Everlasting Arms

After a couple days of near constant bickering and bad attitudes between myself and Jonathan, I snapped. I was exhausted from his argumentative stance on everything from school lessons to chores to games to meals. I snapped and made a threat. It’s not the first time I’ve made this threat but a while back I had sworn to myself never to make this threat again… and I failed… again. In a raised, angry, exasperated voice I said “I’m done! You can go to public school for all I care! Clearly, you don’t want to learn from me!”

I stomped off, went to my desk and slumped in my chair. Immediately, Mac Powell’s song, Everlasting Arms popped into my head. I hadn’t heard the song in a while so I found myself wondering why it took over my thoughts during such angry moment. My mind slowly went through the lyrics over and over…

I’m leaning on Your everlasting arms
So close to You that I can hear Your heart
Nothin’ else can separate me from Your love
I’m leaning on Your everlasting arms

In the morning, I am met with Your mercy
In the evening, I am wrapped in Your love
There’s no end to Your reach, there’s no place I’d rather be
I’m leaning on Your everlasting arms

I’m resting in Your never-ending peace
Patiently, I wait to hear You speak
Nothing else can keep me safe from every storm
Nothing but Your everlasting arms

What a fellowship, what a joy divine
Leaning on The everlasting arms
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine
Leaning on The everlasting arms

In the morning, I am met with Your mercy.
Lamentations 3:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. Psalm 116:5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. I did not meet my son with mercy… or patience… or kindness. I was not gracious nor did I make an attempt to understand.

There’s no end to Your reach, there’s no place I’d rather be.
Isa 49:6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” The Lord’s reach is to the ends of the earth! Just like me, my son is a sinner and our Savior died for his sins. If the Lord can forgive my wretched soul, I can forgive my son and make sure I’m continually ‘reaching’ for him.

Nothing else can keep me safe from every storm, Nothing but Your everlasting arms
Deut 33:27 “The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms; And He drove out the enemy from before you, And said, ‘Destroy!’ Nothing can save my son from his sins except Jesus and His everlasting arms. It’s my job as his mom to consistently point him to Christ.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine!
Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You. What a joy it is to be a follower of Christ. What a joy it is to be a wife and mother.

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine
Psalm 29:11 The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace. Just as in Phil 4:7, only the peace of God can guard my heart, soul and mind. I must show my children the amazing peace that can come from giving your life to Christ.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my job as Jonathan’s mom is to continually show him Christ. In my own behavior, attitude and words. Show him all that Jesus has done for us. Yes, I apologized, as I have many times in the past and I would imagine I will be apologizing again in the future. This is not to say that my anger and frustration wasn’t understandable. On the contrary, it’s very understandable. But God deals with me so patiently in MY sin. He shows me new mercies EVERY SINGLE DAY. He forgives me when I approach his throne with sincere repentance and sorrow. He lifts me up in His everlasting arms and reminds me He is ALWAYS there. Will I lose my temper again with my son, quite possibly. But my prayer is that God reminds me of HIS amazing love which prompts me to show amazing love to my son.

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Metal Detectors

Treasure hunting in the sand is an amusing hobby. It’s a hobby that all ages can take part in and is fun to watch beach goers break out their metal detectors and comb the shores looking for any and all kinds of treasure. Hunters on the younger side of the age range squeal with delight when they find anything, even if it’s only a utensil or a broken toy. More mature hunters, take their hunting a bit more seriously. Consistently being drawn back to the beach in search of their next big find; having to sort through all kinds of junk to find that next piece of forgotten jewelry or lost old coin.

Does God address treasure in His Word? YES! Yes He does!

What about words? Words can be treasure or they can be a deadly weapon. Matthew 12:35 says A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. That is some pretty strong language regarding the words we speak.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

What do I treasure in my heart? Material things? Health? Financial security? Safety? Entertainment? Does what I treasure align with God’s purpose and what He values? Do I use what resources and passions I have to search out and minister to what God treasures? Am I seeking my own earthly treasures and therefore, indifferent to the treasures that are eternal?

We are created in His image and because of this we have a longing in our hearts that cannot be filled by any worldly possession. The pleasure these possessions bring is temporary and, like flowers, fade and die over time. These possessions can be so alluring and exciting but they cannot sustain our souls. They cannot satisfy that longing in our heart. Our souls require something far more meaningful; something eternal full of light, hope and a deep sense of belonging.

Seeking God and His treasure can bring peace to a troubled and frazzled heart, joy to those overcome by sadness, healing to the hurting. God’s Word is to my soul what aloe is to a sunburn; balm to my scorched soul.

