Tag Archives: food

Best Buds

21 Oct

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul. 
Proverbs 27:9

There she was … on the escalator, smiling and riding down toward me. The next few days were planned with outings and activities, but at that moment, it was just good to see her again and to give her a big hug!

 

Several months before, Becky had hinted that she would like to come see me in the fall, but I knew how fragile life had been since Joe died more than 2 years ago, along with the fact that she is the primary caregiver of her 89 year-old momma. Airline tickets were purchased and the dates put on the calendar. Anticipation mounted as time drew closer. Several incidents took place that made us wonder if we would have to postpone, but God knew that Becky needed the respite and time away.

 

Best Buds at Hershey Chocolate World

Best Buds at Hershey Chocolate World

On our first full day together, we enjoyed an afternoon of fun and a tasty lunch at Hershey Chocolate World. This was followed by a drive-thru tour of our former life in Middletown, where we built our home in 1991, and then where Kim and Troy were married in Hershey. Later that evening I was honored to have Becky join me as I hosted the October Refresh meeting … the monthly small group that meets in my home. Ten of us ladies gathered to reminisce about childhood friendships and to be reminded that God is all about relationships, most importantly ours with Him!

 

Lancaster County PA is the heart of Amish country in PA … and that is where we spent the following day. Nearly every moment was a Kodak one, and how we both embraced the beauty of the day, the culture, and the sites! It was a perfect day filled with friendship, fun and delicious food!

 

Vintage photo albums provided Saturday morning with hearts full of warm memories, laced with fun and laughter as we flipped through pictures of old boyfriends, church teen activities and friends. The giggles eventually turned into sighs and expressions of sweet sentiment as photos of her Joe and my Tim began to fill the pages with the early days of falling in love, getting married and starting families … the love stories that have been ours for over 3 decades now. At some point, we had to close the albums and quietly remind ourselves that today and tomorrow are new days, full of the promise of new memories yet to experience!

 

Dinner at Dobbins House Gettysburg, PA

Dinner at Dobbins House
Gettysburg, PA

And experience we did! For our final hoorah, we spent the afternoon with my hubby, meandering our way through Gettysburg and catching glimpses of monuments, acres and acres of battlefields, and even a few true historians who dressed for the part. We took advantage of the gorgeous warm sunshine and beautiful autumn leaves as we enjoyed our time together.

As a keepsake of our special time together, Becky’s daughter provided prayer/friendship beads for us to creatively string and use as a reminder to pray for one another. Also, my husband caught the lyrics of a song he was listening to as he was riding the motorcycle over the weekend.  He brought the CD inside and played it for me and Becky … Here are the lyrics.

Click here to listen … https://youtu.be/jk8cPNTBOwc

Reunion of Friends by Phil Keaggy

Look at you, look at me, Together once again.
This is a day to celebrate reunion of friends.
Sha la la la la la la la la la.

Time to dance, time to sing, Time to join our hands.
This is a day to celebrate reunion of friends.

We can recapture the years that slipped away,
We can relive all the memories still,
So don’t you be sad for our prayers
Have been answered today.
It’s time to celebrate.

See you laugh, see you smile, Blessed with innocence.
This is the day to celebrate reunion of friends.
This is the day to celebrate reunion of friends.

We can recapture the years that slipped away,
We can relive all the memories still,
So don’t you be sad for our prayers
Have been answered today.
It’s time to celebrate.

We can recapture the years that slipped away,
We can relive all the memories still,
We can rebuild all His mercy, peace, and grace.
And there is no dream that He can’t fulfill
So let’s celebrate today.

 

Becky’s early Sunday afternoon return flight to Louisiana came all too quickly, but we both felt incredibly grateful for this special weekend that God gifted to us.  As childhood friends and life-time best buds, we recaptured, relived and celebrated! Won’t you join us as we rebuild all His mercy, peace, and grace, knowing that there is no dream that He can’t fulfill!   So let’s celebrate today!

Until next time,
Debbie

 

In God’s wisdom, He frequently chooses to meet our needs
by showing His love toward us through the hands and hearts of others.
Jack Hayford

 

 

Brotherly Love

10 Jul

Your love has given me
great joy and encouragement,
because you, brother,
have refreshed the hearts
of the Lord’s people.
Philemon 1:7

 

Summertime holidays are always fun — outdoor activities or the cool inside comfort of A/C, sunshine or rain, car or motorcycle! What tops them off as some of the best times of the year is that we make an effort to be with family … whether it’s a quick trip to the south side of Baltimore to see our Loves or a run up north along the Susquehanna River to visit Tim’s mother. Celebrating the 4th of July was no exception!

 

July 2, 2016

Enjoying the new patio set with family!

What an extra special treat July 4th was for us this year as we began to plan a fun-filled weekend with my little brother and his family! Weeks of anticipation, menu-planning, much-needed projects placed on the to-do list (company coming is a great motivator and inspiration!!) and the purchase of a brand new patio set for our back deck! In celebration of our 36th wedding anniversary tomorrow, I consider this first-time ever patio set purchase to be an amazing gift from my loving hubby!

 

The big day finally arrived and numerous updates were texted as they drove from Indiana to Pennsylvania.  Several hours and many miles later, we welcomed five road-weary travelers to our home and began our holiday weekend of family fun. Even before bedtime, we were entertained by Princesses Zarah and Remi as they found the dress-up corner in our playroom. Once the kids were all tucked in bed for the night, it was so good to simply sit and talk to Tim and Courtney.

 

Hershey Chocolate World

Hershey Chocolate World

Tim and Courtney with their family

Tim and Courtney with their family

A visit to Hershey Chocolate World was enjoyed by all, heart strings were pulled as old photo albums were perused, and amazingly comfortable weather allowed us to be outside to enjoy the kids in the backyard and to sit out on the new patio furniture! There was Sunday morning worship together and lots of family games testing our memory and our patience … and always good food and pleasant company!

