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.


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.

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

A Podcast and God’s Promises

Hello Friends!  This is a quick post to share a podcast I recently listened to and a wonderful article about God’s promises.

First, the podcast was posted by Generations Radio and host Kevin Swanson.  He talks about the ‘American Boy Disease’ and how our society tries to put boys in the same box as girls.  While I only have 1 son, I am fully aware that he is so amazingly different than my girls.  Our standards are the same for Jonathan as far as respect for authority, behavior, attitude, strength of character and such but the path we take to meet those standards are different.  Just like each child learns differently and I’m able to adjust my teaching to best fit their learning style, Jonathan learns differently just by the very fact he’s a boy.  He has a much better day when it’s structured, scheduled and lots of variety.  Side note – we are not ruled by our schedule; it’s a tool!

Anyway, this podcast talks about the difference between boys and girls and how to take a different approach in parenting boys.  He also talks about screen time which can obviously apply to ALL of us!  Take a listen at Generations Radio!

Secondly, I read this blog post about God’s Promises by Michelle Lesley and just had to share this wonderful article!  Will only take about 5 minutes to read and is so worth it.  Michelle is a wealth of information (her special focus is discernment for women) and encouragement.

Rejoice in the Lord!


A Make Believe Story…. or is it?

A woman in her late forties, named… Marie, stood at her kitchen sink washing dishes.  She looks up and out the kitchen window and sees her husband, Charles, working hard in their backyard.  Out of the corner of her eye she sees her mom walking to where her husband is working.  Marie realizes that while she was not mean or unkind to her mother, she wasn’t exactly cheerful or welcoming when her mom came to talk to her.  When her mom felt unwanted she went in search of the one person in her life that will almost always make time to talk with her.

You see, Marie’s husband is a wonderful caring man.  Charles loves the Lord, his family, his church and the lost.  Part of his family includes his mother-in-law who lives with them.  How did she come to live with his family?  Years ago, like 14 years ago, it was his idea to have his family live with his wife’s mother and father-in-law for a year to help them out financially; while his wife thought he was nuts she went along with his plan.  After the year was up his family eagerly moved into their own place but it was short lived.  His father-in-law passed away four months later.

His mother-in-law can be difficult to love and yet this God fearing man does just that… He loves her.  Not perfectly but always with sincerity.  Marie has so much to learn from her husband.  Charles is being Jesus to someone who doesn’t really want to hear about Jesus.  He is being light to someone who had a very dark childhood, suffered terrible abuse at the hands of people who should have loved and protected her and feels abandoned by those she once called her closest friends.

Marie wonders why it is so difficult for her to be the light to her own mother.  She feels ashamed as she watches her husband make consistent efforts to love her mom and invest in her daily life.  She has known for some time that she needs to make more of an effort and without God helping her she’ll never be able to do it on her own.  Marie knows that the Scripture says to honor your mother and father but it really goes beyond honor doesn’t it?  She can honor her without investing in her.  She can honor her without being light to her.   She can honor her without giving much thought to where her mom will spend eternity.  But Marie, as a Christian, should be concerned about her mother’s eternity.

That goes back to relationship.  Investing in her.  Seeing her as valuable.  Seeing her as a child of God.


Much to Share!

Wow, so much has happened in the last several months… where to begin!

Some of you may know that for well over a year Phil and I considered buying a bed and breakfast for our family to run as a family business.  We spent many hours searching the internet for properties for sale that were not only profitable but also large enough to fit our entire family of 8.  It was nearly impossible to find a bed and breakfast for sale that would indeed fit our family and be affordable so we decided to put that dream on a back burner for now.  We still want to own a bed and breakfast some day but it will need to wait until a different season of life.

From that point we changed our focus from purchasing a profitable business to where could we move that would allow us to get out of debt (or at least a strong start), have a set up that would allow my mother (who has lived with us since 2005) to be on the ground level and allow me to be a full time stay at home, homeschooling mom.  Those of you that know the Denver Metro Area housing market will know that finding this type of property in the city or her suburbs is virtually impossible.

