Saturday, January 3, 2015

What legacy will I leave

Good morning from Chattanooga TN. Yes, you read that right, Chattanooga. Let me fill you in on why I am here and then I will continue with this post...I will do a 2014 recap later but this is what's going on in my head this morning!

December 29 my family and I were driving to Plano, TX to celebrate the New Year with my sister and parents when I received the call I have known was coming for several months - my 94 yr old Grandmother had passed away - just one week shy of her 95th birthday. This was not unexpected (seriously who's is at 94) but none the less a jolt. We continued to Plano, where we hastily made plans for my parents, my sister and her family and myself to fly out to TN at the end of the week for the service, while my husband and kids went back home to Levelland. Yes, we did still have a great week with family and lots of memories...but alas, here I am now in TN and today is the day we will reflect on the life of this woman - my grandmother.

So, on to the topic of this post. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit with my mom and her two sisters as they met with the ministers who would be officiating the service. They shared memories of growing up and tried to summarize the life of this beautiful lady in an hour to these two men. They talked of her zeal to live on the edge by going to nursing school and joining the Navy in a time when that wasn't all that popular for women, of her adventurous spirit in meeting and marrying my Grandad in 6 weeks time, of her sewing their clothes, and working hard to give them all the things she never had in life, they talked of her tenacious attitude, and how she would reach out to the down trodden.

Towards the end however, my aunt said "You notice that you are not hearing us talk of her faith in the Lord or how she pointed us to God. She was quiet in her faith - a believer but not openly." This is true in so many levels. To be honest, as a grandchild I have often wondered if she was a believer - I now believe that she was, but just didn't know how to live it out loud.

I would love to type a post about all the wonderful fun memories I have of her - but to be honest, I don't have a ton of those. In fact, I have really struggled with this because I don't have very many good memories of her - but that is not for now. I do know that in her own way, she loved all of her family very much!

Yet, listening to this conversation amongst my Aunts and mom made me think...what would my children say about me if they were sitting with someone who didn't know me and trying to sum up my life? What do I want them to say? Would I want them to share how I willingly moved too many times to count for a life in ministry with my husband? Would I want them to remember all the grand trips I took? Or even how I loved children? Sure, those are some ok memories but I would hope that there would be so much more to it than that....

At the end of my life - I want all who know me to be able to say, she lived her faith. There is no doubt in whom she believed and who she served. She openly showed her love for Jesus, in everything she pointed to HIM who saved her. I long for my children to remember times I prayed with and for them and pointed them to Jesus.

Now - let the honesty come right here right now; this is not the case. My children have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. They see me when I come home and close the door where no one else sees...It is in THESE moments that I want my faith to be real and to show these four precious ones my love for Christ! I have been hit hard with this the past 24 hours...My children are all teens and although much time has passed - there is still time to be open with them and let them know that I long to turn this tide so that behind the closed doors of my home, they will see my faith perfected and lived out.

Maybe you too will be challenged in this area. What legacy will you leave for your family? My hope and prayer for my life is to leave a legacy of faith that points to the glory of my King!!! With that - I am off to celebrate the life of this tenacious and spirited woman I got to call Grandma for the past 40 years!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Rough "Mom Moments"...

Going to be blunt here and yes's been a rough "Mom" week. I hate having those rough weeks at any time but it is especially rough to have one during my most favorite season of all - Christmas!!! Yet, this is the reality of my week. Can you relate? I am sure if all of us were brutally honest - we would say YES!

Let me share with you my rough "mom" week...

As many of you know, we made a big decision this year to homeschool Tyler. It wasn't a quick decision and it wasn't an easy decision but it was one we knew as parents that needed to be made. Tyler struggles. He can only read at about a First Grade level, he has trouble connecting what he sees from one page to another and he just has to work so hard for even the smallest bit of success. This week, we were working on reading the same book over and over for fluency and to learn some more difficult words....and then, well he just hit a wall. He melted down, I melted down, it wasn't fun! Words that he had no issues with, were now some of the most difficult words to deal with. The simplest of words, to him were as tough as a 15 letter word. I began to wonder - are we making ANY progress? Is it even worth it? Why am I even homeschooling him - I am not a professional...
If you have ever watched your child struggle with school - you know how heart wrenching it can be. For me, to watch my 13 yr. old son work so hard at something that a 5 yr. old can do with no issues is tough!