 

The 4th of July was made even more special as our Loves from the south side of Baltimore joined our holiday party with more excitement, more chatter and lots more yummy food! We enjoyed outdoor and indoor play, a piano recital, many pretend goodies prepared in the play kitchen and served to all, and a brief interlude of evening showers so the kids could light sparklers! What a fantastic family fun-filled day to end our holiday weekend!

 

The toys have been put away, the kitchen cleaned up and even the left-overs have been eaten. Sometimes I think that the house is too quiet and too big, but then I remember how incredibly blessed we are to literally have a haven of rest for guests to come to, a place for children to play, and a warm and inviting home for friends and family to gather and simply sit and talk. Those few days with my little brother and his wife were priceless to my big-sister heart! In preparation for their visit, I prayed that God would mend any old wounds and restore a sibling relationship that just existed through the years without any real connection. I longed for a renewed appreciation and respect for him – one that he deserves as a person, as a husband and a father, as a police officer, and as my brother. As I stood in the driveway and hugged and kissed them all good-bye on Tuesday morning, my heart was full and running over with gratitude, love, and anticipation of the next time!

 

Won’t you join me as I continue to celebrate and embrace the days of summer, appreciation of family and friends, and most importantly, God’s love for each of us?!

 

Until next time,
Debbie

This is how we know what love is:
Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
And we ought to lay down our lives
for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16

We ought always to thank God for you,
brothers and sisters, and rightly so,
because your faith is growing more and more,
and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.
1 Thessalonians 1:3

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas 2015

24 Dec

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,

but will have the Light of Life.”
John 8:12

Excitement and anticipation are in the air! Decorated trees, greeting cards and carols accompany the yummy tastes of holiday treats, giggles of little children, and weary sighs from adults. In the midst of the festivities of the season, we want to take the time to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!

 

It really wasn’t that long ago when we began flipping pages in the new 2015 calendar, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and special days throughout the year. One such day was in March when Ryan, down on one knee, presented Brittany with a beautiful ring and asked her to marry him. We are all very excited for the days ahead as their dreams come true!   Ryan was promoted to Government Account Executive – City, County and non-profit sales with Verizon. He thoroughly enjoys his new job! Ryan plays on a couple different Ultimate Frisbee leagues throughout the year, which gives him the chance to travel some, including a recent tournament in Hawaii. Brittany continues to study for her MCAT exam and enjoys her job at Harborview Medical Center, downtown Seattle. They will be celebrating Christmas with her family this year, so we are all looking forward to some Ryan/Brittany time soon after the holidays!

December 2015

Cole and Lillianne

Cole and Lillie celebrated their spring birthdays this year with a special trip to Disneyland in California with their parents … Cole turned 6 years old in March and Lillianne was 3 in April. Cole is now in the first grade, has collected quite the savings from the tooth fairy, and has his own Sunkist Bearded Dragon named Blender. He played baseball and soccer this year and is looking forward to his first season of basketball. Lillie attends preschool 2 mornings a week and loves it! She sings, dances, loves to wear twirly dresses, and adores her dog, Tadpole. Cole and Lillie both enjoyed swimming at the community pool this past summer, along with a couple trips to the beach. They come and visit Mimi and Papaw as often as everyone’s busy schedule allows, where they have a swingset and a creek in the back yard and a room full of toys, wild animals, princess clothes and some more of their favorite things. These two kids add so much joy to Mimi and Papaw’s life!

 

Kim and Troy celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in September. Their family continues to be extremely involved in various ministries at Grace Pointe Community Church of the Nazarene in Severn, MD; one of which Kim is in charge of the annual women’s ministry retreat held at the shore in Ocean City, MD. Kim is a busy stay-at-home mom and a Pampered Chef consultant. Troy made a shift in his career and is now an Information Technology Specialist with the Marine Corps Civil Service. He also just finished his Masters of Science in Cybersecurity through University of Maryland University College. The 82 miles between their home and ours is only an hour and a half drive — we are blessed!

 

In March, I became the full-time receptionist/secretary for the York County CASA Program. Assigning ‘Court Appointed Special Advocates’ to neglected and abused children in the dependency courts is the focus of our mission. We are a small staff of 4, but our office is located in the county courthouse where I enjoy making many new friends!

 

Speaking of friends, beginning in March, I invited a few of my friends, neighbors and co-workers to my house for an evening of tasty treats, fun fellowship, and a short devotion. Refresh is the group name and the intention of this monthly meeting. 15 different women have attended at one time or another with an average of 8 or so who come most of the time. This is God’s idea, His name, His inspiration and His ladies. I am excited with anticipation each month as He pulls it all together for me and I share His heart to these friends.

 

After 8 years of riding, 2 motorcycles later and many hours of research and on-line shopping, Tim finally found the Harley Davidson of his dreams. Spending time together riding the motorcycle has become something we both really enjoy! Weekend trips, day rides and summer-evening ice cream runs have become the norm for us. Tim, his brother and 2 of their riding buddies also rode down to the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee during the summer.

 

Another favorite fun activity of ours is to spend time in the kitchen together creating tasty dishes and meals! We also invested in a pressure canner this summer, so we canned peaches, green beans, peach salsa, gluten-free tomato soup for our grandson Cole, and apple sauce. We also froze peaches, corn, blueberries, broccoli and cauliflower. Every few months, Tim also smokes a bunch of meat and we freeze beef brisket and pulled pork. Oh! I mustn’t forget the tastiest item we burrowed away! New Mexico green chiles! Our friend Daniel is our connection in Albuquerque, and he shipped us the best chiles yet! Like a pro, Tim perfectly roasted them and we then put them in the freezer to enjoy throughout the year!

Ready for church!

Ready for church

We took several extended weekend trips for our annual visits with friends and family. Seattle was our vacation destination this year — and we shared the experience with my mother! Ryan and Brittany were gracious hosts to the 3 of us, highlighting a few of our favorite tourist stops for mom, eating lots of yummy food and simply enjoying each other’s company! No matter how many days we are blessed to spend with Ryan and Brittany, it is never enough for this Mommy’s heart!

 

Heaven is always becoming a bit sweeter, isn’t it?   With the passing of friends and family this year, we are all reminded of the fragility of life and the importance of living ready.   We never know what today will bring, so let’s keep in mind that Jesus isn’t just the reason for the season, but He’s the reason for every day of our life!