So, when you stumble upon one of God’s hidden treasures, squeal with delight and protect it as the eternal treasure it truly is.

Psalms 119:162 I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.

Folley Beach

Folley Beach

The Beach! My kids have finally seen the ocean!

We have been blessed with an opportunity to spend a week an a half at a beach house in Folley Beach, South Carolina with my dad and step-mom. We’ve only been here two days but it’s been a great start.

As I sit on the front porch of the beach house, watching the waves come in, I marvel at how the ocean knows it is high tide and when it’s low tide. How does it know that? Yes, I know the moon is involved so I’m not referring to the scientific explanation. The entire high/low tide cycle and how/why it works speaks to a Creator! I don’t believe the oceans bumbled around for millions of years trying to figure out how to do what they are supposed to do until they evolved into the bodies of water they are now.

More to come but for now, enjoy some pictures.

We’ve just arrived!
The front porch of the beach house.
God at work!
Ballet moves in the ocean!
I miss Phil! He is arriving tonight ūüôā

Goodbye August!

Has it really been eight months since I last posted? To say life is incredibly busy would be an understatement. But as I sit here in a quiet home reflecting on the message at church tonight, I am overwhelmingly aware of all the blessings God has poured out on me. To name just a few….

First and foremost, God has forgiven my multitude of sins and shown me much mercy and forgiveness.
I have a husband who loves SO MUCH… the Lord, me, our kids, his mother-in-law, his church, his friends, the lost, his grumpy co-workers, neighbors, family…
I have a husband who provides for his family. Not just materially but also our spiritual needs, needs for laughter and adventure and joy.
I have five amazing children this side of heaven who challenge me to be a better mom.
I have a church family that are blessings beyond belief.
I have a very nice home in a very nice neighborhood, clothes to wear, food to eat and furniture to rest upon.
I have vehicles to get me from point a to point b.
I have a job with an amazing boss.
I have GOD’s Word!
I have a wonderful homeschooling community.

I’m sure there is so much more I could list but I’m about to turn into a pumpkin!

As I welcome September and soon the fall season, I want to constantly remember what Christ did for me on the cross and how all these blessings are from God, not of my own doing. I don’t deserve the amazing husband I have. I don’t deserve this beautiful home and neighborhood. I don’t deserve to have the world’s best boss. I don’t deserve to have such encouraging and loving friends. I don’t deserve to be a part of a church community that serves each other so well. I do deserve death but because of Christ, I won’t suffer the death I deserve.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2021 Comes To An End

I can hardly believe that it’s been a year and a half since I last blogged. Like with many things in life there are seasons. Seasons of certain activities, traditions, hobbies and blogging! I hope to blog more in 2022 but for now I’ll just recap our 2021!

Natasha turned 18 in March, graduated in May and started working full time at the bakery. She continues to write and made a decision to join an author conservatory program developed by Brett Harris. It’s a three year commitment that will focus on everything related to becoming a published author. It’s quite amazing to watch her spread her wings, so to speak, and make these types of important life decisions. Because of the time commitment required for the author conservatory she had to let go of a few piano students but held on to her two favorite.

Mikayla turned 16 in May and is currently in her junior year of high school. She was blessed with an opportunity to spend two weeks with her dear friend, Miranda and her family, visiting The Ark Encounter, Creation Museum and other interesting places. In July, Mikayla auditioned for a part in a local Christmas play production and was offered the part of Martha Cratchit in A Christmas Carol. This was an amazing production with rehearsals starting in August and continuing through early December where they had six performances at The King Opera House in Van Buren. She absolutely loved being a part of this and looks forward to the next production.

Alex turned 13 in August and is currently in 8th grade. She has quite a school load as she’s working on combining her 7th and 8th grade years to be on track with others her age. She is very diligent at school and, of course, still has her nose buried in a book any time she can sneak away to a quiet corner. She started taking piano again in the summer and was part of the Christmas piano recital in December.

Jonathan turned 11 in September and is in the 5th grade. He, too, started taking piano in the summer and spends quite a bit of time practicing the songs assigned to him from his piano teacher but also learning all kinds of songs that he finds on YouTube. You should hear him play the theme song to Pirates of the Caribbean! Jonathan is also part of the local Trail Life group and continues to thrive in that environment.

Katherine turned 7 in March and is in the 2nd grade. She loves reading, crafting, roller blading, and her American Girl doll collection. She loves taking piano lessons and practices nearly every day. In January of 2021 she started taking ballet lessons and absolutely loves it. Her ballet school performed a shortened rendition of The Nutcracker, also at The King Opera House, and she’s excited to continue ballet lessons in 2022.

