Tag Archives: Higher Ground

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

 

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Demoted

21 Sep

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me,
if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me
–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24

As I look back over the decades of my life, there has been one Constant.  God has always been there.  God has always been tugging at my heart, seeking after me, and longing for me to return His love.  I also realize that all my relationships through life have been interlaced and intermingled through God’s love.  It’s just who I am and have always been.  In fact, a gal several years ago got all irritated with me and said she wanted to be my friend without all the ‘God stuff’.  I chuckled and quickly told her that there is no separating God out of who I am, for then it wouldn’t be me anymore.

Family Christmas Photo
Albuquerque, NM ~ 1997

Ministry has always kept me very busy… missions, women’s ministry, music, Sunday School, etc  ~  with an increased acceleration through the years.  When our family responded to the call of God on our lives in 1997 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to be Work & Witness Coordinators for Nazarene Indian Bible College, our ministry became our job.  Our job was our ministry.  And with the wardrobe of ministry, one never just wears one hat.  Within a short period of time, Tim and I were both sporting several hats, some worn at the same time as others.  But we knew God called us, and we knew He was faithful to help us keep our hats on straight.  In time, God’s call took on a different look, involved more people and additional responsibility, but His mission to win the lost remained priority.  As what often happens when life becomes demanding, exhausting, and our world is shaken up by our circumstances, what is real stands firm while the rest sloshes out and makes a mess.  During this time of my life, scripture grew more dear to my heart, my personal prayer time became my lifeline, and I dug in even deeper as Jesus truly became my Tower of Refuge and Strength.

Lunch with my mom and brothers ~ 2008

I’m a firm believer that God never wastes anything … and so He once again took a broken vessel and restored it for His use.  The next 4 years placed us right where God knew we needed to be…for such a time as this.  Employment at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center was the ministry behind each paycheck, but my heart longed to be personally involved with people and to shine a light for Jesus. God honored my desire and through the lives of my co-workers and a few other friends, a new ministry was born.  Friendship, encouragement, and accountability were priority to our gatherings, and Jesus was always the Center.  What began as Tasty Tuesday evolved into Munchy Monday … and is still an active group of ladies who encourage one another, love each other, and love Jesus.  Not only was it the season for a brand new ministry, but after many years of living far away from my mother, I then was close enough to travel the hour and a half to see her on a regular basis.  I was there when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and radiation treatments.  I was there during the recuperation period following her fall and shattered elbow.  Although it was short-lived, my time with my mother was a blessing beyond words.

There came a time when we knew that our assignment at Higher Ground was inevitably coming to an end.  Once again, I had to envelop my heart in several layers of bubble wrap as we packed up all of our belongings and moved to south central Pennsylvania … another move, another location, another restart.  With no ministry involvement in the existence of our everyday, this change has been very different, and often difficult for my heart.  Finding a job with the hours I wanted to work was a challenge.  The church we attend is a lighthouse in its area, but we travel quite a distance to get there, which has not allowed us to become part of the fabric of this fellowship.  The only friends we have made are those we work with or in some way associated with our jobs.  As the months have slipped by and it has now been 2 years since we arrived, I have often found myself on my knees, questioning God, pointing out the many miles that separate me from all of my friends and family, reminding Him of the baggage we brought here with us that is still not completely unpacked, and truly feeling demoted.  The ache in my heart for the lost is still as strong as it was in Albuquerque.  My desire is to be a light for Jesus, but I have often felt as though I’ve been stuffed in a dark corner of Pennsylvania with no ministry, no outlet, and no joy.

One bleak day a few months ago, I was talking to one of my friends … Sigh!  Yes, one that I left behind in Ohio.  It’s not too often that I get whiney and begin to pass out party hats to my own self-pity party, but that day I had, and I invited Linda to join me.  Like a good friend, she listened, but like a true and committed friend, she also held me accountable.  Her words to me were God directed as they lassoed me out of the dark clouds and brought me back to reality … God’s reality.  She began to point out the obvious ~ our greatest blessing in living here … our close proximity to our daughter and her precious family.  Being an intricate part in the lives of Kim and Troy, Cole, and now Baby Lillie, is a gift from God’s own hand … the joy, the responsibility, the thrill, and the honor of not only being parents, but Mimi and Papaw.  In the same breath, although this move closer to the east coast took us that much further away from the west coast and Ryan, it offers more opportunity for our entire family to be together more often in the same place.  I’m not sure what else Linda said to me, but her accountability catapulted me into my devotions the following morning. I told God that I was going to begin each day from here on out, expecting to find a passage of scripture that was mine.  I was determined and committed to not leave my place of morning worship without a message from God to my own heart.  Every day since, with very few exceptions, I have done just that.  A couple days following that near fatal pity party, I believe God personally hand-picked a few verses for me that sums up my current ministry…

