Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Year in the life of the Arringtons!

First of all - once again, the Arrington's had EVERY intention of sending out these cute little Christmas cards with our family picture on them! We even got professional pictures done this year...and once again, as it does every year, December just snuck up on us and POOF it is gone! Ha ha ha - anyway, we DO plan to send out a New Year's Letter and so I thought I would get on my blog and share just a few of the highlights from each month of 2011..Advantage of saving our pictures by month on the computer Ha ha!

January - The year started with A LOT of snow at our home in Forest Lakes in Bayfield! Joel's sister and family were staying with us and even ended up being "snowed in" an extra day - not that we minded one bit! It was fun to have them and to sit around our cozy little fireplace!!! By far this is my favorite picture of January!!! (ok, so I got his rear but when you are that close, you got take what you can get!)

February - filled with volleyball for Kestra and some fun family times bowling and playing games along with the fun of school and work. The best part of February was the blessing that God brought us in the form of "Flash" our new mini-van (named by our sweet friend's daughter Bell). On Valentine's day we were able to purchase a MUCH needed upgrade in a vehicle. Our red expedition, "Bob's Blessing", had gotten us as far as it could thanks to a wonderful tax
return, we were able to purchase our van and pay cash for it! Once again, God blessed us with not having to pay a car payment!!!

March - a very exciting month for our family all the way around! Hannah was part of a traveling volleyball team that traveled around the four corners area and so we enjoyed being a part of that. One highlight was our trip to Moab Utah, where we were able to get a hotel room and have a little mini-vacation as a family! Also in March, Hannah went with her school to WASHINGTON DC! This was a big step for us as parents - sending her so far away on a plane and not going with her! Another big thing in March that was heartbreaking to us all was the loss of one of Hannah's good friends, Shannaiah. While in ministry, Joel and I have had to help several teens through the loss of a friend, but NOTHING compares with watching your own child grieve through it and try to make sense of it. At the end of Hannah's trip to DC, we went to Albuquerque and met her plane - we then spent several days as a family doing the "touristy" thing - zoo, shopping, dining out, etc! Fun time as a family!!!

April - we began to enjoy the warmer temperatures, the spring-like weather and all that brings to the wonderful Colorado Rockies! Highlights included - Special Olympics with Tyler and many of our special needs friends, fun time with our friends the Vaughns and their newest addition Levi Daniel, and just enjoying spring all together! The picture to the left is Tyler with his good friend Chantel after they both got medals at the Special Olympics!

May - with May came the end of school, Hannah's continuation ceremony from Jr. High, Hannah's 14th birthday (YIKES A HIGH SCHOOLER), a much needed and treasured family vacation to visit both of our sisters and their families in Texas, and the opening of a door that would change the direction of ministry for our family (more on that in June)!

June - a month normally filled with camps and VBS, this year was no different for the Arringtons! We had youth camp and VBS at our wonderful church in Bayfield Colorado. However, after the last night of VBS, the kids went to my parent's house for a few days and Joel and I traveled to Borger Tx to talk with the people and staff of First Baptist Borger about the possibility of Joel coming as Associate Pastor to children and families! This was a huge step for us but one that God had began preparing us for back in April. As Joel and I began to talk, he shared that God was laying on his heart to narrow his ministry to children and families and to take a step away from youth ministry! A hard and heart wrenching step to be sure. We LOVED and still LOVE our wonderful teens in Bayfield! They are still "our" youth group but we knew the time had come to pursue other open doors! Go to my blogs in June to read the complete story of how this came about - but suffice it to say, it was GOD and no other way that this particular church with this position could come about!!! Also in June, we celebrated the 10th birthday of our Tyler Bay!!! So hard to believe all our kids are in "double digits"!