Merry Christmas and a Very Blessed New Year,
Debbie

God sent a Star to light the way.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,

but will have the Light of Life.”
John 8:12

 

 

 

 

Seattle 2015

2 Oct

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all people to Myself.
John 12:32

 

My Mommy heart was full and overflowing as I peered out the window to catch my last glimpse of Mt. Rainier … until next time. The view of that majestic peak symbolizes my excited anticipation of being with my son and his future bride … and represents to my heart the awesome Love of God that continually watches over Ryan and Brittany.

 

As Tim and I boarded our Southwest Airline early last Thursday morning, my mother in Indianapolis began her own journey … both flights converging at the Sea-Tac Airport just minutes apart. What a joy to be welcomed to Seattle by our son and my mom! Those moments of hugs and kisses were just the beginning of a 5-day adventure that will forever fill our hearts with priceless memories!

 

On the day we arrived, just a quarter of a mile from Ryan and Brittany’s apartment was the scene of the fatal accident involving a tour bus of international students and the Seattle Duck Tour. This created quite a delay in getting to their home, along with a change in our itinerary of riding the Duck Tour later in the weekend.

 

Ready for church!

Ready for church!

Speaking of our itinerary, the list of places to see, foods to eat, and things to do over the next several days was extensive, and we were successful in accomplishing all but a few. Ryan and Brittany took time off from work to be our entertaining and personal tour guides and warmly opened their home to us with comfy accommodations and delicious meals! We ate out at some of our favorite spots and enjoyed the brew of coffee that is so famous in Seattle. We drove across the floating bridge and enjoyed the misty view of the Snoqualmie Falls, and we walked through Pike’s Market as we stopped from time to time to graze on cheese curds, crumpets and tasty bakery treats. We rode the elevators to the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center and spent the afternoon with a bird’s eye view of our host city and its surrounding towns. We spent leisure time cheering for the Colts, Broncos, and the Seahawks, watching an assortment of movies each evening, and Brittany and I spent a few hours shopping at the world’s best Goodwill where we found awesome deals to compliment our wardrobes!

 

As the blood moon eclipsed over the eastern skyline of Seattle on Sunday evening, my heart knew that it needed to prepare for the inevitable good-byes that would soon take place the following morning. Our favorite Seattle brew of Cafe Vita graced our Monday-morning breakfast table and within a short time I was once again hugging and kissing my loved ones. Grateful beyond words to have finally shared the special experience of Ryan/Brittany and Seattle with my mother, I sent her in the direction of her flight back to Indianapolis, knowing that I will see her again in just two weeks for my annual birthday visit. Discussion of a hopeful visit to our home in celebration of Christmas and the New Year kept the tears at bay as I embraced our kids and told them thanks for allowing us to come and spend a few days with them. I always feel that my hug is just not quite long enough nor tight enough to fully express my love to them.

 

Five days before as we neared our descent into Seattle, my heart sank with disappointment as I realized that we were sitting on the wrong side of the plane in order to see Mt. Rainier. Knowing that the weather while in Seattle can sometimes be overcast with clouds that hide any view of the mountain, seeing it while above the clouds is always a guarantee … that is as long as we’re seated on the correct side of the plane. As I was making mental notes to pick better seats next time, our pilot began to do a dance in the sky, twirling our plane into a complete circle, literally allowing me full view of that majestic mountain that towers above everything else in view. What I’m sure was a maneuver ordered by flight control in order to get into the proper flow of air traffic, God used it as a very personal gesture, showing His huge heart of Love to me!

 

Now as I once again leave behind Mt. Rainier, the beautiful city of Seattle, and those two precious children, my prayer is that our God will continue to watch over them, that He would be their Constant Companion, and that I can rest in His promise to always draw their hearts to His.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.
John 12:32

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

 For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you.
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge
of His will through all the wisdom and understanding
that the Spirit gives,
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and please Him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,

being strengthened with all power according to
His glorious might so that you may have
great endurance and patience
and giving joyful thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the
inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of
darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14

If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures that I recently posted on Facebook, feel free to click this link…whether you have Facebook or not!  Enjoy!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10205896195298804.1073741892.1076414018&type=1&l=a015608a95

refresh

21 Jul

A big tall glass of ice water or a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade…a popsicle or an ice cream cone with sprinkles. How about an afternoon in the swimming pool or a few days at the beach? It’s mid July and it’s that time of year when we want to feel refreshed.

 

Then there’s the long days of having to be mature and responsible. Work. Even though we may enjoy what we do to earn our living, it is still an obligation of our time and our energy. By the time Friday rolls around, I am ready to be refreshed. I always look forward to the occasional weekend that I get to spend with my grandkids … their very presence and their love always refreshes my spirit! When they are not around, simple activities such as cleaning my house, going to yard sales, and riding the motorcycle with my husband … these also refresh me.

 

One morning a few months ago, God threw the word ‘refresh’ out to me. I was expecting it. Or at least I was waiting on Him to give me something. And there it was. A simple word and concept. Within moments, as I sat down for my quiet time with Jesus, there was the word again … refresh … written in black and white in one of my devotional books. I smiled as I knew that God was confirming His direction, His idea, His plans and His desires. I quickly turned to the back of my Bible and looked up this most interesting word and found several scriptures that fit perfectly. A perfect fit for a new mission and a new ministry. Many years ago, God called me to be a missionary. His definition of missionary has been unique and most creative for me, and is still very real today. That morning back in January, He had already been nudging me, ever so slightly, about starting another group for ladies…something similar to what I did before with the Munchy Monday/Tasty Tuesday ladies from Higher Ground, but different. The difference being that was then and this is now … and the word refresh.

 

refresh 2

is a group of ladies who get together, once a month … for encouragement, inspiration, and refreshment. Our lives are busy, often full of circumstances and events that sap our energy and try to steal our joy, so we make a priority to refresh our souls with good company, tasty treats, and most importantly, Jesus.

