Tag Archives: Daughter

Bread Bites

21 Mar

Give us this day our Daily Bread.
Matthew 6:11

Definition by Domino’s Pizza ~

Bread Bites by Domino's

Parmesan Bread Bites:
Oven-baked, bite size breadsticks lightly sprinkled
with parmesan-asiago cheese and seasoned with garlic
and more parmesan.  Available in 16-piece or 32-piece orders.
Share them with everyone or no one!

Debbie’s definition ~

Delicious little bites of airy dough balls … the texture reminiscent of a Krispy Kreme donut FRESH from the production line … tastefully seasoned with garlic and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.  Oh SO yummy!

On top of the two boxes of pizzas that were picked up to bring back for dinner, was a bag of piping hot Bread Bites.  The aroma of fresh baked bread and its seasoning quickly filled the vehicle, causing my taste buds and my tummy to turn summersaults in anticipation!  Not to be unfair to the others, I only snitched one of the Bites from the tempting bag, savoring every morsel of garlic and speck of parmesan. That meal was over two weeks ago and I still think about those Bites … but for more reasons than their taste.

The 2nd year anniversary for Morsels of Mercy has come and gone.  I had great intentions of once again finding a new blog theme, freshen things up a bit, and add new pictures, but life has been a little crazy.  Not necessarily bad crazy, but crazy nonetheless.  Just when I think I have a few extra moments to sit down and peruse the various different new blog formats on Word Press, my attention is diverted by something more important.  It’s these little bites of bread in my world that I keep partaking of … seasoned with the spices of life and then lavished with the love of Jesus.  Bread Bites are meant to be shared … so don’t mind if I do!

Kim and Cole

Baby Lillianne … This Bread Bite is the one right up on top.  The months of anticipation have suddenly become weeks ~ with only 6 left at the time of this post.  Six weeks early was when her big brother, Cole, arrived on the scene – in a state of emergency for Mom and Baby.  Momma has done her best at preventing a repeat of circumstances, but sometimes our best is not enough.  Kim’s body seems to react adversely to pregnancy – last time with pre-eclampsia and this time with cervix issues.  After the initial period of moderate bed rest at week 24, permission to resume normal activity was given.  Several weeks later, after a routine OB visit, an exam showed early dilation and cervix issues again.  Prompt attention and concern were immediately put into place as Kim was once again placed on bed rest – this time restrictive.  Her daily routine of caring for her home, husband, and nearly 3 year old son quickly came to a halt as she found herself lying on the couch for hours on end, except when she made her way upstairs to sleep and to shower.  Appreciation beyond words cannot express my heart when I think of those friends from Grace Pointe Community Church of the Nazarene where Kim and Troy belong.  They truly do belong there, for it has been that family that recently blessed them with an overwhelmingly bountiful shower of baby gifts, and has provided meals and extra care for Cole during the week days while Daddy and Mimi were at work.  Kim’s latest appointment with the doctor showed great signs of improvement, releasing her from the bonds of strict bed rest to that of moderation.  Help with meals and care for Cole will continue as these final weeks bring us closer to the birth of our Baby Lillie!

Cole ... on purpose spilling himself.

The world of Mimi … this Bread Bite is huge, sprinkled with a lot of seasoning!  To share every speck of parmesan would require the writing of a book all of its own entitled Cole Michael.  The fun, the laughter, the non-stop chatter, the busyness, the curiosity, the tenderness, the stubbornness, the love, and even occasional frustration …   Need I go on?  With every effort to do all we can to help lighten the load for his parents, Papaw and Mimi have had Cole at their house as often as possible, or Mimi has spent weekends in Baltimore.  Cole’s world continues to be all boy – cars, tractors, stickers, balls, and monster trucks.  Despite the unusually warm temperatures this winter, we were truly blessed with a few inches of snow during an overnight visit from Kim and Cole.  A year makes such a difference in the fun of a little boy … he graduated from his protective and safe little sled to the adult long board, which allowed him to self-spill and tumble out into the snow.  Cole is very excited and shares in the anticipation of Baby Lillie … not quite sure what he is expecting, although the details of tiny, crying, pooping, and sleeping have all been explained to him.  For the moment, Baby Lillie is the existence behind Momma’s ever-growing belly, which he kisses, includes in his prayers, and enjoys her company as he raises momma’s maternity top up so she can also watch the CAR movie with him…the preciousness of a little child.