July - due to the course of events that happened in June, July turned out to be a VERY busy month!! We left on July 1st after youth camp and traveled with the kids back to Borger Tx to come in view of a call! The weekend was filled with interviews, receptions, meeting people and some great time as a family exploring what would be our new home town! After a positive vote from the church on July 3rd, plans began to come together VERY quickly for a move! Nothing short of the King of Kings could have made all the details fall into place as quickly and smoothly as they did! We found a house, reserved a moving truck, and much more all in the course of 2 days!!! July 15 we headed out of Bayfield, with some tears of sadness and some excitement for what lie ahead, and made the trek to Borger Tx! July 17 was our first Sunday and it was FULL! We celebrated with a baptism/swimming party, moving in to our new home, and getting to know our new church family!

August - brought the start of a new school year at a new school for all of the kids, Joel adjusting and beginning his new job, myself getting the house settled and trying to figure out the new "normal" for our family! Getting all four kids situated in their new schools with schedules, teachers, IEPs, etc was quite the task but God pulled us through! Joel also continued working toward his bachelor's degree online through Liberty University.

September - as the school schedule became a little more normal, kids began to make friends and adjust, I began once again to work for my Dad with his appraisal business via on-line and through mail. It has taken some time but we are finally to a little more smooth road and up and going! I also began to work on getting cleared to substitute teach in the school district, a process that wouldn't be complete until the end of November! For me, the highlight of September was the visit from two of our former youth in Bayfield, Tab and Katy! After a few days here, the three of us took a road trip to Plainview to see Wayland Baptist University where Tab and Katy will be attending this spring!!! I am so excited for them and for the fact that they will only be 2 hours away - lots of weekend vists I HOPE!!! Please pray with us for their financial provision for WBU i n the semesters ahead!!!

October - with October came all the preparations for our first BIG event with Joel as the Children's Pastor. We prepared for the annual Fall Carnival of the church. As is the case anytime you start a new ministry, there were lots of new twists and turns but we do feel that it was a success and many families were reached through it. I also had the opportunity toward the end of October to begin being involved somewhat in the Special Needs ministry in our church - this is a ministry that is near and dear to my heart and I hope to continue to be involved. October also brought another trip to Dallas to see my sister and to have our family pictures taken in beautiful Frisco! Another highlight of October was Kestra playing on the youth volleyball team and me having the opportunity to coach - SO MUCH FUN!!!

November - another busy month for our family! We had volleyball for Kestra and I, the first visit from my parents, a trip for me with my parents to Dallas for the baptism of my neice and nephew, and a trip back to Colorado for Thanksgiving and visiting our FBC Bayfield family! It was so wonderful to go back to the mountains for a time and to see all those we love and cherish!!!

December - has been very full of embracing and remembering the birth of our Savior! As a family we have had the opportunity to give in a way like never before and to experience the gift that brings! We celebrated as a family on Christmas Eve with presents, games, the Christmas story and breakfast. On Christmas day, we had some other staff families over for lunch and enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship with them! This past Tuesday, we went to Amarillo and celebrated Christmas with Joel's family...we are looking forward to his parents coming to Borger tomorrow for the weekend and to celebrate New Years!

As you can see, it has been a wonderful, busy year filled with many changes for our family! We are looking forward to 2012 as we continue to serve and reach the families of Borger, Tx. As always, we know that there will be some changes to our lives and we are ready and willing to embrace them whatever they may be! We love each and every one of you and IF you have read this to the end - I am IMPRESSED! Ha ha! Praying God's blessing on each and every one of you!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The blessings begin with the giving~