 

IMG_2853 Five ladies met in my home on March 17th…a neighbor, two new friends from church, and a gal that also works for York County, and me. I shared God’s idea of ‘refresh’ that evening and expressed my heart’s desire to open my home to whoever would like to come for just one evening a month for a time to simply be refreshed. In April we were refreshed with Spring Cleaning as we read scriptures about being a sweet aroma of Christ and hiding the Word of God in our hearts in order to keep our way pure…and then my favorite,

Repent, then, and turn to God,
so that your sins may be washed away,
that times of REFRESHING may come from the Lord.
Acts 3:19

 

The months of May and June took us to the basics of being refreshed in the Word and in Prayer. Our time together each month combines a delicious evening meal with relaxing around the table, chatting about the everyday, followed with an emphasis of the word refresh, scripture, and prayer. Ladies share concerns and prayer needs, sometimes in tears driven by the fears and disappointments of life. Just a couple nights ago during our July meeting, we read passages from the Bible and excerpts from devotional books that encouraged us to “refresh our wardrobe”.

“Seek My face at the beginning of your day.
This practice enables you to “put Me on” and
“wear Me” throughout the day. Most people put
on clothes soon after rising from bed. Similarly,
the sooner you “put Me on” by communicating with Me,
the better prepared you are for whatever comes your way.”

imagesATKVFZSX

“To ‘wear Me’ is essentially to have My mind:
to think My thoughts. Ask the Holy Spirit to
control your thinking; be transformed by this
renewal within you. Thus you are well-equipped to face
whatever people and situations bring your way.
Clothing your mind in Me is your best preparation for each day.
This discipline brings Joy and Peace to you and those around you.”

So, chosen by God for this new life of Love,
dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:
compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.
Be even-tempered, content with second place,
quick to forgive an offense.
Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.
And regardless of what else you put on, wear Love.
It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.
Never be without it.
Colossians 3:12-14 The Message

Jesus is Love.
Regardless of what else you put on, wear Jesus.
He is your basic, all-purpose garment.
Never be without Him!

God promised me that if I would be willing to invite a few friends and even neighbors that I do not know, He would provide the rest. There is never a lack of inspiration for the study, there is plenty of energy to welcome the ladies into a clean home, and I’m blessed with a supportive husband who is witnessing first hand how God is connecting neighbors, co-workers and mere acquaintances from church and uniting hearts with a common purpose of being refreshed in Jesus.

 

I plan to create a refresh group on Facebook — a place for ladies to share encouraging words and scriptures throughout the month. I daydream about going away for a weekend retreat, or evening hosting it right here in my own home, (send the hubby to Baltimore for a few days) allowing us time to briefly study an entire book or a DVD series, or even invite a special speaker. As God has already been providing, all ideas and dreams are His and all will fall into place as He desires.

 

There are many of my friends and family from all over the country who have been covering this new ministry in prayer each month … words cannot express my heart, knowing that we are being lifted up to Jesus in prayer support!

 

I will soon begin to prepare for August’s meeting, anxious to switch from Tuesday to Thursday night, which will allow a few other ladies to attend who have prior commitments earlier in the week. If you are local to York, PA, won’t you join us? If it’s your first time, there is no need to bring anything along except yourself and a desire to be refreshed. If you are not local, won’t you join us in prayer support?  And most importantly, won’t you all join us in finding ways to refresh ourselves in Jesus?

 

I do wish, ladies,
that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord,
refresh my heart in Christ.
Philemon 1:20

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

Happy New Year ~ 2015

30 Jan

You make known to me the Path of Life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

Some may think that I’m a bit late, but I choose to say that I embraced every moment of the Christmas season that I could. Now that the trimmings and the tree are all down and put away, and everyone has gone back home, I am going to devote some specific time to send greetings to all of our family and friends as yet another year has completed its chapter in our book called life.

Snowstorm that brought 23" of snow!

Snowstorm that brought 23″ of snow!

One thing most of us across America had in common in 2014 was our crazy winter weather! Our little town always seemed be in an overactive band of snow, burying us under several more inches than others in south central PA. Mimi and Papaw’s ‘big hill’ provided a lot of fun times and memories for our little loves when they and their parents could visit.

 

Enjoying a nice spring day in Maryland

Enjoying a nice spring day in Maryland

Needless to say, warm and sunny spring days eventually came, which brought new adventures, the first of which when Ryan flew in for a few days in March. He came bearing gifts for a belated Christmas celebration, and in turn we sang Happy Birthday to him!

 

In April I made a long-over due trip to Louisiana to visit dear friends, a journey of the heart that will forever be changed and grateful for much that has often been taken for granted. Mother’s Day weekend was spent with my mom in Indy, with the added joy of meeting my newborn niece, Remington. Then just a couple of weeks later, Tim and I spent Memorial Day weekend in Ohio at a small reunion of friends who volunteered and worked with us on the campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque. What a blessed time we had together in those days and again at this gathering!
Mingled in between trips, the grand-kids’ birthday celebrations and the everyday routine of work and life, we were packing and preparing to move. We finally found a house to buy and de-clutter became my new motto. By mid-June, we were moved in and getting settled, excited to spend time with Ryan who was once again out east … this time on a Verizon business trip with some added time for family!

 

My Mom and our family at the Wells Reunion

My Mom and our family at the Wells Reunion

The adventures continued as Mimi loaded Momma and the kiddos in her van and we drove to Indy for the Wells Family reunion in July. What fun to share those of my little family with my precious aunts, uncles and cousins! The traditional annual August 5th weekend birthday celebration once again found us at the shore with Kim and her family, enjoying the surf, sand, and sun. Then a few weeks later, Tim and I took advantage of frequent flier points for a long-over due visit to our beloved Albuquerque! The hospitality of our host family was a blessing, the itinerary of visits with friends and church family was heart warming, and just the experience of being there in that special place we called home for nearly 10 years was simply over-whelming.

