Tag Archives: Devotions

Still Celebrating Christmas!!

22 Jan

Lord, You have been our Dwelling Place
throughout all generations.
Psalm 90:1

 

There has been a cute little monkey bank sitting in various places in our home since Cole Michael was born in 2009. It has been emptied a few times, with the contents accumulating to enough cash to do something fun and meaningful. Along with the assistance of a great sale on Southwest.com, I booked two flights to Indianapolis and presented the best, once-in-a-lifetime Christmas present to our grandson… a trip with Mimi to visit Mimi Wells and family!

 

The details of our visit would be very boring for most, so I will spare you. However, the specifics about a 6 year old little boy are priceless gems to share. His views, his comments and his actions are note worthy and things I want to remember!

 

Jamba Juice! A simple act of giving him options and talking with him through making a decision was fun and I could tell he felt important as he carried his Jamba Juice cup onto the airplane.

 

Pilot Cole

Pilot Cole

So as we were standing in line to board the plane, we heard someone behind us saying ‘excuse me!’ as they made their way up through the line coming toward us. The gentleman in uniform approached us and as I ushered Cole to get out of his way, I asked him if he was the pilot. Within moments, he and Cole had a conversation that ended with an invitation for Cole to join him in the cockpit of the plane. The flight attendant just inside the plane asked my traveling companion if his name was Cole and said that the pilot was waiting for him. Pilot Tim took pictures for Mimi while Cole sat in the pilot’s seat with his hands on the controls. What a fun way to start a late night flight to Indy!

 

Our shuttle ride from the airport to Mimi Wells’ house was provided by my policeman brother and his wife. Even though Cole slept part of the way there, he was impressed with the flashing lights and loud siren display that Uncle Tim put on for him.

 

Sleeping! I gave Cole the option of sleeping alone in my old bedroom or together downstairs on a queen size bed. I could tell he wanted to be with me, but he seemed rather concerned that he might fall out of bed since the bed was not against any walls. So, I decided to sleep on the side of the bed where Cole is used to having a wall … and this Mimi became his wall. This wall was kicked, head butted, covers stolen, coughed on and snuggled against. But when I felt a little arm wrap around me and pull me tight with a ‘good morning Mimi’, all bumps and bruises to the wall dissipated.

 

Morning devotions!   Great anticipation was in the air that first morning for a fun day of play with cousins Jax and Lyla, but first Mimi wanted to start our day off with Jesus. While we were still in bed, I pulled up a Really Woolly Kids video on my phone and we watched the silly antics of Jacob and Gracie Woolly and their family, who are sheep. The story talks about The Shepherd bringing us back to Him when we have wandered away. Like a light bulb that went off with an ah ha moment, Cole chuckled and said “Mimi! Jesus is the Shepherd! Do you get it?!? They’re sheep and He’s the Shepherd!” What an awesome way to start our day!

 

Star Wars light sabers!

Star Wars light sabers!

Hide and Seek!    Jax and Cole hid while Mimi stayed in the family room counting. They usually burrowed underneath Jax’s bedcovers with wiggles and giggles, taking away all challenge of finding them! When Mimi’s turn came around to hide, somehow I was able to successfully do so by simply standing behind the curtains, feet showing and all! They ran by me every time! Jax decided he didn’t want to hide, so Cole hid alone. I leisurely looked in each room, expecting to find him beside Lyla’s baby bed or in the tub behind the shower curtain, but all was quiet and Cole was nowhere to be found! After searching for several minutes, I faintly heard a clue — something about the room where you take a shower. I walked back into the restroom and I looked behind the door, behind the shower curtain … there was nowhere else to hide, so I started to leave the room. Then I heard another small noise and I followed it to behind the door … in the clothes hamper! It’s one of those soft sided ones, and sure enough, there he was, all curled up in a ball with his hood over his head, looking like dirty laundry! Needless to say, Cole won the prize for the most creative hiding spot!

 

 

Cole's drawing of a dino

Cole’s drawing of a dino

Let’s keep movin’!    Cole woke up with a fever on Saturday morning, so our plan to meet up with family at the Children’s Museum had to be cancelled. Thankfully, his fever broke mid Sunday morning, so we decided to take him then. I think Cole fell between the prime ages for the museum … too old for the hands-on little kids’ stuff that depends on the child’s imagination … he truly wanted to dig for real dinosaur bones … not pretend that he was! Then he was also too young to be interested in reading very many of the informational placards that helped him understand what he was looking at. When I would attempt reading them to him, he kept saying “let’s keep movin’!”   The dinosaur area was by far his favorite area — he was able to draw, dress up like a dino, and interact with a group of kids his age. When going back to Mimi Wells’ house, I asked him what his favorite part of the museum was … and he said “All of it!”  YAY!!!