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care,
watching over them—not because you must,
but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;
not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;
 
not lording it over those entrusted to you,
but being examples to the flock. 
And when the Chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.
1 Peter 5:2-4

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,
“Do you love me?”

He said, “Lord, you know all things;
you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
John 21:15-17

My children and Me ~ July 2012

My primary roles as wife, mother, Mimi, and daughter are ever before me, as these relationships represent the core of my world right now.  My current employment is one of choice, enabling me the time away from the office to be available to help others when and where needed.  And let’s be honest … at this stage of my life, I truly have no authority to correct or discipline, except for Mimi’s little loves.  Most of my influence right now is by example.  That example must have a solid foundation, rooted and grounded deep, so when the winds of life begin to blow around me and those in my world, I can stand firm with confidence in Jesus.  And in that confidence, I can stay on my knees for my family, seeking God on their behalf.

Let us then approach the 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

I have thought a lot about this topic of being demoted, asking God a lot of questions, seeking Him, reading His heart, listening to Him.  In the stillness of His whisper the other day, instead of demoted, I heard the word promoted.  Promoted.  Me?   Scripture does say in Matthew …

And everyone who has left houses
or brothers or sisters or father or mother
or children or fields for my sake
will receive a hundred times as much
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last,
and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19:29-30

  

As I read the devotional for Sept 19th in Streams in the Desert, I had already underlined this paragraph a few years ago …

 “Pruning seems to be destroying the vine,
the gardener appears to be cutting it all away;
but he looks on into the future and KNOWS that the final outcome
will be the enrichment of its life and greater abundance of fruit.”

It seems that I have been pruned and it appears that much has been cut away …

I do know and understand that a totally surrendered heart relinquishes all rights and claims, empties soul of self, and then invites the Holy Spirit to fill and take up residence.   Jesus wants to take my perspective of being demoted, and ultimately turn it into a promotion.

Just over 10 years ago at a ladies’ retreat in New Mexico, this song gripped the very core of who I was at that moment in my life … and the message still echoes the cry of my heart today …

“Everything I am, all I’ve done, and all I’ve known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all”

Click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THHu5QPjB_4
to hear I Surrender All … by Clay Crosse
(After listening/watching the video, simply click on the BACK arrow in the left corner to come back to the blog)

Won’t you join me today in allowing what might seem to be a demotion in life ~ whether it be relational, employment, circumstances, physical, spiritual … trusting God with all the details of the heart?  As we relinquish and surrender, Jesus becomes our Promotion.

Until next time,
Debbie

I Surrender All lyrics
Songwriters: Hamm Regie Glenn; Moffitt David E

I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I’ve constructed by the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand

In the middle of the battle I believe I’ve finally found
I’ll never know the thrill of victory till I’m willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I’m laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain

So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly lay down
I surrender all the triumph for it’s only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
Well I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

Everything I am, all I’ve done, and all I’ve known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all

I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
That all my kingdoms fall, that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

Porch Swing

26 Jul

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus,
his Son, purifies us from all sin.
I John 1:7

There is a tradition in my life that takes me back to very early childhood.   It has remained a constant throughout the years and has grown most dear to me. 

My Mammy and Pappy had a swing on their front porch.  What fun my brother and I had as we stood up and walked backwards against the swing, pushing it up against the wall of the house, then jumping on for the fun ride forward, often times, bumping the wall behind us as the swing swayed back and forth.  Very soon after, an adult would always open the screen door and tell us to stop swinging so hard. When visiting my grandparents alone, Mammy and I would often go out together and enjoy the afternoon summers, waiting for the mailman, and sometimes even the ice cream truck.  I also remember especially admiring the lilies of the valley that grew beside the porch.  My Mammaw Wells also had a porch swing.  Most Sunday afternoons when our family would drive down to the country and visit, if she wasn’t out in her garden picking fresh veggies, we would sometimes find her sitting out on the front porch swing breaking beans. 