Another Bread Bite that is full of evening gym visits, lots of energy, and better health is one that I’ve already recently shared.  Tim has been on a mission to lose substantial weight, and has experienced great results … giving credit to his exercise routines at the gym and a change in his eating habits.  He has all but cut out all sodas, which is a huge change for him.  He used to drink at least 5 Pepsis every day.  Fruits and vegetables have replaced chips and Swiss Rolls, and we also recently pulled our Champion Juicer out of the archives of the basement.

Not just one, but a handful of Bread Bites represent my recent trip to Indianapolis, leaving behind the aroma of spices and specks of parmesan all over the place!!  Having arrived Wednesday evening of last week and returning home late Sunday night, the sponge of my heart soaks up as much as possible, but there’s never enough time …

Great Grandma, Great Aunt Debbie with Jaxon ... & Daddy

Baby Jaxon melted my heart as I sat there that first evening holding my great nephew and remembering special times over 30 years ago when his Daddy was this size.  It was a real treat on Sunday for his parents to bring him to my home church so his great grandma could show him off.  Hopefully he was the only one who slept through Pastor Swesey’s message!

There were 16 of us at a friends’ home on Thursday as my ‘Higher Ground’ girls gathered in for the evening.  A surprise bridal shower for another friend provided the reason to come, along with the realization that my momma and I were coming to town!  What a true blessing these girls are to my heart as they still seem to love me and miss me, even though I have been gone for over a year!  Those feelings are very mutual!

Friday and Saturday were  both busy from dawn to bedtime … a special lunch with a dear friend, sorting through bags and closets of my Daddy’s clothes, time spent with family, and some relaxing in front of the TV watching movies and special events that Mom recorded for me.  The weather was exceptional all weekend, allowing me to slip on the flip flops and capris for the first time this year.

It’s always a joy for me to attend church with my Mom on Sunday ~ the church in which I grew up in … where I found Jesus, met my husband, got married, dedicated my babies, my Daddy’s funeral, …  During the Sunday School hour, I chose to sit in the Senior Adult class with those I have known for many years, discussing the disciple Peter and his tragic failure of loyalty … a lesson from the Nazarene spring quarterly.  I chimed in with my own comment that even though Peter failed and made a horrible mess of things, because of Christ’s love and forgiveness, Peter was restored and later had a dynamic ministry in spite of his past.  I’m personally grateful that Jesus does not just condemn and leave me in a pile to rot.  But instead, he is all about redemption and restoration.

A Divine Appointment on the flight home … a pastor’s wife from Lancaster was flying back from Denver where her daughter is attending college.  It was nice to once again connect to a total stranger through the bonds of Jesus.

A very special Bread Bite remains in the bag, filled with lots of yummy goodness and extra spices … Sunday was our son Ryan’s 26th birthday.  There will never be enough garlic and specks of parmesan to express this Momma’s love for her boy.  Someday, I would love to be with him in Seattle for his birthday so we could celebrate him and his special day together.

There’s another Birthday Bread Bite still in the bottom of the bag ~ Cole will turn 3 years old on Saturday.  A low-energy level birthday party is being planned, allowing Momma to participate by sitting and watching while an assortment of little tykes and their parents, along with various family members gather to thank God for another year of growth, development, love, and lots of life in the person of Cole Michael.

As a Morsel of Mercy represents God’s gifts of undeserved favor throughout our everday, I believe that from time to time, my life has a bag of warm and tasty Bread Bites.  Moments that are full of life, saturated with time consuming events, and covered with specks of details.  Every Bite is fresh, warm, and lavished with the love of Jesus.  I just shared mine ~ find someone who needs some encouragement or a friendly visit and share your Bread Bites.

Until next time,
Debbie

 Jesus said to them,
“I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven,
but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is He who comes down from
heaven and gives life to the world.”


“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this Bread.”

 

Then Jesus declared, “I am the Bread of Life.
He who comes to Me will never go hungry,
and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:32-35

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of Baby Shower Gift Bags  –  March 2012

Rise and Shine

17 Jan

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!
Revelation 19:7

 

Rise and Shine

It had been over a month since he had been to our house for a sleepover.  We were so excited as we anticipated the next two days with this little boy who would be celebrating his third birthday in just a couple months.  As the three of us sat down to eat dinner that first evening, with chicken nugget in hand, he looked at me and his Papaw and simply said, “I missed you guys!”  Melt is the word that described our hearts at that moment.  It’s not like Cole hadn’t seen us for weeks and weeks … in fact, we stayed over at his house for New Year’s Eve, and we traveled together to Indiana for Christmas.  But, in his little boy heart, he had missed us.  We knew the feeling.  We had missed him, too.

