Tag Archives: Death

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

24 Dec

 

“This is a day you are to commemorate;
for the generations to come you shall celebrate
it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.
Exodus 12:14

Dear Daddy,

Today’s the day! I echo the thought of every child around the world – Today’s Christmas Eve! But for me, in my child-like heart, this day is more than special because of Christmas. It’s your birthday!

As a young girl, I always thought there was something magical about the fact that your birthday was on Christmas Eve … it made the day more fun and added to the excitement and anticipation! Now that I’m all grown up, I realize that you so willingly shared your one day of the year with us kids and Mom, making sure that “all the stockings were hung by the chimney with care”. I love you, Dad!

Remi

Remi

Tim and I are on our way to Indy to spend the next few days with Mom and the family. Family – oh Daddy! Much has taken place since last year’s birthday letter. Your Grandpa heart would be a melted gooey mess these days as Tim and Courtney have been blessed with a new little life. Remington Kimber has brought an unexpected joy to the family, along with her adorable older sisters, Azure and Zarah. I’m sure that Remi’s daddy will fill her heart with stories and tales of her Grandpa Johnny and your love for her all the way from Heaven!

A special blessing will be added to the family in March when another great granddaughter arrives! Jay and Sue are excited as Jason and Leslie will be bringing a little sister home to Jaxon and Bo. I’m sure that you can remember those special days when you and Mom brought us kids home from the hospital … and then your “grandchillren”.

Enough about us here … let’s chat about your news! How about that Joe Talhelm?! I imagine you were a bit surprised to see him so soon! Did he tell you that I flew down to Louisiana to visit him and Becky back in April? Life has a way of turning crazy, unexpected and unthinkably difficult moments into morsels of mercy … wake-up calls , second chances, renewed opportunities, blessings and personal gifts from God. We will never understand  how all of that works.  Then Tim’s step-father, Bill ~ Jesus Himself no doubt introduced you to him. He was a good man, and Tim’s mom misses him so. I know that people say our loss is Heaven’s gain, but that doesn’t make it any easier for those who lost. I read this a few days ago …

“Christmas this year will be unavoidably sad for many people … perhaps for you.
Take heart!
Christmas needn’t be merry to be meaningful.
It’s the Christ of Christmas we celebrate,
not Christmas itself.”

Daddy, as your family gathers to celebrate Jesus during this Christmas season, please know that for those of us who you called your chillren, we will always celebrate YOU on December 24th … and everyday when we see you in the eyes of your siblings, in the actions of your grandkids, and in the hearts of all who loved you!

I love you, Daddy … happy birthday!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbiage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.”

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7 Hours!!

31 Oct

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our Refuge.
Psalm 62:8

 

I love this boy!

I love this boy!

The little boy was distraught with the beginning of school. Each morning when his Momma came to wake him up, he immediately groaned his disappointment about the apparent new obligation to committing another day of his life to school.  His learning career up to this point had consisted of Preschool for 3 days a week at 3 hours each day.  For a 4 year old, that was fun and acceptable.  But kindergarten was very different for this 5 year old, and he wasn’t so excited.  He was obsessed with being away from home for 7 hours each day!

In an attempt to help Cole understand and to grasp the concept of 7 hours, Momma explained to him that there are 24 hours in one day … and that he is only away from home for 7 of those 24 hours. In quite the panic, Cole then asked if first graders have to go to school for 24 hours!  Poor thing.  In the midst of his fear and dread, he missed the point.

A few weeks ago, Mimi volunteered to spend a Friday with the little ones while Daddy worked and Mom was in charge of Ladies’ Retreat and was heading out of town for a very busy weekend. Mimi’s first assignment was to get Cole out of bed and ready for school so he could catch the bus at 9 am.  As I kissed him good-bye, I explained to him that I would meet him at the bus stop after school.  He became greatly concerned … “Are you sure you’ll still be here, Mimi? It’s 7 hours!”  I reassured him that his little sister and I would be waiting for him…and his words when he got off of the bus at 4 pm?  “You’re still here!”

I find myself obsessing over the same thing, except mine isn’t just 7 hours!  I have a variety of times, obligations, and concerns that seemingly overwhelm me. Work, of course, consumes a huge percentage of my everyday.  But without a job, we would be without many of the necessities of life.  One of those necessities is the evening meal – another item to obsess over.  After working all day, my motivation meter and energy level is on the low side, but we need to eat and can’t afford to go out all the time.  Thankfully, my gracious husband enjoys helping in the kitchen and it is often a joint effort to put dinner on the table.