This year Joel and I made it a priority to GIVE in ways that we have never done before...the coolest thing about it? Well, in reality we never really sat down and had a conversation about it! It was more like the Lord laid it on each of our hearts individually that we needed to be people of giving. There were no stressful "what if" conversations about money or "can we afford that"? We just DID IT!
It has honestly been THE best Holiday Season for us so far in our 16 years of marriage! It began before Thanksgiving with the preparation of Operation Christmas Child boxes. In the past we have done 2 boxes - one for a girl and one for a boy. This year we did 7 boxes of our own and were also able to help with the purchasing of items for other boxes put together by our church!
It continued after thanksgiving with the purchase of formula to go to an orphanage in Uganda and the helping of presents for a family of 6 whose daughter is battling a rare form of cancer! We also bought groceries for our local benevolence ministry!!! In addition, we were able to give our regular tithe AND contribute to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. We also gave to Salvation Army at several stores - never once hesitating like we have in the past!
In the grand scheme of things, this may not appear as much; however for our family that is usually just able to make it pay check to pay check and even then it's a balancing act - it was HUGE! Yet God was so faithful - He said give, we did, the resources were there....
As the first of December crept up, I began to wonder....would there be enough for our kids to have Christmas? Would the kids get why we had given to so many others? Where would it all come from?
"'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this" says the Lord God Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'" Malachi 3: 10
We have truly witnessed this verse come to life! Our pantry is full, as you can see from the Christmas Tree above our kids are having a GREAT Christmas, our bills are paid and our car has gas! Did I mention that GOD ALMIGHTY did this with only ONE income??? Is not God so good?
I don't write this to brag and say "Look what we did". I write it as an encouragement to say that God does EXACTLY what He says He will do! I have had trouble trusting and believing God in the past (sometimes still do). Yet, God in all His Faithfulness has held true to His promise...IF we will bring the tithe and offerings that He calls us to bring - then HE WILL bring about so many blessings that you will not have room for it!!!
My challenge to each of you this Season - Give when God calls you to give; whether your tithe at church, food for the needy, gifts for a single mom or dad, gas for a stranger traveling, etc. Whatever God calls you to do - Do it and YOU WILL BE BLESSED!

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Let it be!"

I love Christmas - everything about it! The joy in the air, the festivities (even if it fills my calendar), the excitement of the kids, the Christmas Carols, the presents, and YES I LOVE THE CHRISTMAS STORY! Every year - reliving the story of our Saviour's birth fills my heart!
Thus far this year though Mary has captivated my heart, my mind, and my attention. I am learning some things that I really didn't realize about her before this year...and it has made me look up to her and desire to be more like her even more!
See this precious girl in the above picture? She just turned 12...the approximate age of Mary when the Angel Gabriel came and gave her the most Earth shattering news of her life!!! 12 years our society, Mary would be playing volleyball, laughing with her friends, studying for school, learning about shopping, etc. She wouldn't be thinking seriously about marriage much less parenthood.
Now, before you start going on about how we as a soceity have altered the age of adulthood (which we have) and all the cultural differences (which are many) - I get all that. In fact, to me THOSE differences are what makes Mary's response even more incredible to me! You see, Mary lived in a time and culture where immorality was not accepted in ANY way, shape or form! You didn't "sleep around", you weren't "loose" with your body, you certainly didn't get a divorce.
Betrothed was as good as married! There were no exceptions. So here is our girl Mary! She is betrothed - essentially a married woman- and she is excitedly planning her wedding! WHAM! This "Cinderella" story is thrown a curve ball - this angel (which in and of itself is astounding) comes tells Mary "So, you are honored among women. God has seen you and knows your heart - that's why He has chosen you to have his son!" HELLO!!!! ??? I am going to have a baby? What will people say? What will my parents think? Oh my - what about Joseph? He knows we didn't have sex - great! These are the thoughts that I would have - I would totally see my world as rocked and crumbled....
Mary's response: Let it be as you have said.
That's all - let it be! I am not sure about you, but for me I have a hard time with "Let it be". So many times the world tosses curve balls my way; a move to a new town, a new job/career, car problems, financial issues, health issues, kids struggling in a new school, etc. Now, I KNOW in my head that God is in control, I KNOW that nothing happens to me that has not first passed through His throne - yet in my HEART I often freak out, overeact, stress, get angry, depressed, scared....
I serve the KING OF KINGS - He is the God of all, the Creator of all, is above all, GOD ALMIGHTY and with Him....YES I can "Let it be..."
This Christmas as we face a new ministry, a struggling economy, a less than moral Nation, an uncertain future, new schools/community for our sincere prayer is that day by day, moment by moment I can say to the Lord "Let it be as you have ordained...I trust you and am willing to hold your hand and let YOU guide me through it!"