Friday, December 31, 2010

New Christmas Traditions

Picture of the lake by our house...

Joel and I are always looking for new traditions to incorporate into our Christmas with the kids. This year we added two that we are really excited about and plan to continue for years to come.

Both of these were not our original ideas - one was in a Christian Magazine at our church and the other I got off

So the first was a change in the types and number of gifts we give our kids. First of all, you need to know that we have never really done a whole lot for Christmas partly due to finances but mostly because Christmas is not about us or our kids - it's Jesus' birthday and so we want our kids to know that it's all about HIM! We do big birthday celebrations for our kids and so Christmas is a big celebration about Jesus. However - in reading this article about 3 gifts for Christmas I was enthralled and thought that made so much sense! Jesus received 3 gifts - Gold, Frankensense and Myrh. The article went on to say how this couple decided to do the equivilent with their kids - 3 gifts with important meaning. The "gold" gift is something more expensive that your child has asked for. The "Frankensense" gift is something that helps them grow spiritually and the "Myrh" gift is something that they wear.

So - Christmas morning Joel went over the gifts that Jesus got and then explained the use of each, followed by telling the kids that they were getting the 3 gifts! It was so fun and we loved it!
The second tradition we are adding involves a unique way to teach your children to pray. We actually haven't started this one yet but will be this next week! You save all the Christmas cards that you get and put them in a basket on your dining room table. Then starting shortly after New Year's each night at dinner as the family is arround the table - you take a card out of the basket. As a family you talk about how you know that family, memories you may have with them, etc. and then you pray for that family together. I have always felt bad about just discarding all the beautiful cards that people send and just LOVED this unique idea! Don't worry if you didn't send us a card - we will pray for you anyway! LOL

So there are the two new traditions we have added this year. I would really like to hear about any traditions that your family may have so that perhaps we can add to ours and feel free to begin these with your family as well!

Christmas Re-cap

So, I can tell that we have jumped into the Christmas holidays as I haven't blogged since the kids got out of school! We have thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks we have had off though. It has been full of many many memories and special moments!

Perhaps the most special moment for me was Christmas Eve. We went to church for the service there which was beautiful and wonderful - so special to remember Christ's birth with our church family. Following that, we came home to a crock pot of chilli! This is definitely going to be a Christmas Eve tradition at least when we are home! Then we sat around as a family, just the 6 of us, and talked about what gifts we could give Jesus this next year. So precious to see my kids really ponder what they wanted to give Jesus in terms of their attitudes and service.

Christmas Day was filled with fun and laughter and kids getting us up at 4:45 in the morning to see what Santa brought! Wasn't too bad - once I woke up a bit! LOL.

The day after Christmas, we went to Pagosa after church to celebrate with Nana and Papa and Joel's sister and her family! I love having the cousins get together...even if it was really loud! Monday we went back to Pagosa for more fun with the cousins!!!

Wednesday - the cousins (and parents) came to our house!!! Yippee!!! We had been praying for them to get some snow to play in - we got some and more! From Wed morning to Thursday night - we got over 2 ft of snow at our house!!! The Texas crew was a little in awe I think but they jumped in with sledding, snowball fights and even helped shovel some!

Speaking of the snow - it has snowed so much and the roads are so bad, that they are staying an extra day and won't go home til tomorrow! So there is our Christmas week in a nutshell - here are a few pictures...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why Facebook?

I thought I would blog about why I am on Facebook and how the Lord is using FB in my own life. I get SO many questions or comments about the number of "friends" I have on FB - it's at 585 as of this morning. Some people think it's amazing that I know that many people, others think that perhaps I shouldn't have that many, and still others just wonder in general.

First of all, let me preface before going any farther - this is MY reasoning, and what the Lord has laid on MY heart. It is not for everyone, but I am praying that by sharing my "why" of FB the Lord may reveal some area or tool you are to be using.

Ok - I will be completely honest here. I FIRST got on FB to socialize with some youth in Arkansas and then started to see others I knew on there. My initial reason was to "connect" with our youth. However, it didn't take long for me to realize that FB could be dangerous! Yes - dangerous. I could partake in gossip, slander, being judgemental, complaining, etc. and I did/do at times if I am not careful.

