Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas 2018

               It was the last day of classes before the Christmas break. Don was walking across the campus at NWU when his eyes caught sight of something lying on the curb in front of the girl’s dorm. He picked up his speed, praying as he went, “Father, please let that be what I think it is.” A big smile covered his face as he walked up to a pile of Christmas trees which had been thrown out after they were no longer needed for a dorm room.  He picked through the pile, looking for one which could last a little longer, and bring joy to two little girls who desperately wanted a Christmas tree. He walked to his car with a new spring in his step, carrying the partially wilted tree.

Don was attending NWU on a GI Bill, cleaning a restaurant in the early mornings before heading out on his school bus route… working hard to provide the basic needs of his family.  We felt bad we didn’t have money for gifts but we decided we would make Christmas special by doing fun activities together. We made the choice to be grateful and celebrate the real reason for the season……Jesus.

 I’ve been thinking how Mary had to make some choices on that first Christmas. She must have been looking forward to a soft bed after the long hard trip; but, her desires were gently crushed when she learned there was no room in the inn.  She chose to be grateful for the cozy hay in the barn. The angel had told her she would conceive a child which would be the “Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:35) but to her quiet surprise, He was not born in a palace but in a stable where He slept in the only bed available, a manger (Luke 2:7) Instead of being attended by royalty, Jesus was welcome by lowly shepherds (vv15-16). Mary didn’t know that someday her child would Himself be the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21) The Bible says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19). Just as we must do today, Mary chose to trust God with the details of her life.

As 2018 passes into history I look back with gratefulness for God’s guidance, provision, and continual presence. The name, Emmanuel means “God with us”.  This year brought some challenges for members of my family but being conscious of “God with us always” (Matt.28:20) has made all the difference in our reaction to the situations.  It’s a heartwarming experience when I see a child or grandchild walk through dark clouds with their eyes looking up at the Sonshine above the haze of life. We rejoice together in the victory which comes through answered prayer. 

I’m excited to announce the new members added to our family this year.  On May 19th my grandson, Clayton Hines, married Kristi, a lovely lady he met while stationed in Texas.  She brought two beautiful children into their marriage; 10 yr. old Danika and 8 yr. old, Aden. They were with us for the week of Thanksgiving and won our hearts immediately. They reside in CA where Clayton is stationed in the Marine Corps.

On August 4th, my grandson, Preston Hines married Keave, a sweet girl from our church that won his heart while at youth camp, his freshman year of high school.  They live close by in Graham, WA.

My grandson, Dalton Hines is presently deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps. We are privileged to have his wife, Valeria, and almost 3 year old daughter, Ava Grace, staying with us for these months he is overseas. Our lives have been enriched by having them here. Ava is a great entertainer to all of us.

Re-visiting our Christmas memories of l972, our family enjoyed spending much time together, taking in many free Christmas activities. We were content with the “gift” of each other as our Christmas present; BUT……GOD HAD OTHER PLANS… A nice couple showed up on our doorstep with a large box. It was filled with all the trimmings for Christmas dinner, stockings filled with fruit, candy, and nuts, gifts for the girls, and tickets to the Science Center for our family. We learned someone had turned in our family’s name to their church “giving tree” We were shocked……overjoyed……and so thankful to God and the people who had put “action” to God’s gentle nudges.  

Christmas has become such a cultural event that it’s easy to lose sight of the personal reasons to celebrate. Whatever your circumstances are this year, the Christ of Christmas is inviting you to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)  Choose to let joy, gratefulness, and celebration of our Savior be your theme.

Christmas is about LOVE. “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).  My little grandson at the age of 4 shared it best.  He was getting ready for church and he said, “Mommy, Jesus is talking to my heart.” “Oh really, what is he telling you?” she asked. “Jesus said, ‘I love you, Daniel.’” If only we could all open our heart to the real meaning of Christmas and hear Jesus say to us, “…I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John10:10  personalized).   I love you, my child.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Valerie Joy's Healing

Don was walking the floor with Valerie in his arms.  Sweat beads laid across his forehead, partially from the over stoked wood furnace and partially from the stress and exhaustion our 2nd born’s sickness had placed on our family.  We had just returned from the Wednesday evening service where once again I had sat in the nursery with a fussy baby, curling her little legs up in pain.

