Saturday, December 22, 2012

Simplify Christmas...Weird I know!!!

Each year, I have a picture in my head of what Christmas time at the Arringtons will look like. The picture in my mind is probably similar to what you picture or maybe even have...here are some of the things in Christmas in my head:

A LARGE beautiful tree - complete with matching ornaments, and beautifully wrapped presents even in matching paper....

The smell of many homemade sweets baking and sweet smiling children awaiting....

Christmas music playing softly....

A clean house....

A crackling fire that is smelling oh so like the mountains....

Christmas cards/letters mailed out with this adorable family picture on them

And of course SNOW (ok, not in my control but in my mind!)

Anyway - you get the idea right? Well the problem with this beautiful Christmas picture is well, ummm....it really hasn't happened in well like....ok well pretty much not ever. I can't pin point it other than to say most of the time life just doesn't match up with the picture in my mind.

A few years ago, as Joel and I began to talk about gifts for the kids, and our Christmas budget I came across this great idea on the internet to give your kids 3 gifts. Gold - something they want; Frankincense - something they wear; and Myhr - something to help them grow spiritually. So, that has worked for the most part and we love it!! This was the beginning of a journey to "re-think" Christmas at the Arringtons.

This year, our budget has been really tight. Now, some of that was in a trip to Disney World which we LOVED and I wouldn't trade for anything but a lot of it has just been life and unexpected expenses. As we neared the holidays...I found myself a little down because slowly, one by one, the things in my picture of Christmas were just not going to happen....

We don't have a Big tree...in fact, we have no tree.
We don't have a fireplace and thus no fire...
The house isn't clean but only picked up
Baking just hasn't happened
Snow in West Texas???
Christmas cards...yeah that one NEVER happens! LOL
There are no matching presents carefully wrapped

Before I go on,...let me explain something. Joel and I have been on a quest. A quest to live a life that is simplified, that is focused on Christ like living, and that seeks to create a "new" normal for us. We are revamping our budget in BIG ways, we are rethinking how and why we do things and more than anything we want our life to reflect Christ in EVERY area. With that in mind...we have chosen to simplify what the world defines as Christmas....Here's how:

1.) We are celebrating gifts with our children in January and letting December be all about Jesus and family. So, other than some small very token type gifts our kids aren't opening presents until then. We have explained to them that Christmas is about Christ - not us. I won't say they cheerfully accepted this, but they are warming to the idea. I won't even say this will be a yearly thing - just where we are THIS year.

2.) The money we would spend on gifts - we have split between giving to a single mom with 5 children and using to travel to spend time with family.

3.) We officially are done with Santa - not only do our kids now know he isn't real but he just gets far too much emphasis.

4.) We aren't "over indulging" in the amount and types of foods we bought for the holidays - just the normal everyday budget friendly eating. (of course, we do enjoy the yummy food at parties!)

5.) We are THOROUGHLY enjoying quiet nights and days at home with the kids filled with movies and board games.

6.) We are enjoying time talking with our kids about what Christmas is REALLY about.

I know this is weird and it is so very different. It has been hard for me to adjust to in all honesty - however, based on events the past week - I am so thankful God has me in this place. The tragedy in Connecticut has our entire Nation hugging children just a little tighter. In addition, a friend from High School died very suddenly and unexpectedly just yesterday.

Things like this make me realize something - I want my children to experience the joy of giving and building relationships. I want them to see Christmas as a time to give away and not get. To focus on a Savior and not the shopping and the stress. Please know, we don't frown upon traditional Christmas activities by ANY means. Nor do we think everyone needs to simplify. Next year - my Christmas may look a little more like that picture - or it may not.

My point is this - there is no tradition or expectation of the Christmas Season that should take away from the joy of Christ and giving to others. If circumstances in your life have forced you to have just a smaller than normal Christmas remember the humble stable where it all began. It wasn't in a decorated house, there were no lights on the tree, or cookies baking in the oven. In fact, there were no presents that first night (the wise-men arrived two years later). It was a quiet peaceful serene moment...the focus on a small baby.
Each year we "give" Jesus a gift in his stocking - this year my gift is simply a simplified Christmas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Learning to lean...learning to let go...

First of all - let me say that I am sorry it has been so long since I have blogged. Life has just seemed to be going and going; before I knew it November has come and is almost gone! Whew!!!

If I were to sum up what the Lord has been teaching/showing me in the past few months it would be this: Learning to lean and learning to let go. I know, I know sounds kind of contridictory I know but let me explain.

I have a control/fix it mentality. I really do. I see a problem, I don't want to focus on the problem I want to jump to the solution - often times before I have even fully grasped the problem. I want to FIX it, I want it gone, out of here! It doesn't matter the area of life or even if it is MY problem - I want to fix it. However, often times I can't. I just can't. Sometimes it is because the problem isn't mine to solve, or the solution isn't there yet, or well gulp, I just CAN'T!!! I especially struggle with this in terms of a problem or obstacle that I believe to be MY FAULT...there, I said it. If it is my fault, then I should be able to fix it - right? Nope...not always.

See, sometimes I believe that God allows us to dig ourselves in a hole so deep that we have to come to the point of absolute and total dependance on HIM! He has to be the one to get us out...there is a video I once saw called "A Man fell in a hole..." the whole video is how this man falls in a hole and all these people "attempt" to get him out - they can't. Yet, Jesus comes along and is the only one who can get him out. The man FELL in the hole. He wasn't pushed there, he wasn't placed there, he FELL there on his own accord. Perhaps he was distracted, perhaps he just plain didn't see it - regardless he got himself in the hole. I can relate. Recently, I have found myself in a hole. I wasn't pushed or placed or forced there - I FELL there. In fact, well...I am still in the hole in a sense but don't worry, this isn't the end of the post! I am not going to be left in the hole!

God is teaching and molding me. He is showing me that HIS grace is sufficient that I can LEAN on HIM! That HE will, in HIS time, remove me from the hole. I am learning, I am growing, I am being stretched and HE is ABLE! I don't see the how, I don't see the when, but I know I can trust in HIM to get me out of the hole. I want to fix it - if I work more (more on that in a bit), if I cut out more, if I pray more, if I do more, if I am more, etc....NOPE! Not gonna cut it...it's a God sized hole that I HAVE to lean on Him to get me out....

Now for the letting go part...as stated earlier I am a fixer but I also like to be in control.  I want to be the one who determines how and when things are going to happen. In regards to my "hole" I had a plan! I was going to be out of that stupid hole by mid November. I had it lined out, planned out, it looked good on paper and well, that was that! It's November 27 - I am not out of the hole, my plan didn't really work, not sure why, I followed it to the T but here I am. I sat down, I revised, if I subbed just a few more days, if I sacrificed just this little bit of the calling God placed on my life (I'll come back to it God.), if I begged and pleaded just a tad more, if I just got a full-time job, if I gave up this part of our family...THEN I would be out of the hole. It hasn't worked...and I am realizing that until I let go of MY plans, MY agenda, MY timeline that I will stay in the hole. I don't LIKE the hole, it's dark, it's overbearing, it's lonely, it's suffocating and I WANT OUT...and thus the reason that I am learning it is time to let go. It is no longer mine to hold on to, I can't plan the when, the how ,the where the why - I just have to let go and let God.

For a moment let me chase a little side rabbit trail that in it's own way is connected. During my time in the hole (ha ha sounds like a prison cell!) God has allowed my husband to be ever so faithful, so encouraging, so focused, so wise...I have ignored him too. I thought, "Joel just isn't the planner I am. He's not thinking it all through - MY WAY WILL WORK.". My way, wasn't God's way, it wasn't my husband's way and well it didn't work...hmm, something to be said about that. You see, as a wife I am called to submit to and trust my husband. Can I state my opinion or ideas - absolutely! However, at the point in which he states the way we need to handle something then I need to listen, obey and follow. I haven't done that - I have fought, struggled, demanded, begged, pleaded - ok threw a down right temper tantrum to do it my way! Guess what? God AND my husband finally conceded and said "Ok, have it your way." Yep...didn't work. God will not honor and bless if our hearts are not first right with him and we aren't truly where we need to be in our walk with Him and secondly, as a wife I don't believe God will bless until I have submitted to my husband and I am right with him as well.

