Tag Archives: Strength

Life Celebrations

22 Aug
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

 

Going to the shore in early August has become one of our favorite family traditions.  It doesn’t matter which beach or state we choose.  What does matter is that we are all together.  Together to celebrate life.  Like birthdays.  My husband and daughter have a lot of things in common, the most important being their mutual birthday on August 5th.  We have done many things to celebrate theses two through the years, but they have come to an agreement that the sand and surf is where it’s at.

 

This year was no exception. Fenwick Island, Delaware was the beach of choice and our hotel was only one block from the sandy shore.  This so conveniently allowed us to load up the beach cart with sand chairs, umbrella, digger, dump truck and the necessary construction materials to make the best sand castle on the east coast, along with the usual towels, mats, and lotions, and we walked the short distance without having to fight traffic and/or find a parking spot several blocks away.

 

August 9, 20145 year-old Cole spent much of his time along the water’s edge, being close enough that the incoming waves kept him as wet as he wanted to be, but not far enough out to scare him or us.  He helped the construction foreman build the castle community, he flew his Spiderman kite, and threw the whistling football back and forth with Papaw.  Lillianne was not as adventurous – no doubt due to the fact that she did not feel well.  She wanted to like the ocean, but the crashing waves kept her from desiring to be a part of it all.  Somehow, though, those same crashing waves melodically lulled her to sleep, where she spent much of her time both days.  All of us bigger kids enjoyed the sand, surf, and sun  … taking turns to be with the little ones and literally soaking it all in.

 

In the midst of the fun and frolic of the weekend, my heart was stretched the many, many miles to Louisiana where my best bud and her family were having their own life celebration.  In the closing of my last blog post, I updated you on my friend, Joe Talhelm.  Later that evening on August 1st,  I received a text from he and Becky’s daughter, Anne.  “Please call me”.  My heart sank as I read those words, knowing.  Anne cried as she told me that she’s so happy for him … no more melanoma, no more suffering, no more pain.  Just 2 ½ weeks earlier, the doctors told Joe that he had 3 months to live.  Joe knew different.  So as I sat on the beach in Delaware, in Louisiana, Becky gathered with her family, Joe’s family, their church family and friends and celebrated a life that lived, laughed, and loved.  Joe was only 57 years old.

 

Tim’s step-father was just diagnosed last week with his own enormous battle with cancer.  Hospital stay with tests upon tests took place, then a return home to get everything in order while he begins radiation treatments.  I make it a priority to talk to my precious mother-in-law often, for although she is facing difficult days ahead and she is already exhausted from the drama of it all, I can tell she and Bill are determined to celebrate life together as long as possible.  Just like Joe and Becky, they are able to do so because of Jesus.  They are celebrating the everyday.

The Lord gives strength to His people;
the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11
August 16, 2014Another recent life celebration was just last Saturday when Tim and I attended the wedding of a very special young man in our lives.   Two 5 year-old little boys met playing t-ball back in 1992 and were truly inseparable until our family moved to Albuquerque in 1997.  Chuck & Mikey were married a few days ago, and we were there to help them celebrate with friends and family.

 

What are you doing to celebrate life?  It’s always fun to throw a birthday party, attend a wedding or go away for an anniversary … and it’s satisfying to the soul to celebrate a life well-lived that has passed away.   But it’s the everyday that really counts.  I came across this saying the other day … “Enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life.”   Won’t you join me in doing this?   Let’s make the most of every opportunity and celebrate life with each moment, for this moment is your life.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

 Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
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 P.S.   “Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of the move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.
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** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from our excursion to the shore
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.10203139143494232.1073741862.1076414018&type=1&l=b9d0add112
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Crowley, Louisiana

18 Apr

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

 

My flight into Baton Rouge landed earlier than scheduled, which allowed some quiet time to sit on a park bench in front of the airport as I waited for my gracious chauffeurs to arrive.  I appreciated the extra time to catch my breath in prayer and anticipation of the next few day’s visit with my dear friends.  Life and its unpredictable way of turning circumstances up-side down and throwing them in your face has done just that to them.

