Monday, November 28, 2011

Lifelong Friends

I have to say - I am blessed beyond measure! I have so many dear and wonderful friends literally around the world and they ALL mean so much to me! However, I truly believe that throughout our lifetime - there are only a very few that you KNOW will be there forever - like talking til you are old and gray forever! For us - Dani and Tony Vaughn and their four children are THOSE type of friends....I know I have blogged before about Dani and how she was the answer to a prayer I prayed for 15 YEARS!!!! Seriously - I prayed not just for a "girl" friend but I prayed for a friend that would understand and grasp the ins and outs of life in ministry, someone I could TRULY open up to and be honest with...
Dani GETS it because she grew up in it, married a man who grew up in it, and is STILL involved very much in ministry life!!! God blessed the Arrington family BIG when He brought us the Vaughns!!!! Not only do Dani and I click, ok we are more like two of a kind of the same mold BUT bigger still - our husbands are good friends too!!!! Better still....our kids ADORE each other, and us as adults too!!!
While in Colorado over Thanksgiving, Joel and I were able to go bowling with Dani and Tony Saturday night and then our two families along with another family very dear to us went out to lunch Sunday after church - LOVED it!!! With 6 adults, 1 college student, 2 high schoolers, 2 jr high schoolers, 4 elementary schoolers, and 3 preschoolers - it was loud, chaotic and FABULOUS!!!!! Thankful for the oneness we shared - the fact that it literally felt like we had just been gone a week or so instead of 4 months!!!!
Both Joel and I look forward to many more times of Vaughn/Arrington chaos!!! LOL.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Day of GIVING!!!

This past Friday was perhaps the BEST day I have had in a really really long time!!! There were many things that needed to be done at home: laundry, cleaning, packing, typing an appraisal, garage, etc. There were some things I really wanted to do: read, watch a movie, scrapbook, etc. Yet, there was a few things that I KNEW God wanted me to do!!!

One of the local ministries that our church supports is called Living Water Ministries. It is a benevolence ministry that reaches out to those in our community who are in need of food, clothes, finances and most importantly JESUS!!! Each Friday, Living Water passes out bags of groceries to about 100 to 120 families in the Borger area - it is truly an amazing operation!!! Since moving here, I have wanted to go on a Friday and volunteer but it has seemed like life had a way of just getting in the way; however this Friday, I was DETERMINED that God wanted me there to help with the Thanksgiving distribution!! At the beginning, I helped with crowd control at the door - then later, I became a CART PUSHER!!!
I can't tell you how much fun I had visiting with the people as I helped them get the groceries for their Thanksgiving meal to their cars. They were truly precious beyond words!!!
After I finished at Living Water, the world would say that this mom needed to get home and get to all those things listed above - yet once again I KNEW God had a different plan!! Our Sunday School class had decided to have an Operation Christmas Child packing party with the goal of packing 100 boxes - this in addition to the boxes that had already been donated by individual families. The packing party was to be Friday night and although I couldn't go to that due to taking a certain 12 yr old to the movie for her birthday - I wanted to help get the last minute items they needed to complete the boxes! We are limited in stores here in Borger so Joel and I headed off to Pampa for bouncy balls (had already scoured Borger for them), toothpaste, and more shoe boxes.
The end result - our Sunday School Class packed an additional 128 boxes making a GRAND TOTAL OF 211 boxes for Operation Christmas Child!!!
We loved including the kids of ALL ages!!!
The end result!
While in Pampa, I was also able to do some additional shopping for a special little girl! A couple in our Sunday School class who doesn't have children of their own, had the opportunity to welcome their neice (who has been in CPS for several years) to their home on a permanent basis. So, just as we would do with ANY new parents, we threw them a shower - only for a 7 yr old instead of new born!!! I just love shopping for girls!!!
The result of my Friday - a VERY MERRY HEART!!! I had a wonderful day of just GIVING to others...I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING in the world!!! There is no amount of money, no vacation, no shopping trip, no big house, no nice car that compares to the joy of giving of yourself for others!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

My most favorite time of year!!!