 

In Florida with Becky and her mom Pauline

In Florida with Becky and her mom Pauline

September arrived with an invitation to meet my life-long ‘best bud’ in Florida for a few days of respite with her, following the death of her husband on August 1st. Beach therapy was the theme for our time together as childhood friends tried to make sense of life and its uncertain path … all the while being confident that God is the one true certainty on our journey.

 

Another leg of our journey was our annual motorcycle trip to Toms River, New Jersey and our visit with Pastor Del and Patsy Bieber. What fun we had as we spent time with their family, shopped at a local flea market, ate some outstanding food and as always, enjoyed our Sunday morning of worship with our seaside friends. Several weeks later, it was our privilege and pleasure to host these friends in our own home as Pastor Del preached in a local revival service.

 

Tim's Mom with her children

Tim’s Mom with her children

Indiana became our destination of necessity throughout the fall months due to the 6 week battle with cancer and passing of Tim’s step-father on September 23. Life with its reminder of our fragility and total dependence upon God once again knocked on the doors of our hearts. After a lot of prayer and thoughtful consideration, Tim’s Mom …has moved back to PA to be closer to the majority of her children.

 

My brothers Tim and Jay, me and Mom

My brothers Tim and Jay, me and Mom

Christmas season! We attended Christmas programs and parties, spent time with family and friends, and simply enjoyed the beautiful season in our new home. Christmas Eve travels took us to Indiana for a few days to celebrate Jesus, His birth, and several other family birthdays with my Mother, brothers and their families. Our trip was highlighted on Sunday morning when my brother Tim and his wife, Courtney, dedicated Remington Kimber Wells to Jesus.

 

The final hoorah for the year was awesome as Ryan and Brittany flew in from Seattle and our entire family spent several days together in our home … still celebrating Jesus and Christmas, New Year’s, and Brittany’s January birthday. Gifts were exchanged, countless games of Memory (and others) were played, creative paper airplanes were flown, and so much tasty food was prepared and enjoyed! Girls went shopping, family came to visit, a few movies were watched, and we worshiped together on Sunday just a few hours before good-byes were said. Every moment of every day, I tried to soak up each and every morsel and speck of family love I could … to hold me until next time!

 

As we begin a new year, I would like to share a page from ‘Jesus Calling’ …

June 12
Let Me prepare you for the day (year) that stretches out before you. I know exactly what this day (year) will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it. You would like to see a map, showing all the twists and turns of your journey. You’d feel more prepared if you could somehow visualize what is on the road ahead. However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today (this year): Spend quality time with Me.

I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey. My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way. Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need to redirect your thoughts. Thus, you can walk through this day (year) with your focus on Me. My abiding Presence is the best road map available.

 

2014 is behind us and a new road lies ahead. May the comfort and the peace of God’s constant Presence be the Guide and Direction for you and yours for this new year.

You make known to me the Path of Life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go
with you and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

Until next time,
Debbie

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If you would like to read the unabbreviated version of 2014 and more,
please feel free to visit my website and read till your heart is content!  https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com/

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Albuquerque

10 Sep

 

 

 The Lord will guide you always;
    He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11

 

As the captain instructed the flight crew to prepare the cabin for landing, I glanced out my window and caught my first glimpse in eight years of Sandia Mountain.  Within minutes, our plane flew over the Crest and the familiar view of the city of Albuquerque sprawled out below us.  Tears welled up as our great Southwest plane made a large circle over top of the South Valley, allowing us to recognize buildings and landmarks.  Once landed and inside the airport, memories of days gone by of the arrival and departure of countless Work & Witness teams pulled and yanked on our hearts.  Needless to say, by the time we entered the airport again 6 days later, our hearts were pretty sore.

 

Following the biggest tug on our hearts, the first item on our itinerary that Wednesday evening was to drive to the former campus of the Nazarene Indian Bible College, which is where we called home for 9 years.  As we pulled in and parked our rented car behind the chapel, we grew silent as we looked around us and saw the extreme disrepair and neglect in every direction.  As we slowly walked around on the very sidewalks that our Work & Witness teams poured, tears once again filled our eyes.  A sadness consumed our thoughts as we remembered students and their families, dedicated staff and volunteers, and hundreds of sacrificial team members who gave of their time, their resources, and their lives to make the campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College a place for men and women to answer the call of God on their lives.  Eight years ago the property was sold.  The Van Hooks packed up and moved back east.  The rest is history.  Thankfully, while visiting with those who purchased the 17 acre facility, leadership changes have taken place along with immediate plans of major cleanup and repair.  Tim and I will be praying for the Sandia Church as this huge task looms before them, and that they will redeem that which has fallen … that which over 66 years ago was a gift from God to the Native American people and to the Church of the Nazarene.  May it once again become Holy Ground and a place that the community can be proud of.

 

Dusk had stolen the daylight as Tim and I finished our pilgrimage to NIBC.  The sky was dark as we headed north on I-25, but the beautiful lights of the city illuminated our drive and encouraged our hearts as we made our way to the home of our friends, Daniel and Jennifer.  Having just enjoyed the first meal of our ABQ vacation, Lotaburger green chile burgers, we were excitedly greeted by our hosts and were grateful for their warm hospitality!  We were blessed beyond words with the entire lower level of their home, complete with a beautiful guest bath and bedroom, furnished in southwest décor!!

 

August 28, 2014

7 of us met for lunch at the Sandwich Company

Aug 28, 2014

Stevie and Jenee with their children

While Tim and Daniel were busy taking care of guy things, Thursday was my day to spend with the girls.  Mani/pedis were on the morning agenda, as well as an afternoon surprise massage … all special treats with and from my friend, Jenee.  In the middle of our fun day, we met 5 other of my friends for lunch, where we all talked at once and tried to catch up on the past 8 years of life.  The evening was extra special as Tim met me at the beautiful Yarbrough home where Jenee prepared a delicious dinner, complimented by red and green chiles. What a blessing to sit around the table with Stevie and Jenee, their 4 children, Jenee’s father and his lady friend…to participate in family conversations, to watch the various personalities interact, and to soak up every morsel of every moment.  As we all went outside to play in the backyard, I couldn’t help but to thank God for His answer to a shared prayer that was prayed over 9 years ago – His answer was the drug addicted life of Jenee Noriega.  Thank you, Jesus!