Next up for the rough week - my daughter loves softball!!! We were first introduced to softball when Kestra was about 5 years old and she fell in love with it! As is common in a life of ministry, we have moved frequently and so at times she hasn't been able to play and certainly hasn't had the consistency of playing with the same team for multiple years. However, she loves the sport and we have tried to keep her in it whenever possible. She is a Freshman in High School and of course wanted to play softball! She enrolled in Athletics to play and we were told from multiple people that there wouldn't be cuts because there were never enough girls playing! At the parent meeting we discovered that wasn't the case...52 girls signed up for softball, only about 35 would make a team. UGH! Long story short - we found out yesterday that she didn't make the team. Here I am going to be honest with you - I was so disappointed and bummed - more than SHE was! Her attitude is "I will work hard and try again." My attitude was "Why? Why is it always our kids that get cut from a team?" (yes, we have had it happen before.) Her attitude was a lot better! Ha ha! Anyway, this was just a rough "Mom Moment" for me.

My heart has been heavy. With discouragement, with disappointment, with heartache. Yet, through it all - HE IS THERE! This is what I love about our rough moments, He hears. He is there. He is carrying us. One of my life verses has been Jeremiah 29:11 - what I need to remember and you need to remember in the rough Mom moments is that this verse is not only for us - it is for our kids. God has plans for them. He knows. He has a future and a hope.

So Mom this is for you in your rough moments - no matter how big or how small...God has a plan for you and for your child!!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Resurrecting the Blog

Whew! It has definitely been awhile since I have sat down and blogged on here...and that is okay with me. Several times throughout the past 8 months I have thought about blogging and writing on here, things have popped into my mind and I thought "I should blog about that" but then, well life just happened and time was filled. Perhaps though, that was how God intended it to be - that for this season, I needed to be "living life" and not just writing about it - I am okay with that.

However, as all seasons change I do have a heart to get back into several things that have been pushed aside over the past months and even years. Not for any reason other than I believe that my time away from them is done and the Lord is allowing me time to get back into them. One of those is blogging - I have missed it. It is definitely something I enjoy and have missed - so, "Alas the blog is back!" Not sure how often or even what the theme or topics will be - I will leave that to the Lord but I am looking forward to this time of being back on the blog!!!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Mission Romania....

Throughout the years our family has been so incredibly blessed to go on both domestic and foreign mission trips. When I say WE have been blessed that is what I mean...although our purpose has always been to share the Gospel of Christ and encourage believers at the end of every trip, it is always us who walks away changed, blessed and refreshed...every time.

We have gone to Mexico, Hungary, Texas, New Mexico, and Zimbabwe. We have done construction, VBS, sang, worked in churches and schools, worked with special needs persons, and much more. It truly has been an experience that we are so very thankful to have and to share with our children. It is our belief that not only are we to minister to our community, we are to reach our state, our country and the world with the Gospel message and the hope that comes only from a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

Before I go into the specifics of our upcoming opportunity in the country of Romania...I want to share with you the circumstances of our going. Last June, Joel accepted a position with First Baptist Church Levelland as their children pastor. We knew that this particular church had a partnership with a church in Romania from Facebook posts from a friend who had gone as well as from conversations with their staff. We also knew that in starting a ministry we would be very busy and would not necessarily have the opportunity to go for a year or more - we were good with that.

When I came home from Zimbabwe Africa in the fall of 2010 - my life was literally changed forever. I fell in love with a country and the people there and I knew that from that point on I would always go on short term mission trips when the door was open. I had thought that would mean returning to Zimbabwe on a regular basis...I still pray that is an option. The other thing I knew was that I wanted to share that experience with Joel.