I’m not sure how I old was when our own family got a porch swing.  It certainly was after the years of neighborhood tournaments of Life, Monopoly, and Concentration, which seemed to almost always take place on our front porch.  Also, it was after the years of using the front porch as my own personal roller skating rink.  I remember well sitting on the swing to read, to write, and to think.  Later in my teen years, it was a nice place to sit and talk on the phone to my friends … and to even share the swing with a special friend.  As I married and began to have my own children, Mom’s front porch swing was a relaxing place to sit and watch the kids play in the front yard when we were all together on a Sunday afternoon.  It was also a favorite place for my mom and I to sit with Mammy when they came to Mom and Dad’s for a visit.  This time, though, with no pesky little ones bumping the swing up against the house!

Several years later, we built a house in Pennsylvania and I was so excited to put my very own swing on my front porch. I especially enjoyed the evenings as I sat overlooking a cow pasture, a pond, and the infamous Star Barn just across the street from our home.  When we later sold our home, packed up our kiddos, and headed to New Mexico, the cheaply-built, store bought swing stayed behind on that porch. 

God blessed our lives in a variety of wonderful ways while we lived in Albuquerque.  One of those ways was in the many dear friends we made while in ministry at Nazarene Indian Bible College.  Work and Witness teams faithfully came to work on the campus, along with dedicated and committed volunteers that came every year for weeks and even months at a time to work by our sides at NIBC.  One such couple was our precious friends, Mike and Norma Johnson.  Having retired and desiring to be obedient to God’s leadership, they arrived every December and were our Christmas elves.  One year, they brought an extra special gift for me … a porch swing, made special for me, by Mike himself.  What a treat! 

Jayla, Destanee & Scottie

It was immediately hung with joy on my back porch, overlooking the yard and a nice glance of the ditchbank road where Scottie and I walked each morning.   It also offered a gorgeous view of the brilliant sparkling night sky of the southwest and the moon that I often felt like I could literally reach out and touch.  I enjoyed the surprise visit of a beautiful horse that wandered into my yard one morning while sitting on my swing having my devotions.  Summer of 2005 found me often sitting with two precious little girls on my back porch swing, watching the silly antics of the rufous hummingbirds that would dart back and forth, hovering at eye-level to see for themselves the beautiful girls behind the giggles. Teens would fill the house and spill out onto the back porch and onto the swing, grilling hamburgers, laughing, and having fun.  The swing always seemed to be a favorite place to gather, relax, visit, enjoy life, and spend time with Jesus.

After weathering the hot dry summers of New Mexico, my porch swing was packed away into a big yellow truck and moved to the extreme humidity of southern Indiana.  There it  became the supporting framework for mud-dauber’s nests and was also drilled a couple times by carpenter bees.  After realizing that I wasn’t the only one enjoying the swing, a can of hornet/bee spray kept me company as I sat on my front porch swing, overlooking the thick woods of Higher Ground Conference andRetreatCenter.  Birds, rabbits, squirrels and deer were my visiting friends this time…with an occasional co-worker or neighbor who would stop by for a chat. 

Papaw & Cole

Just this past September, the swing was packed away again in another big truck and moved to the beautiful countryside of Pennsylvania.  Since then, it has been greatly enjoyed by Papaw, Mimi, and their precious little Cole.  By now, however, the swing’s wood has darkened with age, weather, and use.  When we recently received a phone call from the swing’s creator, informing us of an upcoming visit, I got all excited to clean up my special friend.  In the midst of the extreme heat and humidity we have endured for the past 3 weeks, the swing received a good scrubbing and a chemical bath, removing embedded Albuquerque dirt, weathered elements, and no doubt some sticky little boy fingerprints from roasted marshmallows.  A nice coat of wood sealer covered the fresh clean surface, offering a brand new look to my old faithful friend. 

