Tag Archives: Snow

Christmas 2016

21 Dec

Yes, it’s that time of year already. Unbelievable. Crazy. Fast. In fact, it’s been so fast that I’m not even sure of anything that has changed since this time last year! I do know that my grandkids have gotten taller and the beards on our men have come and gone … and come back again, and the digital read-out on the bathroom scales keeps changing. Other than that, life has carried on with just a few variations to keep things interesting.

We ‘celebrated’ winter in early 2016 with 36″ of snow in one snowfall in March.

Kim is now a LuLaRoe consultant and enjoys bringing ladies together to have fun while they shop, try on, and buy trendy, comfortable clothing. Check out her Facebook page at… http://www.facebook.com/groups/LuLaRoeKimArndtvip

In May, Troy graduated with a Master of Science in Cybersecurity from University of Maryland University College.

Cole is now 7½ years old and in the 2nd grade, and our 4½ year-old Lillianne is in pre-K. These two little people continually bring joy and fun to Mimi and Papaw’s hearts!!

Merry Christmas!

Ryan and Brittany flew out from Seattle to spend an extended Easter weekend with the family. We toured Hershey and Gettysburg, colored Easter eggs and also celebrated Christmas 2015. Later in August, Verizon flew Ryan out for a business trip in DC, enabling us to see our son again for a quick visit.

After much preparation and anticipation, Brittany was just accepted into the University of Washington School of Medicine at Gonzaga in Spokane, WA. We celebrate with her and Ryan and in her great ambitions to be a doctor!

Tim rode around 12,000 miles on his motorcycle this year … he and his brother, along with 2 buddies put 4800 of those miles on their Harleys and went to Sturgis, South Dakota. Tim and I took 2 major rides on the bike – one to Wadsworth, OH and another to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, along with many local day trips. We really enjoy this time together!

I took a road trip this summer with some of my family to visit special relatives in Kentucky and Virginia – what a wonderful time we had as we loved on one another and ate some really good southern-cooked food! I also flew to Indy a few times this year to visit my momma and family, taking Cole with me once as part of his Christmas present from last year. It’s always great to spend time with family!

We hosted some out-of-town guests this year … my Mom came for Memorial Day weekend, my little brother and his family came for the 4th of July followed by my other brother a couple of weeks later. Then, my life-long best bud, Becky, flew out from Crowley, Louisiana to help celebrate my birthday in October.

A very special group of women gather in my home each month to be refreshed by one another and by Jesus. I’m in awe of the lives He has hand-picked to be part of this ministry and am blessed by these ladies and their own personal journeys and walks with Jesus.

As Christmas draws near, with it comes the excitement of good times with friends and family, gifts and giving, carols and cards. This past year, I once again started up an old family tradition that Tim and I used to do with our children when they were young. Every new greeting card that we received for Christmas 2015 went into a festive gift bag and kept in a prominent place where I have my daily devotions. Beginning with January 1st, I pulled a new Christmas card from the bag and prayed for them that day. Once I had gone through the complete bag, I started over, that time I either texted or emailed the card giver, told them of my tradition and that I would be praying for them that week … asking them to share specifics on how I could pray. So, if you would like to be included in my Christmas card prayers for 2017, we would love to receive a card from you!   I’m excited to be part of what God wants to do in the lives of my family and friends this next year!

From our home to yours,
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Tim and Debbie

In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.

Psalm 5:3

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Crazy Days

6 Mar

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Here it is … March 6th already!  It was -6° this morning as the warm sunshine streamed through the window and the fireplace kept me toasty. Yesterday was a snow day from work, gifting us with somewhere between 7 and 9 inches of fluff, depending on where I placed the ruler. I tried to be a good steward of this unexpected free time, making the most of each moment, knowing that soon I will be adjusting to a new schedule.