 

Aug 29, 2014

Breakfast at Barelas with Mario, Vinny and his 2 boys

Aug 29, 2014

Emilio and Martha

The next morning brought us back down to the south valley where our children grew up, where we met two of our son’s best friends from high school for breakfast … at Barelas Coffee House.  Mario and Vinny – and Vinny’s two little guys, Javier and Joaquin.  What a treat to sit and visit with these boys – now all grown up with adult lives of their own!  My heart swelled with lots of love and pride, along with gratefulness to a God who blessed my son’s life those many years ago with the friendship of these two fine young men.  What an awesome start to our Friday!  Since we were so close, we drove back down to our old stomping ground, this time stopping to visit our neighbors who live behind the NIBC campus.  Emilio and Martha were thrilled to see us, inviting us inside their home where we shared stories of kids and grandkids, work and life.  Taking us out to their large garden before we left, they sent us away with two bags full of freshly picked green chile, jalapenos, and other veggies.  What a treat!!

 

Aug 29, 2014

Dinner at Henriettas with the McKinneys and Mary

Later that evening, Tim and I made our way back across town to find our dear friend, Mary Jimenez, and the 3 of us drove the familiar route to Los Lunas for dinner, where we met Tom and Laurita McKinney.  Once again, sitting inside Henrietta’s and across the table and beside dear friends from NIBC, I found my heart was full and running over.  Several years, a lot of life, and many changes have all taken place … but I will always remember the scripture that Tom, without hesitation, proposed to be the theme verse for the 50th anniversary celebration of Nazarene Indian Bible College in 1998.  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8   As we realized that time had even taken an adverse toll on one of our favorite restaurants, I was comforted by evening’s end to know that Jesus had Tom and Laurita and Mary safely in His unchanging hands.  It was a fun time of catching up, laughing and remembering many, many good times in ministry together!   It was a very heart-warming evening!

 

Sept 1, 2014

Our gracious hosts … Daniel and Jennifer

The weekend arrived and we had set aside Saturday to spend time with our gracious hosts.  Following an adventurous time of early morning travel east of the city, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at a country corner restaurant in Edgewood.  I enjoyed two over easy eggs on top of a chile rellano…oh my goodness!   Since I was literally 5 minutes away from my sweet friend, Sonja, I drove over to visit with her for a couple hours as we chatted the afternoon by.  That evening was quiet, relaxing, and spent at home with Daniel, Jennifer and their bird, Pepe.

 

Aug 31, 2014

Sarah and Cynthia with Sarah’s twins

Sunday was truly a marathon day as there were many people and many places on our agenda!  I arrived at Sandia Mountain church at 9:00 am, where I was given a facility tour by Cynthia Myers … as I greeted and hugged friends, surprising many, and chatting with several.  My allotted hour flew by all too quickly, but my next stop was over 20 minutes away and I needed to hurry.  As I drove to Rio Rancho, I began to pray for Jenee as she was going to be preaching this morning … and I didn’t want to miss it.  Entering the service just moments after it had started, I stood beside my friend as our voices harmonized, both of us in tears as we worshipped the One Who brought us together over 9 years ago.

 

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing
praise to the King of kings
You are my everything
and I will adore You.

 

Aug 31, 2014

Pastor Jenee

As Jenee got up to preach, I hung onto every word … incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be there at that moment.  My mind kept traveling back to 2005 and 2006 when Jenee was a brand new Christian, struggling to stay above the drugs and the lifestyle that had held her captive for 19 years.  Watching her, not only as she preached, but in the everyday … and even on the phone, the joy of Jesus and her love for Him literally radiates from the inside out of Jenee.    Following her message, there was a small reunion of friends that took place as I greeted old friends from Sandia … and then Stevie’s cousin JoeJoe!  What an awesome morning!  As I drove back across Paseo Del Norte to the northeast side of Albuquerque, my heart was full and running over…thrilled to be back in Albuquerque and to see so many dear faces.

 

Tim had gone to Heights First Church with the Denigs, representing us there and seeing so many people from our past, including Dr. John Griffin from NIBC.  Tim and I shared stories from our morning while we sat and enjoyed a delicious Sunday dinner at Los Cuates with our friends, Daniel and Jennifer.

 

Aug 31, 2014

Bernita, Sandra and Ophie at Apache Ave.

Sunday evening simply topped off a grand and glorious day as we spent the evening with our Native American friends at Apache Avenue Church of the Nazarene.  We all gathered in the fellowship hall for dinner at 5 pm, giving us time to visit and to enjoy some awesome blue corn enchiladas and green chile stew.  We then moved into the sanctuary where we sang hymns in Navajo and enjoyed the evening message by Dr. Julian Gunn.  Nearly 40 people were there, dear friends and acquaintances from our years spent in Albuquerque – some we rubbed shoulders with on a daily basis and others we saw when worshipping together in various church settings.  Tears once again flowed down both of our faces as our hearts swelled with memories of those days, so ordained by God.

 

Sept 1, 2014

Vinny and his momma, Therese

Our final day was filled with packing green chile for the flight home, thanks to Vinny and his Momma for spoiling us rotten!!  “We’re going to be doing chiles tomorrow – let us do them for you so you don’t have to take up your time working on chiles!”  Even though we fussed and said no, they insisted.  Monday morning, we walked away with 30 pounds of roasted green chiles, already peeled and in small freezer bags, frozen, a recipe for chile rellanos, some homemade steak and green chile sauce and a huge smile on our faces and gratefulness in our hearts!!  You don’t find folks like that out east.  You just don’t!  We stopped at a roadside chile stand and picked up 15 more pounds of fresh, non-roasted chile to take home.  Once home, much to the curiosity of our neighbors, Tim roasted them on our charcoal grill, we peeled them and froze them whole for chile rellanos.  Needless to say, our freezer is full of yummy New Mexico goodness and we are happy!!

