Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Firefighter's Wife: Grace Mothering

A Firefighter's Wife: Grace Mothering: "Dear Mothers, I have to tell you how thankful I am that my mothering is covered by the Blood of Jesus. So many days, I have the best inten..."

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Wonderful Week!

It has been such a blessed and wonderful week as we have had a much needed "staycation" at home! Joel took the week off and we were able to just enjoy being together as a family.

There was board games, watching movies, shopping, decorating for Christmas and even preparing Thanksgiving food. I do enjoy our life and all the activities we are in. However - there are times that we just need a "break" and rest and this past week was exactly that!

Even the kids mentioned how much they liked it and for the most part - they really got along well. I am so thankful for a husband that values and appreciates these times in our life.

In addition to much needed family time - I have also had much time to reflect and pray about where God is leading me. I love the freedom I have to be involved with the kids now that I am not working and I have also had many opportunities for ministry over the past 2 years since being home. However, there is still that "business" part of me that misses having a career and a job - specifically in Human Resources. Of course, there is also the financial advantage to me working as well. I have been working for my Dad some but at the time being it seems his business is shifting gears which is GOOD but also not as much work for me - totally okay with that though because it is a great thing for him and also as much as I enjoy the flexibility working for him provides - it is not my passion. I have subbed some and that is good as well but still not my ultimate passion - I am not a teacher!

What I truly desire to do is help people and to specifically help them find jobs and careers that suit them. So, no I have not found a job and am not going back to work full-time at least not yet! However, I am praying and seeking the Lord as to where, when and if He is calling me back to the work force. I have toyed with the idea of going back to school on-line to work on my Masters in Human Resources but have decided that one parent in college full-time is all this family can handle for the time being so I have put that on hold for now.

Another thing that the Lord has brought to my mind this week is how to proceed in terms of ministry. I have been seeking some clarity and definition as to specific areas that the Lord is leading me to. Some of this has been clouded - mostly by me not keeping focused and so I am beginning to see where the Lord is working and how I can join him there! Please be in prayer for me as I pursue this because some of the areas I feel that perhaps I am being led to - are not AT ALL in my comfort zone and I feel SO inadequate and unqualified for. However, I do know that like the Lord provided Aaron to speak for Moses - he will provide me with exactly the tools I need to serve Him in the way He is leading.

Finally, one decision that I have made this week is to be more intentional about weight loss. I am not setting a specific goal but rather just taking steps to lose weight in general. I am not even going to use a specific "plan" or "diet" as I have tried those and they just end up failing. Instead, I am choosing to be wise in eating choices and to excercise regularly. I don't do diets but I can make good choices in eating and excercises.

This is a rather random blog and believe me there are more "topical" postings that I am working/praying through but wasn't quite ready to post those yet as I am trying to do some research and study in those areas. The topics I hope to blog about soon include: friendship, marriage, and parenting! Ha ha - very general I know!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kestra Nichole...Princess Pea!

It is so hard to believe all that has transpired the past 11 years! When I think back, I am just so thankful for the many blessings the Lord has given us....most of all I am thankful that 11 years ago tomorrow (Nov. 22) God gave us the gift of a beautiful baby girl - Kestra Nichole!

Kestra keeps us laughing, she lights up any room she enters and she has a heart for her friends and classmates. The thing I enjoy the most about Kestra is that she loves life and lives it to the fullest. Whatever she does, she does 100%!

I am not going to lie, when I first found out we were expecting her I was a little stressed. We had two babies already and Kestra would only be 16 months younger than her brother. We were in the process of changing jobs and looking at moving. We were pretty much broke and very stressed out. However - it wasn't long into the pregnancy that I felt pure love and joy about the idea of another baby to love and raise!

Kestra is our "girlie girl"! She loves pink and frills, clothes, shoes, nail polish, make-up, and jewelry. She enjoys shopping and socializing and is always looking for the next party or celebration! At the same time she is athletic, tough and outgoing. She enjoys competing and annoying her younger brother!