I have to admit...I LOVE when November comes because to me November means one thing - IT'S ALMOST CHRISTMAS! Ha ha! Now, I know there are those that say "one holiday at a time" and don't rush over Thanksgiving...NO WAY! Thanksgiving in a lot of ways is just a pre-lim to Christmas. I get to reflect on all the MANY blessings that God has given me as I look toward celebrating the GREATEST blessing of all - JESUS!

However, another thing that I love about November and December is simply this: FAMILY. I grew up celebrating the holidays with extended family and love it!!! I love the house full of people, kids laughing and running through the house, the smell of yummy pies and goodies, playing games all day, the men watching football, etc - I absolutely love every part of it...I ESPECIALLY like that my mom and I have this wonderful agreement: She cooks and I clean up! Ha ha!

In light of all this - only 14 days til we leave to Colorado for THANKSGIVING!!! Can't wait!!! I am looking forward to:

* Games with my parents

* Soaking in the Hot Tub out in the snow (I hope)

* Relaxing with my hubby

* Playing outside with the kids

* Hanging out with some of our best friends the Vaughns

* Sleeping in

*Watching Tyler help Grandad with the Turkey

* Waking up to a fire in the fireplace


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beauty from Ashes

November 3, 1994:

Hard to believe that day was 17 years ago - a day that would forever change my life in so many ways. It started like any other day in the life of a college student, I got up and began to get ready for class...first class of the day was English...Ugh!

Entered the class with all my classmates and professor started teaching (ummm no can't remember the exact lesson - ha ha!) About half way through the class my brother-in-law Scott showed up at the door and called the teacher over - "Odd, but oh well" I thought. Until, they called me out of class and told me to take all my stuff with me. "This is not good..."

I remember Scott not really saying much except that there was a family emergency and they would tell me more at their apartment. Honestly I remember thinking that one of my Grandparents must have passed away - I could not have been more wrong....

Upon arriving at the apartment - I found my sister Michelle in tears and she just grabbed me. Scott then told me the words I will never forget "Ronnie - Sherri has died." Honestly, I remember only bits and pieces of those next few hours. I know I cried with Michelle, I know that my friends were there so quickly and I remember that Joel was there and he was so incredibly amazing through it all!

I do remember my friends Rachel and Sharon walking me back to my dorm room so that I could begin packing to go home to Colorado. I remember just going through the motions - so thankful they were there or who knows what I would have packed! Ha ha!

Even in the midst of our tragedy and sorrow - God is so good. The same day that was possibly the WORST day of my life - God in His wisdom orchestrated some important events that would also make it one of the BEST days of my life. Joel and I had been dating about 9 months - although we both had thought about marriage, it certainly wasn't something that we had talked about seriously. Joel had called his parents and let them know that my sister had passed away and that he was considering going to Colorado with me for the funeral and to just be there. His parents in no uncertain terms told him that they weren't in favor or supportive of this decision (granted I totally understand their thinking).

Joel made a decision that I will FOREVER remember - HE CHOSE ME! Joel chose to be there for me that day, he decided to miss classes and support me, he chose to be a solid rock for me. Not only did Joel go with me to Colorado - HE DROVE ME THERE! I don't know how to describe how much that meant to me. He decided to take me in his own car on an eight hour trip when I was an emotional wreck and shocked - HE CHOSE ME! Michelle and Scott took their car and Joel and I went in his.

In the middle of this tragic day - I knew one thing...Joel loved me enough to go against his parents and several friends and go with me to Colorado when my world was in turmoil. I knew that THIS was a man I wanted , no needed, to spend the rest of my life with - this was the man I would marry!

Yes, November 3, 1994 will for always be the day that my big sister Sherri went to be with Jesus; it will also forever be the day that I knew Joel was the man I would marry...