Valerie would soon be turning a year old and a big part of her life had been spent running back and forth to the doctors.  She suffered from severe asthma attacks and could not hold down her food or milk. A trip to the doctor for a shot would temporarily get her breathing better but dehydration was a constant threat to her life. A hospital stay at Mary Bridges Children’s Hospital, as well as one at The Children’s Hospital in Seattle did not give us any answers.  We were told she was a very sensitive child…..with a sensitive stomach and we needed to go home and get her on a strict schedule.

Don pastored a small church in the foothills of Mt Rainier. Thirty miles lay between our home and a small hospital with our family doctor.  It was a hundred miles to a Children’s hospital and specialty doctors. Don’s ministry had been hindered with our daughter’s condition. Every few weeks, Valerie would wake up before daylight on Sunday morning…….her asthma so bad she was struggling to breathe.  Don would call a young man from the church that was pursuing a ministry education to take over the services while we drove in to the hospital for several hours of treatment for Valerie.

With a quick turn Don walked over and laid Valerie in my arms. “We can’t keep going on like this,” Don commented.  “I’m going to go to the church to seek God.  Don’t worry about me.  Don’t call unless it’s an extreme emergency.  I won’t be home until I have some answers.”

Don fasted and spent time before the Lord for three days and three nights before coming home. ”I’m sure God wants me to continue this pastorate,” he announced. “I won’t be taking off any more Sundays to go to the hospital.”  “What will we do if Valerie has another attack on Sunday?” I questioned. “I’ve given her to the Lord, “my husband answered with tears watering his eyes. “I will be in the pulpit God has called me to….and trusting God to take care of the baby he has entrusted to our care.”

The following Sunday the test came.  Valerie woke up wheezing…..struggling to breathe. Don made her comfortable by propping up the end of her bed, looked at me, and said. “Honey, if you are uncomfortable with this decision and want to take her to the hospital, its ok.  You do whatever you need to do.”  He kissed Valerie, whispered a prayer, and left to go next door to the church.  I trusted my husband’s relationship with his Creator; yet, I needed my own time with the Lord. I went into my room, fell across the bed, and poured out my heart, my frustrations, and my love to God until my tears were exhausted….. and I too had given Valerie back to God. I rose up from my bed and walked slowly into Valerie’s room to check on her. To my gratefulness, she was sleeping peacefully and breathing normally.  From that day forward she never had another asthma attack, was able to keep her food and drink down normally, and became a happy, content child. God had performed a healing miracle in His little one.

The Word says, “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me, and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. Jeremiah 29:12-14 (Message)   My husband did not go before the Lord to receive healing for our daughter……he was desperate to know he was following God’s will for his life. In the process of putting God first, we received a “gift” that has brought JOY to our lives for 46 years.  “Seek first His Kingdom, and all His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Celebrating Darren's 26 Birthday - July 27, 2015

I woke up to the smell of bacon cooking. I could hear the shower I knew Danielle wasn't I dreaming? yummy smell of bacon was definitely penetrating my bedroom.
The year was 2006.....Danielle was a senior in high school.....and living with me. She loved to go for a run in the early mornings. Since her first date with Darren Laycock on Valentine's Day he had suddenly taken a liking to running in the early morning also.
As I headed to the kitchen, I realized it was Saturday and the two D's didn't have to go their separate to Roger's High School.....the other to Running Start. Darren was standing in my kitchen cooking away....he had even stopped by his home to pick up his favorite electric frying pan......pancakes, bacon and eggs....for his best friend (she hadn't committed to being a girlfriend yet) and her Oma.
Darren was always thinking of ways to surprise, serve, or honor Danielle. After April 9th, when they acknowledged they were boyfriend/girlfriend......he would come up with creative, non-expensive ways to celebrate their monthly anniversaries. I always loved hearing about the picnic in a grassy field, dessert under the stars....or dancing to the music on his i-pod in the rain.
After they both headed to Southwestern College of the A/G in Texas, Darren still made sure his girl was taken care of. I was especially impressed when Danielle told me how he would take her wrinkled clothes to his dorm, iron them, and bring them back in the morning for her to wear. (She didn't seem sad that I had not remembered to get her an iron and ironing board for college)
I've prayed for God's best mates for my grandchildren since they were young....Danielle and I prayed together for who she was to marry.... we kept our eyes open for any "red flags" of problems ....we studied the characteristics of the Ministry gifts and decided what gift was dominate in each of the D's.....we explored what love language made them function best.....and when Darren proposed to Danielle on June 17, 2007 (on her 19th birthday)....I was thrilled....and convinced..... that this was God's will for my granddaughter.
Why am I reminiscing all this? Today is Darren's 26th birthday.....10 years after he first came by to give Danielle a ride to the youth group.
The D's have been married 7 years....they have two beautiful sons....they are both ordained ministers and serving in youth ministry as a team. I thank God for answering our prayer.
Happy Birthday to Darren Laycock, my son-in-love....God's gift to Danielle Daniel and Drew..... and our whole family.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Singing the Psalms