Wearing the appropriate attire of a John Deere tractor sweatshirt, Cole was more than excited to go to his first Pennsylvania Farm Show.  He had no idea what to expect, but he assumed by the name that there would be animals and tractors there ~ and boy was he excited!  As we entered the tractor display area and he saw other children climbing and crawling all over the machinery, it didn’t take him long to figure out that he could do the same.  Papaw picked him up and placed him on the top step of a very tall green tractor, where he had a bird’s eye view of all the tractors … and he began pointing in every direction.  A few minutes later, he let out a loud and excited giggle as he ran up to an old antique, squealing “Look at the old Farmall tractor!”  He’s not even 3 years old yet …  What does a toddler know about tractors?! 

Cock-a-Doodle Doooo!!

On to the animals ~ the squeals were just as loud and just as excited!  We saw cows, pigs, ducks, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and horses ~ but his favorite was the rooster.  These birds were all confused, sounding their wake-up calls continuously … and Cole would stand right beside their cage and echo it back to them.  Cock-a-doodle Doooo … followed by a giggle and a squeal!  And on to the next cage!  As we were getting ready to leave, he wanted to know where the hamsters were.  I simply told him that I don’t think many farms have hamsters.  Silly boy!

Even a short period of time makes a difference in a little life.  Since the last time he stayed with us, his pajamas that are upstairs in his dresser drawer fit a bit snug on his taller frame, and his playtime has become more imaginable.  While in the bathtub the other night, he was on his knees, lining up all of his rubber ducks into a row on the side of the tub … separating the yellow ones from the white ones ~ describing each group as a family.  Then each member was turned around and very dramatically dove head first into the pool below.   Once the bubbles had gone down the drain along with little boy dirt, Cole was finally ready for bed.  For 2 weeks now, he’s been sleeping at home in his converted baby bed that is now a big boy bed, so Mimi and Papaw folded up his pak-n-play at our house and simply put a twin mattress on the floor as his transitional big boy bed.  He thought that was the greatest thing!  Not having a pillow in his pak-n-play before, I asked him where he wanted to lay his head and he quickly responded “on the pillow, Mimi!”  He crawled in and laid between the sheets with his head up on the pillow like a big boy – but such a tiny little bundle of a boy in such a big bed.  I know … he won’t stay little very long. 

Cole singing with Mimi

Keeping with the tradition of his usual night time routine at home, I read at least one book to Cole before we pray and he lays down to sleep.  One of his favorite books is not a story book, but a Play-A-Song book.  Jesus Loves Me is the name of it.  With hardback pages, there are 4 songs, complete with pictures and lyrics written out for each and a corresponding shape that matches a button on the side that plays the music to each song.  Jesus Loves Me is a Sunday School favorite, and he has helped me sing that song for months now. 

Yes, Jesus loves me,
the Bible tells me so!

The green circle song …

 Rise and Shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise and Shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise and Shine and give God the glory, glory,
Children of the Lord!

 

I was amazed as Cole kept up with the tempo and sang every word with me.  He’s not necessarily singing on tune, but his heart sure is!  I remember singing this little chorus to him on a number of occasions in the past when he was upset, knowing that he would recognize it from our special quiet time before bed … and it has always caught his attention and calmed him.  “Rise and Shine and give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord!”

 

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

On the edge of his big boy bed, song book in his lap, one would think he was reading the words as he sat there singing to the music.  Papaw and Mimi were very surprised at how well he had remembered most of the words … and even wondered if he had been practicing at home.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer. 

O what peace we often forfeit.
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

As we sang the final song in his little book, I was reminded once again of the privilege we have to carry everything to God in prayer.  Cole’s momma went to the doctor for an unexpected visit this past week, suspecting something was not quite right with the new little baby growing inside.  Baby Lillianne is ok, but a diagnosis of an insufficient cervix was given and instructions of mandatory rest and leisure time for the next 2 weeks must be heeded.  If after the next exam no improvement has been made, then our daughter will be ordered to bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.  These are uncertain days for our family … a lively toddler, a potentially serious condition for his momma and baby sister, and several weeks of growing still necessary for a healthy baby.  I believe I’ll keeping singing right along with Cole  … 

“Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong!”