Crazy days? Yep! Life seems to have exploded in my world since I last wrote. These last three weeks have been the kind of crazy that causes me to make sure I’m holding on tight, closing one eye but peeking out with the other, afraid that I’m going to miss something! Some events are good, others are great and fantastic, some are not so wonderful and even sad, while others simply reflect life as it is … life. For my sanity’s sake, here is the condensed version of the last 3 weeks …

  • A friend in Albuquerque and my sister-in-law had surgery.  Both are doing great!
  • Friends brought home their 79 day-old baby, a 1 lb. 9 oz. micro-preemie born at 25 weeks … she’s healthy & growing like a weed!!
  • My mother was supposed to have flown out for a visit – but several crazy reasons why she didn’t.
  • A life-long dear friend from our beloved Southport Church of the Nazarene passed away. He was 91 years old. A grand reunion took place not only in Heaven, but at his funeral … I wish I could’ve been there.
  • Cole, Kim and Lillie have all been sick with one thing or another in the past 3 weeks.
  • Tim had a ‘routine’ nuclear heart stress test – everything seems to be good.
  • My great niece was born 2 weeks early … welcome Lyla Kay!
  • It snowed 5 inches. A few days later it snowed 3 inches. Yesterday it snowed 7 more inches.
  • Cole and Lillie

    Cole and Lillie

    Our Loves came and spent the night and we went sledding in the fresh snow.

  • Another friend has cancer.
  • A fun-filled visit from Tim’s mom last weekend
  • Refresh. A group of ladies that will meet in my home once a month … starting soon.
  • I applied, interviewed, and accepted a new job. I then gave my 2 week notice at the law firm.
  • I realized that nerves can cause heart-attack symptoms … my arm/chest has been hurting from time to time.

I’m sure my life isn’t any more crazy than yours. Plans change, babies are born and people die every day. Everyone has loved ones who are not well, and the details of our everyday can sometime overwhelm us and cause stress and anxiety, which will often take our focus off of Jesus. These days have been crazy, but at the same time, there has been a Constant, a Presence, and an Assurance that Jesus is in control.

Won’t you join me today in keeping our focus on Jesus even in the midst of the crazy full days of life?

Until next time,
Debbie

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

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

 

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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Here We Go Again …

28 Feb

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Psalm 19:1

 

23" of snow when it quit

23″ of snow when it quit

As the cold winter winds blow around the outside of the house and my wind chimes are chattering out on the back porch, another batch of expected snow has once again made its way into the forecast.  Not just a little skiff of snow, but many inches. This will bring a very temporary fresh clean look to the scruffy landscape that is still sporting anywhere from a trace to a foot and a half of dirty snow, depending on where it’s measured.  Most of our yard remains snow covered from the last wintery blast we received 2 weeks ago when our small town in south central PA was in the heavy snow band and we ended up with 23”.  That was on top of the 8” from the week before.  When the grandkids came up for a couple of fun days of snow sledding, we were somewhat concerned about possibly losing a small child or dog.

Snow fun - Cole & Kim

Snow fun – Cole & Kim

We all have our own statistics of extreme cold and snow and could come close to telling the same story this winter.  It’s been crazy!  I have had multiple snow days from work, and Tim even stayed home with the last storm.   We are certainly grateful that we purchased a new snow blower a couple winters ago!

Mimi, Momma, and the kiddos

Mimi, Momma, and the kiddos

Since there is truly nothing that can be done to alter the course of the weather, I have tried to stay positive and keep a cheerful outlook through it all.  The fresh snow is beautiful and always reminds me that God desires to cleanse us from our sin and make us whiter than snow.  Then there’s the bugs!!  The extended periods of cold temperatures will hopefully make a difference in the bug population this summer!  And the extra moisture from all this snow will provide an exceptionally colorful spring, which officially arrives in 20 days!!  As much as I have on-purpose tried to enjoy the unusually snowy winter, I am looking forward to spring!  Special birthdays to celebrate, a trip to Louisiana to visit dear friends, the anticipation of a brand new niece to be born in May, and a reunion of NIBC staff and volunteers over Memorial Day weekend.  And above all, Easter is coming with the celebration of our risen Savior!

Won’t you join me on this final day of February as I keep the snow blower nearby, to also keep a smile on our faces, a song in our hearts, and an anticipation of warm and sunny days ahead!

Until next time,
Debbie

Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
Isaiah 1:18

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 55:10-11

 

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4

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Happy New Year from the Van Hooks!