 

Sept 1, 2014

Green chile

We are grateful for our two Southwest Airlines ‘frequent flyer’ tickets that took us to Albuquerque and even more grateful for their “2 bags fly free” policy that took us and our green chiles safely back to PA with no additional costs!  We have been home now just over a week and we still find it difficult to grasp that we finally went back for a visit … what took us so long?  It had been 8 years since we left.  We both have our unspoken theories, I’m sure … but we did go back. The same God who called us to go as missionaries to the Native American in 1997 met us there when we returned to visit in 2014.  Blessing upon blessing filled those 6 days … and we are anxiously anticipating another trip in the future.  Probably when the freezer has no more green chile.

 

Won’t you join me in rejoicing in the fact that our God is the same, yesterday, today and forever?  Our circumstances change, our children grow up, friendships take on a different perspective, we get older, and our world all around us is always adjusting to a new day … but Jesus Christ will never change!

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

 
“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 our trip to ABQ
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
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TWO ~ Minnie Mouse Birthday

2 May

 Oh, that they had such a [mind and] heart in them
always [reverently] to fear Me and keep all My commandments,
that it might go well with them and with their children forever!
Deuteronomy 5:29

 

Lillianne Hope

Lillianne Hope

Dressed in her own little red and white polka dot Minnie Mouse dress, the birthday girl was caught up in the excitement of yet another birthday party.  Being an invited guest and participant to several birthday parties already, I wasn’t sure if she really realized that all the hoopla was for her this time…until the room erupted into singing Happy Birthday.  At that moment, her little face lit up into a big grin, turned and looked at everyone while adding her own precious voice to the chorus of celebration ~ all the way down to ‘dear Lillie’!  Dear, dear sweet Lillie!

 

With plenty to chose from, Minnie Mouse and the gang have been top entertainers in Lillie’s world for quite some time … relatively speaking for a two year old.  The creative momma once again ran with a theme ~ this time of red and white polka dots and the infamous Disney Mouse, and turned their home into a place of fun birthday celebration!  Lunch was served on the buffet as Hot Diggity Dogs and Peanut Butter and Jelly were the main course, complimented by Daisy’s Garden Veggies and Donald’s Dip, Carabaella’s Cheese and Crackers, Goofy’s Grapes and Minnie Bow Ties.  After tummies were full, games and activities followed … pin the bow on Minnie’s head, Minnie Mouse bean bag toss, and the Disney gang tattoo parlor and coloring shop.  Little ones have so much fun playing party games and simply being together…always wanting to be in the middle of the excitement!  Surrounded by her friends and family, Lillianne helped sing happy birthday to herself and then enjoyed the deliciousness of yet another of her momma’s creatively decorated and very tasty cakes.  Gift time escalated into quite a frenzy of wrap and bows, colorful and glittery tissue paper, and little girls jumping up and down wanting to be the next one to help Lillie open her present! It was all fun … a bit chaotic, but fun!  Among lots of pretty dresses and outfits, princess boutiques, jewelry and shoes, Lillie was immediately attracted to this one gift, which still in the package went straight up to her mouth.  From somewhere deep inside of our Lillie, she is a performer, making this microphone a perfect gift for the little girl who stands on the hearth belting out songs and twirling around as she sings!

 

Lillie and her microphone

Lillie and her microphone

What a wonderful day of birthday fun, ending the celebration with family photos with the grandparents and a Skype session with Uncle Ryan and Aunt Brittany in Seattle.  A very happy but exhausted little Minnie Mouse was taken upstairs for a much needed nap.  It’s hard work turning two years old and being the center of attention all day!

 

It seems like just yesterday when I made my middle-of-the night trip down to the hospital in Annapolis.  I prayed as I waited in the quiet of the lobby for news of a successful C Section and the announcement that our long-awaited little granddaughter had arrived.  That day, Sunday, April 29, 2012, was truly life-changing as we welcomed Lillianne Hope into our hearts.

 

Once again, there’s reason to celebrate!  Won’t you join me in the midst of our busy and hectic day to find a special morsel of life that brings joy and happiness to our hearts?  Let’s on-purpose celebrate!

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

One day children were brought to Jesus
in the hope that he would lay hands  on them and pray over them.
The disciples shooed them off.
But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone,
don’t prevent them from coming to me.
God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”
Matthew 19:13-15
The Message

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my recent trip to Louisiana that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202452320004074.1073741853.1076414018&type=1&l=958d7a6723

 

 

Happy New Year from the Van Hooks!

1 Jan

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

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

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

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

 

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

 

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

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

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

The Arndt Family

The Arndt Family

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

Ryan and Brittany   at a friend's wedding

Ryan and Brittany
at a friend’s wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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check out the new photos on the actual website at the above address.

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Seattle? Yes, Please!

27 Sep

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
when we pray for you … the faith and love that spring
from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that
you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel
that has come to you.
Colossians 1:1-6

There it is! As I peered out my window at the endless sea of clouds, I saw it! My heart began to stir with excitement as I saw my first glimpse of the awesome and majestic 14,411 foot Mt. Rainier … for that meant my son and his world was within moments of my grasp! Not literally moments, of course, but after a 5 hour flight, it was as good as moments!!

Me and Brittany at The Dish Cafe

Me and Brittany at The Dish Cafe

There she is! After gathering our few items we carried onto the plane and made our necessary stops, we wound our way through the concourse of the SeaTac airport to find the one person who knew us and was happy to see us! Brittany’s bright smile and warm hugs melted my heart as she greeted us, posed for pictures with the disheveled travelers, and graciously chauffeured us to a quaint little local spot for breakfast. With full tummies and contented hearts, we relaxed in the cuteness and comfort of Ryan and Brittany’s apartment, chatting non stop and catching up about life.

Group family photo!!

Group family photo!!


There he is! One last shift of work before taking off several days to spend with his parents, I greeted Ryan at the door when he came home a few hours after we arrived. Words will never be able to sufficiently express my heart when that boy of mine wraps me in his arms. It had been over four long months since we were together, so all of a sudden, my world was beyond happy. That first Saturday was completed with a trip to the theater to see Star Trek, Golden Gardens beach, and a big ginormous bowl of homemade guacamole and chips!