 

“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

 

“For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.”

 

“Rise and Shine and give God the glory, glory,
Children of the Lord!”

 

Won’t you join us?

Until next time,
Debbie

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of Cole on a tractor at the PA Farm Show – January 14, 2012. 

 

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

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of Christmas decorations … 2011 

Dear Daddy

23 Jun

He asked you for life, and You gave it to him—
   length of days, for ever and ever.
Psalm 21:4

 

Father’s Day was just a few days ago … and tomorrow is June 24th.  I just wanted to tell you that I love you and miss you.  You have been in my thoughts and on my heart so much lately … more so than usual.  I think it’s because of a combination of things.  My job has me sitting in an office at an elder care law firm, where clients come and go, discussing serious subjects like health care, money, relationship issues, and death.  My thoughts of you and mom at this stage of life are never too far from my heart these days.  Another reason would be that Tim and I are now grandparents to little Cole, and I often dream about how much fun and joy this little boy would be bringing to your own great grandpa heart.  I’m sure he would have given you a name that’s special … like Papaw Johnny.  I like that!  Cole loves tractors and trains, loud cars and trucks, motorcycles, fire trucks, and balls … all the usual things that a two year old boy likes.  He’s at the age now where you would have had him outside helping you to wash the cars … and he would’ve kept you entertained by his constant chatter the entire time!   Oh what fun the two of you would’ve had. You would’ve fixed him a fried bologna and cheese sandwich for lunch and he would’ve  loved it because it came from his Papaw Johnny!  I look forward to telling him all about you someday when he’s old enough to understand about a great grandpa’s love, life, death, and Heaven.

It’s been 17 years now … tomorrow.    So much has taken place in our family since that day.  Births, relocations, deaths, graduations, divorces, weddings, accidents, surgeries … but we have remained intact, always loving, praying, and supporting one another. 

Mom is doing really well these days.  You know she fell last spring and shattered her elbow.  What an ordeal that was!   She pretty much lost all of her summer since she was so limited in the things she could do.  But she is a trooper and has shown quite some spunk when it comes to making sure she stays active.  She bought a riding lawn mower a few years ago so she could still be responsible for taking care of the yards…and she does a great job, too!  She is the life of the party when our families invite her to come along on vacations, and she enjoys the convenience of hopping on an airplane and quickly and comfortably arriving at her destination.  I know she misses you, though.  When we lived in Albuquerque and she would fly in to visit us, I knew her heart was aching to share the experience of that special place with you.  Just like she does now when she is surrounded by family and friends … I see it in her eyes.  She’s wishing you were still by her side to enjoy these slower and less hectic years of life.

You left quite a legacy in your sons … their looks, their humor, and their character.  You would be most proud of the men they have both become.  Me?  The best thing you passed along to me was the tenacity of never letting go of Jesus.  I know that life was not always easy for you and there were some really difficult circumstances that knocked you down from time to time.  But you always kept grasping the hand of Jesus who would always pull you back up.  Thank you, Daddy, for your faithful example to my own heart and life. 

Me and Daddy 1968

The reality of Heaven became very intimate for me since you died.  I have always pictured in my mind’s eye that you will be waiting at the front gates for me with arms wide open, saying “My Bobby Naw!  My sweet little girl!”  On that day when my heart is reunited with yours, I will also see Jesus face to face!  What a glorious day that will be!

Well, I will hush for now, Daddy.  I promise to meet you here again, from time to time, on the pages of my heart. 

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

 

Scriptures that I read to Daddy while he was in the hospital …
and later read at his funeral.
(When I was a child, Daddy was often referred to as “King”.)

The king rejoices in Your strength, LORD.
   How great is his joy in the victories You give!

You have granted him his heart’s desire
   and have not withheld the request of his lips.

You came to greet him with rich blessings
   and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.

He asked you for life, and You gave it to him—
   length of days, for ever and ever.

Through the victories You gave, his glory is great; 
   You have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely You have granted him unending blessings
   and made him glad with the joy of Your presence.

For the king trusts in the LORD;
   through the unfailing love of the Most High
   he will not be shaken.