If you haven't guessed it by now - my hole centers around finances. It is a hole I KNOW to look out for, a hole I am familiar with as well...I have frequented it many times before. Times when I doubted and did not let go, times when I tried to take control and didn't lean on God, times when I failed to do things the way God has called me to...it is a hole that I HATE and yet I know God is still molding and refining me through this hole. The world tells me that I have a college degree and that I can make a decent income using that degree full-time. The world states that working 40-50 hours is the solution to getting out of the hole. The world says it's ok if my kids suffer in school, or lack of time with me as long as the paycheck is coming in....God says something different, something WEIRD in the world's standards. God says..I AM. I AM your PROVIDER, I AM your SUSTAINER, I AM your PHYSICIAN, I AM your SAVIOR, I AM your ALL IN ALL...and I WILL do what I say I WILL do! I do long to use the degree I have, and I believe that God will allow me to do that one day but that day isn't here and it won't come until I fully and completely let go and lean on Him.

This post is definitely a little more "open book" than I typically get but I felt that it was time to confess not only to God and to my husband but to be open about the struggle I am having in this hole. Not for the purpose of a "pat on the back" or "wow, you are so strong" etc. Believe me I am anything but strong...just ask my husband or best friend how many stinking temper tantrums I have thrown during the past few weeks!!! I am sharing it as a record of who God is and what He is doing and continues to do in my life. Many think minister's and their families have it all figured out and together and that life is just "peaches and cream" for us - the truth is we struggle, we fail, we doubt, we wonder just like any other family and in many ways we are harder on ourselves.

Why don't I need to work full time or sub full time? Simply stated - God says no and so does my husband. The more in depth answer - we have two children who need to be at home in a home-school environment so that they can thrive and grow. We have a ministry to a church and community that requires both Joel and I to be available and working within it. We have a son with special needs and learning disabilities that needs extra help and mom-time. We have a daughter involved in extra-curricular sports and activities that requires mom help. We have a home that needs TLC so that all 6 of us are able to relax and let go here...Would an extra income allow for any of this? NOPE...Will God provide the finances we need? YOU BET HE WILL!

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper  you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jer 29:11-13

Here's the video that I refer to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WCTltHR-Hg

Friday, October 12, 2012

Politics? That's second string to me!

I am by NO means into politics...seriously I am not. In fact, there is only a VERY rare occasion in which you will even find news on my TV - I do on occasion watch the weather segment although even that has declined since having the Weather App on my phone.

I don't claim to know all the "ins and outs" of all the big issues that are on the ballots. As for a National budget? I have a hard enough time managing our personal budget at home much less trying to understand or make sense of the National one. Foreign Policy - it's all "foreign" to me! (pardon the pun). Don't ask me about the details of the Health Care plan - haven't a clue (although I know there is a lot I am not in favor of).

All that aside there is one BIG issue that I care passionately about. It is one of the things that drives my husband and I to do what we do. It is why I personally, and we as a couple have made many sacrifices. It is the core issue that ultimately affects ALL other issues in our Nation today - the downfall or loss of the FAMILY!

This is what matters to me and as I raise my children in a society that every day degrades and devalues the role of family - I am more passionate than EVER that if we would go back to the basics, go back to the core values that our founding fathers fought for, then we would see a true turn around in our Nation.

I can hear some of you now, yes even see your face, this is what you are thinking "hello, we aren't in the colonial period any more - this is a new time - things are different." Okay - I will had it to you, yes SOME things are different but the CORE, the reason this country was founded hasn't change. Look at ANY country in the world - they will all tell you their heritage. The people know where they have come from, what made them the country they are. The United States should be no different - we need to remember what we came out of and why. The founding fathers, who mind you were NOT all Christians, believed in the value of family. They believed that the success of a Nation depended on the success of the family - it was true then and it is true now.

The family is where it HAS to lie and the family is the one entity that is being attacked on EVERY front. The right to determine your child's education is being challenged in the majority of states, the right of how and when to discipline your children is at risk, of course the right to raise your child of the faith of your choosing is under attack. Beyond parenting issues - which are HUGE to say the least - there are the issues of defining family. Studies have shown over and over and over that children who are in a strong family unit - meaning one father, one mother (both the biological parents) of children are more apt to succeed in life as adults. This DOES NOT mean that children in mixed/blended families cannot succeed - it means that they have to work harder. This attack on family isn't new - in fact, it's not a "recent" issue. It is an issue that developed overtime as we allowed our priorities to shift from family to government, from family to self, from family to work, etc.

As much as I am not a political person - I am not into "statistics" or listing facts you can search for yourself - rather I want to share with you real life examples, true stories of how as an adult working with children and teens over the past 17 years has seen the Family Role fall at an alarming rate:

1. Numerous students raised in either a single family home or blended home have shared with us their loss of identity. "I am not sure who I am or where I belong."

2. On several occasions "I really wish my parents cared about what I am facing - they are more concerned about their jobs and the world than me."

3. From parents "I can't remember the last time we sat around our table or had a night at home - we are always pulled in too many directions." or "We sold our dining room table - because we never use it anyway." (dead serious)

4. Also from parents when asked what their children are faced with at school "Hmmm..I don't think anything really. We haven't talked about it much." (I will tell you they are faced with a lot!)

5.On the issue of modesty from parents "Well, their just kids - it really isn't a big deal what they wear."

6. On athletics vs family time "Well, if  they are to succeed in life; athletics is key"

7. When asked about family traditions during holidays "Well, we really don't have any....it's just time for my parents to sleep and me to play video games."

8. When asked what he wanted to do when he graduated from HS without hesitation "Be a porn star - their cool."

You get the idea...families are falling apart and we are now facing a crisis of epidemic proportions! While we are sitting back being "too busy" for our families - the government is slowly and methodically stripping away parental rights and we are none the wiser. There are lawsuits currently in the US Courts where parents are being accused of child abuse simply for taking their children to church, they are being denied the right to know their children's medical conditions or have a say in their medical treatment, they are being denied the right to say whether or not their child attends sex education, and many more vital rights are being challenged EVERY DAY!

So - back to the original topic of politics. No - I am not into politics but I am into FAMILY. When I look at the two current nominees for President, I don't see foreign policy, I don't see health care, I don't see the budget (although those are ALL important issues). I look at the family. I look at the fact that for decades America has believed that parents are the professionals when it comes to their child in every area and I look at how now a tide is turning. A tide that began with "It takes a village to raise a child" and is now at an alarming rate overtaking America. I look at how a candidate values the life of a helpless baby that has no voice. I look at how a candidate defines marriage. I look at the lack of morals our youth have. These are the issues that concern me and the issues that sway my vote.

America - WAKE UP! Our deepest heritage and history was centered around the family. Parents took the responsibility for their child's education, their health, their discipline, their upbringing to responsible adults. The government came ALONGSIDE and SUPPORTED parents - they didn't take their place. Value for one another and God were the essence of society - not degrading and devaluing one another. If parents don't pay attention and realize that there are hidden agendas - they will wake up one day and wonder why they have no rights in parenting. Currently there is a bill that if signed will literally say that the government will have complete say in the raising of your child - for more information go to www.parentalrights.org.

In addition to being informed - we have GOT to gain control of our own individual families. We have got to spend time around the dinner table. We need to say "no" to things that infringe on regular family time together. Our children have got to know that THEY are our greatest priority. We have to protect them from pornography, bullying, cyber bullying, overcommitment, etc. We have to take 100% responsibility for their education - whether through homeschooling, being involved in local school districts, or private education. We have to be the number one champion in their corner. We need to be the ones teaching them the importance of freedom and the cost that was paid. I am speaking to MY generation. It's NOT the responsibility of Senior adults to fight and vote for this. It's NOT the responsibility of grandparents to raise our children and to teach them about family - it is OURS!

Joel and I are so passionate about this issue that we have literally devoted our lives to educating and coming alongside parents as they seek to raise responsible children. For a true gauge on where your family falls in recognizing the importance of family ask yourself and/or your kids these questions:

1.) When was the last meal that you all sat around the table together and actually TALKED - not hurried through?

2.) What are your children doing with their "down time" at home?

3.) When was the last time your family did something together - just you guys (ie. board games, walk, hike, etc)

4.) If married, when was the last date you and your spouse went on?

5.) If married, what do your children see when you interact with one another? or do they just see you rushing to the next thing?

6.) When was the last time you went to church as a family?

7.) What issue is/are your child/children facing at school? What are they learning currently at school?

8.) Do you and/or your children spend more time looking at an electronic device than one another?

Your answers will probably give you an idea on the status of your family. If there is something you aren't happy with - what changes need to take place? Need help in re-organizing or re-prioritizing? That's what we do!



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What's in a voice...

Wow...what a crazy time these last 3 weeks have been. I can honestly say, that being on the home front side of a mission trip has been one of the hardest things I have EVER done!!!

Joel and I have a really great marriage, not perfect by any means but certainly a great marriage in my opinion. We have had are ups and we have more than our share of downs but through it all instead of allowing circumstances to pull us apart - we have allowed everything to draw us closer to one another. From the bottom of my heart I can say that we are one flesh...