 

Becky's wedding

Becky’s wedding – November 1978

 

As Joe told one of his nurses the other day, Becky and I have been bosom buddies before we had bosoms.   She and I were inseparable as little girls and then into our teen years, growing up in the Southport Church of the Nazarene where our families attended for many many years.  Our love for one another was strengthened by our mutual love for Jesus, piano and singing, Bible quizzing, fun weekends and nearly every Sunday afternoon either at her house or mine.  Memories are piled on top of memories – People called me Becky and they often called her Debbie.  If you saw one of us, you were sure to find the other.  I was by her side on that evening in November 1978 when she said I do to Joe, as she was by mine less than two years later. She shared her maternity clothes and we gave each other baby showers.  But as God sometimes does, He calls pastors and missionaries, so the many miles then between began to separate.  That separation seemed to stretch the very cord of friendship while the busyness of ministries, families, life and other relationships weaved their way into hearts.  But there we were, just a few days ago,  reaching back into time, trying to fill in the gaps with stories full of details and facts of how God has guided and directed our paths through the years…our paths that crossed only on rare occasions … the last being in 2001.  This visit was long-over due, but nonetheless was God-ordained from the start.

 

Becky and Joe's grandson, Layne Joseph ... he picked a flower for 'Aunt Debbie' ... Sha!

Becky and Joe’s grandson, Layne Joseph … he picked a flower for ‘Aunt Debbie’ … Sha!

Frequent flyer points and a burdened heart for my friends encouraged my trip to Crowley, Louisiana, where Joe and Becky have been pastoring for the past 22 years.   It was beyond wonderful to hug my friends, to visit with their children, and to love on their grandson … “Sha!”  Becky’s mom, Pauline, was also there, her sweet smile, big hugs, and stories about Bob warmed my heart with memories.  I ate tasty food, unique to the Cajun culture – fresh shrimp, boudin, crawfish étouffée, and fig jelly, among many other delicious meals.  Within a short walking distance from their house is the Quere de Torte Bayou, which surprisingly looks like an extremely muddy creek.  We drove through a nearby town that stakes the claim to be the frog capital of the world.   While out and about, I noticed that the landscape in every direction was littered with houses on stilts, crawfish ponds and rice fields, while the sky was buzzing with cropduster planes dropping seeds to plant those rice fields.  We visited the ‘Alligator House’ where we held baby gators and gratefully saw bigger ones behind tall fences.  We looked through old photos and smiled at younger faces and slimmer bodies ~ all from a different time and a different place.  However, given the circumstances of cancer and its evil and relentless grip, a special highlight to my visit was to walk into a hospital room Thursday morning and be cheerfully greeted by the patient as he fondly said “Skeeter!”  This is a name Joe gave me back when we were teenagers … as I stood in the outfield swatting mosquitoes instead of catching softballs, on any given Tuesday night at Back Door.   My dear friend’s husband, bearing fresh wounds and battle scars of melanoma cancer on his head, face, and neck, looked like a million bucks to me as we came to take him home after his 7th surgery.  Joe’s charm, his huge heart of fun and tease, his kind and compassionate spirit, and the love and joy of Jesus that fills him to the brim … all of this together and more cushioned anything disturbing that I saw.  It was my extreme pleasure to spend those few days in Joe and Becky’s world – to get a feel for the daily routine that keeps everything and everybody in its proper place at the right time.  I was constantly in awe of the abundance of Strength and Peace that Becky has, that only Jesus Himself can supply to my friend.  I pray that my short visit was a God-given distraction for all in the midst of these uncertain days.

 

Me with Becky and her momma, Pauline

Me with Becky and her momma, Pauline

Sunday came … what a true blessing to be surrounded by such loving and kind church people who warmly welcomed me!  I sat among them in the choir and worshipped with them in song, and for old time’s sake, Becky and I sung one of our all-time favorites from long ago, Fill My Cup, Lord.  Next time she and I are together, I’m requesting that we on-purpose spend some quality time at the piano and we sing until our hearts are content.

