  Both Troy and Kim turned 30 years old when celebrating birthdays this year, while Cole will turn five years old in March and Lillianne two in April.  Troy continues to be employed by Booz Allen Hamilton and has two remaining semesters in the process of earning a master’s degree in Cyber Security via an online program through UMUC.   Kim enjoys being a stay-at-home mom, with a new twist to the routine as Cole attends preschool three mornings each week.  Their family is extremely involved in various ministries at Grace Pointe Nazarene Church in Severn, MD, where they have an awesome network of friends and church family!

Ryan and Brittany   at a friend's wedding

Ryan and Brittany
at a friend’s wedding

Out of His abundance, He provides favor!Ryan is still employed by Verizon Wireless and is currently working at a store in Bellevue, WA – literally in Microsoft’s backyard.  Brittany changed jobs this year and loves her new position … working for the University of Washington at Harborview in the Internal Medicine Department as a Project Coordinator for the residents and medical students.  She has her sights set on medical school, so her spare time is spent studying so she can take the entrance exam this coming spring.  In Ryan’s spare time, one would most likely find him with a good book at a nearby coffee shop, playing Frisbee, or watching the sport of the season.

Out of His abundance, God provides spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing!  If nothing else existed in my life, knowing Jesus as my Redeemer and Savior would be enough.  But God has gifted me this year with special blessings that I will forever hold dear to my heart!  I was able spend time with special friends that I had not seen since we left Albuquerque 7 years ago.  Also, my continued prayers for my co-workers, boss, and myself have finally begun to tear down guarded walls of tension that have made for a better work environment and opportunities to talk about Jesus.  My prayer list is full of names that belong to people I know and love – some with illnesses and diseases, others with relational troubles, those that have lost loved ones, while still others need to know the life-changing love of Jesus.  I’m daily learning that a life of true obedience to God is one of spiritual blessing … overflowing from His abundance!

Well, another year has quickly flipped the pages of our calendars … a year full of God’s gifts, favor, spiritual blessings, and grace.  As we move forward into 2014, let us not forget that it is in Him that we live, and move and have our being.

For in Him we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:28

Our prayer is that you had a wonderful Christmas, and that it will be followed by an awesome and an abundant New Year!
Tim and Debbie

Please feel welcomed to be a regular follower of my blog at
https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

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For those of you who receive my blog via email,
check out the new photos on the actual website at the above address.

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Happy 80th Birthday Daddy … and Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

“Honor your father and mother”–
which is the first commandment with a promise– 
“that it may go well with you and that you
may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:2

Dear Daddy…

I’m sure the cries of a tiny baby born on Christmas Eve 80 years ago really added to the excitement of Christmas! I wonder, Daddy, if your arrival made the story of Baby Jesus become more tangible for your young brothers and sisters. There probably weren’t many gifts wrapped and placed under the tree in your home in that small coal mining town in the hills of Lee County, Virginia, but there was a new baby.

Oh what a party we would be having today if you were still here with us! The invitation list would be long – friends and family would gather, and those who couldn’t would send cards to you! And what fun you would have reading each and every card, over and over again, for days … adding your own few words to make it say exactly what you felt it should say! We would have balloons, party hats, streamers, and party blowouts that the kids of all ages would enjoy! We would hang a bright banner, announcing that we were celebrating your 80th birthday, and we would take lots of pictures, although you would ‘humbly’ say not to take any pictures of you! We would have cake and ice cream, along with all sorts of snacks and goodies. You would unwrap presents, no doubt with the help of all the little kids who like to do that sort of thing.  I imagine you would get a new pair of pajamas and a maybe new sweatshirt with tiny little painted hand prints all over the front … from the new generation of little ones in our family. We would watch several of our home movie DVDs and have a lot of laughs about how everyone has changed over the years. After everyone would go home and the house would be a bit less chaotic, my family would still be there … in town from Washington, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, for a few days to celebrate you, mom, and Christmas. Since I am still day-dreaming, the normal would be Mimi and Papaw Wells … and all would be right in the world, at least as we know it. What a wonderful day of celebrating you and 80 years!!

Daddy at his 60th birthday party

Daddy at his 60th birthday party

But life is what it is …. fragile. The last bright banner we hung in celebration of you announced your 60th birthday. The invitation list was long, the guests were many, the gifts were fun, and cards were poured over for days and days. After everyone had gone home and the house was a bit less chaotic, my young family was there, enjoying life as it was then with Grandma and Grandpa Wells. However, everything really was not right in the world even then. You had struggled with so much sickness for the past few years and you still were not real well, but we made the most of every opportunity that we had to celebrate you and your life. And that’s what I want to still do, as long as possible … to honor the man who loved my mom, his family and his Jesus. Happy 80th birthday, Daddy!