This time with him in Africa and me here in Texas has shown me a lot about my self, my walk with the Lord, my relationship with Joel, and my relationship with my children. I have seen a lot that I am proud of in my life and well, I have seen a whole lot that I am not so proud of - yet through it all I have discovered the ONE thing that I miss the most....

The sound of my hubby's voice....I haven't actually verbally talked to Joel since Sept 11 - the day he left. In fact, I will not verbally talk with him until Sept 28 - the day he comes home. That's a LONG time to go without talking to the one person that you share EVERYTHING with! Ha ha! More than just missing his voice though - I have reflected on the fact that God certainly created us to be RELATIONAL! Not just a quick text message here and there (which has been our only means of communication for the past 15 days) but to have face to face verbal interacting relationships. I do not believe that you can truly connect through just an e-mail or a text...you need to TALK.

Today I was thinking to myself of all the things I needed to share with Joel - things about the kids, things about the house and bills, things about family, things about church and ministry...so very much!!! However, just as quickly - something else came to mind...

Just as much as I miss Joel and my daily interaction and relationship with him - my Heavenly Father also misses me. He longs for me to sit and just talk to Him about my day, my life, my highs, my lows. He wants to hear my voice and He longs for me to stop long enough to hear His...
Yet, unlike Joel where I have honestly had no way to communicate with him verbally - my Father is there EVERY day, He patiently sits and waits wondering if today I will have enough time to talk with Him and to hear from Him...He wants a strong relationship with Him...where have I been?

What's in a voice? A relationship....I believe that if we would stop and take time to talk and listen to the Lord our relationship would be so strong that it would be AMAZING. In the same way - I believe that we need to take time and truly interact with those we love and care about - ESPECIALLY our spouses. Marriages are falling apart literally all around us - both outside and inside the church. From what I can see...a common theme is that many times they have stopped communicating and interacting with one another. They haven't taken time to enjoy the sound of each others voice.

With that in mind - I plan on working on my communication both with my Father and with my hubby!!! Joel better be ready for a LONG coke date (I don't do coffee but Dr. Pepper is awesome and affordable) :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The hand of God!

God is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! There is simply no other way in which to describe all He has shown me and done in our lives this past week....

Let me rewind to Monday. Joel had been out of town a week. It had been going smooth and we were settling in although missing Dad a whole lot. Monday night, Hannah and I sat down to watch a LONG awaited new episode of one of our favorite shows: Bones.

Half way through the show, the phone rang. Looking at my caller ID I was a little surprised to see a name pop up - Kathy Brush. Kathy is a WONDERFUL lady and a fellow minister's wife in Colorado. I truly love her and her husband Jerry so much! However, since moving to Texas a year ago I had sort of lost touch with her and hadn't spoken with her at all. So, my first assumption was "pocket dial" ha ha! Silly Ronnie - God doesn't do that!

Kathy was calling on behalf of another very good friend of mine Carolyn. Carolyn's mom had just passed away - and two of Carolyn's four daughters are attending Wayland Baptist University in Plainview Tx. (about two hours from Borger). In talking with Kathy about how to notify the girls, Carolyn mentioned my name...thus the reason for the call. Kathy was calling to see if I would be willing to go and tell the girls.

Now, all 4 of the girls are just like my own. They are VERY dear to my heart - so of course I said yes. There was no question - it was the way it needed to be. So at 7:30 Monday night I made the two hour drive to Plainview and was with Katy and Ariel as we told them about their Grandmother's passing...such a hard time but precious time.

On Tuesday, as I was following up with Kathy Brush about how it went for the girls, I told her God is awesome! You see, Katy and Ariel were two of the youth in our youth group in Colorado. We were so sad to leave the youth there - and at the time had NO idea that they would be coming to Wayland - God knew! God knew that we would be two hours away at a time when they would need someone from "home" who understood how hard this loss would be. God knew that Kathy would have my number in her phone. God knew that I would have a free evening to go and see the girls. In His perfect timing God moved us to where we needed to be!


Wednesday - typically a "hump" day and this week was no exception. I was tired, worn out and down. Yet, I still had to run Club XP, our children's program, as well as get kids to bed, etc. Club XP happened to be a high number of kiddos but went SO SMOOTH!!! Only through the work of the Lord.

Thursday (today) - I went to the church to teach my precious class of two year olds for Kids Day Out. We have 12 little ones in our class - although today there were only 9. Anyway, one little boy who I will refer to as K - has just had a really rough time. The previous two Thursdays he had LITERALLY cried or pouted the whole day with the exception of nap time and lunch...just wasn't liking it much! Today, as mom dropped him off he started crying right away and for the first two hours - it was the usual pouting and occasional crying. THEN, I was able to start engaging him with a ball...not quite a smile but participation (something we hadn't seen yet)...I continued...he cracked a smile...then a grin...then a bigger smile...finally a LAUGH!!!! By the time mom got him at noon - he shouted "Mom, I am HAPPY!" Totally the hand of the Lord showing me some joy in the midst of missing my hubby...in fact, I was REALLY struggling but he made my day!

After work, I went to get the kids at school. Tyler came right out and got in the car. He stated that he didn't feel good and could we please just hurry home? We got Kestra and we were off. I had no more walked in the door than I get a call from Tyler's special ed teacher. Tyler had forgotten to leave his FM system (what he uses to hear teachers) at the school to charge. Sighing, I said I would be right back. When I pulled up I saw Tyler's Social Studies teacher outside - she is also the daughter of my adult Sunday School class teachers. I waved and walked in with the system. As I came out, she stopped to talk to me....this part still brings tears to my eyes.

She proceeded to ask me if Tyler had told me what they did yesterday. I said, well he said something about looking at Africa on the map. She smiled and said, yes he asked if we could Google Earth Africa since his Dad was there - so they did. After that, she asked Tyler if he would like to share with the class what his Dad was doing in Africa. Tyler then got up in front of the class and told them that his Dad was in Africa telling the boys and girls about Jesus.. Tyler continued to share how Jesus died on the cross because he loves us and that is what his Dad was telling people in Africa. Tyler shared the Gospel with his whole fifth grade Social Studies class - all because his Dad was in Africa! Like Tyler's teacher stated - she isn't allowed to say anything but if it is student initiated and led, she doesn't have to stop them either!!!

Again - God's PERFECT timing of weaving events together. If Tyler hadn't brought home the FM system I wouldn't have gone back to the school and I wouldn't have spoken to his teacher. Not only that - just an hour or so prior I was really struggling with missing Joel and I was crying to God saying "Why? Why do they have to be there this long?"...Tyler's story was my WHY! So that my son - with the innocence and faith of a child could share Jesus with his class.

Later when talking with Tyler about it he stated very matter of factly,  "Mom, some of those kids didn't think Jesus existed, but I told them and now they know He does." From the mouth of babes...we are simply to TELL people so they know!

I am just in awe of how perfectly God orchestrates events for HIS purpose and HIS plan! I do miss my hubby - however, I am so thankful for this opportunity for a classroom of fifth graders to hear about Jesus!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The other side....

It is surreal in many ways to think that it has been two years since I took a giant leap of faith (for me anyway) and went on my first foreign mission trip to Africa.

A part of me says that seems like a lifetime ago; and yet another part says wasn't that just yesterday? In light of Joel's trip there, I have recently pulled out my journal and glanced through it. I thought it would be neat to read one day in my journal for every day that he is gone - in a weird way kind of "journey" with him! Anyway, I plan to do that starting tonight - he left this morning!

I always thought that the person going on the trip would experience the most and also face the most challenges...yet, here I am only about 12 hours into his trip and I am finding that perhaps the hardest part is staying on the home front...

Is this what it is like to be the spouse of one deployed in the armed services? I think it very may well be incredibly similar and just as a military soldier heads out to war...so does one on a mission trip.

This afternoon, after a very taxing time with my son I longed to call Joel and talk with him about it; however, at the same time I didn't. I didn't want to distract him from the mission, I wanted him to be able to focus on the task ahead...I bet military spouses can relate! As it turned out, Joel did call and he did ask about our son so I did talk with him about it - however, by the time he called a trusted friend had already shed some much needed light on the subject and I was able to tell him my plan...whew!

I am not naive enough to say "I got this, it's a breeze!". I am aware the enemy will attack both on the field and here at home...he will do what he can to cause distraction, discouragement, irritability, impatience, etc. Yet, I am determined to do what I often talk with my teen kids about - have the battle plan ready BEFORE the attack comes. I want to be prayed up and read up in the Word! I want to recognize the enemy for who he is and know that MY GOD IS STRONGER! So, the plan for the next 17...make that 16 days now...is to stay grounded in the Word, one with the King and of course be willing to call for reinforcements when needed!