As I reflect on that day 11 years ago - many things come to mind. First there was the fact that we got to the hospital at 6:00 in the morning and had to wait until 7:00 that night to have the c-section simply because I drank half a glass of water - and no I didn't get any food that whole time! Second there is the fact that Joel's Aunt Patsy got to be at the hospital for Kestra's arrival - special since she doesn't have any grandkids of her own. Next is the memory of her sister and brother meeting her. Most of all - is the wonderful memory that I got to take her home on Thanksgiving day! What a way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

So - this year we rejoice and praise the Lord for our little bundle of joy who keeps us laughing and on our toes - Kestra Nichole Arrington...WE LOVE YOU!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Heart for those with Special Needs

We are SO blessed by a wonderful woman named Ann King or "Ms.King" to Tyler. She is really incredible. Ms. King is Tyler's Special Education teacher and the person that works with him approximately 60% of his day at school. She began working with Tyler two years ago when he was in first grade and continues to do an GREAT job!

To fully understand the impact that she has made on Tyler - you really have to know a little of Tyler's history. Tyler was born with some pretty major health issues, had trouble gaining weight, was constantly sick and was even thought to have had cystic fibrosis - he had all the symptoms and specialists were sure that was the case. We believe that he did have it and through the prayers of God's people he was healed! Anyway - as a toddler and preschooler Tyler had some major behavior issues that we now know were attributed to hearing loss and being in his own world but at the time we didn't know why. In preschool, Tyler would literally become so irritable and mad that he could tear apart a classroom - bookshelves over, tables thrown, toys everywhere, etc. At age 4 he was FINALLY diagnosed with Moderate to Severe hearing loss and we were able to begin helping him with hearing aids and different learning styles.

However, when you have gone through 4 years of living in your own world and learning how to deal on your own in a sense - it takes a lot to break those habits; not to mention the fact that he then had to learn sounds, words, etc. When we moved to Bayfield Tyler was just starting Kindergarten and it was ROUGH! Now not only were we in an unfamiliar town and home but he had two teachers (they team taught) that had not had a child with hearing loss in their class. We laugh because Tyler was actually suspended for a day in Kindergarten for biting the teacher - I mean hello!!!

So - this is the child that Ms. King received 2 years ago. A child that would decide he didn't want to work and either tear up a classroom or crawl under a desk or maybe just attempt to leave the room all together. It wasn't always easy, he wasn't an easy kid to like much less work with at times....yet Ms. King saw through that and saw what Tyler COULD be. She learned to speak his "language" and show him that she wouldn't tolerate his behavior.

Today - he is a TOTALLY different kid! He works hard and LOVES school. He still has times where he gets mad or frusterated but she has taught him to take "personal time-outs" and regroup. He went from not wanting to do anything with a pencil and paper to now reading, writing, doing math, telling time, etc. Many had told us that the only way Tyler would ever "settle down" and learn would be through medication - to this day Tyler has not had one ounce of medicine for behavior alteration!

I know that Ms. King isn't "Super Woman" (although she's pretty close) but I can tell you this - she loves these kids with special needs and she has a heart to see them succeed! She isn't all work either - she plans fun things like skiing, bowling, track and field days, etc where they can have fun. In a school district that is tight on funds, she applies for grants and discounts for these kids!!!

Yesterday was Special Olympic bowling and my heart melted to not only see Tyler laughing and having fun but to see ALL these precious faces truly enjoying themselves and succeeding!!! I must say that I am so thankful to the Lord for placing Ms. King in our lives!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Practicing Hospitality

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." I Peter 4:9
"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality" Romans 12:13

Recently, I have been reading about hospitality on a blog that I follow. I must say - hospitality is NOT one of the spiritual gifts that I have. However, as I read and learn more about hospitality I am discovering that it isn't "optional" or something we are to do only when it is "convenient" or "fits into our schedule." As the two verses above suggest - it is a command, we are to practice it and to do it without grumbling.

The Lord has really been stretching me and convicting me about this issue the past couple weeks. I am fine with inviting people I am close to over when I feel like it - but what about people I don't know well or don't really click with and what about at times when I am busy or would rather do other things? What am I to do at those times? I am to PRACTICE HOSPITALITY...