Me and Mom playing in the snow

Me and Mom playing in the snow

In celebration of the Christmas season this year, mom flew out to spend a few days with us here in Pennsylvania. We exchanged gifts with one another, and Kim’s two kids especially had a great time unwrapping fun presents from Mimi Wells! The highlight of our time was the additional 4” of snow that fell on our already white-covered ground on Saturday, creating a beautiful winter wonderland and an awesome playground for sledding down the big hill! Mom even giggled her way down the slope a couple of times! What fun we all had as we made new memories … and I know that mom was feeling the tug from memories past … of other snowfalls, other big hills, other little people, and you. After nearly 20 years without you, it’s all still bittersweet, Daddy. All of it.

Well, this Eve of Christmas will come to an end, soon to be announcing the arrival and celebration of Christ’s birth. But before it does, I simply ask the Lord to hand deliver this birthday letter to you … so you know that in my heart you are still loved deeply and celebrated not just on your birthday, but everyday!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

Mom in the Middle

17 May

But Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

 

Even though this past weekend was full of fun times and lots of Mimi/Mom love, the ultimate Mother’s Day celebration started in my heart a month ago when our entire family gathered in Baltimore for several days.

Our 2nd airport pick-up!

Our 2nd airport pick-up!

The anticipation mounted for days as groceries were purchased, meals were prepared, gifts were wrapped, and beds were made.  Two trips to the airport completed our guest list as Ryan and Brittany arrived from Seattle and my mom flew in from Indianapolis for what we considered a montage of celebration … Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Baby Lillie’s dedication.   And celebrate we did!  Regardless of holiday or occasion, family love is the best, and this Mommy’s heart was a sponge, soaking up every morsel possible … to tuck away for the weeks and months ahead.

After picking Ryan and Brittany up on day one, we loaded my van and took an afternoon trip up north to my everyday world.  Ryan wanted to see his dad before the weekend, so a tour of Tim’s workplace followed by an evening visit and a sleepover at Mimi and Papaw’s house completed our very busy day.  The following morning, long after Papaw had left for work, the day began to buzz with the busyness of playtime, a yummy leisurely breakfast and a timely departure to once again head to the airport.  It was now time to pick up Mimi Wells!  As always, she arrives bearing gifts for the little ones.  For the rest of us, her very presence is our gift … what a privilege to have my mother with me to enjoy my precious family.

Homemade biscuits and gravy greeted us all for breakfast on Friday morning, taking advantage of the fact that Mimi Wells was among us!  Playground and a duck pond, a trip to the shopping mall, Papaw’s arrival, and Kim and Troy’s stromboli for dinner completed another family fun day!

Christmas & Birthday in April!!

Christmas, Birthdays and  Mother’s Day in April!!

Saturday was full and overflowing with excitement and anticipation!  Ryan and Brittany prepared the traditional Christmas breakfast of green chili breakfast burritos…and yes, I did say Christmas.  Since our northwest kids spent the not-so recent holiday with Brittany’s family in Spokane, we postponed our own family celebration until now.  We also had a few birthday gifts included in the mound of secrecy, celebrating Ryan and Cole’s March birthdays and Lillianne the end of April.  I believe there were even a couple Mother’s Day gifts, too!  Presents were appropriately wrapped in their unique festive wear, and then clustered underneath a creatively drawn and colored Christmas tree.  A potpourri of gifts were given and received … and great fun was had by all!!

Cousins and their kids...Jason, Jax, Lillie and Kim

Cousins and their kids…Jason, Jax, Lillie, and Kim

We suddenly had to switch gears, literally … and travel 30 minutes, which was half-way to Washington DC to meet up with my nephew and his family for lunch.  They were in town from Indianapolis to meet their newborn nephew, so they accepted our invitation for the cousins and kids to all see one another.  With 3 kids under the age of 4, what better place than a nearby playground to spend some extra time after lunch!  Even the big kids had fun playing on the swings, slides, and see saws!

Our family at Lillie's dedication

Our family at Lillie’s dedication

Sunday was a very special day for our family as we all stood beside Lillianne’s parents as they presented her to the Lord in dedication.  As I listened to the words of their Pastor, I was taken back in time to two separate occasions when Tim and I stood with our families with a tiny newborn in our arms.  So long ago, we too made promises to God that we would raise our two children up to know and love Jesus.  With tears in my eyes, I am reminded of those sacred moments every time we witness another baby dedication … and this time was no exception.  As our own little granddaughter, beautiful in her special dress, was held and prayed over that morning, joy filled my heart as I realized that her parents, we her family, and this church would truly do all we could to ensure that Lillie understands what it means to walk in the way of Jesus and to entrust her life to Him.

Grandma and Pop Arndt joined us on this special day, filling the dining room table to capacity as we all gathered for yet another tasty meal.  When the excitement of the day began to settle and the guests had all gone home, the realization hit that our time together was quickly coming to an end.  We migrated into the kitchen where we simply sat around talking, laughing, discussing, telling stories … just to be together, with no distractions.  Finally, extra suitcases were brought out so the Christmas and birthday gifts could be added to the take-home luggage.  Thank goodness for Southwest Airlines and their ‘bags fly free’ policy!!