It has dawned on me that when I went two years ago - we lived within an hour of both sets of grandparents and so they were able to help out some. This time, we do live an hour from one aunt but for the most part I will be relying on my church family here in Borger should anything major come up...isn't that AWESOME though that as the family of God we got one another's back?

With that...I am off to the races of getting four kids settled for the evening!!! Thank you in advance for all the encouragement and prayers...they are felt and appreciated!

Sidenote: Times like these are a GREAT reminder for me of why God created the family unit the way he did...we were never intended to raise children or walk life alone. I know MANY single parents and I know most of them have not chosen their path...I respect them so much but more than that I pray that they have a family, whether biological or spiritual, to walk along this road of life. May I be that for the single parents I know!!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Disney....

 At the Amarillo Airport

We were so blessed this summer to take a family trip to Disney World! It was truly a magical experience in SO many ways. First of all, it was the first real family vacation we had taken since Tyler was a baby...yes we have gone many places but the majority of the time it has been to see family or related to ministry. However, this was JUST US and JUST FOR FUN!! It was also the first time that the younger three had ever been on an airplane!!! They were full of mixed emotions but mostly they were excited. Finally, well it WAS Disney after all and THAT makes in magical in itself!

 On the Magical Express to our Cabins!

Day 1 was filled with travel. We flew from Amarillo to Houston and then had a 3 hour lay over. I had scheduled the longer lay over just because we hadn't all flown together, I knew we would need to eat, etc. As it turned out that was the perfect amount of time! We weren't rushed, we enjoyed our lunch and all was good. We arrived at our cabin at Fort Wilderness around 8;00. There was a little delay in getting our luggage - it didn't arrive until 10:30 but we enjoyed ourselves anyway!

 Ready to explore EPCOT!!



Day 2 - we headed out to Epcot! Epcot is mostly educational but they have done a GREAT job of making it a fun educational experience! We all loved the ride Soarin which is a simulated hang glider ride over the state of California. I was especially proud of Kestra on this ride. She doesn't typically like thrill rides or rides that are high...she jumped in and did it anyway!!! Another highlight from Epcot was the laser light show that night - it was FANTASTIC!!! To sit by the lake with funnel cake and watch it was perfect!!!


 My little man on our Safari!

Day 3 - off to Disney's Animal Kingdom. By far this was one of my favorites and of course my little animal lover Tyler loved it. The thing I liked the most was that it was so much slower paced and relaxing. We were able to just stroll through and enjoy it! Again, Kestra got out of her comfort zone and road Mt Everest which is a CRAZY roller coaster - she loved it too!!! We also went on a little African Safari - this really was fun especially in light of Joel's upcoming trip and my past trip to Zimbabwe.

 At the Carousel trying to pull out the sword!



Day 4 - Magic Kingdom...what else to say except - MAGICAL! That first view of Cinderella's castle really does capture your heart and put you in Disney mode! We just enjoyed everything there. Rides were great and we had a fun day. That night we went to the Electrical Parade and had a blast!


 In front of the Castle waiting for fireworks!



Day 5 - Return trips to Epcot and Magic Kingdom as well as shopping and eating in Downtown Disney. We had a few things we hadn't done at Epcot plus Tyler wanted to ride the Monorail so we did those. Then, we went to Downtown Disney for dinner at Planet Hollywood - kids had fun with that! Shopping was a hit - especially the GINORMOUS Disney store and Lego store!!! Finally we finished the day with fireworks back at the Magic Kingdom!!!


 Live Action Stunt Show at Disney Hollywood Studios



Day 6 - Disney's Hollywood Studios. This was our only semi-rough day. We were all getting tired and on top of that, it was raining, no pouring, no like REALLY RAINING hard the whole time. We enjoyed the Rock N Roller Coaster and the Toy Story Mania rides but after all being soaking wet - we made it an early day and went back to the cabin to rest and pack up for the return home.


Day 7 - traveled home!

We booked our vacation directly through Disney and that is the way I would do it if I were to do it again. They truly do an AMAZING job of taking care of everything! They shuttle you everywhere, check in your luggage and you for the return flight, they deliver luggage to your room, etc. We didn't use the meal plan because the one thing we wanted to save money on was food so I fixed a lot of our meals at our cabin and we took snack foods for most of our lunches. If we were to go again - we may include the meal plan if we had the money but then again it really was cost effective to have the cabin to fix our meals!

The VERY BEST part for me was simply enjoying some fun time with my kids! They did so well. There weren't too many arguments, they all had great attitudes and really enjoyed being together! It is a memory I will cherish! If you plan to go with your family - the Cabins at Fort Wilderness Campground are GREAT!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The crazy summer in a quick post~

So, I promised I would post about our crazy busy summer! We have been so many places and done so many things that I am just going to do a quick summary here...some pictures were on my lap top which died (I did back them up on an external hard drive but it doesn't work great on the desk top) so I may not have pics of everything but that's okay - you will get the gist!

First up: Amazing Wonders Aviation Vacation Bible School!
 This was our first VBS with First Borger and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! We averaged 130 kids a day and had so much fun! For me, the highlight was being able to teach the preschoolers. It has been a few years since I have been in the preschool VBS room and I loved being back!!!

Friday that VBS ended, I loaded up with 7 of our Special Needs friends including my niece Bethany and headed out to Special Friends Camp. Special Friends Camp has held a special place in my heart for MANY years! I love people with special needs...I just think they are simply wonderful! It was particularly neat to take my sweet Bethany for her first time!!! 

 Bethany is the one with crutches - I love them all!!!

After Special Friends Camp, we had a week of down time before ALL four kids were off to camp. The three oldest went to youth camp and Tyler went to Sonlight Christian Camp in Colorado. Many people wondered what Joel and I would do with out our kids..we enjoyed some much needed time for US and celebrated our anniversary early with a night in Amarillo and going to downtown Amarillo! We did miss the kids but it was nice to just have some us time! 

The three oldest got home and we had another week and then it was off to Colorado for family time and to get our sweet Tyler Bay! We enjoyed the fourth of July in beautiful Silverton Colorado and had fun with my Aunt, Uncle, cousins and other new friends! 
 This is at Andrews lake in the RAIN!!! Love mountain rains!

Upon returning from Colorado, we had all of two days before Kestra and I left for Student Life Camp in Sherman Tx. There were three girls and two adult sponsors. We had a really fun time!!! 

Student Life Camp ended on Wednesday, the following Monday Joel and I loaded up with our three youngest and 7 other kids and went to Panfork Baptist Camp for Kids Camp. Once again I had a cabin of 3 girls while Joel with the help of Malachi had 6 boys! The kids ate it up and had a blast! They got to shoot, try archery, go down a waterslide, paddle boat, etc. 
Joel doing his job well...relating and interacting with kids! 

We returned from Panfork, had another week of down time before the three oldest and I headed out for Mission Arlington! Mission Arlington is a mission in downtown Arlington, Tx that reaches families in need through apartment ministry, food, medical, dental, clothing, etc. Our primary job was picking up and delivering furniture to families that had little to no furniture. It was an eye opening experience for us all to realize that there are those in need right here in the US! 
Picking up donations from a home to deliver to the Mission

We got home from Mission Arlington on mine and Joel's 17th anniversary. The following week we celebrated Malachi's birthday with Joel's parents which was really fun! Then we had a family cookout with Joel's sister and her family later in the week to celebrate all the birthdays and anniversaries of the summer! Love getting the cousins together! 
 Such diverse personalities but so fun!!! 

That pretty much brings us up to date. We have enjoyed the week at home and are now doing laundry and getting ready for our family vacation to DISNEY WORLD!!! Oh my!! We leave on Monday and all 6 of us are so super excited! For the younger three, it will be the first time on an airplane. They are excited and nervous about that. So, look for future posts about our trip - I am sure there will be plenty!



Monday, July 30, 2012

Off with the dried up bones...it's time to get some LIFE!!!

The summer has been a whirlwind of trips, camps, etc and we are not quite done with those...eventually I will blog about them and share some of the highlights; however the past few weeks God has been showing me something and I feel that now is the time to share, so here we go...

Now, it's not all to often that I get down to the nitty gritty dirty side of ministry here on this blog. I just don't because honestly I don't like to focus on that or even really acknowledge it at times to be honest. Yet, just like when our house is DIRTY (ummm...which it currently is!) we have to address it, we have to acknowledge that it is time to do some serious cleaning (volunteers to clean my house are welcome) so it is with life within the church or the family of God. We gotta acknowledge that there is some cleaning up that needs to be done...this is the direction of this post.