As that southern Louisiana congregation sang the final verse of And Can It Be last Sunday morning, the words jumped out at me as an anthem … “Bold I approach the eternal Throne!”  These words have marched across my mind all week as I have not only prayed BOLDLY for Joe, but I have bombarded Heaven for my precious friend, Sandie, and for our friend and former SWO District Superintendent Dr. Carlton Hansen. My own Aunt June just recently had surgery and will soon be starting treatments.  My Uncle Johnse has been fighting the fight of cancer for many years.  I just found a colleague of mine from my days of Work & Witness USA/CANADA, Laura Sylvester … her husband is battling this horrible disease.  Cancer.  I don’t understand, but thank God I’m not suppose to.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Won’t you please join me in praying BOLDLY?  Without a doubt, Joe, Sandie, and Dr. Hansen need a miracle!  Doctors and medicine have nearly exhausted their resources.  I’m sure you also know people in your life who need a miracle.  Let’s unite in our efforts and go BOLDLY to the Throne of Grace.  If we do so, we will obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  I’ll meet you there.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth
concerning anything that they ask,
it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered
 together in My name,
I am there in the midst of them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

** 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.10202372872097926.1073741851.1076414018&type=1&l=7b94ce523e

Hands of Time

10 Jan

My times are in Your hands.
Psalm 31:15a

Life is full of illusions, each one based on perspective…especially when it comes to time, don’t you think?  As a little girl, I vividly remember that summers were long and seemed to never end … going fishing with my Daddy,  playing board games on the front porch with the neighbor kids, riding my bike, catching lightning bugs in the dark, and reading until I fell asleep each night.  Then I think back to when I was expecting my two children.  Despite being sick at all hours of the day or night along with the aches and pains from sharing my body with a growing baby, I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant!  But even with all of the excitement and anticipation, those were truly the longest 9 months ever, with the biggest illusion of all time following … the next 30 years were but a mere blink of an eye!

According to the dictionary, an illusion is an erroneous perception of reality.  Of course, every day in the past 30 years truly had 24 hours each, and some of those hours were long and grueling.  In fact, the teen years seemed to last forever … not sure if the next moment would have attitude or a gesture of affection.  But here we are, over a decade later, and those crazy years seem like yesterday…

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

I have even come to realize as I walk hand in hand with Jesus, that my own spiritual pathway can be full of illusions.  Countless times through the years, the circumstances of life have literally knocked the breath out of me, leaving me frightened and anxious, not knowing what to expect as I round the next corner of my journey.  That’s where faith comes in … and I mean blind faith.  The kind that leaves me no other option but to hang on to the Hand Who promises to strengthen when I am weak.  The kind of faith that trusts when there is no understanding.  My personal perspective of total and complete disaster has always been salvaged by the redeeming Hand of Jesus …

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
(this present life)
are not worth being compared with the glory
that is about to be revealed to us
and in us and for us and
conferred on us!
Romans 8:18 Amplified

A little over a year ago, Kim, Lillianne and I spent a few days with my mom in Indianapolis.  I was reminded during those brief days together how life is full of illusions, and how quickly time seems to slip through our hands.

Keep His decrees and commands,
which I am giving you today,
so that it may go well with you and your children after you
and that you may live long in the land
the LORD your God gives you for all time.
Deuteronomy 4:40

Oct 2012
Each hand represents life …
life that continually reaches out
Mimi Wells, Mimi, Momma, and Lillianne

Today is January 10th … and tomorrow is already an illusion.  Where does time go?  The following is the devotional reading from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest from December 31.   Won’t you join me in leaving the Irreparable Past in His hands, and reaching out into the Irresistible Future with Him?

Security from Yesterday. “God requireth that which is past.” At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.

