Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Counting my Blessings....13 days!

I flew out on Air Jamaica November 23. A very early Tuesday morning. The alarm sounded at 3 in the morning however I was already up and about at 2:30 am. Too excited to sleep. I was also anxious about not hearing the alarm so my mind couldn't rest. So I bounded out of bed to get ready and make the trip to the Kingston airport. It was a very exciting day. One I had looked forward to since 2008. Valley Forge Christian College lights the luminaries and trees the first weekend in December and calls it "Christmas at the Forge." This was a performance I couldn't miss! Ryan is a senior and this would be his last one for playing the violin in the symphony.

Since I went to the states the week before the performances, I had lots of great times and experiences. Although my flight was to depart at 7 am on November 23, I actually never left Kingston till 11:30. We taxied out early in the morning but the pilot was not comfortable flying that plane so after a long wait on the mechanics and status of the plane, they grounded it and we were sent back into the airport. I was very disappointed because I missed Ryan's violin recital that took place on that Tuesday evening. I landed at JFK at 4 in the afternoon and his recital was at 5. Huge disappointment. I have missed every college recital of his and was so excited to learn about this recital after my flight was booked. But for some reason it was not to be. Maybe some day on the other side of eternity I will find out what was wrong with leaving on the first flight out of Kingston! Could it be that we were spared tragedy? I don't know but I do know that every step and every stop is ordered by the Lord. That didn't lesson the disappointment any but eventually I made it to Phoenixville, PA!

The next day Ryan and I began the trek to Mansfield. It was a long trip but so wonderful to be in the car with the apple of my eye, my firstborn. I am so proud of the man he has become. I am proud of his dedication to his music, his friends, and his surrender to God's will for his life. Our time together was balm to my "mommy" heart. AIM and Skype is our lifeline but "face" time is even better.

The next day was Thanksgiving. In 1971, one year before my Grama Hall passed away, Uncle Eddie and Aunt Kathy began to host Thanksgiving in their home in NY. Every year we feasted, watched football, made crafts, shopped at a local store that would open in the afternoon,and enjoyed family. Since Ryan has been a college student he has been there for Thanksgiving but this year I got to be with him and what a wonderful day we had with family. Still watched football,still made crafts, and even got to shop at Walmart that is now the store of choice! Well I should say it was the one in town that opened on Thanksgiving. This was really just whetting the appetite for the next big day of shopping, Black Friday!

Typically, Ryan and I always went shopping on Black Friday. Renee was always too little to appreciate the early morning deals and Den, well let's just say, shopping isn't really his favorite thing anytime of the day so he would always stay home with Renee and then meet us for breakfast! Ryan and I bounded out of our beds at 4:00 am and took off very quietly so as not to wake Mom and Dad in the very brittle air and cold car! The GPS got us to Target! That was a great start! It was peaceful, quiet, not a peep of noise in that store. I still think that everyone was sleepwalking when we got there at 5. There were lots of shoppers but no pushing and shoving like we had been used to in years past. We had a wonderful shopping experience there, then off to the mall. We purchased everything we went for and saved loads of money! More than getting the deals is the memory of shopping with my son. We had a fantastic time and a great breakfast at Bob Evans. After Old Navy, Barnes and Noble we headed home. I think Ryan was asleep before Mom and I went to Wellsboro to see what we could find there!

On Saturday Ryan had to leave Mansfield so he could fulfil his worship responsibilities in Phillie, I remained at Mom and Dad's. I spent the entire day and evening at my friend Donna's. When I am with her I understand the concept of friendship so much more. She is my childhood friend and knows me so well. She helps me to center. She helps me to be at peace. She helps me to appreciate past years and experiences. She helps me to rest in what is. She helps me to enjoy tea and cookies without fanfare. She helps me to relax. She is my friend. When she prayed for me to preach well the next day I felt empowered and ready to do it. I simply gained calm from her and I needed that.

I had a wonderful opportunity on Sunday to preach in the place where it all started for me. My home church. I left Mansfield in 1974 to attend bible school and basically never lived in Mansfield again. I have never preached there to my regret. A few months ago I asked the pastor if I could preach while I would be home for Thanksgiving and he so graciously welcomed me. I am so grateful to know Pastor James and Wendy Revie. They came from Canada to pastor New Covenant 4 years ago and I enjoy their company. They are precious people. If I lived in the area that is where I would attend. They are good people and wonderful pastors. They were so kind to me and even took me to my favorite place in the area to eat! What a great day!

That evening Mom and Dad had a birthday party for me with 20 friends and family. I really had fun. I treasure that night. I love my family. I love my childhood friends. I wish I could spend a month with them instead of just one night! My day was so blessed and it just kept getting better!

On Monday I started the next leg of the journey. Mom and Dad drove me to Lewisburg. My sisterinlaw picked me up and drove me to the turnpike. Ryan met me at exit 2 and drove me to VFCC. It was a long day but a great travel day. Good weather and blue skies.

The next day was November 30~my day! I spent the day alone at the mall looking for new glasses, my bday, Christmas, Mom's day, etc gift! The King of Prussia mall has many eye places so I was able to shop around and find the best deal. I felt so special. I imposed on everyone and told them it was my birthday! I met Ryan at 3:00 after he finished his classes and he took me for my bday dinner. I have a new favorite place to eat in Phoenixville. We had so much fun over the meal and little did I know he arranged with the server to bring me a lovely dessert! I had even asked about this particular one when he brought the dessert menu. A chocolate mound filled with ice cream, drizzled with raspberry sauce and anglaisse creme, with a candle on the side! Our meal at the Iron Hill was tremendous and I will remember Ryan's kindness forever I am sure.