As always, family time ALWAYS comes to an end too quickly.  With my van loaded with precious cargo, I headed back to the airport early Monday morning … only this time to say “until next time!”  To hold, hug, and kiss each of my loved ones … I longed to stay in that moment, but I knew that life was waiting for them on the other side of their flights.  I had to let go.

Mimi and her loves in Annapolis, MD

Mimi and her loves in Annapolis, MD

That day was nearly a month ago now.  As we all know, life doesn’t take a holiday nor does it slow down.  The calendar announced Mother’s Day last weekend … and we did celebrate.  A week ago this morning, I drove down to Baltimore, where Kim, the kids, and I spent the day at Dock City in Annapolis ~ walking along the water’s edge, touristy shopping in the many establishments, and tasting yummy treats throughout the day.  Then on Saturday, mother and daughter attended a ladies’ tea at Grace Pointe Nazarene, where Kim was the hostess of our Hawaiian-themed table.  After dinner out that evening with Papaw, Mimi came back home.  The fun weekend with my loves was a wonderful closure to a celebration that started back in April.   Having the privilege of us all being together for those few short days was a gift to my own heart that will last forever.

I am the Mom in the middle.  My heart swells with an inexpressible love, honor, and respect for my precious mother … and the deepest gratitude to her and Daddy for raising me in a home where I knew I was loved and most importantly, that Jesus loved me.  Then my heart is humbled and in awe of the miracles of life that have literally come from God, through me.  The deep deep love for my own two children will always grip the depth of my soul and keep me on my knees for them until I die.  And the loves of their life have wrapped themselves around my heart and have captured my affections.  And now there is Cole and Lillianne.  I am the Mom in the middle … what a blessed place to be.  I have great reason and cause for celebration!!

I’m beginning to realize that we should be celebrating Jesus and Christmas every day.  Jesus and Easter every day.  Moms and Mother’s Day every day.  Won’t you join me today in living a life of continual celebration of what really counts?

Until next time,
Debbie

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

If you would like to see the entire album I posted to Facebook on this wonderful family time, please click here … https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200291340340933.1073741829.1076414018&type=1&l=b1e084fd75

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Merry Christmas 2012

21 Dec

In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in Him, and He saved us.

This is the LORD, we trusted in Him;
let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9

Have you ever noticed that in my midst of the busyness of Christmas, there are questions everywhere?  All are demanding answers in order to stay in the fast track of the season.  What size does he wear?  What color of ribbon goes with this wrap?  Should I bake sandies or sugar cookies?  How much money are we suppose to spend on the office gift?  How many places do I set at the table?  All legitimate queries needing a response to complete an action or thought …

What child is this, who laid to rest
on Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
while shepherds watch are keeping …

Newborn Lillianne

Newborn Lillianne

A child sleeping … the most precious news of the year for the Van Hook family was the birth of our second grandchild, Lillianne Hope Arndt.  This sweet bundle of pure joy was born early on Sunday morning, April 29.  She arrived one day early of her planned entrance, healthy and happy to finally meet the little boy behind the loud and animated voice that she had heard for the past 9 months.  3 year-old Cole has adored his baby sister from the first moment he saw her, laughing and giggling at her, accepting the simple fact that she now belonged to him and his family.   What a thrill it was to also share those first few days at home from the hospital with our son, Ryan, and his girlfriend Brittany.  They didn’t want to miss out on this awesome family event of welcoming Miss Lillie into our world.

Seattle Duck Tour

Seattle Duck Tour

A couple months later, our east coast family flew across country to spend the week of July 4th with Ryan and Brittany in Seattle.  What gracious hosts they were as they made us feel very comfortable in their home, fed us like royalty, and showed us the sights of the city.  The Space Needle, Pike’s Place Market, a Seattle Duck Tour, and the zoo were just some of the fun places we visited.  The highlight of the week was the BBQ in the park we had with Brittany’s family from Spokane.  It was very special to finally meet the parents and sister that belong to the girl we all have fallen in love with. The nice and relaxing vacation was certainly an answer to prayers, for having a rambunctious 3 year-old and an infant along for the occasion was potentially hazardous to everyone’s well being and sanity!