The past 6 months have honestly been pretty "dirty" in our current ministry. It seems that there has been one blow after another and people are well....to be completely honest....they are just plain NEGATIVE about a lot of things. We have had families moving (for legitimate reasons like job changes), we have had people leaving our church (various reasons), we have had staff resign and move on to different ministries (all God led), we have had criticism within our area of ministry (some legitimate, others not so much), we have had backbiting, accusing, gossiping, etc. I think you get the picture and if you are brutally honest - I bet your church has been there too. (we have yet to serve in a church that hasn't). In fact, last week I looked at Joel and said "I feel like we are these two cheerleaders standing on the side lines saying 'GO GO hang in there, you can do it' and meanwhile everyone else is hanging up their uniforms and walking away, the crowd is booing and hissing, and well there is a spirit of defeat. I have heard "it's just so sad", "well we shouldn't be surprised", etc. I  even have found myself thinking "time to lay down the pom poms and give up"...gulp, I know!

However, in all of His wisdom and in His infinite timing my HERO, MY SAVIOR, MY KING OF KINGS has stepped in and shown a light in the darkness...He has opened my eyes to some spiritual truths that had faded in the midst of the darkness.

The first one comes from a passage that I have gone to frequently when I get tired and worn from doing ministry - Galatians 6:10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." As long as there is an opportunity - we are called to do good, to serve, to lift up ESPECIALLY those who are part of our family! We aren't supposed to hang our heads and walk away, we aren't supposed to live in the negative, we aren't supposed to say "oh well - we gave it a good run". We are to KEEP ON KEEPIN ON! 


The second scripture that He showed me came from a sermon I heard yesterday while on our youth mission trip - Ezekiel 37:4-14

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord. ’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord. ’”

This was a two step process, first the bones came together and tendons and flesh appeared BUT there was no breath in them. They were a skeleton, a shell, a body - yet no life. It wasn't until the breath entered them that they were full of life. He then paints a picture of not only where our local church is but where I believe where many of our churches are. Verse 11 spoke so loud to me - 'our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, we are cut off'....but  hang on because the LORD is coming like a knight in shining armor..."I am going to open your graves and BRING YOU UP from them; I WILL bring you back to the land...I WILL put my Spirit IN YOU and you WILL LIVE, and I WILL settle you in YOUR OWN LAND.." 


God is not by any means done with First Borger and I don't believe that He is done with your church either. He HAS NOT left us for dead, He has NOT walked away...He IS doing something new, He IS raising up a church that will be a beacon of light in the dark, He has a plan and it WILL NOT return void. I believe that it is time to call upon Him, ask Him to raise up our dry and weary bones, shake the dust and decay and have the Spirit breathe LIFE into our bodies! 


I hear it now, yes you, the one saying "but you just don't get it, you don't understand how long we have gone through this battle, we are tired and weary and we are done." YES I get it...17 years of ministry I have walked the battle scars, the wounds, the weariness, the defeat BUT when I am there is when HE IS BIGGER, HE IS STRONGER, and HE BREATHES life into my bones! I have looked and have yet to find a time where God instructs His people to give up and just walk away and remain dead - He may call us to  a different town, or ministry but we are never told to hang our heads and walk away in defeat - HE IS THE VICTORY! We can keep in the game, keep fighting the battle because we know the end - we know that it is already won! 


So - here is what I say to those who are members at First Borger and to those who are struggling either in your church or in life - Call upon the Lord and He will answer, ask Him to breathe life into you and your church, raise up your weary body and let HIM breathe new and fresh life into you!!! 



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mighty Warrior!

The past few weeks have had Joel and I reflecting...Why? How come? What's next God? Where is this going? Who? When?

Yep, we have asked those and much more. It's been a time of wondering and reflecting and questioning and most of all...trusting! We are trusting in a BIG and MIGHTY God to do BIG and MIGHTY things in spite of the doom and gloom, in spite of negative circumstances, in spite of some fierce looking giants and most of all IN SPITE of our WEAKNESSES.

This past week one of the devotions I get through e-mail had this passage in it.


"When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. ”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you , and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”" Judges 6:12-16


I have heard the story of Gideon many times; however typically when we pick up the story it is with Gideon laying out the fleece and in a sense testing God. This passage actually precedes that part. You see, here Gideon is told by the angel he is a MIGHTY WARRIOR

Wait? Did you see that? Gideon who comes from the WEAKEST tribe and is the LEAST in his family is called a MIGHTY WARRIOR by the Lord! 

Of course, I can SO relate to Gideon's response! Instead of going "Alright God, let's do this thing!" Gideon questions God and reminds Him of how little he is, and all that they have already been through! YEP...that would be me.

"God, how can you POSSIBLY ask ME to do THIS? Don't you know how weak I am? Don't you see all these obstacles in the way? HELLO???" 

However, despite Gideon's doubts and fears I LOVE God's response...  16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you , and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”" 

God says, go ahead, I am with you and you WILL be successful!!! Not maybe, not possibly but you WILL!!!

God says, Go in the strength you have; I am sending you!

This was a timely passage for me this week. I had began to focus on all that has gone wrong, all that wasn't happening, all the many "enemies" that we faced....I had lost sight of the ONE who has sent us and called us! The strength I have...is the the strength that comes from the ONE who lives within me!
"I can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives me STRENGTH!" Philippians 4:13.

I don't want to be like Gideon in the rest of the story...testing and questioning! I want to move ahead into the battle HE has called me to!!!

As I shared this with Joel, he shared another timely story that God had shown HIM... The story of Joshua and Caleb. Remember that one? All the other scouts saw the many giants and saw no way of overtaking the land...Joshua and Caleb saw the harvest, the wonderful things that they could do once they overtook the land! What a beautiful reminder - looking at the giants through the eyes of Joshua and Caleb!

Not focusing on what IS but focusing on WHAT CAN BE! 

In ministry, as in all areas of life, it is so easy to focus on all the negative. The families or members that we are losing, the financial obstacles, the giants that are hiding behind the corners, all that is not going on....Yet that is limiting Our Father!

We need to be like Gideon, Joshua and Caleb....we need to rely on the strength HE has given us, the calling HE has placed on our lives, and press forward knowing that because of Christ, each one of us are a

MIGHTY WARRIOR!

Don't let the giants and negative blur your vision...though none go with you, though you may be weak and not from a strong background - GOD IS WITH YOU AND YOU WILL WIN!!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

For such a time as this...

July 17 will be the one year mark - of us moving to Borger. Wow!

This past week I was asked if it seemed like it had been a year. To be honest, I really had to stop and think for a moment before I answered. There is a part of me that says I can't believe it has already been a year and yet at the same time, there is a part of me that says - ONLY A YEAR! Ha ha - just being honest here.

Let me expand a bit:

There is a definite part of me that has yet to truly "embrace" Borger and call it home; however, if you have been in ministry any length of time you know that there really isn't a "home" you just go where God leads when He leads. Home to me will always be Southwest Colorado - it is truly where my heart is. That being said, God has shown me through 17 years of ministry and marriage that He can make anywhere home if I am willing to allow Him to do so. In this sense, then yes Borger has become our home.

Yet, I still drive by the hotel we stayed in for interviews and our first two night here and think wasn't that just yesterday that the kids were playing in the pool? It couldn't be a whole year of LIFE has passed since then!

These are the parts that say has it already been a year...

The part that says ONLY A YEAR? That part is the one that looks back and ponders all that our family and church have gone through during that time. We have had multiple struggles with schooling (not expounding on those - read previous blogs for that!) We have had Joel's immediate supervisor move on to another place of ministry - let me just say being the one left behind is far harder in my opinion now that I have been on both sides! There have been multiple leadership changes within the church and we have seen families we got close to move or are preparing to move...When I consider all this, I have to say how in the WORLD could all that have taken place in a 12 month time?

In the same conversation I was asked if I felt settled here...Again, I had to ponder that. You see, I am going to give you an insight into ministry. Typically minister's can refer to their first year at any new position as the "Honeymoon Time". This means that during the first year you can coast, things are new and growing, it's a time of a lot of ups and very few if any downs. Borger has been different for us. Don't get me wrong we have seen some ups and things have grown but we have also seen a lot of downs both personally and in ministry. So - settled? I don't think so not by any stretch of the word; however, I CAN say that God has proved over and over that this is where He called us! Many times I have thought of Mordechi telling Esther "Perhaps God has placed you here for such a time as this." It is my belief that God placed Joel and I here in THIS church with THESE people FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS. If you recall the story of Esther, these words were NOT spoken during a time of rest, success, or when things were looking up - they were spoken in a time of crisis, a defining moment for Esther, a time when she would have to step out into a stormy situation and trust the Lord for guidance and direction. I can resonate with that!