1 Jan

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

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

Mimi and Papaw with their loves

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

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

 

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

 

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

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

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

The Arndt Family

The Arndt Family

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

Ryan and Brittany   at a friend's wedding

Ryan and Brittany
at a friend’s wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 80th Birthday Daddy … and Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

“Honor your father and mother”–
which is the first commandment with a promise– 
“that it may go well with you and that you
may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:2

Dear Daddy…

I’m sure the cries of a tiny baby born on Christmas Eve 80 years ago really added to the excitement of Christmas! I wonder, Daddy, if your arrival made the story of Baby Jesus become more tangible for your young brothers and sisters. There probably weren’t many gifts wrapped and placed under the tree in your home in that small coal mining town in the hills of Lee County, Virginia, but there was a new baby.

Oh what a party we would be having today if you were still here with us! The invitation list would be long – friends and family would gather, and those who couldn’t would send cards to you! And what fun you would have reading each and every card, over and over again, for days … adding your own few words to make it say exactly what you felt it should say! We would have balloons, party hats, streamers, and party blowouts that the kids of all ages would enjoy! We would hang a bright banner, announcing that we were celebrating your 80th birthday, and we would take lots of pictures, although you would ‘humbly’ say not to take any pictures of you! We would have cake and ice cream, along with all sorts of snacks and goodies. You would unwrap presents, no doubt with the help of all the little kids who like to do that sort of thing.  I imagine you would get a new pair of pajamas and a maybe new sweatshirt with tiny little painted hand prints all over the front … from the new generation of little ones in our family. We would watch several of our home movie DVDs and have a lot of laughs about how everyone has changed over the years. After everyone would go home and the house would be a bit less chaotic, my family would still be there … in town from Washington, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, for a few days to celebrate you, mom, and Christmas. Since I am still day-dreaming, the normal would be Mimi and Papaw Wells … and all would be right in the world, at least as we know it. What a wonderful day of celebrating you and 80 years!!

Daddy at his 60th birthday party

Daddy at his 60th birthday party

But life is what it is …. fragile. The last bright banner we hung in celebration of you announced your 60th birthday. The invitation list was long, the guests were many, the gifts were fun, and cards were poured over for days and days. After everyone had gone home and the house was a bit less chaotic, my young family was there, enjoying life as it was then with Grandma and Grandpa Wells. However, everything really was not right in the world even then. You had struggled with so much sickness for the past few years and you still were not real well, but we made the most of every opportunity that we had to celebrate you and your life. And that’s what I want to still do, as long as possible … to honor the man who loved my mom, his family and his Jesus. Happy 80th birthday, Daddy!

Me and Mom playing in the snow

Me and Mom playing in the snow

In celebration of the Christmas season this year, mom flew out to spend a few days with us here in Pennsylvania. We exchanged gifts with one another, and Kim’s two kids especially had a great time unwrapping fun presents from Mimi Wells! The highlight of our time was the additional 4” of snow that fell on our already white-covered ground on Saturday, creating a beautiful winter wonderland and an awesome playground for sledding down the big hill! Mom even giggled her way down the slope a couple of times! What fun we all had as we made new memories … and I know that mom was feeling the tug from memories past … of other snowfalls, other big hills, other little people, and you. After nearly 20 years without you, it’s all still bittersweet, Daddy. All of it.

Well, this Eve of Christmas will come to an end, soon to be announcing the arrival and celebration of Christ’s birth. But before it does, I simply ask the Lord to hand deliver this birthday letter to you … so you know that in my heart you are still loved deeply and celebrated not just on your birthday, but everyday!

Until next time,
Your Bobby Naw

A Snowy New Jersey Valentine

15 Feb

Greater Love has no one than this,
that He lay down His life for His friends.
John 15:13

When making plans a week before our scheduled trip, the extended travel forecast trumpeted sunny skies and 50 degree temperatures.  With excitement, I called to confirm our on-line reservations, making sure all was in place for our mid-winter excursion to the east coast.  Wanting to do something different this year to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we both agreed to drive the familiar trek to our favorite summer-time destinations along the New Jersey shoreline.  A Groupon for the Bed and Breakfast, great food, a visit with friends, quiet surroundings, and the nagging curiosity of the damage from Hurricane Sandy pulled our hearts to make the final decision to go.  And at the last minute, despite the fact that the weather forecast dramatically changed in that week from unusually warm to being on the edge of a record-breaking blizzard, last Saturday morning we set out for our pre-holiday adventure.