One night, I was pondering FB and how it was a tool of the world so I began to pray about it and truly seek the face of God as to whether I should be on it or not and this is what I received:
"Ronnie, you can choose to use FB for my glory, or you can choose to just be another person on it. You can reach out to people or you can decide to use it to vent, complain, gossip, etc." This hit me hard! After much prayer and seeking I decided that I wanted to use FB for the glory of my King! I wanted to be a light in a dark world!!!

This has not come without cost - just as any time we choose to obey God and do what He has called us to do. I have had people criticize me for being on it, question me, I have seen lots of posts containing language that I don't appreciate and I am daily tempted to use it to whine and complain or gossip. Yet - I chose to obey God.

It has been my goal, no I don't always succeed, to daily post a scripture or spiritual truth on my FB status that will hopefully challenge or encourage someone on FB. I want to know that whoever "befriends" me will at least come across one scripture each day as they log on to FB. I want to be the light in the darkness and provide hope to those who are hurting. This is why I have 585 friends - I do not deny any request because I am not to decide who the Lord brings across my path on FB. There have been times in my flesh that I have gotten mad or hurt and deleted someone - however EVERY time the Lord has brought them back to my heart and I have added them back.

There are those that have deleted me for various reasons - yes it hurts at times. However, I have to remember that my identity is not found in who "friends" me on FB. My identity is found in my Lord and my King. He has called me, He has chosen me, and He loves me just the way I am.

For me, FB is also an evangelism tool. In my day to day life I honestly don't know very many who are lost (I'm working on this) but on FB - SO MANY are lost without Christ! I try to be relavent and yet bring Truth. Yes, I try to relate by posting things my kids do or say, or just little tidbits about my day so that people realize even though we are in ministry - we are normal just like them. It has been assumed that because the majority of my posts are "positive" we have a perfect life or we are not willing to admit that we struggle or that we are "too good", etc. This of course is not the case. The reason I try really hard to not post those things (and now that I am blogging this I have to be more accountable) is that FB is NOT ABOUT ME in my case. The Lord brought it into my path as a tool to be used for Him and His glory. He has challenged me with this and at the moment that I make it all about me - I need to delete it and get rid of it.

So this is why I am on FB, this is why there are verses at least once a day (or I try), this is why I have 585 friends. My challenge to you - what is the Lord calling YOU to do? What in your life can be used for His glory and His Kingdom? Find whatever it is and use it for HIM. Yes, you will be criticized, judged possibly, and even put down by other believers (I certainly have had my share of Christians tell me I shouldn't FB or even blog)- but be obedient to Him and step out there and do it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some things just break a Mama's heart!

This has been a ROUGH week for my four kids...I can't remember ever having a week where all four of my children have struggled so much, I am ready for them to have the Christmas break for their sakes as much as anything!

Here is the "short" version:

Hannah - yesterday in her English class, one of the boys decided to change the time on the clock. Hannah, being the rule abiding good student that she is decided to get it and change it back before the teacher came back in. As a result, the other student called her "teacher's pet" and other names all day long and made a big deal about it all day. This really got to her and even though she knows that it was right to make the decision she did - it still hurt and doesn't take away the sting.

Malachi - has been having a fellow student say dirty nasty jokes to him constantly, call him bad names and even choke him in the hall. We did report it and the principal is taking action but just really rough on him and his tenderheart!

Kestra - hers is the longest story but basically she has been struggling in math since Sept and the teachers just decided to take action in December AFTER I mentioned it to them. She is a very social person and doesn't like to be "sepearated" out - of course not understanding the work is also frustrating as she LOVES to learn and do school! We have had conversations with all three teachers involved as well as the principal and are confident that we are on the way to getting Kestra the help and guidance that she needs in math when she returns in January.

Tyler - he has had some behavior issues that are partly just him and partly him trying to "fit in" among his peers when he has so many other issues to overcome. He is really sensative this week and seems to burst into either tears or a tantrum any time we discipline or correct him.

So - to say that we are READY for school to be out is an understatement! I have some really fun ideas for next week such as baking, movies, games and even a "playdate" at our house for any kids and moms that may want to join us! It should be fun and a chance for all 4 to just relax and regroup!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hannah Marie

From time to time I would like to blog about each one of my four precious children. I must admit that some of them definitely do more things that I find funny or I learn lessons from but each one is so special in their own unique way.

