Tag Archives: Hope

Christmas in July

29 Jul

In all my prayers for all of you,
I always pray with joy …
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you,
since I have you in my heart.
Philippians 1:3 and 7

 

It sure has been a fun and exciting July … a visit over the 4th with my little brother and his young family, then two weeks later, my big brother and his wife made a spontaneous trip to the east coast. They also came to visit some of her family, making our home their place to kick back and get a couple good night’s sleep. We were especially blessed to also have Cole and Lillie with us that weekend for their mid-summer visit with Mimi and Papaw. Blueberry picking, yard sales, and catching lightning bugs were some of the favorite things enjoyed by our little Loves, not to mention the fun play time with Uncle Jay and Aunt Sue while the guys repeated the weekend motto of “It wasn’t me!” With only a few more days left in this month, anticipation of more family fun time this weekend catapults me into August!

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So where are the Jingle bells, red Santa suits and the mangers filled with hay? I have my own assortment of them and more in greeting-card form in a bright and shiny gift bag, easily accessible and set in a prominent place. If you sent a Christmas card to us this past December, you have received this text or email from me … or a similar version.

I once again started up an old Van Hook
family tradition this year and began
putting my Christmas cards that we
just received in a bright shiny Christmas gift bag.
Each morning I pull the front card from the bag and
pray specifically for that family that day.
I just wanted you to know that today is your day.
Thank you for the Christmas greetings and the
year-long reminder of you and yours
and our special friendship! Much love!!

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Once the stack of cards cycled through the first time, I then began to pull a new card at the beginning of each week, followed by another text or email …

In keeping with our family Christmas tradition,
I pulled your Christmas card once again this morning.
I will be praying specifically for you and yours this week …
could you please share how you would like me to pray?
Are there any urgent requests, concerns on your heart,
or needs that I can take to Jesus on your behalf?

I have received requests from parents with children who need Jesus. Others have concerns regarding job frustrations. Some have severe health issues. Children have requested prayer for their parents. There is a need for guidance and direction during a recent divorce and others have requested prayer for safe travels this summer. Another friend reached out regarding her husband’s addiction to alcohol.  No matter who we are, the sun will shine and the rain will fall. We will experience immense joy and extreme sorrow. We embrace peace, but also suffer pain. There are always reasons to pray for others.

With the ease and convenience of real-time communication and opportunities to send virtually “cost-free” greetings on various forms of social media, we don’t put postage stamps on envelopes and mail Christmas cards out like we used to. However, if you would like to be included in my tradition of Christmas card prayers, put Tim and I on your Christmas card list this year! I would be honored to take you and yours to Jesus throughout the coming new year!

Won’t you join me in celebrating Christmas in July … and all the other months, too? This could become a tradition in your own life – one that by the very act of doing connects hearts, tears down walls, and boosts our faith in the One who has the answers!

Until next time,
Debbie

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

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Colossians 4:2

CASA

3 Apr

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon,
that have I given unto you
.

Joshua 1:3

 

I smile and nod as I walk past the sheriffs standing in security at the front lobby of the York County Courthouse. As part of my job, I have done that once a week for the past 4 years, running errands for the law firm – bringing paperwork and payments relating to probated estates to be time stamped and processed, and to record deeds. Now, I walk through those same doors every morning, Monday – Friday. It was just last week that one of the sheriffs smiled at those of us coming in at the same time and greeted us with a warm “Good morning, family!” If hearts can smile, mine did that morning!

I started a new full-time job on March 16th. I am the receptionist/secretary for York County CASA.

Details. You know that God and I love details and there are so many when it comes to the Red Sea moments of my life. Moments that when I’m a bit discouraged and doubt wants to trickle in around the edges, all I need to do is recall each detail, when glued all together, forms a picture perfect memento of God and His amazing love for me.

One Sunday toward the end of January, my friend Donna came up to me in church and hugged me real big and asked me if I was still at the attorney’s office.

Detail … Donna use to work for Express Employment Agency and was instrumental in me getting my two temporary work gigs back in 2011. Since then, she has moved on and is now working for the York County Human Services Department.