 

“You sleep with Papaw!” After sleeping 3 nights as a wall with a sick kid who rooted and rolled around, I explained all of this to Cole and said that I was very tired. He reminded me that I sleep every night with Papaw and that he probably moves around in the bed and he knows that Papaw snores! He then pulled some logic by telling me that this was the last night together and that since he was feeling better he wouldn’t wart around as much. Besides, he said that we need to have devotions together first thing in the morning and it would best if I was there with him. Ok, Buddy …. this one last night!

 

I’m sure Cole is old enough to remember this trip – especially with all of the pictures I took! It’s important to me to do all I can to give him some very special memories, not only of our time together, but of time spent with my precious momma, his Mimi Wells. I also show him pictures of my Dad and talk about Grandpa Johnny, wanting my grandson to know that his great grandfather would’ve loved him so much! At the same time, I want to share Cole with my own mother … so she has a chance to know that her great grandson is a very special little boy. I look forward to doing the same with Cole’s little sister, Lillie, in a few years … also giving her glimpses into the Godly heritage that is mine and hers!

 

Throughout our weekend together, I repeatedly wished Cole a Merry Christmas, wanting to express the celebrative spirit in my heart that centers on Jesus and continually prays for this 6 year-old little boy as he grows into a young man that honors Jesus with his life! Won’t you join me as we pray for our little ones daily … and those that are not so little any longer?

He tends His flock like a Shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart.
Isaiah 40: 11

Until next time,
Debbie

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A New Calendar

11 Jan

I lift up my eyes to You,
to You whose throne is in heaven…
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till He shows us His mercy.
Psalm 123:1-2

 

Cole and Lillianne

Cole and Lillianne

Halloween - cowboys!

Halloween – cowboys!

One of my favorite gifts this year is my 2013 calendar.  Its pages are unique and unlike any other calendar in the world…it was custom designed just for me!  With the flip of each new month, another special picture is highlighted to view, reminding me of many loves, special occasions, and God’s hand-picked blessings that are mine.  Then with the addition of my own personal notes on specific dates, the New Year is off and running…ready or not!

In anticipation of the New Year, I posted a status on Facebook asking my friends for suggestions of something new to add to my daily devotional time.  How fun to read the variety of responses, including 14 different recommendations and a promised gift in the mail!  Sure enough, a few days later I received a package from my dear friend in Long Pine, Nebraska, with a copy of one of her favorite devotionals inside, Every Day Light by Selwyn Hughes.  The reoccurring message in the first few days of this book is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

The green one-eyed Monster

The green one-eyed Monster

I often write about God’s very personal and intimate communication with me … well, He can also be very humorous.  Last Saturday, our kids in Baltimore moved from their townhouse of 2 ½ years to a much larger home that they are purchasing.   Mimi and Papaw spent the entire weekend with them, helping where needed.  After two marathon days of cleaning, packing, and the actual move of house and home, we all fell into bed late Saturday night.  Tim and I always take up residence on the futon, which is located in the basement / play room, this time next to a bin of toys that the previous owners left behind.  Sometime in the dark wee hours of Sunday morning, a man’s voice broke into our sound sleep and very clearly said, “Whatcha looking at?  I’ve got my eye on you!”  Jumping out of bed, not having a clue where I was or what I was doing, I began to realize our surprise visitor was coming from the bunch of toys next to our bed.  By the light of my iphone, I began to dig through the playthings until I found the culprit, who must’ve settled in his resting place just enough to apply pressure to his “PUSH HERE” arm which makes him talk.  When Tim and I retrieved our unwanted guest, we laughed as we pushed his arm repeatedly to hear all of the silly things he can say.  I looked for the on-off switch, put him back with his friends, and crawled back into bed.  A few days later after I opened my package from Nebraska and began to read the devotional, I thought of our green one-eyed monster friend who said …  “whatcha looking at?  I’ve got my eye on you!”

One of my most loved Bible stories is in 2 Chronicles 20  ~  King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah were facing large armies which they could not possibly destroy.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard  and said:

 

    “O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.  O our God, did You not drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?  They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for Your Name, saying,  `If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in Your presence before this temple that bears Your Name and will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us.’

 

 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory You would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.  See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession You gave us as an inheritance.  O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”


All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.