In the fall of 2012, Joel also had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Zimbabwe Africa...however it was not a trip nor the time that I could join him. Joel went with a different group, to a different part of Zimbabwe and yet had a very similar experience to mine. He came home saying this is something we need to do together!!!

For several years, Hannah has prayed about and asked for the opportunity to go on an overseas mission trip. She was supposed to go to the Dominican Republic with my parents but that trip didn't happen due to several circumstances, she wanted to go to Asia with our church in Borger but again the timing and circumstances didn't work out. This year, knowing that next spring she would graduate and then be preparing for college...we asked her to choose a fun trip. We told her it could be a vacation type trip or it could be a mission trip...she chose the Romania mission trip.

After prayer and some discussion we thought it would be a unique opportunity - not only would Joel and I get to go together, we could go with Hannah and share  this wonderful experience with her. So...Joel, Hannah and myself will all be traveling to Romania with our church July 14-23.

All three of us are very excited about this opportunity and are looking forward to what God will do not only in our own lives but also in the lives of those we will be ministering to.

Here are just a few facts about Romania:
      * 87% are Orthodox Christians; 5% are Roman Catholic; 5% are Protestant
      * They fear the Russians and the Russian Mafia
      * All Romanian men serve in the army from 19-21 and normally do not marry until after then
      * More than 80,000 children live in institutions or substitute families with little parental care
      * Anemia affects over half of the Romanian population
      * The understaffed education system is in need of dramatic resources and modernization

Here are a few of the things that our team will be doing while in Romania:
      * Delivering Groceries to families in need
      * Sports Camp for the children
      * Host an evangelistic "Texas" party at two locations
      * Mentoring and encouraging the local church leadership
      * Hosting sessions for both men and women and teaching on relevant topics to each group

Here are a few ways in which you can help and be a part of our trip:
      * Pray for us throughout the next four months as we all three prepare mentally, physically,
         emotionally and spiritually
      * Pray for our team of 20...good health, good relationships, rest, and flight connections
      * The total that we still owe for the three of us is $2,120 - pray for financial provision
      * Donate towards the cost of our trip:
              Checks can be made out to First Baptist Church and mailed to:
              Joel and Ronnie Arrington
              PO Box 1296
              Levelland Tx 79336
              They are tax deductible - just put Romania Missions in the memo.
       * Host a Thirty One party or order from - all profits
          are going towards mission trips.
       * Commit to praying specifically and intentionally for one of us each day while we are gone.
          We are each looking for 5 individuals to commit to praying for us individually - this is a
          spiritual warfare type prayer. If God lays on your heart to pray for either Joel, Hannah or
          myself while we are in Romania please let us know so we can give you further information.

We are all anxiously awaiting to see what God is going to do during this trip...we know that the finances, the details, and plans for our other three kids are all going to come together in God's perfect time.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year - New Words....

Almost every year, I ask the Lord for a word or phrase or area He wants me to focus on. Sometimes it comes easier than others, sometimes it comes without asking and a few years - like the past year - I really don't "get it" til the year is almost done. Thankfully our God is a God of mercy and grace!

As I have thought and pondered about where I want to go in 2014 and what I feel God has for me to work towards - two words actually come to mind! Yikes - God must really want to challenge me this year!!! Ha ha!


Obviously these have a lot in common and depending on how you define them, they may even be the same to some. However, although related and intertwined I think that they are each a separate area in which God is and will continue to stretch me throughout this year....

First TRUST: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Don’t consider yourself to be wise." Proverbs 3:5-6

This has been my favorite verse for as long as I can remember. I remember in Jr. High repeating this over and over when I was struggling with finding my identity. Then in college I once again claimed it as I would face trials and hard times. Then - again early in our marriage when we were struggling financially God brought this verse to my mind. You would think that having it a part of my life for so long I would GET IT! Yet...I fail, I fall and I forget to TRUST HIM! 