Today, I am choosing to blog about Ms. Hannah. Hannah is our oldest and I must say that in itself causes me to learn the most from her - she's our first experience with everything that involves parenting! Unfortunately for her, that isn't always a good thing but for the most part she does well with it.

Hannah has grown up to be such a beautiful young lady! It is so hard to believe that in less than a year she will begin her first year of High School. I can still remember her as a little toddler walking around singing "Diddle Deedle" or the times that she would look at us and point her finger and yell "No" and then grin! Now, she is almost 5' 7", on the school honor roll, plays volleyball and basketball and is a lovely young woman.

I am so proud of her and all that she has accomplished. This past year we observed her grow so much physically and spiritually. She showed great diligence in her athletic performance. Spiritually she is amazing me - she isn't afraid to ask the hard questions or to search the Bible for herself to find the answers. Most of all - she is so tenderhearted and merciful toward her friends at school. She is always thinking of them and what they need!

Of course, my relationship with Hannah isn't anywhere near perfect - in fact we actually clash quite a bit. She can exasperate me and bring out the worst in me - and if I am honest - I can do the same to her. However, I am so thankful for her and the fact that she challenges ME to live out my faith and beliefs! One thing that I have learned from Hannah is that sometimes we all need to take time away from others and process our thoughts and feelings. I am a "let's fix it now" type of person. I don't want to leave an argument or disagreement until it's finished - she is more of a "let me settle down first" type person. Nothing is wrong with either one but it is hard for both of us to understand the other!

I am most impressed by the talent that Hannah has in her writing. She simply amazes me!!! She can express herself and her feelings so well in the writing of a story or a poem. I pray that some day she will get one or more of her writing pieces published or at the very least she will allow me to blog one of them. :)

The Lord blessed me on May 19, 1997 with a beautiful baby girl - I am so proud of the woman she is becoming! The other day she sat beside me after her game and made this statement "Hey my mom, my best friend." She then went on to talk about her day and the game but my heart stayed with those words - I know that I still have to be her mom but I do pray that as she grows older we will be good friends as well. I am so thankful that for the most part Hannah talks to me about what is going on, her troubles, her feelings, etc and I pray that as she enters HS and college that will stay the case.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The past several weeks we have been really busy with both church and kid's activities. As I have come across different people we have been reminded that this time of year so many people are hurting and facing such heartbreaking situations or storms of life as I sometimes refer to them!

Yesterday morning, I was praying for a particular family and their heartbreaking situation. I found myself praying that the Lord would take them out of the storm and give them relief. As I prayed, the Lord laid this upon my heart and I put it as my Facebook status:

Sometimes God dissolves the storm before it comes and sometimes He calms the troubled waters BUT sometimes He allows us to be in the storm so we will feel His loving arms around us when all else is shaking around matter where you are, God is there and He is holding you!

All day, this was on my mind. Most of the time I pray and ask the Lord to calm the storm or even divert it - yet would I want to miss out on the blessing of God carrying me through it? The lesson that I learned from this was that God is THERE! He is there before and after the storm - and He is there DURING the storm.

So - my prayer this Christmas season is that no matter where you find yourself you too will know that He is there! Emmanuel - God with us...has come to be WITH us before, during and after all the storms we may face!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Becky Kelley - Where's the Line to See Jesus - OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO

Teachable Moment...

"Mom, I KNOW Santa is real!" smiling sweetly as I responded to Tyler "Oh really and how do you KNOW this?" "Because I read it on the internet!"

This simple comment that Tyler made to me this morning has stuck with me all day! Of course, Joel and I smiled and even chuckled a little at it but in reality - this is what many of our children believe. If I read it on the internet - it MUST be truth. While cute and over a very simple topic (in my opinion) I recognized this as a GREAT opportunity to teach Tyler about where our truth really does come from. I explained to him at the time, that not EVERYTHING on the internet is true and then proceeded to explain that Santa was a real person who died but we carry on his traditions, etc.

However, more important than this is that I teach my children where to look for ULTIMATE TRUTH....God's Word. So many things in this world scream at us and more importantly our children what truth is and without proper guidance and direction they can easily be sent in the wrong direction after something that is a lie and will ultimately lead to destruction.