Speaking of nice and relaxing, Tim and I love to take advantage of our less stress and more spontaneous life-style these days and the fact that we only live 3 hours from the Atlantic Ocean.  We found ourselves at the shore on 3 different weekends this past summer, enjoying the sand, sun, and surf.  One fun weekend included Kim, Troy, and the kids, and another weekend we stayed with some friends in Toms River. We take our beach chairs and umbrella to the water’s edge and just soak in the day, after which we dine at one of our favorite DDD joints and head home.  We have become quite the fans of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network Channel.  Living in such a close proximity to a few large cities, we have found several unique and quite tasty establishments that have been featured on the popular reality show.  Honey’s Sit and Eat in Philadelphia, Joe Squared in Baltimore, and 10th Ave. Burrito in Belmar, NJ are three of our favorite places to eat.  Since Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc on our summer playground, we are anxious to take a drive out there sometime after the first of the new year…just to see what we can see ~ and to hopefully stop for a burrito.

Mimi Wells met Miss Lillie in June

Mimi Wells met Miss Lillie in June

 

Tim has become quite the domesticated husband this past year … he loves to cook and bake, trying new recipes, and also finding fresh produce at local stands as much as possible.  We have come to realize there are more than 4 seasons to our year … there is strawberry, blueberry, peach, corn, tomato, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and apple season!  We were busy with each one, and our freezer is full and running over!!  My mother chuckles and says that we are a couple nuts squirreling away for the winter!

Lillianne met Grandma Van Hook on Thanksgiving

Lillianne met Grandma Van Hook on Thanksgiving

Both of our mothers are in relatively good health, (my mom had her gall bladder removed in October), both had 3 new great grandbabies born this year, and these two precious ladies still live in Indiana. We are very excited to be able to spend time with them both over the Christmas holiday!  We don’t get to see them as often as we would like, but they are loved more than words can express.

We also don’t get to see our son, Ryan, and his girlfriend, Brittany, as often as we would like.  He is still working for Verizon Wireless and she as a medical transcriptionist.  Weekends of playing ultimate Frisbee with his buddies, keeping up with the latest sport, and relaxing at Starbucks with a good read are some of Ryan’s favorite things…and Brittany, of course!  They are spending the Christmas holiday with her parents in Spokane this year, enjoying their family traditions … so we will greatly anticipate a visit from them later in the winter!!

Work remains stable for us both, for which we are grateful!  Tim continues his position as installation manager at Kitchen Saver, staying very busy with all of his responsibilities.  A few months ago, I was asked to add more hours to my week at Robert Clofine Elder Law Firm, working 32 hours as the office assistant.  I have diligently protected my Fridays, for they are truly life-giving morsels that help retain my sanity by providing me time to write, shop, clean, travel, and have fun with my grand children and daughter.

These are exciting days for Kim and her family!  They just bought a home and will be closing on the sale at the end of this month.  They are moving from a rented townhome that greeted them 2 ½ years ago with nice accommodations and room to expand, into a much larger house that will provide extra space for growing children and all that accumulates with a family of 4 and a dog.  We are happy for them in their find, for it is still about an hour and 10 minutes away from us, located in a great school district, and close to their church.  Cole is a Benson Buddy in the Caravan program on Wednesday nights, and his parents are on the leadership committee for their Encounter service on Sunday nights.  Troy runs the sound and Kim is in charge of the coffee bar.  They are also involved in a weekly Bible study group, MOPS, retreats, and welcoming first time visitors.  Theirs is a busy and full life … just as it should be!  Troy is still employed by Booz Allen Hamilton and in the process of earning a master’s degree in Cyber Security via an online program through UMUC.  Kim is working full time at home with Cole and Lillie … a job that has the best benefits of all, such as warm hugs, dirty diapers, snotty noses, and slobbery kisses.

This Christmas season, now as a Mimi of two, I find myself asking questions from my heart as I look at Cole and Lillie in awe, … ‘who is this child, asleep here in my arms?’  I can only imagine the questions that the shepherds, the wise men, and even His own parents asked as they gazed down at the Baby before them.

Who is this child asleep on the manger?
Tender and mild, this intimate stranger
Recklessly, wildly loving a dangerous world

Who is this light invading our darkness?
Glorious night, the sun rising for us
Conquering might, He captures the hardest of hearts;
we sing…

Little did they know at that time, what all was wrapped up in that tiny bundle of Life!  The Answers to their questions have filled hearts to overflowing, offered forgiveness, redeemed broken lives, restored marriages, healed the sick, and brought hope to the hopeless.

What child is this?  This is our God!!
Click here to listen to the song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JIVojLyymE
Long Hollow Baptist Church Choir and Travis Cottrell

This is our God, living and breathing;
call Him Courageous, Relentless and Brave
This is our God, loving and reaching;
scandalous mercy and mighty to save


Hallelujah, this is our God; hallelujah, this is our God
Hallelujah, this is our God; sing praise…

Who is this One Who will not condemn us?
Why would He come to shoulder our sentence?
Nothing we’ve done will keep Him from giving us grace.