Maga continues to bless us with good food, sewing projects and dog sitting.

Phil continues to work at the post office. During the holiday season of 2021 he was working 6, sometimes 7 days a week, 12 hour days. Needless to say we are happy that busy season is over. He has had to miss several Sundays for work but it looks like he’ll be able to join the family for church more often now that life at the post office has slowed down. He also fixes all the things the kids and I break around the house but he’s usually passing that knowledge onto Jonathan at the same time. Truly, we have the best husband and father we could ever ask for!

I am working from home for good friends who own a small real estate investment type company out of Florida. I keep asking my boss when she’s going to require in-person training but that doesn’t seem to be a requirement for this position ;-). Most importantly, I continue to homeschool. While I’m not a huge fan of homeschooling in high school as it can be daunting to figure out how to get all of the boxes checked and make sure they are prepared to graduate, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. There are so many resources, co-ops, curriculum choices, and support that, really, high school is less hands on for me. It’s more of an overseer role.

Ultimately, my number one job as a parent is pointing my kids to Christ. It doesn’t matter what GPA they have, college scholarships, amazing careers, or wealth if their soul is lost. Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

Now, before I get hate mail, NO homeschooling does not ensure my kiddos will go to heaven. If only, our kids came with manuals and formulas right?!!?!? However, I am able to bring God into every single school subject, all throughout the day, in hopes of drawing them closer to Christ. Helping them see the grace, mercy, kindness and redemption that is Jesus.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with Psalm 62, a Psalm I’ve been studying quite a bit this new year.

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. 
3 How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? 
4 They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah 
5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 
6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. 
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah 
9 Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. 
10 Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. 
11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, 
12 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.

Belle is 15!

So, as with most of my posts I’m doing this a little late… what’s new huh?

Anyway, our sweet Belle turned 15 way back on May 22nd. ¬†What a joy watching this young adventurous lady grow in her walk with Christ, learn new skills, do quite well in school and be a wonderful sister to her siblings. ¬†I’m so blessed to be her mom!

 

Barn Party in Winslow, AR July 2020

First horse ride! Winslow, AR July 2020

A day at the pool. July 2020

Volunteering for the Walk for Life pro-life walk in Fort Smith. July 2020

Volunteering for the Walk for Life Organization July 2020

4th of July Winslow, AR 2020

Winslow, AR July 2020

A quick trip back to CO and we got to hang out MK! June 2020

Volunteering at the Voice of the Martyrs headquarters in OK. Nov 2019

Giving her life to Christ! September 2019

Her first birthday in AR. May 2019

Time Flies

On May 10, 2019, at around 9:30 at night, I pulled into the driveway of our new house in Arkansas with our 5 tired but very excited kids.  We left Lakewood, Colorado around 7 that morning, drove by the home we lived in as a family for the last 12 years and hopped on the highway heading southeast.  All of us had tears running down our cheeks as we said good bye to the Button family who helped us pack and load moving trailers, fed us and housed us for 10 days after our home closed on April 30th.

Our truck stuffed inside and out as we headed to our new home in Arkansas.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. ¬†I was very excited to see Phil, my mom and our dogs but I was quite nervous to be leaving the only state I’ve called home. ¬†I had (and fortunately still have) an amazing support system in Colorado. ¬†Saying goodbye to my dearest friends Laura and June was incredibly difficult. ¬†I was preparing myself for a very lonely few months or more once arriving in Fort Smith. ¬† As an introvert, developing deep friendships can take a long time for me. ¬†I’m not very good at chit chat and it’s difficult for me to think of things to ask people. ¬†I generally try to think of what Phil would ask someone… he’s great at talking to anybody!

I can honestly say however, that in the year we’ve been here I’ve only felt lonely a couple of different times and it only lasted for a day or two. ¬†We have been blessed to get connected to an amazing church in Alma, ¬†we are part of a thriving homeschool community and all of us are building some wonderful, God honoring friendships.

I think there were some people back in Colorado who thought it would be incredibly difficult for me to connect to anyone here. ¬†I think it was generally thought that I would regret our decision to move to Arkansas. ¬†Yet, I LOVE it here… truly! ¬†The seasons are beautiful. ¬†Our kids can play in the rain and get soaked and not be cold… so different from Colorado. ¬†Flowers start blooming here in April and everything gets green fast. ¬†I really enjoy living in a much smaller city. ¬†I miss Sprouts and Vitamin Cottage but am able to find most things at a variety of stores. ¬†The storms can be intense but people have lived here for hundreds of years so really, if God is ready to take me home than all is well!