On Wednesday I had a very special treat. Ryan was scheduled to lead the worship in chapel and I was there in person! For his entire college career I have watched the internet webcast to see his involvement. I have watched the VFCC webcast more times than I could ever count. VFCC chapel is my American church fix. I love it! But this day was even better than I could have imagined. Ryan is so gifted. He knows his stuff. He is a great musician.

Wednesday afternoon I traveled to Lancaster to preach at the First Assembly. Pastor Kris and Darleen Newman are people from my past, my Zion past! Funny I look older but they do not. They look just like I remember them from 1974-1977. Young, energetic and pastoring a wonderful church. I was so pleased to be able to thank them for their support through our missions career and preached from Luke 2. I spent the night at the Newman home and started my journey back to VFCC on Thursday morning.

While I was driving east, Mom and Dad were travelling southeast to be in Phoenixville for Christmas at the Forge. I returned to VFCC in time for chapel and it, as always, was terrific. I was able to hear a senior speaker preach from First Peter. She spoke on a transformed hope, a purified faith, an expressible joy and a magnificent salvation. It was a great message. I really enjoyed it.

On Friday and Saturday it was so much fun to hang out in Ryan's dorm/apartment. His friends/room-mates are wonderful. They are all musicians. Music is their life and passion! I love being around people like them. At any time, they would pick up their guitars and I got to enjoy their music. We spent those 2 days with Mom and Dad too. great, great fun! The performances in the evening were tremendous! To say that it was all I thought it would be would be an understatement. I always enjoy the webcasts of whatever is happening at VFCC but to be there in person was awesome. Both nights were packed out. It is a gift from VFCC to the community. When you turn onto the campus the luminaries are lit, the trees have lights. From beginning to end it is a Christmas extravaganza. The chapel is decorated so beautifully for the event. Mr. Bilotta and Dr. DeSanto are in their element when they direct the different ensembles and choirs. I am grateful to them and the rest of the professors that Ryan has had for their dedication to bringing out the best in the students. I was able to speak with Dr. Richmond and Mr. Smith as well. They complimented Ryan to me and that always feels good as a parent!

The "Christmas at the Forge" started out with the Wind Ensemble. A huge wind ensemble, they played selections like Emmanuel Variants, the Bells of Christmas, Christmas Classics and of course the wonderful standard Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride. One of my favorites from playing in the band from elementary school through high school. To me Sleigh Ride is in the happy music category. You can't hear it without smiling and bouncing. I love it, one of my all time favorites.

The Patriot Bells played Angel Songs and Fum, Fum, Fum. This was such a fun song that at first I thought the title was Fun, Fun, Fun. They actually placed their bells on the table and used what looked like drumsticks with a big puff ball on the end and hit the bells on the table. They did some interactive things with the sticks as well so it was a show stopper.

Of course we "Halls" are jazz enthusiasts. So the next segment really sparked our attention! We were sitting on the edge of our seats. The jazz ensemble played Greensleeves and the Little Drummer Boy. Absolutely tremendous!

AND THEN! the moment I was waiting for. I may have been sitting on the edge of my seat for the jazz but when the orchestra came on I was standing to get good pictures! My Ryan was so handsome in his tuxedo, the orchestra players are students and professionals. Their sound rivals that of any city symphony I have been afforded to hear. The orchestra played for the rest of the first half with the college choir and the entire second half which was 17 selections from Handel's Messiah.

The performance was so fantastic I didn't want it to end. Christmas at the Forge was my purpose for being in the states and I was enthralled with every moment of it. But lo and behold my trip wasn't over! The next day was Sunday, my last day, and I was going to see my son in ministry action!

A few months ago Ryan took on the responsibility of leading worship in The Worship Center, in Roxborough. It is a suburb of Philadelphia. I was able to attend with him and actually see him in another form of ministry, away from the college and the support it lends. Oh my goodness, he is great. The church responds to his style of worship in a really neat way. You can tell it is a worshipping church and they are completely engaged. I am so pleased that this is his first paying job. A great experience with wonderful pastors. I am so impressed. The church has supported us for years but I had never been privileged to attend a service. I was so blessed and it wasn't over yet. The only thing that could have made the service better was if I could have heard Pastor George Cunard speak! What a wonderful man and his son the youth pastor, Pastor Jamie. Beautiful people.

That evening I was in for another wonderful surprise...Ryan's band, The Interlude, played for a worship experience at The Worship Center. They loaded up 2 cars with equipment and the guys. I knew I was in for a treat. I wished I had a video camera with me to bring the worship experience home to Denny and Renee. They would love it! some day.

My 13 days in the states were truly wonderful. I am so blessed. I am so grateful that Denny sent me for Ryan's senior Christmas at the Forge. I so enjoyed living in his world for those days. I miss him so terribly but it made coming back to Jamaica easier for me to see how happy he is and for the last 3 years he has been growing in ways I would have never known except for being there. I am proud of my firstborn. I am proud of his giftings and his calling. I am proud of his decisions. I am proud of his friends. I am proud of his determination. I am proud of his future and it isn't even known yet. Jesus, thank you for holding Ry's future and revealing it step by step.

I trust you!

p.s. thank you Jesus for my last 13 are the best gift-giver....


  1. Debby,

    Thank you for that great travelogue! It is indeed very exciting that Ryan is so gifted and anointed and also that he is truly a humble young man who allows the Holy Spirit to minister through him.

    Incidentally, our daughter Rachel is now a Macy's department store employee. She was out on black Friday before 3:30 a.m. heading to work! I've never been into the shopping on black Friday thing, but many years ago my mother and sister made the front page of The Boston Globe as they were shopping at Jordan Marsh in Boston (which is now Macy's)!

  2. oh Bob that is great! I would have loved to have been shopping at Rachels store!!! love macys, So glad she has found work. I caught up on your blogs last night! Love to read them. thanks for your kind words for Ryan. He is a gift....