Who is this one?
We watch and we’re speechless God’s only Son,
embracing our weakness He overcomes all death,
and He frees us to live;  and we sing…

This is our God, suffering and dying;
call Him the Hero, redeeming the lost
This is our God, love sacrificing;
all that is holy, accepting our cross


Hallelujah, this is our God; hallelujah, this is our God
Hallelujah, this is our God; sing praise…

Oh, this, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring Him laud
The babe, the Son; the glorious One
The babe, the Son of Mary.

Won’t you join me, not only this Christmas season, but all year long, in responding to the difficult questions of life, with the One true Answer…

This is our God, living and breathing;
call Him Courageous, Relentless and Brave
This is our God, loving and reaching;
scandalous mercy and mighty to save.

This is our God, suffering and dying;
call Him the Hero, redeeming the lost
This is our God, love sacrificing;
all that is holy, accepting our cross…

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Tim and Debbie

Please feel welcomed to be a regular follower of my blog at https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

For those of you who receive my blog via email, check out the new photos on the actual website at the above address.

A Pocket of Christmas Sadness

13 Dec

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 46:4-5

In the midst of the joyful carols, twinkling lights, and buying gifts for my loved ones, I recently found a pocket of sadness that I couldn’t seem to shake.  Somewhere in between “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and the wreath that I hung on our front door, my heart fell hard, and it was several days before it was able to get back up again.  In the early morning darkness that greeted my somber soul, I made a mental list of reasons for my depth of despair.  When they were all added together, somehow they all justified the extreme slump of spirit or at least gave an excuse for the tears that would easily spill over at any moment.

Our beautiful children!

Christmas 2010

As the calendar begins to come to a close each year, the holidays always have a way of sweeping me up into its clutches of planning, decorating, shopping, and anticipating the thrill of having my family gather in.  This is one place where my heart stumbled and fell down, for it is not ‘our turn’ for any of the kids to be with us this year for Christmas.  I truly thought I was more mature and responsible … beyond feeling such an ache for my children.  But I thought wrong.  It’s Christmas, and I miss them!

Friends have always been such a blessing to my heart.  I am certainly grateful to have renewed the connection with some of my precious friends from living in Pennsylvania years ago … but I left behind many others in several parts of the country.  It’s Christmas, and I miss them!

Then there’s my Daddy… He’s been with Jesus now for 18 years.  It’s Christmas, and I miss him!

Writing has always been very therapeutic for my hurting heart, so I gave consideration to pouring my heart out into letters to a few select souls.  But instead, I will reach into the archives of my blog and re-post my Christmas letter that I wrote last year to my Daddy.  Aside from some statistical family details, each word still describes my heart and the precious bitter-sweet memories of Christmases past.

Dear Daddy,

It would only be most appropriate to sit here and sip on a hot cup of coffee (with cream and sugar, as opposed to your favorite, black) as I jingle Heaven’s portals with a Christmas greeting to you. The sights and sounds of the holidays have a way of tugging at the memories of my heart, and I always miss you so much during this season.

You know that I so enjoy all of the music this time of year, but there is a distinct genre of songs that melt this little girl’s heart into a puddle of warm memories. Just a few notes of one of these songs, and I am immediately transported back to any cold December day in my childhood. Remember how you and I would go shopping together every Christmas and buy gifts for Mom? Every store we went into and every station on the radio would be playing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” or “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”. I loved being with you, Daddy … your funny little quirks of always stopping at the men’s cologne counter to splash a half-dozen different scents of after shave lotion on your face, often taking my own little face in your hands and lovingly pat the potpourri of manly fragrances on my little girl cheeks. A few more songs like the musical rendition of “Sleigh Ride” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” would serenade us as we began our quest for the right gift that year for mom. You loved to have a lot of gifts under the tree for her ~ I always felt like it was your way of showing her how much you loved and appreciated her. Soft and flowing night gowns with matching robes, a new winter coat with accompanying boots, and of course, peanut brittle. Oh, the big gifts were different every year, but we also always got her a box of peanut brittle. I picked up that yummy tradition in your honor until a few years ago when she began to make her own homemade brittle … thinking of you the entire time she’s doing so, I’m sure. Speaking of peanuts, on our way out of Sears and Roebuck, you would usually swing by the snack area and buy you and me a small bag of warm salted cashews. How fun to remember how special that made me feel that you would stop and buy this special treat for me … you and me. I don’t even know if we saved any for mom and the boys.

I had to chuckle the other day as I was walking through the grocery store and passed by the infamous bag of mixed nuts! Do you remember the glass dish that mom got out at Christmas and filled with all sorts of hard candy, oranges, and nuts? I think of you every time I look for something in the utility drawer in my own kitchen and I see the nut cracker and pick. I have so many simple, but oh so special holiday memories of you, Daddy.

Your birthday is coming soon, which always means that Christmas is only a few hours away. You were always so gracious, having a Christmas Eve birthday, to excitedly accept your annual birthday gift of new Christmas pajamas right along with us kids! Still to this day, you are always remembered and sung to in the unique Wells tradition … as the birthday cake is shared by many December birthdays each year. “… Happy Birthday, dear Daddy / Grandpa Johnny!”