We were greeted with bright sunshine and blue sky as we walked over to Caffé Vita for our Sunday morning brew. Coffee and cinnamon rolls jumpstarted our day that then began with worship at Aurora Church of the Nazarene, followed by an afternoon stroll through the Fremont Sunday street market. We then came back, fired up the grill and enjoyed a delicious grilled salmon dinner … family prepared and devoured!!

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Next on our trip itinerary was a 3-hour drive down to Portland, Oregon. Leaving Brittany behind to work, the three of us packed lightly on Monday morning and piled into Ryan’s BMW and headed south. Tim had a few eateries on our to-eat-at list with the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as his inspiration. The first destination on the GPS was breakfast at Pine State Biscuits, where we ate enough food to feed an army! We then drove along the Columbia River to the east, where we stopped to look at several scenic views and waterfalls. The two favorite stops were Wahkeena and Multnomah falls – both breathtaking in their own way. So much so that this Mommy/Mimi heart had to share it all with her loves … thanks to my son who makes sure his mom stays technologically savvy, my iphone5 will ‘facetime’ from anywhere! So as Papaw, Uncle RyRy, and Mimi stood on the bridge as close as the railings would allow, Cole got to see and hear what we were experiencing ~ and he said “Wow, Mimi! A waterfall!!” With 2,783 miles between us, my heart was still tightly wrapped around that little boy, his sister and his parents!!

The Sanchez Family

The Sanchez Family

There they are! Pastor Steve and Jennifer looked the same, except for the two little rug rats they had along with them!! Who would’ve thought?? The last time we saw Jen and Steve was when we left Albuquerque in 2006. No murmurings of little kids were ever spoken and now they have two fine little boys, Ezra (4) and Silas (2). The Sanchez family moved in July where they now pastor the Mollola Nazarene Church. We met them at our 2nd Triple D stop, Podnah’s Pit BBQ, where the food was yummy and the fellowship was wonderful! Definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

CAR2GO

CAR2GO

Our second day in Portland was packed full of tasty treats and a lot of walking! The walking was good since there were so many tasty treats!! Our 3rd DDD stop at Arleta’s Library and Bakery Café offered us a unique and delish breakfast of sweet potato biscuits and gravy along with sweet potato hash browns. We meandered around downtown Portland, checking out Powell’s Book store, the Willamette River, Stumptown Coffee, and the food trucks! Oh … and the countless CAR2GO cars – the little ‘smart’ cars that people can drive for $14 an hour or $73 a day – “Experience spontaneity on wheels: car2go makes transportation flexible. Get in and out wherever you like. Drive as long and as often as you want.” I found them quite fascinating!! After our full day of travels by foot and by car, we arrived safely back in Seattle just in time to take Brittany to dinner and ice cream with us. It was good to be back home!

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Seattle from the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center

Seattle from the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center

Wednesday was a local day of fun – Ryan spent the day with us as we made the traditional walk through Pike Place Market – downtown Seattle. We stopped at our favorite places for crumpets, pizza, cheese, pepper jelly samples, and the original Starbucks – although we didn’t partake there due to the long line. We then walked several blocks to the Columbia Center building, where we went up to the 73rd Sky View Observatory floor. Awesome! Twice as high as the Space Needle for ½ the cost!! An amazing view of Seattle and the surrounding areas in every direction! Mimi once again shared the moment with Cole, who quickly asked if I could show him trains from up there! Dinner that evening was a special treat as we checked out Lil’ Woody’s, a hamburger joint that served the “New Mexican”, smothered with Hatch green chile! Needless to say, we were happy and quite full when we left! Ultimate Frisbee was our evening entertainment, as we watched Ryan and friends play a couple games under the lights in a nearby sports field.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

We woke to our first and only rainy day on Thursday, so Ryan decided to take us for a drive. As we left Seattle, we crossed over floating bridges as we headed east through the Snoqualmie pass toward Spokane. The further we drove, the less it was raining, so once the skies cleared and the sun was shining, we stopped to see the Snoqualmie waterfalls. We really didn’t plan this trip around seeing waterfalls … it just happened that way! Back to Seattle with a quick snack from Paseo Caribbean while we watched the second part of the Batman Trilogy, followed with a late evening dinner at our 4th Triple D stop. Bizzarro Italian Café is literally within walking distance of Ryan and Brittany’s place … very good food!

Lighthouse in West Vancouver, BC, Canada

Lighthouse in West Vancouver, BC, Canada

The next two days took me and Tim up to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With Caffé Vita in hand, we borrowed Ryan’s car and drove two hours north to cross the border with our new passcards. Friday kept us in the city, experiencing new sites, eating great food, walking several miles, taking lots of pictures, and simply enjoying the time together. We crossed the bridge Saturday morning to enter North and then West Vancouver where we hiked through rain forests, saw twin waterfalls, then visited Lighthouse Park along the Salish Sea. We arrived back in Seattle in time for a grilled steak dinner and the sweet company of our two left coast kids. It was our final evening together before flying home the next day.

There it is! One thing is for certain … I will always see Mt. Rainier as I fly into Seattle and I will always see it as I fly out. As we boarded the plane on that bright Sunday afternoon, the clouds had cleared, allowing me to once again catch my breath as its massive presence captured my attention.

It was truly a blessing to be in Seattle for vacation. God is a gracious and giving God, full of prevenient grace, protection, answered prayers, faithfulness, and His gifts of family!! It was a real gift to share time, good food, great memories, and lots of love with Ryan and Brittany. I can only imagine that someday, as I enter into Heaven, instead of the majesty of Mt. Rainier, there will be the majesty of Jesus Himself that catches my breath with His presence … as I long to hear Him say “There you are! Welcome home!”

Won’t you join me today in looking forward to that day? Let’s accept God’s gifts of love and forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation, family and life. His gifts of divine appointments and His prevenient grace that can altar the course of eternity!

Until next time,
Debbie

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped
praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order
that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being
strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may
have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom
of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us
into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness
of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures that I recently posted on Facebook, feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not!! Enjoy!!
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