Psalm 21:1-7

 

 

Flat Belly Diet

21 Apr

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God —
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

 

Mimi and Cole ~ April 2011

I have never been overweight.  I’ve often classified myself as petite instead of the usual adjectives that people come up with, such as skinny, little, tiny, and of course, I can’t leave out short.  My height and my weight have always gone hand in hand.  Petite.  That’s me, that is, until I began to reach the underlying shadows of turning 50 years old.  I began to notice that I couldn’t eat just anything (and everything) I wanted and still remain in the same vicinity on the scales.   Portion control became my new rule as I filled my plate with delicious meals during our former life at Higher Ground.  Thinking the slight chub around the middle would immediately disappear once we moved away from all the tasty temptations, I found it to only increase.  Tim and I now have time to spend together in the kitchen preparing new recipes and enjoying them.  We decide to go out to eat more often now, looking for hole-in-the-wall places that usually serve exceptional food.  We snack in the evenings as we watch TV … and we gifted ourselves with a meat smoker for Christmas, so we frequently enjoy scrumptious pulled pork and cornbread.  As the scales continue to tip past the point where the needle stood underneath my pregnant form so many years ago, it’s time to call HALT!!   When the day comes that our Kim is once again with child and her bulging baby tummy is the topic of her young toddler, I’m afraid that Cole will look over at his grandma and pat MY tummy and say “Mimi’s Baby?”   

So, for the first time in my life, I am on a diet.  I don’t need to lose a lot of weight.  Only 10 -15 pounds.  Inches are more of my target, knowing that clothing will fit better, and I will be healthier.   To keep from sounding like I’m whining, I will simply say that I have felt miserable, extremely unhealthy, and even concerned that my middle girth was getting the best of me.  I know it is time to become mature, responsible, and loving toward my own body and health. 

Having an excellent recommendation from my daughter who found this diet plan to be a great success, I officially began on Monday.  I am currently on Day 4 out of 32.  I spent several days reading through the book, however, before implementing its plan.  Two gals from Prevention Magazine are the minds behind this concept, explaining the health concerns of having too much fat around our bellies and offering great encouragement and hands-on tools to get our bodies back under control.  As I read through the book, I jotted down a few notes that I felt were important to cheer me on my new adventure. . .

Diet is a contract between me and myself.

I am special.  I deserve the time, the energy, and the effort that’s equal to
everything else in my life.

 

So, here I am.  Embracing special me … muffin top and all.  Excited to be nearly finished with the 4 day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart and to go forward for the next 28 days, anticipating better health, better habits, and hopefully, better fit.  In exchange for unhealthy, I’m learning about MUFAs, Sassy Water, Visceral Fat, Waist to Hip Ratio and BMI.

 As Easter Sunday approaches and we gather in worship to celebrate our risen Savior, let us also keep in mind that true disciples of Christ worship Him every day.  We worship Him in all that we do…our relationships, our work, our playtime, our activities, and even our eating.  Jesus gave His life for me … the least I can do is to give Him all of me in return, and that includes my best at giving Him a healthy me.  A special and healthy me.  Won’t you join me in giving our best to Jesus?

Until next time,
Debbie

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2  (The Message)

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Merry Christmas from the Van Hooks!

21 Dec

Our beautiful children!

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

 

Bahama Cruise

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

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

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

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

Regis Philbin, Mom, myself, and Kim

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

Cole and his new TRACTOR!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Our family

Ornaments

29 Nov

 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:16-17

 

After the busyness of the past several days of precious family time, I find myself, in the quietness of my thoughts and the sacredness of the holidays, wondering where Thanksgiving is suppose to end and Christmas is suppose to start.  Can we honestly celebrate one without the other?   How fitting that both special days are so close on the calendar!!

Our daughter and her little family spent much of this past week with us in our home for the Thanksgiving holiday.  With a 20 month-old toddler around, we laughed a lot, were entertained by the simplest gestures and words, and watched a few episodes of Dora the Explorer.  Turkey Day itself was shared with a total of 23 around the dinner table at ‘Park Place’ … the home of  Tim’s oldest sister.  This is becoming quite a holiday tradition as the individual Van Hook kids have married and had kids, and their kids are now getting married and having kids…and we can all gather at Aunt Debbie’s house to visit.   What a blessing this year as four baby boys were born into the family since last Thanksgiving!