The look on my face was answer enough to Donna’s question. She began to tell me about an opened position in a different department of the County, but one that she would highly recommend me applying for. So I did. Long story short, I got the job.

Details … God used Donna once again in my life regarding employment! God blessed me with the opportunity of training Amanda, my replacement, and knowing that she was a great fit for the job! He also worked out His perfect timing that benefited all parties involved and I began my new job on March 16th.

I was beyond ready for a new mission field! I appreciate all the opportunities and things learned while at the law firm, but as scripture says, knock the dust off of your feet and move on! I had already been visualizing in my mind’s eye that I would walk all around inside that large facility, meeting new people, getting to know them, and being Jesus with skin on!

Detail … The morning I called to accept the position, which was the day before I gave my 2 week notice, Streams in the Desert had a devotion that was written just for me! February 25th

Enter Into Your Inheritance

Josh 1:3 – Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you

Beside the literal ground, unoccupied for Christ, there is the unclaimed, untrodden territory of Divine promises. What did God say to Joshua? “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you,” and then He draws the outlines of the Land of Promise—all theirs on one condition: that they shall march through the length and breadth of it, and measure it off with their own feet.

They never did that to more than one-third of the property, and consequently they never had more than one-third; they had just what they measured off, and no more.

In 2 Peter, we read of the “land of promise” that is opened up to us, and it is God’s will that we should, as it were, measure off that territory by the feet of obedient faith and believing obedience, thus claiming and appropriating it for our own.

How many of us have ever taken possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ?

Here is a magnificent territory for faith to lay hold on and march through the length and breadth of, and faith has never done it yet.

Let us enter into all our inheritance. Let us lift up our eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, and hear Him say, “All the land that thou seest will I give to thee.” —A. T. Pierson

The CASA office is located on the 4th floor of the Judicial Center (York County Courthouse). Of course there are elevators in the building, but come on! 77 actual steps, with 5 landings in between, makes for quite a nice work-out, multiply by 4-6 times a day!! I walk down to the mail room 3 times a day, and often will walk outside on my breaks and lunch. I also deliver CASA court reports to various Judges who are located on floors 6 and 7. Then I park ½ a block down the street, so every morning and afternoon I add more steps to my day. I LOVE IT! Everywhere I go, my prayer is that my steps will be filled with the joy of Jesus and that I will meet new friends to whom I can give Him away!

CASASo what is CASA you ask?

Court Appointed Special Advocates – an advocate for children who find themselves involved in the court system through no fault of their own. The children are victims of child abuse and neglect, and many are in foster care. They need a ‘voice in court’ in order to find a safe, permanent home quickly – whether that means returning to a parent or being adopted. The CASA is a volunteer who serves as the “eyes and ears of the court” by providing a detailed account of each child’s situation to aid the Judge in permanency planning decisions.

  1. to serve as fact finder and gather all information surrounding the child’s case
  2. monitor the case and oversee that all necessary services are being offered, court orders are followed and the case is brought to a swift conclusion in the child’s best interest
  3. Report findings and make recommendations to the court

The York County CASA office is a small group of people with big hearts who recruit, train, and give support to lay people who have decided to invest their time and efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children. I personally answer the phone, scan, email and file court documents, reports, and various types of paperwork, keeping the Outlook calendar up to date with court hearings, meetings, training sessions, and a multitude of other activities that keep everyone busy. Each person has much to do and my desire is to be of service to them all as much as possible … with the final result of making a difference in the lives of children.

Today is Good Friday … my first ‘government employee’ holiday! Original plans were to celebrate Easter with my family in Indiana, but due to being sick with the crud and a fever most of the week, we decided to stay home and fully recuperate.

As we all focus our attention on Jesus, His death and resurrection this weekend, won’t you join me in committing to live every day for Him, grateful for His love, His forgiveness, His redemption, and His faithfulness to you, to me, and to the children!

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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Is Thanksgiving Tomorrow?