It is MY belief that God has called Joel and I into a situation that is rocky and insecure at times to say the least. In fact, I would venture to guess that He is calling ALL CHRISTIANS to take a step and trust HIM during a time of uncertainty, a time of crisis, a time of uncertainty, a storm! Look at our Nation and our World...the situation is volatile...things could figuratively and literally explode at any given time. Yet God is calling us as believers "For such a time as this!"

Back to the question - do I feel "settled"? No, but then again I am not sure that any of us as Christians will feel settled until we reach the Kingdom of Heaven and I am not sure I want to! What I mean is this - I don't want to grow complacent with where I am at in any area of life - I don't want to settle and realize one day that I am so settled, I have become stuck! I want to live a life that is ever changing and ever growing and always seeking what the Lord has in store next.

So, although not at a settled point and although this isn't Colorado - I am certain that Borger is where God has our family now during THIS time. I am content with the mission and ministry that He has set before us. I am certain and sure that our work here is far from finished. With that in mind - I eagerly and enthusiastically say - THANK YOU LORD FOR CALLING US TO BORGER! I truly look forward to seeing God's purpose and plan in all that has transpired - I know that He has something BIG in mind because Satan has done his best to discourage and dissuade us from continuing on...FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS I will serve, I will obey and I will raise up my eyes and look ahead!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tyler's Story


Since today is my Tyler's 11th birthday, I thought it appropriate to share his story. It is the story of faith, miracles, power of prayer, and most of all dependance on God Almighty! Some may be familiar with it and others may not. It is my prayer that in sharing his story, you will be encouraged that our God DOES still work miracles and He is able!

Tyler was born June 27, 2001. I went in for a regular doctor appointment. We were supposed to have a scheduled c-section July 6. While at the appointment, our Dr informed us that I was already having contractions - being as we lived in Pagosa Springs and our Dr was in Durango (approximately 60 miles away), she gave us two options: go ahead and be admitted to the hospital and they would do the c-section as soon as an OR opened up; or drive back to Pagosa and know that we most certainly would be turning around and coming back to Durango that evening. We chose to stay! Of course, didn't have the hospital bag, or anything with us so Joel would get all that later. :)

Tyler's c-section went off great without a hitch. He entered the world at 6lbs. 6oz and had a little mohawk of blonde down the middle of his head! Ha ha!! From the beginning, Tyler was an active little man - he just liked to move!!!

At two weeks is when things began to change fairly rapidly for Tyler. At his regular two week check-up Tyler had failed to get back to his birth weight. Having already had 3 kids, I knew this was not normal - our family doctor agreed and sent us to a pediatrician who specialized in low weight babies. Dr. McGrath was a God send to us! He was so thorough and complete in treating Tyler. The initial diagnosis for Tyler was "failure to thrive". Basically what this means is that the baby is not developing and growing at the appropriate rate for an unknown reason.

Tyler would eat but then he would spit up almost all of it. He just stayed little. All the "usual" milestones for Tyler came much later than an average baby. Dr. McGrath continued to be mystified and thus nick named him "Tricky Tyler". Of course, I did exactly what they tell you NOT to do - I googled and searched everything on the internet to figure out what could possibly be wrong with my baby - NOT A GOOD THING TO DO!

In November 2001 our family was on vacation at Glorietta New Mexico. I had left the number with Dr. McGrath should he find ANYTHING that would explain Tyler's failure to thrive. By this time, Tyler was 5 months old and not holding his head up, not sitting or anything really. While at Glorietta we got a call that stopped us cold.

Dr. McGrath had been in contact with a Dr at Children's Hospital in Denver. After hearing all of Tyler's symptoms he concluded that he was 95% sure Tyler had Cystic Fibrosis. At the time, we knew a girl with CF but didn't really understand what it was. Dr. McGrath informed us that we needed to make plans to head to Denver as soon as we returned from vacation. That we did! However, thanks to our parents and our mentors the prayer chain was already in full force before we ever got back from vacation! Warriors were on their knees in battle for little Tyler Bay!

I remember vividly the drive to Denver - it was cold and very snowy. We had to drive over two snow packed mountain passes the whole time fearful for what lie ahead. By this time I had done some research on CF. I knew the odds for a long life were slim, I knew that should Tyler really have this, his life would be anything but normal. They did test him for CF at birth but the Dr in Denver said there are a rare number of false negative tests (like less than 5%) and he believed that Tyler fell into that category. The whole drive there, Joel and I were fairly quiet other than to just PRAY!

We checked into a house similar to a Ronald McDonald place and I am not sure either one of us slept much that night.

The next day, we started the myraid of tests at Children's Hospital. There was blood drawn, weight, height, and a sweat test. Late that morning, we met with the Dr. I will NEVER forget the look of puzzlement on his face. He said, "I am not sure you brought the same baby I talked with Dr. McGrath about. That baby had all the classic signs of CF but the tests today show that Tyler is fine. He doesn't have Cystic Fibrosis." The Dr explained that it must just be late development - We explain it a little different!

After talking to our mentor, Bay Forrest, (yes this is where Tyler gets his middle name) we all agreed - God had worked a miracle in the life of our baby! It was and still is my firm belief that Tyler had Cystic Fibrosis when we began that drive to Denver. However because of the power of prayer of many faithful warriors - God chose to heal Tyler and show us his infinite power!

I wish I could say that was the end of Tyler's story and that he has flourished and prospered since then - it isn't. Tyler did begin to make a turn at 6 months, he began gaining weight and in time sat up, crawled, walked, etc albeit at a later time than most babies.

However, at 2 years old, Tyler still didn't talk much and when he did you really couldn't understand him. Although overall his health was better, he still suffered from frequent ear infections (something he had since birth), he had random fevers, he would wake up and suddenly lose use of his legs, etc. This continued for several years. At age 4, he was in a preschool for children with disabilities. He would not interact well with other kids and really had a TEMPER! He would get frustrated and would literally tear apart his preschool room. Of course, the initial thought was "he is ADD" "he needs medication" "what's going on in your home to cause this" - you name it, we heard it. All along, I knew that medication was NOT the answer and I was determined that he would NOT be on medication.

When Tyler was 4, we FINALLY had some insight. At this time, we lived in Arkansas and were referred to Children's Hospital in Little Rock for testing. There, an audiologist finally diagnosed Tyler with moderate to severe hearing loss. She explained that his behavior was classic for children with hearing loss - he couldn't hear so why would he interact and obey. His hearing loss is best explained as hearing things as though you are underwater. After getting hearing aides, some therapy and lots of love - Tyler began to "mellow" out somewhat.

He has had tubes in his ears twice, has had tonsils taken out, has had numerous testing done on his ears and throat and through it all - he is a smiling laid back boy! There has never been an explanation for his random fevers which he occasionally still gets or for the random loss of the use of his legs which he has not had issues with in years. It is still my belief that God has and is working miracles in Tyler's life.

Tyler is still in the midst of his story. He has now been diagnosed with "pronounced learning disability". He has an IQ of 72 which is border line for Mental Retardation, he reads at a first grade level and struggles academically. He has dealt with numerous medical trials as well as social ones. He is often the target for bullying at school. Yet HE teaches ME so much! He smiles no matter the circumstances, he refers to the bullies as HIS FRIENDS. He loves with no limits and knows not an enemy! He inspires me to obey when Jesus says "pray for those who persecute you" "love your enemies" Tyler does this with the faith and innocence of a child!!

I don't know where those reading this are at but I pray that through Tyler, you like me, will see the hand of an all powerful, almighty, loving and healing God! I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for my Tyler Bay! I know that God has something BIG in store for Him because he has brought him through SO much!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A matter of priorities...




Should my daughter play softball with this travel team, or should she play with the local team? Should my son be in baseball all summer or should he not? Should Sally be on the dance team or maybe ballet? Should we enroll in this camp or that one? What about the extra batting lessons or the fielding lessons? Volleyball camp or Church Camp?

Do any of these questions sound familiar? Do they resonate just a tad bit with you? I know they do with me! If your family is anything like ours then you and your kids are faced with a myraid of decisions as to where to invest their time and your money! I hear it and see it all the time.

We live in a community that is SPORTS focused. We really do! If you aren't 100% involved in at least one sport or more, you are guaranteed to be made fun of, feel left out, and pretty much not be "successful" in the eyes of your peers. Further more, if you don't go to camps, lessons, extra practices, or if you miss a game - you are pretty much guaranteed to "sit the bench" or be cut from the team. It is what it is and I wish I was exagerrating but I'm not.