Once family all went home, I rearranged the living room furniture in order to make room for our Christmas tree.  My thoughts and prayers were going out to several friends who are struggling with life.  My mom’s best friend suffered a heart attack during the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.  The medical staff at the hospital in Greenwood was able to save Nellie’s life with an immediate surgery and procedure … A big thank you goes out to those who work on special days when most of us have time off!  Another friend in Albuquerque lost everything in an apartment fire last week.  A dear friend in Cincinnati is leaning hard on Jesus since her husband’s cancer has returned.  Another precious friend is going through the holidays for the first time without her father, who passed away in August.  It seems that everywhere we look, life is full.  It is full of joy and it is full of sorrow.  Even through the sorrow, we can still have joy as we have SO much to be grateful for! 

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great mercies we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:21-26

 

With the tradition of Karen Carpenter, 4 Him, and Amy Grant filling our home with songs of the season, my heart was still celebrating Thanksgiving as I opened boxes packed full of 30 years of life.  Inside were memories all wrapped up in garland, lights, holiday tins, a musical moose, stuffed Christmas veggies, gingerbread houses made of clay, and ornaments.  Ornaments that tell stories about people, places, events, and times.

As I hung each ornament on the tree, my heart was overwhelmed by God’s love and His mercies, for they ARE new every morning and every year.  Testimonies to His faithfulness hang all over my Christmas tree!  Homemade treasures made out construction paper and paper doilies, complete with school photos, represent sweet blessings all grown up now.  Friendships old and new, special places like Kauai and Venice, and many ‘1st’ ornaments, for the various locations we have called home.  An attitude of prayer filled my living room as I gently placed each memento on the branches, thanking God for the people who came to mind, and seeking Him on their behalf … wherever they are, whatever they are doing this Christmas season, and for their part in my life  ~ sometime between 1980 and 2010.

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:16-17

 

I look forward to this special prayer service next year.  My own personal Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration.  I know that my home would never be displayed in a trendy home décor magazine, but that’s ok.  The simple decorations and the tree, complete with icicles and unique ornaments never to be found in a boutique shop, adorn a most sacred chapel of worship. 

Won’t you join me in continuing to give thanks for His blessings as we enter into this Christmas season to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior?

Until next time,
Debbie

You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
You are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
His love endures forever.
Psalm 118:28-29

 

 

 

 

Jesus Loves Me

29 Sep

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,
Debbie

Love Notes

16 Sep

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Hi   Miss you already    BP”

 

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

 

“   😮     I love you   BP”

 

 

“I’ll fly away!”

 

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

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

 

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

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

Till next time,
Debbie

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

 

August 5th

5 Aug

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

 

August 5 is a very peculiar day.  At least in our family it is.  It’s as if God hand picked a day and made it very special to a lot of people.  Here’s the story …

My first real attention to the day was in 1978 when I found out August 5th was the birthday of my boyfriend at that time.   No big deal, really … so his birthday was in Aug.  Mine was in October.  I soon found out that his baby sister was also born on his birthday and his brother missed it by 3 days.  Wow!  In the mind of a 17 year old, I immediately thought that those first few days of August for the Van Hook family must be a really fun time!  Lots of birthdays and celebrating!

Joanna & Kimberly Christmas 2009

Well, as the story continues, I married that boyfriend in 1980.  August and October birthdays, among others, were celebrated and life picked up momentum.  After a few surgeries and quite the struggle to conceive, this young married couple was thrilled to find out that they were going to have a baby!  August 16th was the anticipated due date.  To add to the excitement, my brother and his wife were also expecting a new baby the latter part of July … their 2nd child.  How fun to watch the ever expanding waistlines grow and to share those months with them! 

Well, I’m sure by now, you have guessed what happened.  My mother said from the beginning that it would.  The overjoyed grandma predicted that both babies would be born on Tim’s birthday, August 5th.  And they were.  Only one hour and 48 minutes apart.  Same city, different hospitals, and drastically different weights.  The 7 day past due little girl weighed a little more than 8 lbs, while our impatient daughter, who came 11 days early, tipped the scales at 5 lb 5 ounces.   The twin cousins, as they love to call themselves, our now 27 years old. 

What a day August 5th is!  Besides the immediate family, Tim has several cousins who share this special day of the year … and August 5th was his grandparents’ wedding anniversary.  Join me today in celebrating those we love on their special days in August!

Until next time,
Debbie