I do my "reading through the Bible in a year" part of my devotions by audio. As I was getting ready for the day, the reader started reading Psalm 34......immediately the tears were flowing. In my mind's eye, I could see my sweet husband's face as he sang the first four verses of that song: "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fear."
Those of you who attended NLCA or Des Moines Assembly probably remembers how we would sing the Psalms. Last Sunday Valerie was leading worship in the Traditions Service.....and again the tears started flowing as soon as her voice rang out, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised." (Psalm 48:1-3)......singing these songs not only touch my soul.....but they always remind me of a man who not only loved the Word.....but lived it.

Don did not have an easy time in school.....he went to an English speaking school and came home to a German speaking family. He struggled with reading.....with understanding the teachers who talked too fast....with a dyslexic mind that couldn't sort things out in a limited time slot......but by what I call a miracle.., a young age he would ride his bike to their country church.....come home....(and from what his mom told me)...repeat the preacher's sermon almost word for word for her......and then he would gather all the kittens in the backyard.....and preach the sermon to the wiggly congregation, constantly trying to escape.

It wasn't until Don had children of his own that he learned about dyslexia and the affect it has on its victims......being tested.....and finally understanding why taking speed reading classes....and the many other things he did to try to improve himself didn't work.. .realizing it was the way God made him.....not anything he had/or had not done.....took a big weight off his shoulders.....and freed him to do his ministry and leave the results to the Lord. He learned to laugh and ask for help from his listeners when struggling with a word while teaching.

"I will bless the LORD at all times..His praise shall continually be in my mouth".....these words were straight from Don's Hintz's heart. "I sought the LORD and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."......Don understood where his help came from.....that God's power overcame his weaknesses....and all he accomplished was because of God's grace.....singing the Word was a sincere praise to the One he loved and appreciated.

I don't mind the fountain of tears which cascades over my spirit...they are very cleansing...they bring me into God's presence....and they remind me: "Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble." Psalm 119:165

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

 It was the best day of my life......I knew God and I together had said "I do" to a gift which would change my life......but I didn't truly understand how big that gift was....10 years later I began to understand.....20 years...30 years....40 years.... 50 years.....every decade I have seen that gift grow and enhance my life more and more and more....more than words can ever express.

When I said yes ......I was grafted into a family who had its roots in Germany..... had started their family in North Dakota....a family who was no stranger to hard work....a family who operated as a team....a family who navigated across America, taking advantage of new opportunity.... new territory.....turning unused acres into beautiful farm land….with much muscle power and water from the Grand Coulee Dam project.

Over the years I have come to understand the dynamics of the Hintz name……and the integrity of the Hintz members…..the parents…..the siblings….and their engrafted mates.  When Don and I decided to move across the U S to the Northwest we arrived to find a cute little rented home….completely furnished….everything we needed right down to the vacuum cleaner….and a freezer to store all the wonderful produce grown around us….a house ready for us to move into… well as a job to provide our living.  My husband’s siblings and their spouses had gone to bat for the youngest member of their family. This was the beginning of realizing what a tremendous GIFT I had been provided.....wrapped in the love of my husband…..tied with the ribbon of God’s approval…..and the inside filled with love and acceptance of an extended family which has grown and become more precious over the years.