Security for Tomorrow. “For the Lord will go before you.” This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to. He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our rereward. God’s hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.

Security for Today. “For ye shall not go out with haste.” As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.

Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and REACH out into the Irresistible Future with Him.

Leave the past to the mercy of God,
The present to the love of God,
The future to the providence of God.

Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6

 

God’s goodness and mercy are no illusions … I’m grateful that they will follow me all the days of my life.

Until next time,
Debbie

Zumba

28 Feb

A heart at peace gives life to the body…
Proverbs 14:30

Sigh!  Hold on a minute – let me catch my breath!  Sigh!

Ok …Wow!!  An hour of non-stop, energy exerting, muscle moving, body bouncing, serious sweating activity!  Included in our membership at Gold’s Gym is the privilege of participating in any of the classes provided by the facility.  Tuesday night at 6:30 is Zumba, and tonight was my third week to join in the fun.  I say fun loosely, for this fun is a lot of work, but when that hour is up, although I am totally exhausted and spent, I really feel like I have accomplished something monumental.

Zumba is a Latin inspired fitness program involving dance and aerobic moves.  Dance has never been in my vocabulary, let alone in my repertoire of activity, so I rather feel like I have multiple feet and they all have lead in them.  But, in my defense, I at least keep moving in the general direction that all the others are going … attempting to shake, kick, pump, and stretch at all the right times.

According to Google, “Zumba exercises include music with fast and slow rhythms, as well as resistance training.  The choreography incorporates cumbia, hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, tango, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves.  Squats and lunges are also included.”  With my only dance experience consisting of some form of a slow dance at our daughter’s wedding 6 years ago, those various names of dances and moves are quite overwhelming.  I have to admit, that once in the classroom and surrounded by all the other younger women, I smile and do my best to not trip over my own feet … or worse, theirs!!

Although I’m new to this fun craze of exercising, Zumba is no stranger to our family!   Our daughter, Kim, was persistent and tenacious as she trudged through the pounds of pregnancy and lost them all and more ~ due to her faithfulness to better eating habits, her routines at the gym, and Zumba.  With the upcoming birth of our granddaughter, she is looking forward to summer and returning to the gym to lose those extra pounds gained in preparation for Baby Lillieanne.  Since we both belong to Gold’s Gym, maybe we’ll be able to attend some Zumba classes together – leaving the two grandkids with their Daddy and Papaw.

With the onset of aging and aching joints, I find that having a healthy and active lifestyle with a routine of exercise is necessary for me to be able to function and not feel the maturing process so much.  I also have learned the secret to having Inner Strength that flows out into all areas of my life.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

My inner strength is Jesus.
My contentment.
His heart.
His Word.
His Strength.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and
nourishment to your bones.
Proverb 3:5-8

My trust.
My heart.
His Understanding.
My health.
My body.
My nourishment.
My bones.

Not only in Zumba do I need to pay attention to the instructions, to keep my eyes straight ahead,  follow the one who is leading, and to not swerve to the right or to the left, but in my every day world.

My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet and
take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Proverb 4:20-27

I need to do my best to keep my body healthy ~ for I was bought with a price and am the Temple where God abides …

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

Whether you have a gym membership, participate in Zumba, or walk 3 miles a week to help stay fit … or none of these  ~   They do not even compare to the importance of staying fit spiritually.  Won’t you join me …

… in view of God’s mercy, to offer OUR bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God–this is OUR spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of OUR minds.
Then WE will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–
His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

 

Until next time,
Debbie

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

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

 

Merry Christmas from the Van Hooks!

21 Dec

Our beautiful children!

Once again, we are in awe of God’s blessings, His great mercy, and His precious gift of His son Jesus as we celebrate this Christmas season and enter into the New Year.  As the song writer penned … “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.”