Mimi's Loves

Mimi’s Loves

Just as Cole is finding out, even at the young age of 5 years old, life is full and busy. Even though he is concerned about the fun and exciting things he is missing at home while he’s away to school, he is learning that his own world of little-boy experiences can be fulfilling.  In my world, Mimi has allowed the calendar to nearly flip to November before taking the time to post another Morsels of Mercy.  “7 hours!!!”  But the busyness has included our annual fall trip on the motorcycle to Toms River, New Jersey.  We have taken two trips to Indiana to be with my precious mother-in-law since the death of her husband.  We recently enjoyed a fun weekend with the grandkids at the pumpkin patch/apple orchard.  There was another weekend of squirreling away freshly roasted green chilis, butternut squash, corn and other veggies – packing the freezer full of yummy food!  There are always good and blessed moments in the midst of our  “7 hours!”!

With the crowded and non-stop days of the upcoming holidays just around the corner, won’t you join me in giving all of our “7 hours!” to the Keeper of all times?

Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides You,
Who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.
Isaiah 64:4

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our Refuge.
Psalm 62:8

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Until next time,
Debbie

“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbiage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.”

Beach Therapy

19 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoying the surf and sun

Enjoying the surf and sun

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

Parasailing fun!!

Parasailing fun!!

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

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

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

Until next time,
Debbie

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“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.
 
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** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my trip to Florida
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
 
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Life Celebrations

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

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

 Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
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 P.S.   “Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of the move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.
******************************************************************************************************
** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from our excursion to the shore
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203139143494232.1073741862.1076414018&type=1&l=b9d0add112
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How Long Has It Been?

1 Aug

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

 

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

 

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

 

Our new home

Our new home

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

 

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

 

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

 

More on the house later …

 

May 2014

NIBC friends

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

 

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

 

Cole Michael Lillianne Hope

Cole Michael
Lillianne Hope

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

 

July 2014

Me, my brothers, and our Mom

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Louise

21 Oct

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4

Things happen that we don’t expect, changing the course of the usual to the unusual. Take today for example. I sit here at home on a Monday because I caught some awful bug that has made me achy with a fever and a nose that won’t stop running. A dear friend in Louisiana was diagnosed with melanoma cancer last December and had his third surgery this morning. And another precious friend of mine is going to bury his wife in Maysville, Kentucky this afternoon.

Munchy Monday girls, including Louise ... the beautiful blonde in the back row!

Munchy Monday girls, including Louise … the beautiful blonde in the back row!

It was just a little more than 2 weeks ago when I made my annual trip to Indy for my birthday weekend. As always, one of my favorite highlights is to drive down to my old tromping grounds just outside of Cincinnati and meet up with my Munchy Monday girls. This time was no exception as 12 of us gathered on a covered back porch overlooking a beautiful evening. I was blessed by being with some of my dearest friends … even if for a brief couple of hours. Although I do talk to several of them on a regular basis, it’s always good to get to see them and breathe the same air. Louise was one of those friends. I call her every Monday morning on my way into work.  This morning was the first Monday affected by the unexpected, changing the course of the usual to the unusual. Louise died last Wednesday.

Louise Doyle

Louise Doyle

This lovely 82 year old blonde was a classy lady. Her makeup was never out of place, her clothes were always in style, and she loved to be in the middle of the fun! The first time I met Louise was at a Southwest Ohio District Ladies’ Retreat, which was being held at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center back in 2006. I was brand new to the area, brand new to Higher Ground, and brand new to the district, so I on purpose went around to the different tables of ladies to meet them. From the first moment of introductions, Louise and the Fairfield ladies warmly welcomed me and I quickly learned their names and made a point to become friends with them. Louise and I seemed to have a special connection, which was bonded even tighter after I moved away a few years later. Our weekly chats on the phone have kept us both current in each other’s worlds and allowed us a chance to share prayer concerns with one another.

“Hey you!” Louise would say as she answered the phone, expecting my call every Monday morning around 8:10 am. Last Monday, she was full of stories about their recent trip to Pigeon Forge to attend the General Prime Time Retreat, along with concern about a mutual friend who was not well and in the hospital. Our usual parting words as I arrive at work are “Talk to you next week!” Little did I know that early Wednesday afternoon I would receive a call at work and the voice on the other end would say, “Puddin? This is Papa Ray … we’ve lost Louise.”

There is still a birthday card on my shelf with her name inside. There are handwritten recipes in my file from her, and pictures of our Munchy Monday girls with her in the middle of it all up in my office. There is a Louise-sized empty spot in my heart and in the heart of all who love her!

Won’t you join me today in doing something unexpected? An act of kindness, some words of love, or a prayer for a troubled soul … something unexpected and positive that will change the course of the usual to unusual for someone today.

Until next time,
Debbie