21 Nov

But Jesus called the children to Him and said,
“Let the little children come to Me,

and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God
belongs to such as these.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:15-17

Papaw and his little love

Papaw and his little love

During our lunchtime phone conversation last Thursday, I informed Lillie that Mimi was coming to her house that evening to spend the night and the following day. Apparently, once we hung up, Little Miss sighed real big, smiled, and said “I love Papaw … I love Papaw!” Her Momma reminded her that it is Mimi who is coming, not Papaw ~ and the reply? “I know, but I love Papaw!”

While Cole is busy being a 5 year-old boy in the big world of Kindergarten, Lillianne is the princess that magically wraps her tiny self around hearts and melts them. Her Papaw, however, can somehow reverse that effect and cause this little girl to melt. These two have always had a special heart connection … a bond that started during weekend visits at our house while Mimi was tending to Cole and Lillie needed her own attention. Not to say that Mimi isn’t loved or gets her own special time with the little princess, but besides her Daddy, Lillie’s Prince Charming is Papaw.

The local on-site princess attendant reported a few weeks ago that Lillie stated matter-of-factly … “You love Daddy.  I love Papaw.” OH. MY. I totally expect someday to hear that Little Miss wants to marry her Papaw.

Princess of Everything

Princess of Everything

In the past couple months, I have gone down to their castle to spend time with them on my day off. Both times, Lillie and Mimi have gone shopping … quality girl time! This past Friday was no exception. She chatters the whole time, not missing anything exciting to comment on, giving her own personal opinion on colors and design. One moment her favorite color is bright pink. Around the corner and on the next aisle, it is purple. She giggles at this and she squeals at that. And oh my if we pass by a display of Frozen!! This simple act triggers the performer inside her and she reaches into her little bag for her princess wand and she begins to sing with her arms open wide … “Let it go, let it go … can’t hold it back anymore!” What a delightful time we had together … all the way until nap time, when she snuggled underneath her special crocheted blankets and I sang Jesus Loves Me to my little princess. A few hours later when Daddy came home, it was comical to hear her version of our day together as she told him all about it. She’s such a girly girl!

Not wanting to miss out on all of the grandkid fun, Papaw was talking to Cole and Lillie on the phone the next evening. As the conversation was winding down, Papaw mentioned that he would see them on Thanksgiving when they come to our house and stay for a few days. We could hear the immediate excitement on the other end as they both began to anticipate an upcoming visit with Mimi and Papaw! Then our little princess began to speak … “Is Thanksgiving tomorrow?” Our hearts all melted as we realized the love and excitement behind the question. Momma simply said that Thanksgiving was not tomorrow … and Lillie asked concerning the only other day that she is familiar with … “Is it Sunday?”

Little people and their inability to process and understand time.  But they certainly do not have any difficulty in processing and understanding love. Do you know that Jesus expects us to come to Him as a little child? Fully trusting. Fully believing. Fully loving. Fully anticipating that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, because it involves my Papaw and I love him and I get to see him on Thanksgiving.

Will you join me this Thanksgiving in coming to Jesus with as much excitement, with as much trust, and with as much anticipation and love that Lillie comes to her Papaw? For such is the Kingdom of Heaven!

Until next time,
Debbie

 

And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change
and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

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

Beach Therapy

19 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoying the surf and sun

Enjoying the surf and sun

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

Parasailing fun!!

Parasailing fun!!

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

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

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

Until next time,
Debbie

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

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

 

 

PLANES Birthday

7 Apr

They celebrate Your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
Psalm 145:7

 

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy!

Miniature race flags lined the sidewalk, welcoming the birthday boy as he arrived at his party. Having spent the previous night at Mimi and Papaw’s house, his anticipation level had reached its all-time high and he was past ready for the festivities to begin! As he opened the front door, he was transported into another world – a world where airplanes come alive. The Disney movie, PLANES, was the theme, and Cole was the birthday boy.

Puffy white clouds were hung in the sky while planes of various sizes, shapes, and personalities flew nearby. Jet streams stretched across the open expanse above while airplanes landed at the airport below. Paper airplanes, clothes-pin airplanes and wooden airplanes were constructed, and a giant Dusty Crophopper waited patiently as blind-folded little munchkins pinned propellers all over him.   Little kids and their imaginations enjoyed the various activities and games, all excited to be part of their friend’s special day.