I am a "Doer" and a "Fixer" and a "Problem Solver"...just ask my husband! I can't stand to just talk about a topic or situation I want to analyze and find the solution and I want to do it NOW (yesterday would be even better). However, I am learning that Trusting in God doesn't always work like that. Often times is means waiting...and waiting...praying....and praying some more....until HIS time is right and He has shown the solution or answer. UGH! This girl wants to fix it and do it immediately...Yet - I am realizing that I need to TRUST HIM and TRUST HIS TIMING and TRUST HIS SOLUTION. 

So...for 2014 I am reclaiming this verse.There are some big issues that I am needing to TRUST HIM in this coming year, trust His direction, trust His guidance, and trust His ways! 

Second FAITH: "Because of your little faith," He told them. "For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

This verse has literally resonated in my mind recently - specifically when I have been praying about one situation in particular. You see, I SAY that I believe God and I SAY that He can do anything BUT do I really have the FAITH - a belief that comes without seeing - that He can and will do it? Better yet do I have FAITH that HE who is IN me is able to use me to accomplish His will? This has been a struggle. 

When I started thinking about this year and what goals or resolutions I wanted to see happen...almost immediately I heard that voice, you know, the one that says "Yeah, that would be nice but let's be realistic" or "Yeah right, like THAT's going to happen"...the voice that begins to point out all the reasons that it isn't going to happen and that it isn't possible. However, I kept on coming back to these two BIG things for this seemed somewhat attainable but the other? Well it just seems so unrealistic - further more, what if it was MY wants and not God's want for me? So...I have continued in prayer seeking him. I can't tell you a specific answer other than EVERY time I pray about this particular thing - I come back to have FAITH....

This year - FAITH and TRUST are my focus. Perhaps in the future I will blog about my two goals for this year but for now suffice it to say that BOTH are stretching me in the areas of trust and faith....In fact, I have a feeling that in the coming months God is going to have many more areas of my life to stretch me in my FAITH and TRUST. I am eager and ready!!! 

Would you pray with me that I would truly learn to have FAITH in Him and what HE can do and that I would TRUST HIS plan above any I may have? In fact, may I be so bold as to ask you friends to pray that God will knock my socks off in seeing Him work in a way that ONLY can be explained by HIM? In can I pray for YOU this coming year? Where is God growing and stretching YOU?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Closing the page on 2013

It seems like I find myself saying this every year but here it is again...where did this past year go? I blinked and it was over! They say the older you get the faster time goes - I can agree with that!

To sum up the year 2013 in the Arrington home...I would have to say CHANGE! Although this is a somewhat common theme in our family life - 2013 was filled with many changes for us in several areas. The thing about change is this - it can be painful at times, hard to embrace, uncomfortable to be sure BUT it can also be the beginning of something new and beautiful, the new horizon on a new adventure, a time of growth and a time of bonding...All of the above would describe 2013 for us.

January - Found us in Borger Texas. I took over as Librarian at our church library and although a new position for me, one I loved!!! Joel was on staff as Children's and Families Pastor. Two of our four children were doing school at home and we were gearing up for softball! Joel also performed his first wedding for our adopted daughter Katy and her husband Angel!!! All four kids were involved in the wedding as well and they were excited about that!!!

February - Found us enjoying a Texas sized snow in Borger! Several days of snow shoveling and fun!!! A little taste of Colorado for our hearts was WONDERFUL!!!

March - Two major trips for me! First a Mission Trip to Laredo Tx with my two middle children during Spring Break. It was so wonderful to see them serving and reaching for the Kingdom and to really get to know the people of Laredo. Next a GIRLS Week to Las Vegas with one of the two people I truly call Best Friend!!! Thanks to our amazing hubbies and their willingness to sacrifice financially and keep the homefront - my friend Dani and I were able to fly and meet up in Vegas for some much needed R&R!!!