Don believed in the importance of keeping the integrity of your name….he often shared this fact with our girls.  The truth of this statement became very clear one day when I was in Safeway in Moses Lake trying to pay with a check. Because we now lived in Western WA, the clerk was not allowed to take my check.  She called for the manager…..he stood looking at the check…..and then said, “So you are a Hintz….are you related to the Hintz’s in this area?”  When I responded, “Yes, my husband is the youngest brother to Helmut, Rudy and Hiller”…….he handed the check to the cashier and said, “This check will be fine.”  This was a visual lesson to Don’s teaching, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” (Proverbs 22:1). I was never so grateful to have the gift of the Hintz name.

Yesterday, my family and I attended the 25th anniversary of Don’s brother, Helmut and his sweet wife, Myrtle Isaac Hintz. They both have been married for more than 50 years…..with the combination of their deceased mates and then with each other. I sat there listening to their children from both sides… one by one….sharing how their parent’s union had positively impacted them and their families.  We listened as the nine children and their mates….and then all the grandchildren sang beautiful songs about God’s faithfulness and love. I marveled how all the members of this family had worked together to present a beautiful decorated room…..wonderful food……a touching program……along with videos, pictures and clothing from their wedding. Helmut and Myrt have demonstrated to us how love of God, love for each other, and love for their combined families stays strong…even when health challenges have changed the course of their lives.

Helmut is the last of the Hintz siblings…floods of tears have flowed as we have grieved the death of many family members over the years.  We’ve always pulled together…upholding each other…..putting our love into action.  The family continues to grow… over 160 from the six siblings….and well over 200 with the members of step families……we are so blessed.  We don’t have the opportunity to all get together much anymore…..a few celebrations of milestones along the way……but I’m thankful for Facebook where we keep updated on happenings in each other’s lives.  Most of all I’m thankful for the privilege of prayer…..a way we can all connect….lift each other up…..share in the sweet times and the hard times….be there for each other……even at a distance. And “..I will utter hidden things, things from of old…what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children; we tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done.” (Psalm 78:2-4 NIV).
Yes, when I said “I do” with my precious husband, I gained a gift which has enriched my life over the years…..the Hintz family has helped to increase my understanding that….”The LORD is good, and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5 NIV)  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Letter for 2014

I had awakened in plenty of time to get ready for my monthly widow’s group but “time stealers” kept interrupting my morning. I needed to pull out my heavy vacuum to clean up the coffee which spilled when I dropped the container….splattered foundation on my shirt resulted in having to change my outfit… and I had to make up the time spent on the phone with a neighbor. I was running about 15 minutes later than I had planned when I stopped by the kitchen to drop off my coffee cup. I heard a sizzling sound under the sink and investigation revealed water gushing from a busted hose.  I was able to get help and stop the water before there was permanent damage to my home. I knew immediately the frustrated interruptions were actually God ordained delays. .. “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

               Christmas is the time we stop to reflect on how “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)  I am so grateful to be loved that much….to have the assurance of eternal life; but I’m also thankful that Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV) We can start each day “Seeking His will in all we do, and He will direct our paths.” (Proverbs 2:6 personalized)

               Last year I didn't get out a Christmas letter. December found me in San Diego with Valerie’s family celebrating her 2nd born, Dalton’s graduation into the Marines.  This month is also memorable for Dalton because on December 27th he will be taking his beautiful Puerto Rican princess, Valeria Otero, as his new bride.  Valeria is a perfect fit in our family and we are very excited for them.

               More Family Highlights:
1.      Granddaughter, Kirstin and Josh were blessed with twins on August 2nd this year…..A son, Bronson and a daughter, Brynlee.  Elaine is enjoying the double fun of being a grandmother for the first time.  This great grandma can assure you they are both beautiful.
2.      Granddaughter, Danielle and Darren were blessed with a second son, Drew Kenneth on
August 8th, 2013. Daniel, who will be 4 in January, sure loves having a little brother. Sandra and Dominique enjoy the role of Oma and Opa…..and I love being Oma Great.
3.      Sandra’s son, Michael, still lives in San Luis Obispo, CA where he owns his own fitness business, McAlister Training
4.      Sandra’s youngest, Meghan, graduated from high school this year and is enrolled in the Elementary Educational Program at Pierce College in Lakewood, WA.    
5.      Clayton, Valerie’s first born, graduated from Northwest University in May.  He has been selected to attend the Marine Officer Candidate School.  He will be leaving for VA on Jan. 12, 2015.
6.      Valerie’s 3rd born, Quinton, is participating in Running Start for his junior year of High School.
7.      Valerie’s youngest, Preston, is a freshman in high school.
8.      Valerie had been a stay at home mom until last year when she starting working in her sons’ school district.  It’s a good fit because she’s home with the boys when there is no school.
9.      Sandra and Dominique’s “German Pastry & Coffee Shop” in Lakewood, WA is doing well and keeps Dom very busy. If you’re in the area, stop by for lunch or an awesome treat.