Cole's birthday cake

Cole’s birthday cake

A tasty lunch of deli meats and cheeses were served, followed by cupcakes and birthday cake. Once again, the talented little momma baked and decorated to the hilt and the party was a flying success. The most exciting moments for the birthday boy and his guests, of course, were those gathered around the gifts. Even though most of Cole’s little friends from church are girls, they were all excited over all the toys and presents, joining in the fun of playtime following the party.

Two days after the PLANES party was Cole’s actual 5th birthday – March 24. An assortment of memories always flood our minds and our hearts at this time of year as we recall Cole’s six-weeks-early debut into our family. Those were scary and quite troubling days and weeks, but we are grateful for the miracle of life that God blessed us with in the person of Cole Michael.

Once again I find myself asking you to join me in celebrating life …it seems like I do this often, for there is much to celebrate. Even when the days are dark and life’s circumstances are darker yet, Jesus is our eternal Hope and the Giver of Life…of Eternal Life.

Until next time,
Debbie

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from Cole’s party 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.10202235583145788.1073741850.1076414018&type=1&l=7c81a8c7e4

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!!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201126682463964.1073741837.1076414018&type=1&l=f2e1a3712a

Red Sea, Gall Bladder & a Hurricane

9 Nov

You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

 

The offer to buy a companion ticket expired Aug 30.  In true form, my daughter and I made our decision that final day, purchasing two airline tickets to Indianapolis for the end of October.  Excited to introduce our new little one to extended family and friends, we were making it a ladies’ weekend away, since 6 month old Lillianne can fly free until she’s two years old.

Flying to Indy!

My mother did some strategizing of her own as she scheduled her foot surgery for nearly a month before our anticipated arrival.  Once Mom got settled following the procedure, all was well as she adjusted to hobbling around the house with her left foot encased in the boot.  After a couple weeks, I did begin to take notice that Mom sounded really tired and she often mentioned that there was discomfort in her abdomen that would come and go. Then just a week before our flight, it became very apparent that Mom was in a great deal of pain.  So those whose watch she is on, on a regular basis, took her to several doctor appointments and tests, coming to the conclusion that it was likely her gall bladder giving her fits, and that surgery was a great probability.  As Kim and I did our final packing for the trip, we switched clothing around for hospital and home instead of friends and family, restaurants, and church.

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine was going through difficult days when a Pastor friend called her out of the blue and asked what was going on.  God laid my friend on her heart, and she knew she needed to call and find out how she should be praying.  We were completely in awe of God’s hand in her life at that exact time, so we named that a “Parting of the Red Sea Moment”… a moment when only God could literally move the sea, or move someone to make a phone call, or to coordinate a much-needed surgery with a pre-scheduled visit.  My oldest brother, Jay, was on vacation all week … a week set aside to cut firewood for the upcoming winter … placed in the books at the Martinsville Post Office back in December 2011.  Tim’s sister, Amy, was cleared 2 weeks prior to have Friday off from work in order to spend the day with us girls and have lunch with her mom. Instead, she was able to sit with us at the hospital during my mom’s surgery, bringing us lunch, Mountain Dew, and lots of laughs!!  God was dishing out Red Sea Moments left and right!!

Mimi Wells with 4 of her 7 great grandkids
A’yden, Leyton, Jaxon, and Lillianne

What a privilege it was for me to be caregiver for those few days we were in town.  Before settling down to bed each night, Mom and I would pull up my Facebook on my  iPhone and read all of the sweet comments from dear friends and family … from 20 different states and 2 countries!!  It was like opening a mailbox full of get well cards, knowing that they had been thinking about her and praying for her!    Each day was a new day, gaining more strength, reclaiming her lost appetite, looking more rested, and feeling better.  Family times were extra special, as babies Lillianne, Jaxon, and Leyton (all second cousins, within 4 months in age) were introduced to one another, mommas and daddies compared stories, and Great Grandma (Mimi Wells) had several photo shoots with the children.