 

Bahama Cruise

This year has been eventful!  Our grandson, Cole Michael, celebrated his first birthday in March.  How quickly that year seemed to fly by, and how quickly this little guy is growing and changing!  Following our trip out to PA for his birthday party, we headed on down to Florida for our vacation.  In celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary (July 11th) we enjoyed a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas, then soaked up some Florida sunshine for several more days before heading back to reality.  Reality consisted of the normal things of life, like home and work, but it also suddenly included helping to take care of my mother who fell and shattered her elbow while we were away on vacation.  After surgery, months of physical therapy, doctor visits, and lots of help from us kids and her church family, Mom is continuing to gain use and strength of her right arm and hand. We are so grateful for the Lord’s touch on her as she has slowly healed!

Our son-in-law, Troy, graduated from Penn State University this past May.  With his degree in Security and Risk Analysis, his new career as a consultant relocated this little family to Glen Burnie, MD, located on the south side of Baltimore.  Up until their move, Kim worked at the Courtyard by Marriott where she was the Assistant General Manager.  Now she is blessed by being able to stay home with Cole full time, employed by the cutest little toddler around!   Kim enjoys working out at their local gym where she takes Zumba and other exercise classes.  She is also involved in the Mom’s group at Grace Pointe Church of the Nazarene.

As the busy days of spring collided into the even busier days of summer, Tim was offered and he accepted a new job in the state of Pennsylvania.   September 1, just two weeks short of beginning our 5th year at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center, we relocated to Red Lion, PA.  He is now employed by K/S Remodeling Systems, where his talent for detail and craftsmanship is utilized on a daily basis to refurbish and remodel kitchens.   This is very similar to what Tim did when we lived in PA back in the 90s.   We are renting a very nice home that is very roomy and spacious for when our family gathers in, which happens quite frequently since we moved.  Kim and her family only live an hour away, so we are overwhelmed with the blessing of being able to watch Cole grow and become his own little person.  His favorite things in the whole world are tractors, and Dora the Explorer, fire trucks, cars, animal crackers, puzzles, and his dog all coming in tied for second place!   He is so much fun and has brought such joy to Grami and Grampi’s life!

Not wanting to miss out on the excitement of our move, Ryan flew in for a visit and spent a week with us.  Since it was his first time out to see his sister’s new home as well, we all took the time to relax and enjoy some of the favorite sites of Baltimore for a few days.  The highlight was our trip to the beach and to play in the sand and ocean with Cole.  Once we got back to our house, there were boxes to unpack, and furniture to arrange, all the while we had lots of fun and cooked lots of yummy food in our big kitchen!  Family time is such a blessing!!

Regis Philbin, Mom, myself, and Kim

Christmas began early in December at our house this year.  Kim and I surprised my mom with a trip to New York City and tickets to be on LIVE with Regis and Kelly!  What a fun time we had!!  The following day, Ryan and his girlfriend Brittany flew in from Seattle to join the festivities that had already started a few days prior.  We enjoyed lots of family fun playing Wii, going bowling, watching movies, and enjoying a houseful of good cooks.  “Fake Christmas” was celebrated as gifts were exchanged, stuffed stockings were emptied, and Cole rode around on his new tractor. 

Cole and his new TRACTOR!

As many of you already know, I love to write and started a blog back in February.  Morsels of Mercy is just that ~ short stories inspired by God’s mercies through my journey of life!   https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com     Many of the details of this past year that I skipped over here in my Christmas letter you can read about in my blog.  Enjoy reading!!

Christmas week is now upon us, and we will be back in Indiana for the holiday.  As we travel the many miles and gather with our families, my heart and thoughts will be turning toward many of you who are hurting this Christmas season.  I will be praying that you will find Jesus to be so much more than a baby in the manger, but that He will be your Healer, your Comforter, your Strength, your Everything. 