There is an unmistakable warmth, safe and secure, and happy feeling ~ embraced with all the love a little girl’s heart can hold ~ when I think of you, Daddy … especially at Christmas time. The aromas, the sounds of the holidays, the fun varieties of cookies, snacks, fruit, and the Christmas dinner itself, … and just the presence of our family together. Thank you, Daddy, for sufficiently providing for us, with not only the things we needed, but with lots of love, attention, and security. I know your grandkids still remember you for your extreme heart of fun and love that always made each one of them feel so special. You have great grandkids now, Daddy! Tim is a grandpa to Kailee’s kids, and Jay is just weeks away from holding his first grandson! And I will once again be Mimi as Kim is expecting her second little one in May … her own little girl! Oh Daddy … I miss you so!

You know how busy it gets this time of year, but we all plan to be together once again at your house. You may not physically be there, but you will be there. Your example, your jovial and sometimes feisty spirit, and your love will always be with us! Instead of the 5 of us, plus Mammy and Pappy ~ like it was every year for many years, there will be 25 of us and 3 babies on the way. What a blessed heritage you gave to each of us … yes, you will be there. Make that 26.

The older I get, the more I miss you. There must be something about better understanding the struggles and the hard times of life ~ and wishing that I had paid more attention and spent more time on my knees then than I did. But here we are. The journey for me continues, and I know that my tears will continue to flow from time to time … until they will be dried by Jesus Himself as I am met by you at that great Gate … Someday.

Well, I will hush for now, Daddy. I promise to meet you here again, from time to time, on the pages of my heart. Happy 78th Birthday, Merry Christmas, and I love you!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

Mom with your 3 newest great grandbabies

Mom with your 3 newest great grandbabies

P.S.  It’s 2012 now … Those 3 new babies have come, Daddy … oh what fun they are!  Kailee’s Leyton, Jason’s Jaxon,  and Kim’s Lillianne.  Those little cousins got to meet one another in October when Kim, Baby Lillie and I flew out to Mom’s for my birthday visit.  And speaking of birthdays, this Christmas Eve will be your 79th!  There will be fewer people gathered around the Christmas table in Indiana this year, but you will be there in the hearts of us all.

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas Daddy … I love you and miss you so!

Christmas Offering

30 Dec

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name.
Bring an offering and come before Him;
Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.
I Chronicles 16:29

 

 

“I bring an offering of worship to my King
        No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
                 Jesus, may You receive the honor that You’re due
                        O Lord, I bring an offering to You.”

The offering that I bring is my heart … my heart that is overflowing with gratefulness from Christmas.  Christmas that brought family together from many miles apart.  Christmas that bridges the gaps in relationships.  Christmas that celebrates anticipated new life.  Christmas that honors and remembers those we still love who have gone on before us.  Christmas that embraces the gift of my heart as an offering to Jesus ~ the Baby in the manger ~  my Savior. 

Our Family ~ Dec 23, 2011

My Mother’s home was the hub of our Christmas reunion as our family made its way across the country from two different directions to spend time together.   Six of us, including a dog, a 2 ½  year old little boy, and a pregnant mom, traveled from central Pennsylvania and Baltimore ~ Ryan and Brittany flew into Indianapolis from Seattle.  What a great time we had as we shared laughter, family fun, little boy antics, and the warm company of many extended family members over the course of 4 days.  Special memories were made and will be tucked away in the recesses of our hearts.

Speaking of hearts, just a little more than a month ago, Tim had a second stent inserted inside his original one from 2004.  This original stent, which he received while living in Albuquerque, was 99% blocked.  As soon as he began to shovel the heavy 6” snow that we received late October, he began having immediate pain and shortness of breath.  We are grateful for these modern day miracles that can open a blockage and fix a heart within moments.

Moments are what seems to have passed by when we look at our grandson and realize that he will be three years old in March.  This tiny pre-mature newborn has grown into a healthy, vibrant, smart, and very talkative little boy.  He says what he thinks, and he must think all the time!  His play world still includes tractors of every make, size, and color ~ and they all tip like in the CARS movie!  Dora and Diego, Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, and of course, CARS all entertain him.  He loves to sing, he loves his dog, he dearly loves both sets of grandparents, and he loves life.  Cole Michael will be a big brother in May … and he loves to kiss his momma’s preggie belly ~ his baby sister.