The first night we were at my Mom’s, my husband called and briefly mentioned something about a big storm coming up the east coastline … wanted to know if I had been listening to the weather.  I laughed at his silly question, thinking back over the extremely eventful day.  With surgery scheduled the following day, there was no thought about a storm and very little time to watch TV.  Sometime on Saturday, the realization hit us that our return flight into Baltimore could very possibly be cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.  We literally spent 2 hours on hold that night with the airline, waiting to ask questions about cancellations, refunds, and rescheduling.  If we made the decision to not fly, then it would cost us.  If we waited on the airline to cancel the flight, then we could rebook at no cost.  We decided to trust the airline … if they choose to fly, then we would be along for the ride. So, on the way to the airport, we received the recorded message that our flight into Baltimore was cancelled.  Knowing that our hubbies were back east, weathering the storm alone (Troy had Cole’s assistance!), we were disappointed but yet relieved to not be sharing the same air space as the hurricane.

The first unexpected day was pretty much a wash, literally, as we were glued to the Weather Channel, watching the reports of flooding, fire, wind, power outages, and extreme devastation.  Having friends and family in the path of the storm was unsettling, knowing that our own homes could be damaged or be without power for days.  But as the hours passed, so did the winds and rain.  Grateful reports from home came in that there was no loss of electricity and that all was ok.  The brunt of the damage was closer to the shore … our beloved New Jersey beaches, the gorgeous homes and communities where we visit each summer ~ much of it flooded and destroyed.

Our last day with Mimi Wells was a productive one as we were determined to turn off the Weather Channel and work on some projects that we had already started for her.  By the day’s end, we were all packed again, ready and hoping for an early morning flight back home.

I often write about my personal relationship with God … how He and I have a special vocabulary, and He literally speaks to me through His Word.  A couple of days before our scheduled flight to Indy, my morning devotions had me reading in Lamentations 3 …

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

 

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.

 

They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”

 

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:19-26

 

Those 2 days before our trip, I knew right then and there that it was Mom’s gall bladder … and that my God was telling me that He had it all under control.

A few days later, before getting out of bed the morning of Mom’s surgery, I snuggled up next to her, and I prayed for her.  I asked God to guide the doctors and nurses as they tended to her that day, and thanked Him for parting the Red Sea so I could be there with her.  Just minutes later as I was having my devotions, Our Daily Bread had me reading in Joshua 2.  My heart began to soar as I read verse 10, knowing that once again, my personal and loving God was shouting to me “I LOVE YOU DEBBIE!!”

We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea
for you when you came out of Egypt, …
…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below
.
Joshua 2:10 & 11

Four days later and wondering if it was really safe to be flying home, my devotions were in Psalm 32.  Verse 7 jumped out at me …

 You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Selah

With confidence, I shared the verse with Kim and reassured her that despite the storm and the unsettled weather still along the east coast, God was safely going to take us back home.  Thank you, Father, for loving us so!

That Wednesday was an uneventful day … Lillie travels like a pro, taking everything in stride … flirting and smiling at anyone who looks her way.  Once landed in Baltimore, her eyes sparkled even brighter as her big brother held her hand all the way home.

Since we’ve been back home, Mom has gotten the pin out of her toe and is slowing making progress in getting out and walking without the protective boot.  Her small incisions from the gall bladder surgery are healing and she is regaining strength and hopefully putting some meat back on her frail little body.  I’m so looking forward to spending more time with her over the Christmas holiday … every moment with my momma is a precious moment!

Our hearts are still hurting for those still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  Tim’s youngest sister and her family live on Long Island, just 4 blocks away from having lost everything.  Their everyday routines have been disrupted as the simple things like gas, groceries, and errands are no longer simple.  Our pastor friends, Del and Patsy Bieber in Tom’s River, New Jersey report that Samaritan’s Purse has set up headquarters in their parking lot, and that their church is very involved in the care of people in their area.

As we all think back over the events of the last few weeks, including the election just a few days ago, won’t you join me in continuing to pray for people everywhere whose very existence has been ravaged by the storms of life?  God wants to wrap His arms of Love, Mercy, and Hope around each of us … not just in His Red Sea Moments, but all the time.

Until next time,
Debbie

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

** The header photo was taken at Avon-by-the Sea, New Jersey … August 5, 2012.