This Christmas season I am grateful for my wonderful family and friends.  I treasure each of you and thank God for the gift you are in my life.  Have a nice Christmas and join me in “Thanking God for His Son….a gift too wonderful for words.”  (2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Tribute to my Sister, June

I only had 19 months of my mama and daddy’s undivided attention before my sister joined our family.  Mother was sure she was having a boy so James Curtis Blanton, Jr. was the only name chosen for the new bundle. To their surprise they didn’t have a Junior but they did have a beautiful little June.

            June and I were best friends during our growing up years.  We played hard together, got in trouble together, and learned to do household chores together. We gave our hearts to Jesus on the same night, each of us leaning on one of daddy’s knees, repeating the sinner’s prayer after him. We loved to sing.  You could hear the two of us bellowing out the words to our Sunday School songs while pumping back in forth in the old tire swing, feeding the animals, or singing along with daddy’s guitar. I was told that when our younger sister was born, daddy told mother, “Now we have our ladies’ trio.”

            Music was in our souls and at a young age June and I found ourselves harmonizing with Sandra who could sing out the lead like someone much older. We sang our first special in church when Sandra was 6, June 8 and I was 10. This was the beginning of an incredible bonding and adventure between the Blanton Sisters.  As the years passed, we grew closer to each other and closer to God as we were given the opportunity to share God’s love in churches, homecomings, youth events, family camps, Sunday afternoon Singsperations, and anywhere else we were invited. After our trio was silenced by my move across the states, my sisters’ beautiful voices continued to bring God glory in their churches and community.  I recall the joy I felt when I visited at Stoney Run, watching June lead the choir, hearing her hit those high notes on “It is well with my Soul” and seeing her live out that hymn in her life. I get cold chills just remembering how I felt each time I heard her beautiful gift of song.

            June has always been more than just a sister to me….we went everywhere together as teens…..we both met our future husbands at Watha Youth Camp….we both became engaged in December of ‘61…..and we even had a double wedding planned but it was interrupted by Don’s call to Viet Nam.

            For the past 50 years, I have been living 3,000 miles away from June.  Physically we have been apart but our hearts have always been together.  My love and appreciation for my sister has continually grown as we communicated by long distance about our joys, hurts, prayer needs, grandchildren, and what God was teaching us. These last six years we have both had more time for long phone conversations and I looked forward to picking up the phone and hearing her say, “I just wanted to hear your voice today, Sis.”

Being a part of June’s life has enhanced mine. I’ve admired her sensitivity and response to the leading of the Lord…whether it was taking a dish to a friend, making a phone call, or providing a financial need, June was quick to follow God’s nudge. I have been the recipient of her tender heart many times, especially since the home going of my husband, and I desire to show my appreciation to her and God by being a better listener to His gentle voice myself.

June deeply loved her family. I too am so proud of all of them and I wish my health would have allowed me to be there to celebrate together the life of this one we all loved. I’m thankful for the memories I have made with my sister; especially of this past summer when she and Dewayne drove out to Washington State and spent time with me and my family.  My children and grandchildren adore this aunt and uncle and loved their time with them.  My son-in-law told me this week, “Aunt June was my favorite aunt.” The deep stomach laughs and great conversations of this summer’s visit will always be etched in my memory.

My writing of this tribute was interrupted this afternoon by a phone call from my grandson at Marine Camp. He shared how glad he was for a very special day spent in Seattle with Uncle Dewayne and Aunt June.  He ended our conversation by saying, “I observed that day what real love looks like; especially the love of a husband for his wife.”  Thank you, Dewayne for the incredible love you have extended to my sister these 51 ½ yrs.

Life as we know it will always be changing. But there is one thing we can depend on to never change and that is the love of our great God for His children. June understood that love and I believe she would tell us “His eye is on the Sparrow and I know He watches over you,”