"If you hold to my teaching, then you are really my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" John 8:31-32 You see JESUS is the truth and we can trust Him. Tyler's comment this morning was simple and full of childhood anticipation and wanting to hold on to the magic of Santa. It truly was a innocent proclamation of saying - it's just GOT to be true because I want it to be and this proves it. Yet, it was a reality check and a wake up call to me - am I teaching them the true source of absolute and eternal truth? Not in the academic sense but in a spiritual sense.

I want my children to grow up knowing who is TRUTH and to learn to follow him. Today's conversation was an excellent reminder to emphasize t0 and teach my children to seek truth...

That being said - we did continue to explain to Tyler that it's ok to pretend there is a Santa and that gifts with "Santa" on them are simply gifts from someone who didn't want to be recognized!

I am so thankful to the Lord for bringing these "teachable moments"into my life - not only so I can teach my children but so my Father can teach me through them as well!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Only one more week....

of sports practices that is! I love sports and especially basketball but let me tell you, this mom is ready to not have something EVERY night of the week! With Hannah practicing or at games 5 nights a week, Kestra at tutoring 3 nights and choir one night a week, Malachi at practice once a week and the 3 younger and Joel and I at AWANA one night a week - it gets a little hectic to say the least! Thankfully, that will all slow down quite a bit next week as Hannah and Malachi will be done with basketball, Kestra will only have one week of tutoring left...ahhhh....

In January, things will slow down for the Arrington's A LOT and that will be a welcome respite! LOL...

Marriage Truths...

Truth # 7 - Communicate with your husband!
I can't tell you how many times I have been mad at Joel, stomped around, gave him the silent treatment, etc and yet he had NO IDEA what was bothering me because I didn't tell him. As women, I think we often expect our men to know what we need, how we are feeling, what we expect etc and although sometimes that is the case (more and more the longer we are married) there are times that we just need to tell them what the problem is and they would be more than happy to fix it! Let me give you an example from my own marriage: when we were first married Joel would literally spend HOURS on the computer at night...I would get so upset and mad because I wanted time with ME and yet he would go to the computer. The longer this went on, the madder and more upset I became. After about 2 years into our marriage (yes, I let it build that long!) I finally blew a gasket! I came unglued! I told him that some women are jealous of other women but I was jealous of a stupid computer. Joel was floored - I mean I REALLY let him have it. His response (with tears in his eyes) " I am so sorry, I never knew it bothered you or upset you. Why didn't you say anything?" For 2 years I carried a hurt that I had no reason to carry! So we have to communicate and we need to know how our husband communicates best.
I talked with a woman last night that said if she really wants her husband to understand something - she texts him a message on his phone. At first, I wanted to say but TALK to him. However - she continued to explain that if he sees the text, he can think and then better respond. You see she has figured out a way to communicate that works for him! What a novel idea.

These are simply the beginning and a starting point. I know that not all circumstances or issues are as simple as this and I know that there isn't always a "cut and dry" answer for every issue. I do believe, however, that if one or both persons in a marriage will take the time to apply these truths - they will see a difference in their marriage.

There are definitely things that are deserving of professional counseling or intervention: certain addictions, abuse, affairs, etc so please don't hesitate to seek outside help!

This series is just intended to be a building block for any marriage...our hearts are to help families grow stronger in the Lord and with each other. Like I said in the first post - we don't have all the answers, we are still growing ourselves but we want to help any and everyone we can along the way!

Marriage Truths Cont.

Truth #3-
Place your spouse above any other person. Notice I didn't just say "any other" - The Lord is to be your first and foremost relationship, however after the Lord there is NO OTHER more important than your spouse. As a mom, this was and at times is still hard for me but it is CRITICAL to your marriage that your man knows he is the #1 person in your life. We need to carve out spaces of our time, energy, prayers, etc specifically for our husbands that no one or nothing else can creep in and fill. Yes - I know the baby needs fed, diaper changed, homework needs completed, laundry, etc. Yet - if any of these things is more important than your spouse - you have just told him that he isn't your priority and he doesn't matter. So - set a date night each week - it can be as simple as a movie at home after the kids are tucked in, a chat by the fire, or you can find other parents and trade out babysitting - let them watch your kids at their house and then have a date at get the idea. Just know that hubby needs to have that place of priority!

