Our First Christmas in Arkansas

Our first Christmas in Arkansas was enjoyable and a bit odd all at the same time.  We did not spend Christmas Eve or Christmas with extended family like usual – that was the odd part!  After spending the morning opening a few gifts and eating homemade cinnamon rolls we decided to go on a hike because the weather was stunning!  It was 72 beautiful degrees and bright warm sun-filled skies.  We drove about an hour, maybe less, to Devil’s Den State Park.  We had such a wonderful time!

This was our fourth year reading through an advent book.  Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide.  His advent books are so well written and we look forward to this tradition every year!  We think that Jesus was not actually born on December 25th and as a family we want to make sure we are worshipping Jesus coming in the flesh *1  as the Reason *2 for this Holiday.

(1. Possibly around BC 4-5) (2. And to actually die in our place for forgiveness of our sins about AD 30)


It’s Just Geography

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Have you ever been to or lived in Colorado?  Have you ever driven through Glenwood Canyon and gazed in awe at the stunning mountains towering high above you?  Have you ever hiked to Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs where a breathtaking lake with crystal clear blue/green water sits high up on the side of a mountain?  What about a stroll or bike ride in Waterton Canyon, complete with wildlife and waterfalls?  Have you ever slid down the Great Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley on a sled and buried your toes in the warm sand?  What about enjoy one of the hundreds of amazing camping spots throughout the state?  Have you ever taken a chair lift to the top of Copper Mountain and skillfully maneuvered down a diamond black trail on skis in 3 feet of fresh powder or taken that same trail in the summer but this time your mode of transportation is a mountain bike?  Or spent the day enjoying refreshing water rides at Water World in north Denver, complete with just over 70 acres of thrilling rides, relaxing lazy rivers and yummy food?

Those are just a few of the hundreds of things that can be enjoyed in the beautiful state of Colorado.  Up until about 3 months ago I had lived there my entire life.  I was born in the heart of Denver and lived in various metro area suburbs throughout my 48 years.  Never, ever did I think I would live anywhere else… until Proverbs 16:9 repeatedly entered my mind and heart.  The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

After watching Phil work 2 jobs, sometimes 3 jobs to take care of his family for several years, I realized something needed to change.  At the time, I didn’t know what needed to change I just knew I didn’t see much light at the end of the tunnel.  Yes, the Lord is our light but I was starting to strongly feel like I was the one holding us back from getting in a better financial position.

You see, I was pretty attached to Colorado and the people who lived there.  I’ve never been one to enjoy change and I certainly avoided initiating the change!  However, several verses kept coming up in devotionals, prayers, bible reading and discussions with dear friends and I started to wonder if I was obeying God by being so determined to stay in Colorado.  Was my fear of change and the fear of leaving the only state I ever lived in trusting in the Lord?  Was I so stubborn to stick to the plans in my mind and not let the Lord direct my steps?  After some time I felt very convicted that I was not trusting the Lord with my future and the future of my family.  Why was I so scared to leave Colorado, when most of my favorite people would be leaving with me?  By January 2019, I realized we needed to make a drastic change and so my prayers shifted from Lord help us to find ways to meet our needs easier so Phil doesn’t have to work so many hours, to Lord, where is it that you want our family to live and serve you?  Well, the Lord answered those prayers with the selling of our house and the buying of the house where we now live.

Here we are…. in beautiful Fort Smith, Arkansas.  I have no regrets and I do not miss the big city AT ALL ya’ll!!!  While we haven’t yet explored Arkansas much I’m confident we will find just as wonderful adventures here that we had in Colorado.  Seriously, I don’t miss Denver or the 4 million people that live there.  Sometimes I miss the mountains… Colorado does have STUNNING mountains people! I miss my dad and step mom but it turns out they are leaving Colorado as well and moving to South Carolina.

We miss Phil’s brother Andy and his girlfriend Renee.  We spent most of our birthdays and holidays with each other so we definitely feel that loss.

Us visiting with Andy and Renee in June when we went back to CO for the CHEC conference.