As Joel and I have seen these questions and choices come up not only in our family but in the families that we minister to and serve alongside - an uncanny trend has come to light for us....we have had to evaluate our priorities and decide what it is we really want our kids to be successful at and where we want to invest our money - and yes, it is an investment!

I recently heard of one family that has spent upwards of $9,000 dollars in the past year on lessons, equipment, camps for their daughter's softball training. Another family I know has spent around $10,000 in dresses, fees, traveling, etc for the pagents that their daughter is in. These are just a few examples I could go on and on and tell you more but I think you get the idea.

For us, spending that much money really isn't an option - we don't have it! However, we have had to make choices as far as how we do spend the money we have and even more so how we spend time! I grew up, and perhaps you did to, when Sundays and Wednesdays were church days and there were no sporting events on those days - period. 9 times out of 10 if your school was on a sports trip you came in LATE Saturday night to allow for church - just the way it was. However, that is no longer the case...Now there are not only GAMES on these nights and days but there are practices scheduled during regular church times...the reasoning "playing sports has its costs."

Really? At what cost am I willing to sacrifice my child's spiritual growth, our family time, our service to others? These are the things that get "sacrificed" when we give into the world's belief that being successful in athletics or clubs is what will make our children successful in life. Not to mention the thousands of dollars of debt that so many families are in simply by "doing whatever we have to" in order for their child to be successful.

While browsing some of the regular blogs I read, I came across this quote, "I am convinced that I can pour nothing greater into the lives of my kids than an intimate knowledge of the Grace of God that flows from His loving heart." THIS is what I want to invest in - I want my children to know and share the grace of God Almighty! Can they do that and play sports or dance or do pagents? ABSOLUTELY! However, I do not at any point in time want the priority to shift from God to activities - it MUST remain in balance.

Our family faced this firsthand during softball season this year - Kestra's team had a tournament that would be all day Saturday and all day Sunday. To play just one day was not an option - the coach made it clear "You must play all games both days to be a part." Now, I am not going to lie - I LOVE Kestra being in softball and frankly she's pretty darn good given the limited experience she has had in it. I also wanted her to "fit in" just telling you how it is. Yet, I knew that I couldn't say yes without talking to Joel. His first instinct was "No, we don't compromise Sundays and worship." yet we really struggled - it was a one time deal right? Not like she was doing it EVERY week. What would missing one Sunday hurt? In the end, Joel explained to Kestra (and to me) that giving in "one time" will make it harder and harder. We have to take a stand for what we know is right. Kestra was fine and just bounced off down the hall - me, well I knew it was right but I was bummed. Finally, after some prayer I did get over my "pity party" and trusted the Lord AND my husband to do the right thing. The end result - there were no teams with enough players to enter the tournament, it got cancelled! The lesson - when we keep our priorities right, God blesses!

In ministry we are seeing this priority battle more vividly than ever before. Families are feeling the pressure to chose between church on Sunday in the summer and baseball tournaments, pagents, etc. Even when the games aren't on Sunday - many go LATE on Saturday nights to where families are dragging in their doors at midnight or later and then simply "too worn out" to go worship on Sunday morning. The same is happening when it comes to church camps - due to time and money restraints choices have to be made between sports camps and church camps and all to often - sports are winning.

Don't misunderstand me - I am NOT saying that a church camp is the solution to all your child's spiritual needs, nor am I saying that just going to a church service is all you need either. What I AM saying is this - IF we are compromising our children's spirtitual development for ANY OTHER thing - we are letting them down and leading them astray. It's as plain and simple as that. IF WE AS PARENTS AREN'T showing them that our relationship to God and obedience to HIS WORD comes before ANYTHING else - then WE are responsible for their lack of relationship with God.

The writer of Hebrews must have seen a similar trend when he penned these words, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near" You see, so many Christians are neglecting the meeting together in order to meet societies expectations! We are making our excuses Sunday after Sunday after Sunday and before long, it's no longer a question of if we will get up and go to church - we don't! If we don't have some event scheduled then we are so tired from going going going all week and weekend that we decide Sunday is our down day, a day we can "just stay home as a family"

WAKE UP CHRISTIANS! Really? You want to teach your children that staying home is more important than obedience to the Word of God which tells us to NOT forsake the worshipping or gathering together as a family of believers? It doesn't say "stay home and worship as a family" it doesn't say "come worship as long as you aren't too worn out"! If I am stepping on toes, then know this - mine have been crushed a lot recently about this issue. You may say, "yeah right, your husband is a minister you are expected to be there" and right you are BUT how many times do I not reach out to someone in need because it's "our only night at home" or how many times have I debated to give to missions because it's "just not in the budget" or how many times have I wanted to send Joel on Sunday night because we are all worn out, and on and on.

Here's what hit me this week - I want to raise children that:
1. Know and have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ
2. That long to serve Him in any means He calls them to
3. That see other's needs as more important than their own
4. That see the value and importance of missions whether at home or abroad.
5. That DO ALL things as unto the Lord
6. That know that being an active member of the family of God through a local church is more than a passing though - it is a direct command of God.

That's it people - if they are good in academics then thank you Lord, if they are successful at a sport then Lord please use it for your glory but MY priority, MY job, MY goal in raising them is to instill in them these 6 truths so that when they are old they will not depart from it.

As I talked with Joel about this issue I made the comment to him "Do you realize that $9,000 would easily pay for half of our family to go on a short term missions trip?" You see, I would rather spend the money I have allowing my children the opportunity and blessing of experiencing a mission trip or growing from church camp than any lesson or sports camp out there! That is what will make an eternal difference!

HOW WILL YOU USE YOUR TIME, MONEY, RESOURCES FOR AN ETERNAL IMPACT? WHAT ARE YOU TEACHING YOUR KIDS ABOUT PRIORITIES

Monday, June 4, 2012

A long overdue post!

Where does the time go? How in the world does life just seem to fly by without me noticing it?

So, I have been absent from the blog simply due to the fact that I have been EXHAUSTED! Most of you may know, that I took a substitute job that was originally supposed to last about 8 weeks and ended up lasting an entire SEMESTER! Can you believe that? I have discovered the reason that TEACHERS look forward to summer! Ha ha ha! After spending my days with 44 preschoolers, what little energy I had left was spent on my own kids and home...thus the lack of blogging!

Alas, school is out and so although still busy, I hope to become more regular and intentional in blog posts over the summer.

This week is VBS and is significant in that after VBS we will have officially been a part of all the "big" children's events here at FBC Borger. There is still camp but other than that at the end of the week we will have been here through a whole ministry year. Joel is really excited to be at this point because now he can begin to truly evaluate from what he has observed and then move forward from there...We truly have come to love the people of Borger and know that the Lord called us here "for such a time as this".

We have also FINALLY made it through our first full school year here in Borger. Both Joel and I agree that the past school year has by far been the most difficult for our family. Understand, that by NO MEANS have we questioned our call here - there have been times of questioning, discouragement, and brokeness but God has reassured us both in seperate ways and at seperate times that Borger is where He called us. That being said, when God calls you to a place, He doesn't EVER promise it will be easy. He doesn't promise a smooth road, He doesn't promise that it will all be roses - He DOES promise that He will be there, that He will hold us up. We have had to claim these promises over and over throughout the past school year. All four of our children have struggled in some form or fasion this year - some with peer pressure, some with bad influences, some with bullying, some with grades, some with academics, some with lack of friends, etc. As I look back on it all - one thing stands strong and bold above everything else - A LOVING AND FAITHFUL GOD! He has held this broken momma many nights as I cried in hurt for my children, He has had a close friend call or text at JUST the right moment when I didn't think we could go through any more, He has shown comfort from His Word...He has BEEN!

Our experience with school this year has really opened our eyes our heart and our mind to where our Nation as a whole truly is headed. I can't place the blame anywhere other than where it belongs - a Nation that has turned it's heart away from the Lord. We have gone our own way, seeking our own selfish desires, given in to immorality, impurity, etc. and as a result: OUR KIDS ARE SUFFERING! It is time that we humble ourselves turn from our wicked ways, and cry out in repentance to God...

As an update to where we are headed in regards to our kids and education; here is the plan for the 2012-2013 school year. Hannah and Malachi will be enrolled at Texas Virtual Academy which is an on-line K-12 public school. Kestra will continue for now at Borger Middle School - although we are open to her enrolling in Texas Virtual in the future. Tyler will be going to Borger Intermediate School at least for now. This is probably the biggest surprise to us as much as everyone else. However, we have met some with the principal there and feel like they have a good handle on some of the issues that we faced at the primary school. We are going into this with the mindset that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain - we will be monitoring it CLOSELY and if we feel like it isn't working out - we are prepared to pull him and homeschool him. I know it is crazy to think of kids going so many different directions but after much prayer and conversation, we feel like for now this is where God is leading....