Blowing snow along the road to New Jersey

Blowing snow along the road to New Jersey

Knowing the alarm clock would wake us before daylight, we went to bed early the night before, anticipating a few inches of snow to fall through the wee hours of the morning.  To our great relief, the local roads were clear with little accumulation.  As we headed into the direction of the gorgeous sunrise, the amount of snow that had fallen on the ground began to increase as we traveled, the strong winds blowing it all around, creating a beautiful sight against the back drop of the brilliant blue sky.

We made our way to Toms River to meet our breakfast companions, where we then drove to a tiny hole-in-the wall for tasty eats and great fellowship.  Hearing stories of Hurricane Sandy survival, clean-up, and ministry warmed our hearts as we ate, grateful for God’s watchful care over our friends.

Lamp posts still standing on the destroyed boardwalk of Ocean Grove, NJ ... at sunset

Lamp posts still standing on the destroyed boardwalk of Ocean Grove, NJ … at sunset

A few more miles up the coastline brought us to our familiar little seaside towns where even more snow had fallen.  We drove from one community to another, noticing the number of trash dumpsters dotting the driveways, big loaders and earth moving equipment parked nearby, and signs of ‘do not enter’ posted throughout the region.  A few homes were still boarded up in hurricane-type style, one was a total loss of charred remains, while others were under new construction.  For the most part, however, the towns seemed in tact – businesses up and running … life as usual.  Everything except the beach area itself.  Entire boardwalks washed away, including restroom buildings and ticket huts, with nothing left but the pilings.  Most communities had some sort of organization to their on-going repair … stacks of lumber and boards waiting for the weather to break.  But most shocking was the beach town of Ocean Grove, where the boardwalk street lights still stood on disheveled planks like skeletons in whatever direction the hurricane gales had blown them in.  Nails remain in the wood, dangerously protruding their points.  And no stacks of fresh lumber waiting.

Swirling snow creating crunchy ice on sand

At sunset, swirling snow creating crunchy ice on sand

Beyond the graveyards of seaside boardwalks, however, we found the one thing that is a constant.  The Atlantic Ocean.  The landscape of the beach has changed somewhat as much of the sand washed up into the towns, later to have been brought back and piled high, making a large ridge between the boardwalk pilings and the ocean.  But the ocean continues on.  Waves cresting quite high and crashing against the rocks and sand, sending spray into the air as blizzard-forced winds blew.  Tim and I walked along the ocean’s edge both days, bundled up from head to toe, enjoying the silly antics of the birds who call the beach their home, and the visiting canines and their owners who were out for exercise.  I was most amazed at how 5 inches of snow had fallen the night before, but the sand on the beach was just that, sand.  What very little snow was on the sand was back by the boardwalk area, and the wind would catch it from time to time and swirl it across the beach, in some places forming layers of snowy ice on the wet sand.  It is a very fascinating winter environment.

The Bed and Breakfast was ok – certainly nothing to write home about, or a blog, for that matter, other than to say it was disappointing.  We ate at our favorite BBQ place in Belmar, where I quizzed the waiter about the restaurant and how it fared during Hurricane Sandy.  Having only lost electricity, they still had the ability to cook with gas and a smoker, so they opened their establishment up as a free soup kitchen for several days … during day-light hours.  They fed rescue workers, FEMA, and those whose homes had been destroyed or severely damaged.  As we ate our brisket and ribs, we listened intently to the story and were very glad to support Jersey Shore BBQ with our business.

Our favorite beach ... Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

Our favorite beach … Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

We hope to go back again to the shore before the summer season gets into full swing … while it’s still affordable to stay within walking distance to the ocean.  Much work is left to be done, and it will be exciting to see the progress made since our trip there now.  Two full days went by very quickly, but we are grateful for the chance to get away for a new adventure.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Love.  Appreciation.  Family.  Friendships.  Gifts.  Won’t you join me today as we continue to think about Love?  The roses will wilt, the chocolates will soon all be eaten, and the trip to the New Jersey shore will be nothing more than a mere memory.   But just like the great ocean, there is one Gift that is Constant and never changes.  Not just on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Easter, but this Gift is always available to each one of us.  My prayer is that you will accept Him with your whole heart, for He was given to you with the greatest Love there ever was.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Greater Love has no one than this,
that He lay down His life for His friends.
John 15:13

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

Happy Day-After Valentine’s Day …

Until next time,
Debbie