So, then comes the question of what does hospitality look like? I can't say that I have done extensive research or anything - I am only going to share what the Lord has been revealing TO ME in the area of hospitality:

1. Open your home! I must say with 4 kids, a busy schedule, ministry, etc my home has become my "retreat" or place where I can get away. I also must confess that I hesitate to invite people over because that would mean that I would actually have to cook and clean - two things of which I do NOT enjoy! Yet - God has been calling me to this - to invite others over regardless of the mood in which I may be in, regardless of my insecurity and lack of enjoyment in cooking.

2. Reach out to those who you normally wouldn't socialize with. There are many that I see on Sunday morning or around town that I don't think about inviting over. Yet, these are the ones that God has laid on my heart to invite over to my home.

3. Give of the resources I have been given in regards to food. This one is hard for me! I don't enjoy cooking for myself much less for anyone else. However, within the past two months the Lord has called me to not only organize meals for new moms - He has had me PREPARE meals for them! It hasn't been on my time table either (since when do babies come on our time table). Yet I have felt led to stretch myself in this area.

4. Look for opportunities to serve others through hospitality. Normally, this would not be an area in which I would look to serve others - again God is calling me to this regardless of my comfort in it. So, I have talked to Joel and shared all this with him and told him that we will be inviting people over more just because God is calling me to do this!

I am not blogging about this to say that it is something anyone but myself needs to work on. I am sharing it in a way in which I can ask for prayer and accountability in. Of course, I am HOPING that I am not alone in struggling in this area. Perhaps there are others like me who have fallen into the trap of only practicing hospitality when it is convenient - if so, I pray that you will find encouragement in knowing you aren't alone and we can grow in this area together!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Praises and Blessings!

Remember this from a few posts ago?

Well yesterday our prayers were answered above and beyond our requests! Our wonderful Father chose to bless us more abundantly than we could have even imagined. I had told you that we this hearing aid was Tyler's only one since he had lost the other one. We were in the process of applying for grants for the lost hearing aid when this one was so nicely chewed by said dog! Well - we had thought that we were going to have to replace this one through applying for more grants or saving....God had BIGGER and BETTER plans for us!

Last week - Tyler's audiologist called and said that the hearing aid company was going to replace the lost hearing aid for free, we just needed to pay the $200 for the ear molds. So, the appointment to get that hearing aid and molds was yesterday. In the meantime, Joel had told the audiologist that about the demise of the chewed hearing aid but told her we would need some time to get the funding to replace it.

When I got to the appointment yesterday - God had a present in store for Tyler and me! Not one but BOTH hearing aids had been donated by the hearing aid company....We still had to pay for the molds BUT the hearing aids were there....

BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE! Last night the Bayfield Lions Club met - they were one of the organizations that we had applied for help from. They voted last night to help us by donating $250 to the hearing aids - which was a little more than the $216 that I had to pay for the molds and batteries yesterday! SO - now Tyler is up and running with two new hearing aids and two new molds!!!

I just love how are Heavenly Father knows just when to bless us beyond our wildest imagination! I must admit the past few weeks have been hard! I have struggled emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. I have been worn out, grumpy, tired and stressed. Just like our earthly parents know when we need a little "one on one time" or a special gift to lift our spirits - our Heavenly Father knows exactly when we need to know that He is still there walking alongside us, or carrying us and providing for us!

Today the enemy tried to pull me back down from that blessing that happened yesterday, I almost allowed him to do it. Instead, I am choosing to praise Him and thank Him. There are still other issues that I am concerned about but I know that my Redeemer Lives and that He is there and He will carry us through! In the meantime - today I am SO very thankful for God leading us to an audiologist that cared enough about my little boy's ability to hear that she took it upon herself to look for help in paying for the hearing aids. It is a wonderful thing to see Tyler being able to hear all that's happening around him without having to ask for it to be repeated!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the midst of it all.....lessons are learned!