Thrilled doesn’t even come close to describing our hearts as we anticipate the birth of our grand daughter in May.  A cheery bright nursery is being put together with love in the Arndt home, accented in pink and frills.  Kim’s first 5 ½  months of expectant bliss has been survived as she has kept up with Cole during the day, grateful for the time when Daddy comes home from work to give her some rest in the evenings. Troy has been with Booz Allen Hamilton for a year and a half, and is now a Senior Consultant.  This next year he will be working on his Masters degree in Cyber Security via an online program through UMUC.   He and Kim are members at the Grace Pointe Community Church of the Nazarene in Severn, MD where they are part of the leadership team for a new contemporary service beginning the first of the New Year.  They are also active in a weekly Bible study, and Kim and Cole participate in the monthly Mom’s group.  We are so grateful that they have found a church home that has embraced them in love, support, and the Word. 

Words are never enough to express my love for my children.  Besides Kim and her little family being only a little more than an hour away in Maryland, Ryan is still living in Seattle,Washington.  He is an assistant store manager for Verizon Wireless, with his sites set on having his own store soon.  He still enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee with friends, watching sports, and reading.  He is still dating the most precious and beautiful young lady, who has stolen all of our hearts … Brittany Bergam.  She works as a medical transcriptionist and is planning on applying for medical school in the near future.  We were blessed to have them both join us at my Mother’s house last week for Christmas.  Time seems to slip by all too quickly when we are with Ryan and Brittany! 

Family at the beach

However, vacation in August was awesome!  Ryan and Brittany, my Mother, the Arndts, along with Mimi and Papaw, packed, overloaded two vehicles, and headed for Bethany Beach, Delaware!  We rented a condo, which was just a short drive to the ocean, swimming pool, golf, volleyball, and shuffleboard!  We played games, ate delicious meals fixed by all, enjoyed Cole’s slow progression toward liking the sand and the surf, and the company was just superb!  Four generations to love, to share, and to cherish!  The final few days of our family time included a birthday party for Tim, who turned 50 years old on August 5th.  With Ryan and Brittany still here, Tim’s mom, along with some of his siblings came for an afternoon of smoked pulled pork and birthday cake.  He was totally surprised and enjoyed every moment of the attention!

Tim is still employed by Kitchen Savers where he remodeled kitchens until he had knee surgery in June, when he had a torn meniscus repaired.  Following this procedure, he then assumed a position in the office as Installation Manager.  He measures the jobs, orders the material, schedules each crew to a job every week, and makes sure it all gets done to the customer’s satisfaction.  His responsibilities require several hours of his time each day, but we are home together each evening for dinner, and he has his weekends free to relax and enjoy life.  Now since he had the new stent inserted in November, his energy level has picked up, and he’s feeling much better! 

After working a couple temporary jobs earlier in the year, I am currently working part time in the office for the Robert Clofine Elder Care Law Firm.  Office duties are shared and we give support to two attorneys and two paralegals.  It is quite an experience to see first hand the pain, heart ache, and the decline in folks as they age and become dependent upon others.  Although the job was not posted as one of ministry, I use it as such as I daily pray for clients and especially for those with whom I work.  Since my hours are part-time, this allows me to keep up with the house, the yard, my writings, and my grandson!  Tim and I have been attending Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene in York, PA.  I am so grateful that God is faithful to always lead us to a church fellowship where the Pastor preaches Holiness in every message.  God’s Word and my early morning time with Him continue to carry me through the day-to-day routine of life.  I keep an active prayer list, gleaning names and needs from Facebook, emails and texts, and nudges from God Himself, spending time praying for family and friends.  This is my ministry for now … for such a time as this.

Click here to listen to …  Christmas Offering by Casting Crowns

Over the skies of Bethlehem appeared a star
While angels sang to lowly shepherds
Three Wiseman seeking truth they traveled from afar
Hoping to find the child from heaven
Falling on their knees they bow before the humble Prince of Peace

 

Just as the wise men traveled from afar, seeking Truth,
hoping to find the Child from heaven,
our family journeyed many miles to
come together to celebrate His birth …



We bring an offering of worship to our King
No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing
Jesus may you receive the honor that you’re due
O Lord I bring an offering to you

The sun cannot compare to the glory of your love
There is no shadow in your presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It’s only by Your blood
It’s only through Your mercy
Lord, I come

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus, may you receive the honor that you’re due
O Lord, I bring an offering to you

We bring an offering to you
We are an offering to you
We are an offering to you, Jesus

We are an offering of worship to our King
No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing
Jesus, may you receive the honor that you’re due
O Lord, we bring an offering to you

O Lord, we bring an offering to you

We bring an offering to you
We are an offering to you
We are an offering to you

 

As this Christmas season comes to an end with the beginning of another New Year, may you join me in bringing an offering of worship to our King …

It’s only by Your blood
It’s only through Your mercy
Lord, I come …

 

Merry Christmas and a Most Blessed New Year!
The Van Hooks

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Merry Christmas Daddy!

16 Dec

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father
deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting
and urging you to live lives worthy of God,
who calls you into His kingdom and glory.
I Thessalonians 2:11-12 

It would only be most appropriate to sit here and sip on a hot cup of coffee (with cream and sugar, as opposed to black) as I jingle Heaven’s portals with a Christmas greeting to you.  The sights and sounds of the holidays have a way of tugging at the memories of my heart, and I always miss you so much during the holidays. 