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great mercies
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 3:21-26

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!!
The Van Hooks

 

Tim & Debbie
Troy, Kim, Cole & Tadpole
Ryan & Brittany
My mom, Wilma

Our family

My Identity List

19 Nov

 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2

 

As I was thumbing through my Bible the other day to find the scripture that went along with my devotional reading, I began to take notice of all the different items that I have tucked inside the pages throughout.  There are torn portions of various church bulletins that I have jotted down notes on, pages from Our Daily Bread that are memorials to a special day, specific bookmarks that represent an event, and a cough drop wrapper that even years later still serves as a reminder to pray.  Among the many other treasures are three scratch papers overflowing with what I call my Identity List. 

Several years ago in a desperate cry for help, God began to flood my rough and rugged pathway with a steady stream of Light.  This Light allowed me to take one step at a time, secure of His presence in my life.  In my world of extreme uncertainty and heartache, I found Strength, Protection, Hope, Peace, … I found Jesus. 

I started to make notes of scriptures that became my Identity List …

Jesus is my Strength and my Shield
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
Psalm 28:7

 

Jesus is my Trust
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust.
Psalm 40:4

 

Jesus is my Refuge and my Strength … and Help
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

 

Jesus is my Strength and my Song … and my Salvation
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Exodus 15:2

 

Jesus is my Lamp
You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light.
2 Samuel 22:29

 

Jesus is my Maker and my Husband
For your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name.
Isaiah 54:5

 

Jesus is my Glue
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
 Colossians 1:17

 

Jesus is my Confidence
For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.
Proverbs 3:26

 

Jesus is my Light
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 
I John 1:5

 

Jesus is my Anchor
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19

 

 

This is just a small sampling of close to 75 scribbled hand written notes and scriptures that claim my identity with Jesus.  When circumstances of life toss me around and I feel alone, helpless, and weak, I often open up my Bible to find these scraps of paper for a reminder of my Real Identity. 

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25-26

 

Won’t you join me in taking Jesus off the note paper and truly allowing Him to be our Identity?

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

 

Torn Britches

6 Jul

Torn Britches was originally written last summer  ~  July 2009.

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show
that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

 

After working several hours cleaning the Ferguson Dining Hall on Friday, I gathered our paychecks, some outgoing mail, and my purse and headed for the car.  As I sat down, it felt like I sat on something lying in the seat … I raised my rear up and brushed my hand across the car seat  ~  didn’t find anything, so I settled back down, put the car in gear, and made my way into town.  I made a deposit at the drive-up window at the bank and then dropped a card in the mailbox at the post office.  My next stop was to return an item at Cato’s.  I walked up to the counter where I stood for several minutes as the clerk processed my refund.  I never have understood why those who design check-out counters do not think of us who are petite in stature.  I’m almost standing on tip toes, with my arms raised nearly to my shoulders so I can see to write my name on the little machine, claiming that I am who I am.  Stuffing the receipts into my purse, clearance signs attract my attention, so I browse several racks of clothing  ~  envisioning myself in various tops, capris and dresses … but nothing really spoke to me, so I walked past the two floor clerks and left.  I got in my car and drove over to K-Mart, where I also stopped at the customer service counter to make another return.  I had two items to return on two separate receipts, so this took a little longer than anticipated, but I tried to have patience.  After I once again stuffed receipts into my purse, I meandered to their clearance racks, hoping to find something of interest to buy for my upcoming vacation.  Moments later, Tim called and was full of stories about his afternoon.  My concentration of shopping was broken as I listened, so I slowly made my way back out to my car.  As we continued to talk, I drove over to Bigg’s where I had yet one more return to make.  As I was getting out of the car, I felt that funny feeling again … the one where I thought I was sitting on something.  I already had one leg out of the car and onto the parking lot, so I went ahead and stood up so I could check the seat.  Much to my surprise, there was nothing there.  Making sure whatever it was wasn’t sticking to my backside, my right hand brushed against something odd and airy … and then my fingers got caught in some sort of thread  ~  OH MY GOODNESS!!!  I had a ginormous hole in my pants!!  I quickly slid back into my car and headed home, all the while my brain was back tracking over the past hour and these visions of horror filled my racing mind!  How far HAD I stretched my arms up to reach the counter at Cato’s  ~  hiking my t-shirt tail way up to expose even more of my embarrassing situation??  How long WAS I standing there at K-Mart as the return took longer than it should have.  One normally doesn’t notice someone’s butt when you’re out shopping, but I WAS just standing there with my back side facing the door … at just enough distance away that my rear end was more noticeable than had I been closer to the door.  Sigh …  As I pulled into the driveway, my neighbor Arno was just walking out.  I waited until he got into his car and drove away before I made a dash into the house and ran to the bathroom mirror to see what I could see.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!   I had a wedgy and half of my butt cheek was showing through this humongous opening!  I yanked my bright colored undies from their hiding place and straightened everything out so it would look presentable … yeah right!  I pulled my t-shirt down as far as it would go to see if there was any possible way that it had conveniently covered the humiliating scene, but there was no way.  I once again remembered the counter at Cato’s … and my arms stretching, which I’m sure pulled the shirt clear up to my waist.  Sigh …