In August of 2018, Mikayla, Alex and I took a road trip down through Texas, then east through Arkansas.  We stayed a couple of nights with friends in Charleston who showed us around Fort Smith a bit.  We then headed home through Oklahoma and New Mexico.  We really enjoyed our time in Fort Smith so Phil and I started praying for God’s direction and will for our family.  Staying in Denver was becoming increasingly impossible and we knew we needed to make some changes.  On the internet we explored San Antonio, Texas, some areas in Arizona, New Mexico and finally Arkansas.  We felt God was pointing us to the Fort Smith area.

At the time I worked with a real estate agent in Golden who had a ton of contacts.  I told her we wanted to sell our house and after giving her a description our home in Lakewood (apartment on the 2nd floor, etc.) she got on her cell phone and 5 minutes later told me she had someone who wanted to come look at it.  After a couple of showings with the same family, they made an offer and we accepted.  On March 23rd we were under contract with a closing date of April 30th!

At the end of March this year Natasha, Jonathan and I piled into our Suburban and headed southeast towards Fort Smith.  We spent 3 full days in the area and I looked at 14 properties, 2 of them I looked at a second time.  We looked at properties all the way from Rudy on down to Greenwood.  Once we were back in Denver, Phil and I put an offer down on a property in Greenwood.  It had 2 acres, a full size home and a little cottage for my mom.  Due to some legal issues with the sellers our contract fell through so we set our sights on a home in the city of Fort Smith.

We made an offer on the home we now own that was $10,000 less then asking price fulling expecting a counter offer.  Praise God, they accepted our offer because our agent explained to them we were looking for a home with a second living area for an older relative.  Our home in Colorado sold on April 30th and we did a remote closing on May 1st for our new home in Fort Smith.  There was so much excitement going in our family!

Phil, my mom and 2 dogs headed to Fort Smith the morning of May 1st and arrived about 9pm.  The kids and I stayed back in Colorado with friends to fulfill a few commitments we had.  Phil, with a little help here and there managed to replace the flooring in my mom’s area, manage 2 dogs, unload 2 moving trailers (with the amazing help of 3 Taggart young men!) and fix some plumbing issues all while being quite sick.  He was ready for the rest of the family to join him but it would be a few more days.

After finishing our 3 Spanish classes (2 of them for high school credit), a piano recital (both as students and Natasha as teacher), a violin recital and saying goodbye to some very special friends, the kids and I got in our Suburban early on the morning of May 10th with a truck full of stuff and headed to Fort Smith.  It was a long drive but we were all so excited to see Phil, my mom and the dogs.

So, here we are in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Friends, until now, I have lived in Colorado all my life… 48 years!  Change is hard for me… always has been.  BUT, I do not regret our decision to leave the only state I’ve called home.  We love living here.  Of course, there are always things to get used to when change occurs but I love that I’m home full time, we have a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood (our house and neighborhood in CO were not the greatest but served our purposes) and we are meeting some pretty amazing families.  We’ve even already found a church home!  The Highway 71 Alma Church of Christ has been so welcoming to us and have made us feel at home.

Next post I’ll share how we are doing… what has been the most challenging for me.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.

From the outside.

Beautiful kitchen.

One of two fireplaces.

An aerial view of our property.

The cover to our Spring Piano Recital.

10 Things I Learned About Tongue and Lip Tie

  1. A frenectomy is a procedure done to correct tongue and lip tie.
  2. A frenectomy is easier (on the kid and the parent) to do when they are a baby as opposed to a 2.5 year old.
  3. A frenectomy can be done with a laser which is supposed to reduce pain and healing time.
  4. Both a tongue and a lip tie cause problems with nursing.
  5. Both a tongue and a lip tie cause problems with speech.
  6. Correcting a tongue and lip tie does not end once the frenectomy is complete.
  7. Stretching exercises must be done several times a day for 3-4 weeks after the frenectomy.
  8. The stretching exercises are not fun for either the child or the parent.
  9. If the stretching exercises are not done the tongue and lip can reattach.
  10. Valium does not always work on a 2.5 year old… even a full dose!