WOW! It seems as though since November 1 we have literally hit the ground running non-stop and have yet to slow down. It has been a month of ups and downs so far and it is only November 11!!!

On the up - Hannah is off to a great basketball season! She made B team which was HUGE for her and really boosted her self-esteem. She is playing post (of course being almost 5'7") and is doing very well!

Malachi is playing basketball with the parks and rec and although not as into it as Hannah - he is having fun!

Kestra is in choir and loves it and is also getting some tutoring after school 3 days a week. She loves school and works SO hard at it!

Tyler is amazing me on a daily basis! He is READING!!!! Huge step and milestone, He is also able to do basic math which is another HUGE step!!! I am so blessed by his wonderful Special education teacher that works so hard and faithful with him.

Joel is plugging along in school and is really learning a lot!

On the down: We have had our share of financial challenges. The dog chewed Tyler's $1500 hearing aid, the car needed tires - and the heater broke - and the four wheel drive is going out - and the shocks are gone ... In addition to this, there have been minor challenges in ministry with some complacency issues and just overall "blah" attitudes.

However - more than the ups or the downs there are the lessons that the Lord is teaching me each and every day!

* Trust Him for EVERYTHING! He provided unexpected money for the tires, one hearing aid was donated by the hearing aid company, and Joel has the opportunity to drive a route full time for the school district again which is added income!

* Be Still and KNOW that he is God! I am learning to take advantage of the quiet moments that come my way. He is God and He is ABLE!

* Focus on RELATIONSHIPS not circumstances! God is teaching me that I need to just love people the way they are and where they are and not focus on the circumstances around them or myself.

* Cherish and Love my family! During these busy times I am becoming more and more aware of the need to enjoy and cherish the times with my husband and kids! We are in fact planning on a "staycation" the week of Thanksgiving and just spending time with EACH OTHER!

So - yes it's been a hard month thus far but I have SO much to be thankful for and to appreciate! I am determined to focus on the many BLESSINGS and Praise my Lord for them!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chris Tomlin - How Great It Our God & How Great Thou Art [LIVE]

Remembering Her...

Some years, November 3 is almost just another day and I can smile and laugh as I think about my wonderful sister and the life and memories I have of her; and then some years November 3 is a painful and sad day as I realize how much of my life she has missed and how much I miss her in it. Most years however - it is a day of reflection and thanksgiving as I ponder on where she is and how one day I will see her there.

I must say that this year has been a little harder for whatever reason. It started over a week ago really. Our pastor also leads the worship in our services and he did a mix with "How Great is Our God" and "How Great thou Art" that was just BEAUTIFUL! I wish that I had it to play here. As I sang - I envisioned her, sitting at the throne of God and for a moment I was just in awe as I saw her there, but to be honest I was also sad because in my selfishness I want her HERE! I want to show her all her neices and nephews, I want to go hunting with her, or camping, or anything! Then - Christ brought me back to the evil and ugliness of this world and asked "Really? You would really wish that she leave the throne of God and return to this?" No - I can't say that I would...

I wouldn't want her to leave that, but today my heart misses her. Hannah has had two basketball games within the past week and those have made me miss her. If you knew Sherri at all - you knew that she LOVED the game of basketball! She played well, she played hard and she played with her all. It didn't matter that she was injured - she played. It didn't matter that she was sick - she played. It didn't matter if her team was down - she played. So, to see Hannah out there playing made me SO wish that Sherri could be here to see her and coach her and help her. A basketball player I am not but Sherri did try to make me one! I have told my kids stories and even last night I told Hannah how her Aunt Sherri would have been proud of the "mean Hannah" under the basket. I think Hannah has a tad bit of her Aunt in her - she's competitive in a BIG way and Sherri was as well.

Yet even though there is sadness today, I want to be able to say "It is well, with my soul" and this I can say because I know that one GLORIOUS day we will stand before the throne of our Savior as a family and sing "HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD" I don't know when that day will be but it will be!