"OH MY GOODNESS!!"

Yes, I took pictures.  You know me  ~  I take pictures of everything!  You have my permission to laugh.  I did.  There was no use doing anything else but that.  With the stress and strain of life, it feels really good to laugh sometimes.  Laughing distracts from the cares of the moment and brings a cheer to any situation … even if for a brief time.  Hehehe!!  Did I just say brief? 

The stress and strain in your life might not be a pair of torn jeans … or it may be the equivalent of that in the world in which you live.  A heart bumped around by a relationship, emotions kept in a constant spiral of confusion and dread, joy seemingly squelched by outside circumstances…

Have you ever ridden one of those barrel spinners at the amusement parks  ~  the one with the big wheel in the middle and the seats are all around?  The one that whips the cars in and around each other, spinning, bobbing, twirling?  The colors blur, the music blares, your hair blows wildly, and the squeals …    

I hate that ride.  So why do I find myself hopping back onto it so often?  Not at the theme park ~ no … never again there…but in the non-fantasyland of real life?  And how do I make it stop?

 
Overwhelmed.  That’s the word we all hear  ~  whether we are saying it or we hear others say it.  “I’m just overwhelmed.”  “This is so overwhelming.”  I don’t know about the “whelming” part, but I’m all for the being “over” part, aren’t you?  It really is crazy what we do to ourselves.  Although life could probably be a lot more ordered and structured than some of us allow it to be, and although certain unavoidable situations arise that knock even our best laid plans off balance, we could and should be experiencing God the best during our seasons of “overwhelming.”

Most days our mundane lives communicate very little to others about the difference Christ makes to us.  But set us to spinning with seemingly impossible problems, irritating and frustrating people and situations, and a to-do list with no end, others will suddenly start seeing the contents inside these jars of clay.  What will they see?  Will they see a glint of treasure … a depth of purity and power than can come only from God and not from us?  Or will they see a slopped mess of alarm, discouragement, bitterness and resentment … not to mention a lack of trust in God. 

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Matthew 12:34
For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him,
and the evil man brings evil things
out of the evil stored up in him.

Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up
according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were
sealed for the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,
in persecutions,
in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
 

Philippians 4:13
 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

 

Physically we may be operating on perpetual exhaustion.  Emotionally we may be a frayed knot of nerves and numbness.  But spiritually we should be drinking from a well deeper than many of us have ever known ~ the depths of God’s higher purposes and the assurance that He knows what He’s doing.  He may be strengthening the muscles we’ll need for perhaps even more difficult days ahead, and I’m confident that He’s infusing us with firsthand experiences that will give our advice, our support, and our prayers an authentic ring to people caught in similar situations. 

I challenge us all to take comfort during times like these to know that God is longing to do something extraordinary in us.  I know that I have prayed all my life for others to see Jesus in me.  The time is now, in the midst of the spinning and the twirling, that I long to be “overwhelmed” by HIS sustaining, securing, and victorious power.  Care to join me?

Until next time,
Debbie