April - Began the stirring in our hearts that perhaps our time at First Borger was coming to an end. Of all our moves and of all the ministries we have left I can tell you this was one we wrestled with in prayer for many weeks. Circumstances had found all the staff except for Joel and our Sr Pastor at other churches. The Sr Pastor was in talks with another church as well and we were at a cross-roads.

May - God confirmed His calling for us to leave Borger by opening the door at First Baptist Levelland in truly a way that can only be accredited to the Lord. We had not looked for them but rather a college friend contacted us about the possibility - with no knowledge that we were even looking!!! On May 19th we came in view of a call to Levelland and Joel accepted the position as Children's and Families Pastor.

June - After finishing school in Borger and moving our belongings into temporary storage in Levelland - we took a MUCH needed vacation to Colorado!!! It was so wonderful to just relax and enjoy time with friends and family and each other. June 15 was our official move day to Levelland Tx!

July - Joel and I celebrated 18 years of marriage, our three oldest went on their first trip with the Levelland youth group and the kids and I enjoyed much down time playing games and relaxing! We also helped with the summer kids program Destination Summer at church!! Very fun times...

August - I went back to work full-time for the first time in almost 5 years! It has been an adjustment but overall a good thing. We are working towards being in a position to purchase a home at some point in 2014 (more on that in a separate post). I am working in Credit Administration at a local bank - definitely a new experience for me as I have had no experience in the banking industry but it has been good!!! Kids also started school here in Levelland - with ALL four in public school and an answer to prayer - they are adjusting really well!!!!

September - Hannah joined the Cross Country team here and so we became THOSE parents that are up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays driving here and there to see her run!!! It has been fun!!! Also, she is very active in Choir and so I am helping with the groundwork of getting the Booster Club for the Choir up and going - a learning experience to be sure!!! We also kicked off Children's Church at Levelland - a new thing for them and it is going GREAT!!!

October -We began plans for our first Fall Festival here in Levelland! It was so much fun and we are looking forward to even more in 2014. We also welcomed the arrival of our first adopted "grandchild"! Anastacia Feliz Hernandez was born to Katy and Angel!!! Katy has been like a daughter to us since our time in Bayfield and we have been blessed by her in many many ways!!

November - We celebrated our first Thanksgiving here with just us and the kids!! It was a very fun and relaxing day as we declared it "No technology" Day and just enjoyed each other!!!

December - A BUSY time!!! We had choir concerts, church dinner theater, parties, and much more!!! We loved embracing the season but were also glad to see it calm down some!!! Christmas was special as we got to celebrate with us and the kids, the Arrington side and the Ashcraft side! Also in December - Joel finished at Liberty University with a Bachelors in Religion!!!! Definitely something we were happy to see him work towards and equally happy to see completed!!! Words cannot express how happy and proud I am of him for persevering and reaching for it in spite of all the distractions, changes and obstacles!!!

And that is a wrap on 2013!!! Hopefully later today I will get a post up as to what we are looking forward to in the coming year!!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A few of my favorite things.....

Being that tomorrow is December 1st, I thought I would share a few of our favorite family traditions. Let me preface this post by stating that most of these traditions have been started within the past 6 years or so...however, all of them are things that both Joel and I wish that we had done from the time our children were babies in order to help them understand the true meaning of Christmas and to keep things in perspective.

Our oldest and one of my personal favorite traditions is Jesus' stocking. This is actually one that we did start when Hannah was still a baby and although we have changed the way in which we do it the idea has remained the same. This burlap stocking is for Jesus...each year we either share out loud or write on a paper and put in the stocking something that we would like to "give" Christ for the upcoming year. Things that have appeared in his stocking have ranged from my love, a good attitude, a quiet time, worship, my heart, my toys, my time, etc. It is a special time each year for us as a family as we remember that Christmas is really Jesus' birthday and we need to give him the very best gift that we can give each and every year. Even as little children, our kids knew that it was important to take time to give Jesus a special gift.