Truth # 4
Eliminate ANYTHING that may be stealing your heart, time, money away from your marriage. This could be something like drugs, pornography, drinking or it may be something not so "big" such as reading books, being on the internet, a hobby, etc. This doesn't mean that you can't do these hobbies (things of a sinful nature MUST be eliminated!) BUT are they in a place more important than your marriage and time with your spouse? Where is your heart truly focused?

Truth #5
Pray not only FOR your spouse but pray WITH your spouse! There is nothing Joel and I have done together that compares to praying together. When we are kneeling before our King and seeking Him and His will together - it truly does unite us and strengthen our marriage! Make it a regular habit to PRAY TOGETHER!

Truth #6
The hard times will come - determine to face them TOGETHER not seperate! It is not a matter of if but when. However, making a decision before the hard times hit (or now if you are in them) that you are going to stand together and stay together through them will make all the difference. Joel and I made this decision before we ever said our vows that no matter what came our way there would be no other way to face it than together! We have faced numerous financial hardships (eviction, repossession of our car, etc), we have faced serious health issues with one of our children (see post on Tyler), we have faced numerous unexpected and unwanted moves, and yes these have been hard. They have put our marriage and our relationship with the Lord to the test but we went through them together. There was one time after a particularly hard time financially that I emotionally detached myself from my husband and I will tell you it took A LOT to get that back! I felt abandoned and alone and like I was drowning - fortunately through the love of our Lord and a very understanding husband - those wounds have been healed but not without some pain. So make the decision to do it together and remember to always go back to Truth #5!!!

That is all I can type for now - hopefully I will conclude this series later today or tomorrow! Know you are prayed for!!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A heartbreaking trend...

The past several months Joel and I have had heavy hearts as we have seen more and more marriages either falling apart or ending. It is heartbreaking to observe so many we know hurting and experiencing the crumbling of their marriage.

As we have seen this and walked alongside some, we couldn't help but ask ourselves what is happening and what can we do to stop it? It seems to be that divorce, separation, or living in the same house with no real love or joy are now becoming the norm and it is frightening to say the least. What is even more alerting is the fact that these are not marriages among those who don't know the Lord but they are Christian marriages, marriages where God was the center at one point but He has been removed or put on the outskirts.

Although we don't have the all the answers and we are certainly continuing to learn in our own marriage - we do feel that God in His Word has a LOT to say about marriage and we have learned some lessons in our own marriage that have strengthed it and we believe have helped us withstand the storms of life.

My heart in particular has been so heavy with the hurt that I have seen women go through and so I would like to just share with you all some truths that I have seen work in my own marriage. I am hoping to do this through a series of posts within the next week...

Truth # 1:
In order for marriage to truly work, it must be based with God in the center. I have seen no better illustration of this than the picture of a triangle. As you look at a triangle each of the two sides reach toward the top or the peak. Replace the sides with a man and woman and God at the peak. As a man and a wife grow and become closer to God, then they will become closer to one another. It is inevitable. Unfortunately, what we often do is stay at the base and expect our husband or wife to come to us. We focus on what WE need and what WE want and forget to focus on the Lord. As you invest and grow in your relationship with God, He will help you to love your spouse more and more.

Truth # 2:
Closely related to Truth # 1 - Truth #2 is this - Marriage is NOT ABOUT YOU. When we realize that marriage is about our husband's needs and wants first then we can show them the love that Jesus gave us. When God gave His only son - it was not Himself that He was focused on - it was OUR NEED for a Savior. In marriage - we need to esteem our spouse more highly than ourselves. We need to learn to put his needs above our own and in doing so - we will experience a love like no other.

I am going to leave you with those two truths for now. My prayer is that no matter where your marriage is - whether strong and firm or whether falling apart - you will take the time to pray about these truths and what God wants to show you through them. Please feel free to either e-mail me or post a comment about how Joel and I can pray for your marriage specifically and know this - you are not alone. Every marriage goes through hard times, every person hurts - it is what we do when these times come that makes the difference. Will you turn your marriage, your hurts, your pain, your life over to the ONE who can heal and restore?