Sherri loved life, she loved living, she loved running, she loved helping, she loved working, she loved basketball, and yes despite what I may have thought - she loved me! Today is not a day to be sad and think of all that I did not have with her - today is a day to be thankful for what I DID have with her. To know that I have a sister waiting to greet me with a smile and a "smack" on the head when I reach Heaven.

Many have asked if it gets easier with time. To that, all I can say is that each year is different - some (like this one) are harder than others but all the time she is with us in our hearts and we can know that we were loved by and able to love a wonderful person known as Sherri Sue Ashcraft!

With that in mind, I am going to make the choice to reflect and be thankful for the 19 years I had with my amazing sister!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

Wow! This must be a record...blogging three days in a row. However - I wanted to record a few thoughts about our nation on this November morning!

The right and privilege to vote is one that we take forgranted I think. We know that we can but do we truly understand the significance or the importance of it? Do we understand that not only is it a privilege it is a RESPONSIBILITY that God has called us as Christians to. God has called us forth to be the voice of righteousness and light in a land full of evil and darkness. It is our calling to vote and take a stand for Him.

I don't want to tell people how to vote or who to vote for. Many may wonder why not but it is summed up in this: if we are living and honoring the Lord then the choices are clear. They will be choices that bring honor and glory to God, they will stand for righteousness and truth, they will reflect HIS CHOICES. To me, there is no gray in God's Word - He is clear in what he values and holds true and thus we can vote accordingly!

I DO wish that we as Christians would take the time to be informed and do our research into the issues and candidates. Take the time to find out which candidates truly do value righteousness and do wish to honor Christ. I have heard it said that there is no "honest" politician - I beg to differ! I believe that there ARE those Christians in politics who wish to serve the Lord in political positions - BUT we may have to look harder for them, we may have to vote for those that aren't so prominent in the media or have as much publicity. However - through prayer and intense petition to the Lord we can have Godly men and women in positions of authority.

So, on that note- I am off to shower and get ready to go into town to VOTE for righteousness! I encourage you all to take time and make voting a priority today!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Be still..."

Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't enjoy being still or being quiet. I like to be on the go, I like to be with people, and I enjoy being busy. It's just who I am and what I like. I hear many women say 'if I only had a whole day by myself that would be wonderful"! When I hear this, I find myself thinking - why would that be fun? Sounds boring to me! Now, a day without kids or housework, or responsibilities - THAT I could do...However, I just like being with people.

Last week in my discipleship meeting with a young lady I disciple on Tuesday morning we were talking about the verse that says "Be still and know that I am God." I was very honest with her and let her know this is NOT easy for me. I don't like to be still and I don't like quiet, yet God has taught me through the years that I need this "quiet time" with him in order to fulfill the calling he has on my life. I also told her that I needed to work o more quiet time with my God!

Careful what you ask for!!! Joel and I have been really busy lately between work, kids, church, friends, etc. We have found ourselves going going and going. However - God has a way of making us stop when it is time to stop.

Saturday afternoon Tyler and I went to the District Volleyball Game. I noticed during the game that Tyler was sort of lethargic and tired but chalked it up to being busy and needing some sleep. I was wrong - by the time we got home Tyler was running a fever and one sick little man. Thus began about 60 hours of sickness in our home. I was home with Tyler all Saturday night and all day Sunday. By Sunday night, Malachi and I were both sick leaving us home all day today recovering! Thankfully - as I type this both of us are feeling quite a bit better and back on our feet.

I made the statement to Joel when he came home from lunch that I am not a good sick person - I don't "do" still very well. He laughed and said "I know you don't but you need to!" I laughed and joked about it but this afternoon I was reminded of last week's conversation about being still and knowing that God is God! I then began a time of prayer and quiet with my Lord, what a wonderful time it has been! I think that there are times when we won't heed his word and obey that God uses circumstances to bring us to obedience!

I can honestly say that I am thankful for being sick because it forced me to be still! However - I will be just as thankful tomorrow to be up and around and yes OUT OF THE HOUSE since I have been here for 60 hours!!!

Josh Wilson - Before The Morning (Official Music Video)