Norma, me, and Mike

This past weekend, Mike and Norma treated us with a couple days of sweet fellowship.  I was so excited to once again sit on the swing between the two of them, eternally grateful for their friendship, their prayers for me and my family, and for my swing.  I wanted them to know that no matter the circumstances of life that have come my way, my porch swing has been faithful and supported me through them all.  The wood on the swing will eventually deteriorate and the wood screws will no longer hold tight, but I confidently believe in my heart that Jesus will have another beautiful swing waiting for me on the back porch of my mansion … overlooking the rolling and majestic hills of Glory.  Won’t you plan on stopping by for a visit on my porch swing and a chat that could quite easily last for a thousand years? 

Until next time,
Debbie

 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. 
Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face,
so that our joy may be complete. 
2 John 1:12

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

**  Blog photo of flowers taken in our backyard ~ July 8, 2011

 

 

Completely

20 May
 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength. 
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

 

I was honored with an invitation to be the guest speaker at a ladies’ annual spring banquet last Friday night.  The church was located back in my old tromping grounds of southern Indiana, so I was blessed beyond measure to have 12 of my dearest friends from the Cincinnati area come and see me!  The evening’s festivities began with cupcake chat, singing, and a delicious dinner.  What a joy it was for me as I sat there eating, talking, and listening to the different conversations around the table … trying to soak up every moment of being with my friends so I could tuck away the evening’s morsels of memories and savor them later. 

Most of the gals, plus my Momma!

With satisfied and full tummies, we all made our way back up to the sanctuary for the remainder of the evening.  Moments before I was introduced and welcomed to come up front, a young lady began to sing a very special song.  As the music started to play for her accompaniment, my heart began to swell and my eyes began to fill.  I sat there in that pew, totally transported to another time and another place. 

The time was September 13, 2006 and the place was Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Indiana.  Having packed every item we owned, leaving behind our place of ministry in Albuquerque, NM for the past 9 years and friends too many to count, a new life was before us.  After traveling for 3 days and 1400 miles, we were almost there.  As I followed behind the big yellow moving truck and exited off the interstate, I slipped my Sandia Women’s Retreat 2006 Worship CD into the player and found this special song on purpose.  The message of the words penetrated my being as I once again had to let go and surrender everything to His control.  With tears streaming down my face, we pulled onto the grounds of our new home, ministry, and life.  I sang this song as an act of worship … my heart filled with sadness in leaving friends and ministry behind, and my soul filled with the uncertainty of a new place, new work and ministry, and new people.  Right there in that moment …  Click here to listen

COMPLETELY 

The secret of life is letting go
The secret of love is letting it show
In all that I do
In all that I say
Right here in this moment

The power of prayer is in a humble cry
The power of change is in giving my life
And laying it down
Down at your feet
Right here in this moment

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

This journey of life is a search for truth
This journey of faith is following you
Every step of the way
Through the joy and the pain
Right here in this moment

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

Right here, right now, and for the rest of my life
Hear me say

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

I am yours and yours alone
Completely

 

As I sat there last Friday night once again listening to this song, I could still smell the freshly mown grass, I could see the deep plush green of everything (as opposed to the very little green and mostly brown that we had grown to love in Albuquerque), and I could still feel the intense ache, fear, and loneliness that enveloped me at that moment in 2006.   But as that young lady continued to sing, my Jesus wrapped His arms of love around me and whispered in my ear … “Look around you.”  There I was, literally surrounded by 3 rows of women who specifically came to see me.  These weren’t just any women.  They were the ones I rubbed shoulders with on a regular basis … at work, at district functions, Munchy Monday, … all from my life at Higher Ground.   We have laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and lived life together.  They were the result of my letting go, laying it all at His feet, and saying I am Yours and Yours alone … completely.  

I am overwhelmed with how personal and loving my Jesus is to me.    He took the past 5 years, placed it all in a box for me, and wrapped it up with a nice pretty bow on top.  He placed a tag on the outside and wrote “I love you, Debbie!” Those girls, especially, know what that means to me.  They are the jewels inside that shine above all the other stuff. 

With tears still in my eyes, it was my turn to come up front and speak.  Temporarily laying my notes to the side, I had to share my journey through those last 5 minutes and express my love in return to my Jesus.     

Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

I am Yours and Yours alone
Completely

I will share the rest of the story … next time.
Debbie

Flat Belly Diet

21 Apr

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

 

Mimi and Cole ~ April 2011

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

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

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

Diet is a contract between me and myself.

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

 

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

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

Until next time,
Debbie

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

Romans 12:1-2  (The Message)

If you would like more information about the Flat Belly Diet, you may buy the book on line as cheap as $5.00 (including shipping) from Alibris.com, at your local bookstore, or you may actually sign up for a free 30 day on-line trial at flatbellydiet.com

Hot Flashes

14 Apr

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name…
Psalm 103:1

  

Back in the day, I remember sitting on the bleachers during soccer, softball, and baseball games to cheer our two kids and their team mates on to victory.  We sat there through all kinds of weather.  The earlier games of the season would require that we brought blankets to wrap up in to stay warm, but as the weeks progressed, the temperatures would rise, and before we knew it, it felt like summer.  The sun was hot and sometimes accompanied by a welcomed breeze.  As a young mother in her early 30s, I made the most of those days by having plenty of suntan lotion, cold water, and sunflower seeds.  Little did I know then, that undoubtedly somewhere on the bleachers was some kid’s grandma watching the game.  I can now only imagine the conversation that took place between that grandma and the younger mom … the mom complaining about how hot it was outside in the sun, and the grandma quickly replying that she has NO idea about hot! 

This may seem too personal for some of you, and it probably is.  But you know?  It’s my blog, it’s my hot flashes, and I simply want to share how God shared a morsel of mercy with me yesterday in His attempt to help me through my own ‘personal summer’.  After yet another miserable night of kicking covers off one minute, then waking up an hour or so later because I’m cold from laying there all sweaty and wet with no covers on … so I grab the covers again and snuggle up in their warmth to once again an hour later wake in a new puddle …  (I know some of you have no idea, but there are others of you who KNOW what I’m talking about!)  I feel exhausted!   Not only does this happen at night, but at any given moment during the day.  As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, it’s spring.  One day it’s rainy and in the 40’s and the next day it’s sunny and nearly 85 degrees.  I try to dress according to the weather forecast for that day  …  a light sweater with jeans and a spring scarf to accessorize the outfit.  Something triggers the moment and the radiating heat starts to boil from within.  I’m sure my face is red, my mascara is running, and I wish I could jump into a cold swimming pool.  But I’m sitting at a desk at work, it’s raining outside, and it’s only 45 degrees.  Help! 

Now, these friendly bouts with the internal radiator began a couple years ago while working with my girls at Higher Ground.  All of a sudden I would exclaim about how hot it was in the kitchen … they would all look at one another and with big grins, they would shake their heads and inform me that they were all very comfortable … it was me.  Sigh!  Really?  Seriously?  Every woman hears other OLDER women talk about such things, but there’s always that security of knowing you’re not there yet … in fact, you’re not even close to being there yet.  I know I even thought that it probably wouldn’t even happen to me!   HA!   Well, here I am. 

During my devotional time yesterday morning, not feeling rested from my long night of tossing and turning, God met me.  My daily reading of the book of Psalm took me to chapter 103.  As I began to read out loud one of my favorite passages, God began to speak.  I have always taken scripture very personal, and I believe that is how God once again extended a new morsel of mercy to me in the midst of my current plight.

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name…

 

Inmost being, huh?  I can tell you all about my inmost being!  It radiates and power surges with untold amounts of heat!  Sigh …  Praise the Lord, huh?  Sigh …  ok.   I can do that.   ALL my inmost being?   Ok.    Sigh …    God just encouraged me to praise Him when I lie awake during the wee hours of the morning, uncomfortable with the flashing reminders that I am only getting older. 

 

Praise the LORD, O my soul,and forget not all his benefits—

  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

 who redeems your life from the pit

 and crowns you with love and compassion,

 

I could go on and on about these verses and what they mean to me, but right now, my heart is set on quoting this passage when those moments hit me  ~  day or night  ~  to Praise the Lord from my inmost being for ALL His benefits!  Forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, and compassion!