What I miss the most is the people that were the closest to me like family but also my friends.  I’m an introvert so I didn’t have a dozen close friends, only a few but I miss them terribly.   My dear friend June has walked this journey of faith, marriage, parenting and homeschooling with me since the day I became a Christian back in 2000.  As a side note it’s her fault we homeschool… along with Kevin Swanson… I read his book The Second Mayflower.  She has been a mentor, a trusting friend to share my dreams, fears and joys with, and a prayer warrior for me and my family.  Not to mention she taught my oldest two kids writing and transported my kids to Spanish classes in our early years of homeschooling.  Her family has been such a huge blessing to my family over these 19 years.  For me she embodies Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

In addition to June is my dear friend Laura.  Laura and I have been very close, sometimes inseparable for about 3 years. I remember first meeting Laura and I remember thinking ‘I don’t have time for another friend!’ so I kind of put her off for awhile.  But our faithful Lord had other plans.  After a few play dates getting our kids together we clearly hit it off.  Over these 3 years we have grown very close; we have laughed and cried together.  She was a huge help in getting my family packed and moved and even though I’m 820 miles away from her she still encourages me daily… thank you Lord for texting!  Laura is the strongest woman I know and has endured things that most of us can only try to imagine but she has stayed firm in her faith and has leaned on the Lord.  She is such an inspiration to me.

It’s these two friends I miss the most.  I do miss our church in Colorado but honestly, the church we have joined here has had me in awe with the love and service they show to one another.  I miss the Button family who was kind enough to let us stay there for 10 days before the kids and I moved here and also hosted us when we went back in June.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  I wrote this verse on many of our moving boxes as a reminder to me not to fear but to Trust the Lord.

God is faithful my friends!  2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.  Moving here was a step of faith for me and I feel strengthened.  I feel like my tight grip on Colorado has been released and it’s quite freeing! The Lord I love is here along with my steadfast husband and 5 amazing children.

Really, it’s just geography.

A Colorado sunrise, June 2019

An Arkansas sunrise, June 2019

A walk around Belmar lake with my friend June 2019. These pictures were taken with my phone and are completely unaltered.

August 19, 2018

We woke up Sunday morning in Paris… Paris, Texas! After filling our tummies with Texas shaped waffles we loaded up our rental car and got on the road to find a gas station.

A slight side story… as I was filling the car that morning I noticed dozens of huge brown crickets all over the gas station lot. Even crawling up the dispensers! They were everywhere and at least 5 times the size of the little black ones we have around here.

Anyway, we put in the next Narnia audiobook in the player and hit the road towards Mena, Arkansas. It took about 2.5 hours or so to get to the small community of Mena. The main point of stopping in Mena was to take a look at a potential commercial property. We have friends who own this land and would like to fix up this old inn and get it running again. However, after seeing it I’m not sure it’s worth the money it would take to ‘fix it’ and it might be a better investment to scrape the property and start over.

After spending about 45 minutes looking at the property we headed north to visit friends in Ft. Smith. On the way we had something interesting happen. The road to Ft. Smith is a little two lane road surrounded by beautiful forest. The amount of trees was stunning! Back to the story, as we came around a curve I noticed an older lady standing in the middle of the street waving her arms at us to stop. As I stopped and rolled down my window she came up and pointed to a piece of paper. I could tell immediately that she was hearing impaired. I kind of nodded ok, not really understanding what she was asking. She then went over to the passenger side and showed Belle the paper. Again, I nodded and then she opened the back passenger door and hopped in the car next to Alex. She moaned a few sounds and pointed ahead so I just started driving and she would point here and there to show me which way to go. After about 15 minutes of driving she had me pull into a church parking lot. Using sign language she said thank you, got out and went to church! I wondered out loud if she gets to church that way every Sunday!

Ok, so we make it to Ft. Smith and head to Charleston to stay with friends. Charleston is about 35 minutes out of Ft. Smith and is an absolutely charming town! My dear friend, Sandy, took some time to show me around this cute little town and I think I could see my family living there.

We were so blessed to meet the Taggart family. Sandy and I have been friends over email for several years but we finally got to meet in person and it was so much fun! They spoiled us with comfy beds to sleep in, yummy food, and fun fellowship. They even talked us into staying a second night. They have 11 amazing kids and have quite a unique family story! Our kids became fast friends and we so enjoyed our time with them.

Property is much less expensive in Charleston… hmmm… maybe in our future?

The Sonlight Inn, Mena, Texas

We got to ride a trolley in Ft. Smith

August 17, 2018

Hello again! I’m going to try to finish telling you about our great summer adventure.