You know that I so enjoy all of the music this time of year, but there is a distinct genre of songs that melt this little girl’s heart into a puddle of warm memories.  Just a few notes of one of these songs, and I am immediately transported back to any cold December day in my childhood. Remember how you and I would go shopping together every Christmas and buy gifts for Mom?  Every store we went into and every station on the radio would be playing Burl Ives’ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” or Nat King Cole’s “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”.   I loved being with you, Daddy … your funny little quirks of always stopping at the men’s cologne counter to splash a half dozen different scents of after shave lotion on your face, often taking my own little face in your hands and lovingly pat the potpourri of manly fragrances on my little girl cheeks.  A few more songs like the musical rendition of “Sleigh Ride” by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” sung by Andy Williams would serenade us as we began our quest for the right gift that year for mom.  You loved to have a lot of gifts under the tree for her ~ I always felt like it was your way of showing her how much you loved and appreciated her.  Soft and flowing night gowns with matching robes, a new winter coat with accompanying boots, and peanut brittle.  Oh, the big gifts were different every year, but we also always got her a box of peanut brittle.   I picked up that yummy tradition in your honor until a few years ago when she began to make her own homemade brittle … thinking of you the entire time she’s doing so, I’m sure.  Speaking of peanuts, on our way out of Sears and Roebuck, you would usually swing by the snack area and buy you and me a small bag of warm salted cashews.  How fun to remember how special that made me feel that you would stop and buy this special treat for me … you and me.  I don’t even know if we saved any for mom and the boys. 

I had to chuckle the other day as I was walking through the grocery store and passed by the infamous bag of mixed nuts!  Do you remember the glass dish that mom got out at Christmas and filled with all sorts of hard candy, oranges, and nuts?   I think of you every time I look for something in the utility drawer in my own kitchen and I see the nut cracker and pick.  I have so many simple, but oh so special holiday memories of you, Daddy. 

Your birthday is coming soon, which always means that Christmas is only a few hours away.  You were always so gracious, having a Christmas Eve birthday, to excitedly accept your annual birthday gift of new Christmas pajamas right along with us kids!  Still to this day, you are always remembered and sung to in the unique Wells tradition … as the birthday cake is shared by many December birthdays each year.  “… Happy Birthday, dear Daddy / Grandpa Johnny!” 

There is an unmistakable warmth, safe and secure, and happy feeling ~ embraced with all the love a little girl’s heart can hold ~ when I think of you, Daddy … especially at Christmas time.  The aromas, the sounds of the holidays, the fun varieties of cookies, snacks, fruit, and the Christmas dinner itself, … and just the presence of our family together.  Thank you, Daddy, for sufficiently providing for us, with not only the things we needed, but with lots of love, attention, and security.   I know your grandkids still remember you for your extreme heart of fun and love that always made each one of them feel so special.  You have great grandkids now, Daddy!  Tim is a grandpa to Kailee’s kids, and Jay is just weeks away from holding his first grandson!  And I will once again be Mimi as Kim is expecting her second little one in May … her own little girl!   Oh Daddy … I miss you so!

You know how busy it gets this time of year, but we all plan to be together once again at your house.  You may not physically be there, but you will be there.  Your example, your jovial and sometimes feisty spirit, and your love will always be with us!  Instead of the 5 of us, plus Mammy and Pappy ~ like it was every year for many years, there will be 25 of us and 3 babies on the way.  What a blessed heritage you gave to each of us … yes, you will be there.   Make that 26.

The older I get, the more I miss you.  There must be something about better understanding the struggles and the hard times of life ~ and wishing that I had paid more attention and spent more time on my knees then than I did.  But here we are.  The journey for me continues, and I know that my tears will continue to flow from time to time … until they will be dried by Jesus Himself as I am met by you at that great Gate … Someday.   

Well, I will hush for now, Daddy.  I promise to meet you here again, from time to time, on the pages of my heart.  Happy 78th Birthday, Merry Christmas, and I love you!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

For a nostalgic walk through some of these favorite classis  Christmas songs … click below!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFtb3EtjEic

The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole                                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oqpyfa2EmzQ

Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives                                                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up1t5siifEw

Sleigh Ride by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAm9TloD2bA

White Christmas by Bing Crosby                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aShUFAG_WgM

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer  by Gene Autry                           http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5VdsuQ-YfM

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnIqLlBwzrc

Let It Snow by Dean Martin                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN7LW0Y00kE

It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas by Perry Como                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KjSsTagY3s

Silver Bells by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards                                 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4mkRR4oJNM

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause by Jimmy Boyd                       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI8spatbGEo

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**  Blog photo of Christmas decorations … 2011