Each year on November 3 I take time to remember. I remember Sherri and how much I miss her and loved her. I remember the fun times, the happy times and even some of the hard times...This year I am choosing to remember that our God is SO amazing that he is able to make beauty from ashes. In the midst of my loss - God decided to show me what I had gained!


Many who are reading this may not have known that I lost a sister. Sherri was 23 when she went to be with Jesus. She had suffered from frequent migraines that would often keep her awake at night and sometimes caused her to pass out. This particular night, she had spent the night at some friend's home. She was sitting at the table late after not being able to sleep do to a migraine and passed out. When she fell, she fell between a door and a piece of furniture and sufficated- because of the fact that she didn't fall far, no one heard her fall - thus she wasn't found until the next morning. There is no definite medical reason for the migraines or her death - Jesus was just ready for her to come home to Him. For more about Sherri - feel free to read my Novemeber 2010 blog "Remembering Her".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spirit Wind

Ezekiel stared down into the valley
Filled with dry bones baking in the sun
Remains that used to be a mighty army
To him, it looked like the fighting days were done

But driven by a calling on his life
He spoke God's words, the bones began to shake
He stared wide-eyed as the flesh began to form
And as he prophesied to the wind
The soldiers began to wake

And the Lord sent His wind into the valley
And breathed the breath of life into their souls
And raised them again a mighty army
For soon these arisen warriors will battle again
For they have been filled with the Spirit Wind

Woah, woah, woah...

A pastor stands before his congregation
Once a mighty army for the Lord
But now he stares into the lifeless eyes
Believers leading carnal lives
He wonders what they're fighting for

But driven by a calling on his life
He spoke God's word like he'd done a hundred times before
But this time he comes broken and weeping
With tears of a broken heart
And he cries out to the Lord

Oh Lord, send Your wind into this valley
And breathe the breath of life into their souls
And raise them again a mighty army
For soon these arisen warriors will battle again
For they have been filled with the Spirit Wind

Woah, woah, woah...

Holy Spirit, breathe on me
Breathe Your life in me

Oh Lord, send Your wind into this valley
And breathe the breath of life into our souls
And raise us again a mighty army
For soon these arisen warriors will battle again
For we have been filled with the Spirit Wind

Woah, woah, woah...

Oh Lord, we need You now
Breathe Your life into us
Lord, we need You now
Our churches and our families
Oh Lord, we need You now
Breathe life into this dry and weary land
Raise us up again

This is an INCREDIBLE song and has been the topic of many conversations around our home the last few weeks. It has been so fun to see my oldest, Hannah, really get into this CD and particularly this song. The kids only vaguely remembered the story of the dry bones so it was fun to rediscover it!

Unfortunately, we can relate to the Pastor in this song. There have been some churches that we have served in and we could remember when they were FILLED with life and now they are dead like the dry bones. Wait! What am talking about? I CAN REMEMBER being filled with life and then all of the sudden realizing I am walking around like dry bones, dead!

In fact, it wasn't that long ago that I found myself in this exact spot. DRIED up! This past time - I was so dry that I really wasn't sure where "The Water" was. I was searching for Him and I couldn't seem to find Him...until, ONE DAY! I was literally weeping and crying out for new life to come over me - "God, if you are there, if you are listening, if you care - THEN BREATHE on me and restore LIFE to my body." Immediately, I turned a curve - I began to sense Jesus was there in the room with me, I felt renewed, and restored. No, I wasn't bouncing and energetic - but the LIFE began to come back into me and I could feel HIM there breathing on me once again.
All this happened in my life - before I heard this song, before I went to the Casting Crowns concert....God is so awesome like that!

When I heard this song - I wept because I knew that here was a song that not only described a church (confession: yes, I have a few specific ones in mind) but more importantly it described my own personal journey and the struggle I had in feeling the "Spirit Wind"....

Praise Jesus though! HE IS THE WELL~