Well, I guess I have rambled enough for this post, with that I will go but hope to blog again later this week (and NOT address education!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lessons in the Night

If there is one physical ailment I have trouble dealing with it is a headache. Seriously! I do not do well AT ALL with them. Joel often comments that headaches "are my weakness" and they are. I pretty much just don't function well when I have ANY level of a headache. I would rather have a stomach bug and be puking than a headache - I know, totally wrong but just the way it is!

Now, I am the first to admit that probably 90% of my headache phobia is a mental issue. For those who don't know, my older sister Sherri suffered from MAJOR migraine headaches - so bad that she would pass out from them. My parents had many tests done and no source could really be identified. Sherri passed away as a result of suffocating after passing out due to one of these headaches - she fell between a door and furniture. So, yes there is an element of fear and bad memories associated with headaches for me. Anyway, this whole week Joel has been out of town (he comes home TODAY!) at a conference. Like many wives, I don't sleep great when he is gone...just don't. Last night, I decided to try to go to bed at 10:00 and catch up on my lack of sleep. Ugh! One thing after another kept me awake. First it was the dog wanting out, then it was the heat in the house (AC is out, but getting fixed today!), then it was the wind causing house to creak...FINALLY I was able to rest and sleep. UNTIL...I woke up at 2:00a.m with a MAJOR headache! Not the kind that is just mildly annoying but the kind that was so bad I couldn't focus!!! I got up, took Aleve and tried to lay back down - it was POUNDING!!! It was incredibly intense - in fact, I can't ever remember crying because a headache hurt so bad - but cry I did! After about 45min of this raging headache, I had decided that if it didn't start getting better in the next 30 min I was driving myself to the ER! (I know, hmmm driving with headache so bad you can't focus not smart!).


This morning as I thought about all that happened last night two things stuck out to me. First, I DO want to make EVERY moment of my life count for Christ...the times with my kids at home, the time I am subbing with 44 pre-k students, the times I am at a ball game, or at church, or even in Wal-Mart! Every moment!!! Second - how often do we ask God for something, He grants it to us, and we just go on never bothering to say THANK YOU! You see, I tell God thanks for the BIG things but too often I forget to say thank you for the LITTLE things - you know, like telling Him thank you for relieving a headache in the middle of the night!


PS - just a side note to those who may be concerned: I do not get headaches on a regular basis, in fact they are very rare and definitely do not get the intense ones too often!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You big BULLY...

As I have mentioned in my past two posts, Tyler is facing some big issues with bullying at the school here in Borger. It has been a rough road for all of us to travel. Obviously it has been hard for Tyler as he is the one being bullied but it has also been hard on Joel and I as we have watched him not only face this bullying but watched as a school over a period of 6 months has not stepped in to intervene.

Of course, my first instinct was that of a Mama Bear protecting her cub. I am not sure if you have ever seen how fierce and vicious a mother bear gets when she feels her cub is threatened or in danger but let's just say it isn't pretty! Neither was I - okay let's be honest, I am still struggling with containing my fleshly temper! Yet, I knew that this wasn't the reaction that would bring glory and honor to God.

Don't get me wrong, Joel and I are both FIRM believers that parents not only need to be but MUST be the strongest advocates for their children! When the bullying first began, it was actually not Tyler that reported it to me but a mother of one of the other kids in Tyler's class. Her daughter, had seen how Tyler was being treated and went home broken hearted about it. This mom was as angry for Tyler as I was and wanted strong action taken!

Joel and I have always been of the opinion to try and work with the school not against them. We have always tried to have an open line of communication, back the school or teacher when our children have done wrong, volunteer at the schools, etc. We still believe that is the right and Godly approach. So, it is the route we took initially - not one of "I'm out to get the school!" but rather one of "We want to come along side you and be a part of the solution."

Let me pause here to say that at about the same time the bullying was reported to us, we began to get notification that Tyler was in trouble for things at school that we hadn't seen or heard of him doing before. We would get an e-mail saying Tyler was playing around in the bathroom, or tripping kids in the hall, or pushing other kids. At first I was like okay Tyler you need to knock it off and behave. Yet, over time we began getting a different picture. Tyler would say that two certain boys would trip him and then say he tripped them or that they would block him from leaving the bathroom. I was still unsure as to whether or not Tyler was telling the truth or just trying to get out of trouble. Then,we started to hear from more parents and students about how THEY saw Tyler being treated...their stories matched with Tyler's accounts and it was heartbreaking.

So, we contacted the teachers, the principal, the special education teacher, etc. The response from one teacher was well I see all the boys including Tyler contribute. When we asked for a face to face meeting so we could all talk and discuss how we could help TYLER with his behavior we were told, "I will call you tomorro with an opening in my calendar." from the principal - that was OVER two months ago and we still haven't gotten that "call".

For a time, we thought we would just let the dust settle and then yet another incident was reported to us - this time by Tyler and we believed him. He was walking down the hall and said "What's up" to a boy. The boy replied "Nothing" then shoved Tyler against the wall (of course no teacher looking) Tyler went to step around the boy and again was pushed, Tyler then put his hand out in front of him to block the kid off and of course THAT is what the teacher saw and Tyler got in trouble. This was the "straw that broke the camel's back for us" - we decided that SOMeTHING had to change! Since we hadn't gotten a response from the principal nor had the teacher responded to our concerns, Joel began to research the school "bullying" policy. The policy states that "When a complaint of bullying is reported to ANY school employee an investigation will be opened." Well, obviously not!

At this point, we are in the process of filing a complaint with the Superintendant about the bullying, not sure what will come of it but we feel that it is the right method to go.

Although, yes in the truest way we are being an advocate for our son, a close friend also reminded me that being an advocate for your child doesn't mean you let them stay in the situation where they are threatened or harmed. This is what has encouraged our decision to move Tyler into a different school. The fact is that these same boys will be here next year and although they will all be at a different campus with a different principal we have no way of knowing if the bullying will stop - probably not. There have also been some educational concerns and we just feel that Tyler's education is not something we can risk right now. He is already behind and so he needs the BEST educational environment he can get.

I tell you this story not just because it is like the forefront of what we as parents have had to deal with almost daily (which it is) but because I believe that bullying is becoming more and more of an epidemic in our nation! Since walking this road with Tyler, we have become aware of so many more instances of bullying not only here in Borger (which there are a LOT) but in other cities and schools. It is literally out of control!Sadder still is the fact that the adults in authority are standing back and doing NOTHING! They are allowing this behavior to go unpunished and in so doing are actually ENCOURAGING these kids who are bullies to keep it up!

Now, I realize there are those in the Christian realm who would use this as a platform to push homeschooling. Let me state, that although that IS a viable option and if the Lord leads a family to take that path then YES do it. However, just like any other issue that we face as Christians in America we CANNOT just stand back and remove ourselves from the situation! We have to take a stand and say this is WRONG! I really struggled with this part - I have and still am considering homeschooling if it comes to that but I also want to take a stand and say ENOUGH! Every child has the right to a safe and secure educational environment - PERIOD.

This is why we are pursuing the complaint with the district and are even prepared to take it to the school board should the need arise. Yes, we are probably moving Tyler to another school that is better for him but that doesn't mean we are going to stand back and be complacent and not stand for righteousness. If you are reading this and the story rings true in your family or a family you know of, I encourage you to take a stand! If the bullying is at school - take it to the schools all the way up until there is no one else to listen. If it is happening at a sports practice, like some friends of ours here in Borger, take it to the coach, to the league, to parents, keep addressing it until there is no one left to take it to.

The problem lies not with the kids who are bullies but with those in authority over them - whether it is parents, teachers, coaches, etc. We by no means are mad at these boys - in fact Joel went to eat lunch with Tyler so he could meet the boys and try to "befriend" them. What we are mad about is that nothing has been done by those in authority.

Recently a movie entitled "Bully" was released - however only 5 theaters in America are showing it - FIVE!!! Google the movie trailer and it will break your heart to see what kids go through and what schools are telling them. Many,like Tyler have been told "Don't be a tattle tell" by teachers when they report bullying! REALLY?

As I close, I would ask for prayers for Joel and I. We will be having an AARD meeting (a meeting for kids with special needs to discuss their progress, concerns, etc. like an IEP in Colorado)on Monday afternoon per our request. It is our plan to address the bullying issue at the AARD meeting. Pray that we will come across clear and concise but in a way that honors the Lord. Please pray for me specifically to have a reign emotionally as I go back and forth between anger and tears on this issue.