 

Did you read that?!  All the men with their wives!  And children and little ones!!  All of their lives were at stake here … even the little ones!

 

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.


 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to You: `Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not Yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ “

 

Oh!  You must pick up your Bible and read the rest of the story!!  God does deliver them and does so without them even having to fight!

What’s going on in your life today that has you afraid and discouraged?  What big army is lurking in the distance, ready to crush and destroy you?   I know several people who have recently lost loved ones while others are quickly losing their battles or are suffering with long-term illnesses.  The unstable economy leaves us all with realistic questions of concern.  The escalating  violence in our communities put us all on guard for the safety of our families. Everywhere we look, there are problems, heartaches, and concerns.

As written by Selwyn Hughes in Every Day Light,

“The reason our problems often seem overwhelming is because we allow the things of time to loom larger in our gaze than the things of eternity. The tiniest of coins, when held close to the eye, can blot out the sun. Let’s begin to lay hold on the truth that life works better when we know how to glance at things but gaze at God. Seeing Him clearly will enable us to see all other things clearly.”

In the beginning of this New Year, in the midst of all the legitimate concerns of life and death … Above all, won’t you join with me in keeping our gaze Heavenward?  Today is January 11th.  In just a few tomorrows, the calendar will flip to February, and then on to March. Before I know it, my calendar will have the Halloween Cowboys up, quickly closing in on Christmas again.  Time does not miss a step on our journey called life.  Let’s keep our eyes fixed on the One who never disappoints and will be with us all to the end.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

Special Blessing

10 Mar

 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…
Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:1 and 10

 

An incident took place the other day that stole my “Be still and know that I am God.”    That evening was filled with shared responsibilities, high expectations with a goal of perfection, a quickly approaching deadline, and too many confused emotions that snowballed out of control.   I should’ve taken a step back, committed the moment to God, and said what needed to be said in His time and confidence. Instead, frustration expressed itself and 20 minutes later gave way to a very heavy heart.  One that kept me awake most of that night, stirring me around 4:00 am to crawl out of bed to meet Jesus. 

In a room filled with black and white cows, vanilla scented candles, mementos, CDs, books, snowflakes that hang from the ceiling, pictures of my friends, and countless other things that are dear to my heart, I find Jesus often … right here on the couch in my little office at home.  Early Saturday morning was no exception.  With a heart that was hurting and not sure which way to turn, my Guide was quick to respond.  As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m reading in the Old Testament … for weeks now, rules, regulations, laws, and stats given to Moses and the Israelites.  Nothing to really sink my teeth into for days!  Out of nowhere, the Lord decided to give a special blessing:

May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

A sense of awe began to fill my spirit that had been troubled since the night before.  I continued my daily routine of devotions to Our Daily Bread, where the reading took me to one of my most favorite passages of scripture ~ Philippians 4.  For those of you who know me best, I’m a big fan of the book “The 4:8 Principle … the Secret to a Joy-filled Life” by Tommy Newberry  ~  based on Philippians 4:8.  Of all the scriptures to be on my to-read list for that day …

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
Philippians 4:4-8

 

How more obvious can God be than to put into writing right before my eyes the words …
Do not be anxious about anything … and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Excited to see what God had for me next, I opened Oswald Chambers  ~  My Utmost for His Highest.  Check out the very first sentence!!

“When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your kitchen, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.”

The word kitchen nearly took my breath away.   How many times do you think that one word is used in this devotional book?  I actually did a search…only this one time.  The day that I needed to see that one word is the only day it is written in the book.  How does God do it?  Does He go through and miraculously reprint all of the existing Oswald Chambers and stick in the word kitchen so Debbie Van Hook can read it and know that He loves her?  I don’t think so.  That word has always been there.  It’s just this time, I was still long enough to know that He is God.

The reading continued …

“…Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the Risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to damp you. Continually get away from pettiness and insignificance of mind and thought.”

Oh my!  I was suddenly humbled to tears as I realized how very much God loves me.  It was just a few hours after I allowed circumstances to cause fear and panic to grip my soul.  I may have temporarily failed to keep the eyes of my spirit open to my Risen Christ, but he certainly had not failed me.  All night, as I tossed and turned in my bed, He was right here on my little couch waiting for me to come to Him.  He had a special blessing for me.  One of understanding, correction, unconditional love, and mercy.

I know that life is full of moments.  It always will be.  Some will be moments of joy and happiness while others will be brimmed with overwhelming frustration and anxiousness.  Won’t you please join me in continually striving to live in the “Be still and know that I am God”?

Till next time,
Debbie