 

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

Woo Hoo!!  As I read that next verse, I began to cry as I realized that my personal God met me just when I desperately needed Him to.   YOUTH is RENEWED when HE satisfies my desires with good things!!   Praise the Lord, O my soul!

Won’t you join me today as I praise the Lord with my inmost being?  Yours may not be radiating with hot flashes due to your aging body, but let’s praise the Lord together and forget not ALL His benefits!!  Praise His Holy Name!

Until next time,
Debbie

Snow

19 Jan

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude
in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17

 

The white fluffy stuff has quite the romantic and cozy deceptive charm about it. A bowl of popcorn, mugs of hot chocolate, a favorite person, and a roaring fire in the fireplace…all the while the landscape outside is being transformed from a dreary and bleak site into a white winter wonderland. Along with the glistening beauty and the snowy glow comes the hush…the hush of freshly fallen snow.

The above description is what I call the billboard version of snow or the glossy magazine cover version that truly doesn’t depict reality. Oh, not to be mislead … to a degree it is all true ~ insert the scenario of your choice and add in the bright white hush. But there’s far more to the story of snow than the Hallmark movies would like for us to believe.

South central PA, where we now call home, has been on the outside edge of some of the largest snowstorms of the season for the east coast. Some of our neighbors just an hour or so away have had to dig themselves out of deep accumulations and deal with extreme conditions due to the blizzards that have come their way. Our families and friends we have most recently left behind in Indiana continue to be harassed nearly every 4 or 5 days with a new batch of precipitation, whether it be snow, ice, or rain. Tim is certainly counting his blessings this winter since someone else has the privilege and challenge of constantly plowing the roads and keeping the sidewalks clear of snow at Higher Ground. And once again, the immediate weather forecast is for another bout of snow to soon hit those we love … and it is still January.

Cole sledding in the snow

Our first round of snow at our house in PA took place while we were in Indiana for Christmas. Upon our return, the roads were dry, our driveway was mostly all clear, and the grass was already poking through the melting mess. Then last week, we were gifted with an overnight blanket of the fluff that measured right at 4” on our back deck. The highlight was a few days later when our 22 month-old grandson and his dog brought their parents up for an evening of playing in the snow. Since our house is built into the side of a hill, the side yard was a perfect spot for a little boy to enjoy his first and many more fun times in his sled. What fun we all had in the snow as we looked at it not only through the eyes of a toddler, but through the protective and loving eyes of his parents and the heart-warming eyes of his grandparents.

Two nights ago, more snow fell, along with a crunchy coating of ice. Tim was prepared and parked his work truck at the top of our driveway/hill, making for a guaranteed exit the following morning for work. For me, I was quite proud of myself for getting out our beast of a snow blower and actually getting it to start on the first try. As it crawled along the driveway, it quickly became bogged down with the heaviness of the ice and refused to cooperate with me to clear the way. Reluctantly, I took it back to the garage and instead grabbed the shovel. Grrr! As the morning wore off into early afternoon, I slowly made progress, one shovel of heavy snow/ice at a time. I was reminded of the hours I use to spend at Higher Ground behind a vacuum cleaner or cleaning the many windows of the dining hall … and how I passed the drudgery of that time away by praying. I immediately began to bombard Heaven for the many people in my life who I love … who need Jesus in one way or another. Before I knew it, the driveway was cleared, I had my exercise, and my heart had reached out and touched the portals of Heaven on behalf of many of you.

I know that snow is far more than a picture on a Christmas card, but I can’t help but live my life in such a way that in all things, I give thanks.

Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Remember when we were little kids and how exciting it was to sit beside the radio to listen in hopes to hear our school named on that long list of those that were cancelled for the day? How fun was it to bundle up in multi-layers of clothing and snow suits to the point where we could barely move … and head for ‘dead man’s hill’ (that’s what it was called in the woods near our house) and to spend hours sledding, making snow people, and having snowball fights?

Won’t you join me today and throughout the remainder of this winter, to give thanks in all circumstances ~ for the memories, for the fun times with today’s little people, and for unexpected opportunities to spend time in prayer for others. Spring is coming … but let’s make the most of what is before us today.

Until next time,
Debbie

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

“Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
Isaiah 1:18

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:9-11