So, you might be wondering how I gained all that helpful knowledge about tongue and lip tie.  We have been concerned about Katherine’s speech for a couple of months.  I had been assuming she wasn’t talking much because she has 4 older siblings who do the talking for her.  But, after being around other 2 year olds who were talking up a storm I figured maybe we better get her checked out.   I was referred to a specialist named Sandra Coulson.  I have 2 dear friends who have used Sandra’s practice for various speech, dental and breathing problems with their children.  Sandra has a different protocol when it comes to correcting speech issues but after much prayer and research we decided to take Katherine to see her.

As many of you know, Katherine is shy and doesn’t really warm up to new people so I figured this visit was probably not going to be very pleasant for anyone!  Yes, Katherine was shy but by the end of the hour she let Sandra put her fingers in her mouth, do measurements and mouth exercises.  After examining her mouth, Sandra discovered that Katherine had a tongue tie and quite possibly a lip tie.  She referred me to a dentist who specializes in correcting this condition.

We headed to the dentist Wednesday afternoon in hopes of getting it taken care of that day with a little laughing gas.  Well, Katherine would have none of that!  Dr. Witkoff suggested a prescription for Valium to give her the night before and the morning of her procedure which was scheduled for Thursday morning.  I gave her 1/2 a dose of Valium before bedtime Wednesday night and a full dose an hour before the procedure Thursday morning.  Let’s just say that, apparently, Valium doesn’t work on everyone!  I figured my little 31 pound 2.5 year old would be completely loopy and relaxed for the procedure… NOPE!  She was still raring to go when we got there at 11am.  After trying to convince Katherine to put on the elephant mask to breath in the laughing gas it came down to holding her down to get the mask on her and about 12 minutes of her screaming at the top of her lungs.  Finally the laughing gas kicked in and she just sobbed for the last 15 seconds.  The procedure itself is fairly quick – 3-5 minutes.  Now, we are just working on the stretching exercises to avoid reattachment.  We will be heading back to Sandra’s office next week to continue with her program.

So, there you have it… what I have learned about tongue/lip tie and frenectomy in the last 5 days.  The 3 pictures below were taken after the procedure.  Now she looks a little loopy!

After her Frenectomy and popsicle treat.

After her Frenectomy and popsicle treat.

Now she sleeps!

Now she sleeps!

After her Frenectomy and popsicle treat.

After her Frenectomy and popsicle treat.

Closing a Chapter

I wiped the tears away as I continued to untie the 2 dozen or so cloth ties attaching the Noah’s Ark themed crib bumpers to the only crib we have used for our 5 children.  Our sweet Katherine (possible nickname of Chewy) has officially graduated from her crib to a toddler bed.  I realize it might be somewhat silly to shed a few tears over such an event.  But as we were taking down the crib the realization hit that, unless God blesses us with a baby to adopt (which I am open to), we most likely will not be using the crib again.  This chapter of our lives appears to be closed.

It’s been so fun to watch our youngest grow and it’s hard to believe she is already 22 months old.  As I watch Katherine walk around the house, play with her toys, dance (she LOVES music) and chase her siblings I realize we no longer have a baby; we have a toddler!  Where has the time gone?

As for the crib I have a few idea floating around in my head.  Since the crib has a side that slides down we cannot donate it, nor can I sell it on craigslist.  These types of cribs are illegal now.  I’m excited about the possibilities of converting it to something quite usable.

For now, enjoy some pictures of our family.

Katherine wearing mommy's reading glasses.

Katherine wearing mommy’s reading glasses.

Katherine and Alex.

Katherine and Alex.

Jonathan at build a bear workshop.

Jonathan at build a bear workshop.

Alex working on her reading lessons.

Alex working on her reading lessons.

Jonathan working on her daily notebook for school.

Jonathan working on his daily notebook for school.

Alex spending time with Katherine.

Alex spending time with Katherine.

Katherine wearing one of Natasha's hats.

Katherine wearing one of Natasha’s hats.

Katherine's new bed!

Katherine’s new bed!

Katherine wearing a hat that Grandma Joanne made for her.

Katherine wearing a hat that Grandma Joanne made for her.

Natasha reading to Katherine in her new bed.

Natasha reading to Katherine in her new bed.

Date night!

Date night!