So, on Friday morning, Alfredo and Amy Sue closed on their new house and we all started unloading the moving truck. It took most of the day and we were all pretty exhausted. Once we got them a bit settled we caught a ride to get our rental car and headed a bit north to spend the night in Comfort.

We got checked into the Meyer’s Bed and Breakfast around 7pm. I had hoped to get there earlier so we could spend more time exploring Comfort and the bed and breakfasts 34 acres. We walked the beautiful acres and along the creek for about an hour and enjoyed the amazing sunset. Then we headed to our very comfortable room and settled in for the night.

After a good nights sleep we headed to the breakfast room and had a very filling and delicious breakfast. We sat at a table close to the windows and watched the deer grazing across the creek.

I wanted to get on the road and head towards Arkansas but the girls really wanted to swim so I let them play in the lovely pool for about an hour. Even at 9 in the morning it was about 80 degrees but the humidity wasn’t too bad. We packed up our car, stopped to buy some road trip snacks and jumped on the highway at 10:30 am.

I was a bit nervous getting on the road being the only adult and driver and driving 2 of my kids across a few states without my rock (Phil is my rock!) but I did a lot of praying and God gave me confidence. Mena, Arkansas, is about 9 hours away from Comfort and since we didn’t leave until mid morning I didn’t think we could make it there by that evening so I figured we’d have to find a place to stay somewhere along the way.

Have you ever stayed the night in Paris? I decided we would stop in Paris, Texas. It is a fairly small town but I was able to find a room in a little hotel to stay the night. It was a decent room but not nearly as lavish as the Meyer’s Bed and Breakfast!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Happy 17 years and 9 month Anniversary to the most amazing man! I love you Phil!

I did not sleep as well last night.  Between my tossing and turning and Mikayla yelling at Jonathan in her sleep I didn’t get much rest.

Today was the last leg of the drive to San Antonio.  We arrived around 5pm and went to the Vera’s house. The Pinto’s have known this family for many years and were instrumental in helping the Pinto’s move to San Antonio.

Before landing in San Antonio, Amy Sue and I (and the kids with us) stopped in Comfort along the way. There is a Bed and Breakfast for sale that we wanted to check out. We drove through the small town and stopped at the BNB to look around. It was beautiful! I made reservations for the girls and I for Friday evening.

Once in San Antonio we all went to see the Pinto’s new house. They don’t close on it until Friday but we were able to do the final walk through. It’s a beautiful 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home in a pleasant neighborhood.

One of the most obvious differences between San Antonio and Denver is humidity…. wowza! 98 degrees feels a lot different when the humidity is 49%. I’m sure you get used to it though.  But I do love the rolling hills and lush trees that span the landscape.

The girls and I stayed with the Vera family for the night. They have 2 girls ages 5 and 8. They played dress up for awhile and then we went to bed.  The Pinto family stayed with another family friend.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I slept well the first night on our journey. We were up early, showered and eating breakfast by 7am. We got our stuff packed back into vehicles and got on the road by 8am. Our plan was to drive to Lubbock, TX and stay there for the night.  After a few stops we made it to Lubbock around 7pm. We ate a few snacks then headed down to the pool to relax for awhile.  It was a long day of driving but we made good progress.




New Mexico!


Finally Texas!

Lunch break

We’re Going on an Adventure!

5 days into our journey I finally realize I should have been blogging about our trip!  Well… better late then never!

August 14, 2018

Today is Tuesday and we have a busy day ahead of us.  We have piano lessons in the morning then spend the rest of the day packing and getting ready for our trip. Have you heard? We are going on an adventure!  Unfortunately, not all of the Wilson tribe could go but Mikayla, Alex and I get to help the Pinto family move from Lakewood, Colorado to San Antonio, Texas.  Alfredo plus two kids will be in the Penske moving truck and Amy Sue and I will have the other 3 kids in their Highlander.  We are all excited to start on our journey.

We arrived at their house at about 6:15 Tuesday evening and we all start helping to get the last bit of stuff out of their house and either into the garage for sorting later (Alfredo will be back in Denver for a bit longer) or into the moving truck. Then we were able to get the house cleaned. Their tenants were moving in the next day!

We finally got on the road around 8:45. We only had to drive for an hour and a half because we were staying the night with their friends in Colorado Springs.

As I look ahead at the coming week I’m both excited and nervous about this journey!