Another favorite tradition that we have and has become a very fun one for the kids - even as teens- but also has significant meaning. On Christmas morning, Baby Jesus is often "missing" from the nativity scene. The kids have to go looking for him to place him back in His rightful place. Although a fun game - we take the time to remember that the reason for the season really is Jesus and without Him - Christmas is empty and not complete. We want our kids to know that Jesus is the essential part of Christmas.

In order to gain control of the number of gifts we give each child and again to keep the focus of Christmas exactly where it needed to be - I found this creative idea several years ago in a parent magazine and have come to absolutely love it!!! Each of our children get three gifts - no, this is not for financial reasons although that definitely does help. Instead - each of the gifts represent the gifts that Jesus was given at His birth; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Gold Gift: This is something that they have asked for. It is simply something they want but it has a $50 limit to it. Again - Christmas is not their they are not "birthday" size gifts.

The Frankincense: This is something that they wear. It is usually an article of clothing but can include perfume, cologne, etc. This reminds us of the cloths that Jesus was wrapped in.

The Myrrh: This is something that will help them grow in their spiritual walk. It is always something to point them to their Savior. Things that have been given in this area - Bibles, Devotionals, Journals for quiet times or sermons, CDs with music, or books to help them grow spiritually.

Our kids have all gotten to where they anticipate their gifts and sometimes give us ideas for each area - not just the gold thing that they want. It is always a special time for us to talk about the significance of each gift in the Christmas Story as we open the corresponding gifts around the tree!

For many many years - actually since I was in HS - our family has participated in Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan's Purse. This amazing organization sends shoe boxes to children all around the world who are impoverished and in need. When the boxes are delivered the message of Christ is shared. Our whole family enjoys putting the boxes together and packing them! We have tried - although didn't succeed this year - to save our shoe boxes from shoes purchased throughout the year and pack that same number of boxes. The theory is that if you can buy a pair of shoes, you can pack a box!!!

Although this particular basket is new this year, the tradition that we do with it is not. Each year, as we receive Christmas Cards we place them in this basket. Beginning on New Year's every morning at breakfast, we will take turns pulling out a card from the basket. We will talk about who that person or family is, how we know them, and what is going on in their lives now. Then, we join hands and pray for that individual or family - a special time for all of us! So, know that when you send us a card - you will be prayed for in the coming days!!!

Of course, a long time tradition is the reading of the Christmas story. We have tried to alternate which Gospel we read it from so that we can get a full picture of the events of that first Christmas but it is always a part of our Christmas tradition. Depending on what our plans are with extended family we have read it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day....

Brand new this year to our Christmas festivities....a Christmas Tree decorated in burlap!!! This idea originated from my friend Tina Barnwell whose family are missionaries to Europe. Doing Christmas on a budget, she creatively decorated most of her home in burlap a year or so ago. As I looked at her beautiful photos - I was reminded that burlap was more representative of the first Christmas and so I began thinking of the concept of decorating in burlap. Joel was enthusiastic about the idea and so we began this fun tradition! Kestra and Hannah helped make some burlap ornaments from pinterest ideas and of course Hobby Lobby was a huge help in getting the needed materials!

Another fun tradition - is simply family time! We love to play games as a family and just enjoy the presence of one another. It is always filled with lots of fun, laughter and a good time! Looking back on my childhood - it isn't the presents that I remember but more the memories made by spending time with family - and this is what I want to pass on to my kids as well!!!

Finally - although I didn't really have a photo to represent this tradition - Joel's favorite and yes I like it too...we always try to be sure and give more than we receive each year. This is either done by providing gifts for others or by finding ways to serve during the holidays. We want to always keep Christ's servant heart at the forefront of the Holidays!!!

So...there you have it! These are a few of my favorite things about Christmas. We wanted to take the time to share them with our friends and family so that you can be a part of our Christmas traditions! If you see an idea you want to start with your kids or grandkids - go for it! No matter their ages!!! It's never too late to share the true meaning and heart of Christmas with your family!