Friends, I am so blessed to be here.  I have no regrets in our decision to move.  My first morning waking up in Arkansas was on my 48th birthday.  What a gift!

Now… we just needs more out of state friends and family to visit… or better yet… move here!

Sunset in Rudy, Arkansas May 2020

Sunset in Rudy, Arkansas May 2020

He Is Risen!

Here we are 3 days after Resurrection Sunday and I’m just now posting that Christ Has Risen! ¬†In truth, we started our Resurrection garden late so I was waiting for the grass around the tomb to grow a little. ¬†In reality, the grass is not important to what Jesus accomplished the day the tomb was discovered empty.

Christmas and Easter are my two favorite holidays and yes I’ve read all the articles both supporting and advising against Christians celebrating these two days. ¬†Each year I examine my motives and I attempt to bring a little more holiness to the activities we participate in. ¬†I’m not a fan of easter baskets, bunnies and eggs. ¬†My mom is sweet enough to color eggs with the kids each year and our kids love doing it… I think I’ve only done it once when Natasha and Mikayla were little and I decided that if I never dyed eggs again in my life that would be okay! ¬†A few years ago I actually wood burned 9 large wooden eggs with the Resurrection message and that’s how we typically would go through the events with our kids. ¬†However, I have been unable to locate them since we moved but I’m sure they are here somewhere!

This year, instead of Easter baskets we put together Easter boots. ¬†Now that we live in Arkansas rain boots are needed several times a week… literally. ¬†So, we purchased new rain boots for each of our kids and I filled them with a small bible journal, bible highlighters, colored pencils or fun colored pens, a new book (fiction), a glow in the dark cross zipper pull with a verse on it, and one large candy bar.

But the highlight of our Resurrection Sunday is our Resurrection garden. ¬†It’s quite simple to do and it helps us to see the significance of the day. ¬†Resurrection Sunday is NOT about bunnies, rebirth, eggs, candy and toys. ¬†It is about prophecies being fulfilled. ¬†It is about a God who loves the people He created so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. ¬†If you don’t understand the depths of the meaning of Jesus Christ rising from the dead I urge you to read the bible, seek out wise and Godly men and women who can help you understand the Scriptures. ¬†Your place in eternity depends on it!

Yes, I know the tomb of Jesus was not red… I couldn’t find a small stone colored cup or pot!

The tomb is EMPTY… HE IS RISEN!

Katherine Turns 6!

Yes, I’m over a month late on this post! ¬†But… at least I’m posting right?

Our dear Katherine Anya turned 6 on March 6th. ¬†While I love and enjoy the birthdays of all our kids, Katherine’s always brings to mind memories of trauma that we experienced a year and half before she was born. ¬†And yet, her birth is a reminder of God’s amazing grace, love and faithfulness after such a trying and emotional time for our family.

We love this little girl that God entrusted to us to raise in the love and admonition of the Lord. ¬†She’s feisty, smart, loves learning (says her favorite subject is math) and adventurous. ¬†She’s learning to ride her bike and roller blade before her siblings learned. ¬†Katherine enjoys our church fellowship, reading along in her bible during our daily bible time and making gifts to give to others.

Happy Birthday sweet girl!  We love you!

Katherine got into the chalk!

Katherine’s first ride in the bike trailer.

Hiking in Elk Meadow in Evergreen. Katherine fell asleep as daddy was carrying her. August 2016

After swimming, playing the playground on a windy day!

How Can She Be 17 Already?

Yesterday we celebrated Natasha!  This fun-loving, kind, hard working and God fearing young lady is 17!

She’s gone from this….

to this….

She loves working at Harvest Moon Bakery.  She has learned so much in the last 7 months!

She and Mikayla volunteered at A Night To Shine in February this year. The picture on the right is the group from our church who also volunteered.

 

She also enjoyed going on a back packing trip with the teens from church also in February.

She continues to do well with her school studies in addition to working 3 full days at the bakery. ¬†She really enjoys spending time with all of our church families and has some wonderful friends here in Arkansas. ¬†She has also spent a lot of time writing her first book. ¬†I’ve been blessed to read parts of it and she’s done really well creating her story.

Natasha is joyful and so much fun to be around. ¬†She helps around the house with cooking and cleaning and helping take care of her younger siblings. ¬†Truly, she’s a blessing to us!