Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Year of Grace

The call that changed our lives came one year ago this month. Someone came back to the Ponderosa one year ago today. Many people had been praying.

God chose to allow us to travel down another road of deep valleys without many mountain tops. Today a year ago, I did not know what tomorrow would hold. I was stunned by fear and anxiety.  But His grace was with us through this valley just like it is when all goes well. He is always with us. I can truly say I would never have changed the last year. A relationship was renewed that I thought would never happen. Our family is back together. I'm homeschooling all of my four children. God has changed me so much...especially my endurance of being flexible. :)

So as I think back over the last year, I am so grateful. I think how if it were not for the grace of God at every turn, things would be drastically different. I am homeschooling "Hoss" for his senior year. He even gets to play tackle football on the same team as his cousin and brother. This is an added blessing. I think over how things should have and could have been different. Yet, our Lord had better plans.

My dear son, I am so thankful you are home. You came home under very dire circumstances, but, oh, how happy I am you are here.  You have grown and matured in this last year. You have choices that are ahead of you that will determine much of your future. You have just a few months before you turn 18, and my prayer is that you will find peace. Perfect Peace. In Him Alone.                                                                                                                            I love you! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Aging and Remembering

There are many days, I forget that I am aging. Not physically, mind you. (The aches and stiffness greets me each morning.) But mentally, I still feel like I am in my twenties. Except on the days when I walk into my children's rooms and forget what I went in there to say. But, for the most part, I see twenty-somethings and lump myself in their age group.

Until....
I meet my old youth group leader in a doctor's office and realize it has been 20 something years since I've seen him.

I tell someone I used to babysit their soccer coach...who has graduated college.

I see all the other "kids" I used to babysit and hear about their "kids".

Then I feel it.

In one week I will start my 13th year of home schooling. I will begin to graduate my students...one after the other for 3 years, except for my youngest who will be an only child after that time. :) I look back on God's goodness. Oh, how he has been good.

The Puebla Ponderosa has been through so much, just like your family, I'm sure. Deaths, births (adoptions), hurts, anger, failed adoptions, rebellions, tears, and, most of all love. But I know one thing. As I start this next school year, I want to exemplify Jesus more and more. I want to be a good listener. I want to have my children's hearts. I don't want them to be standard-keepers. I want them to be Jesus-lovers.

So to my knees I go again. I will stay there.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reminding Myself...

When life throws the curve ball, which seems to come way too often at 103 mph, I fight to turn to the Scripture, where I know I will find hope and peace. The fast pitch came in last night and almost hit me in the ribs. Actually knocked my breath away...again. I stumbled. I fell to my knees. Anger tried to capture me, but it wasn't long before the Spirit brought humility and right thoughts.

So as Mr. Cartwright and I opened the Word this morning, we turned to the innumerable promises of our Great God.

I meditate on them today.

Here are just a few.

*We will be rewarded for perseverance.
Matthew 10:22 "The one who endures to the end will be saved."

*The Lord will give us rest.
Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

*The righteous will shine.
Matthew 13:43 "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father."

*The Lord gives wisdom.
Luke 21:14-18 "Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand on how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand and contradict. You will be delivered up even by brothers and parents and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for My Name's sake, but not a hair of your head will perish."

These are just a few of God's Words that give hope when all around gives way. My thoughts turn to those Believers in Iraq and other countries that are fleeing for their lives.

That puts life into perspective. My God and their God is good. He remains good and will uphold His children.

More promises to come.....

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CouponMania

While visiting my sister up in Tennessee, she got me hooked.

My PointsSaving StarCheckOut 51, and Coupons.com not to mention True Couponing has become a part of my everyday to do list.

Coupons!

That's what I'm talking about.

I don't know about you but grocery shopping has become so depressing. Here on the Ponderosa we try to eat as healthy as possible, but I have had to strike a balance in order to balance our budget. Since I home school my kiddos and don't have the opportunity to go and make money to help out, I thought the best way to do this is to save money.

I mean, I was able to save $35.00 on a $70.00 order at Winn Dixie, only purchasing what was cheaper to buy there then to do price comparison at Walmart. I also am going to save .38 cents on my next gas fill up. Yes, this takes more time, but I believe it is well worth it.

Food is getting more and more expensive. So instead of rationalizing buying my milk at Walmart since I'm there already, I make time to go one block west to Aldi, where I find it for $1.00 cheaper.

So, for now, this is my contribution to our budget. And I am thankful, I am able to be wise in my spending.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Encouragement Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

Yesterday, the girls and I ventured to Bradenton Beach for a little sun, surf and sand. We were accompanied by my sister, Melissa and her friend. It was an absolutely perfect day. The sun hid for a few minutes but always came back out at our bidding. 


Of course, my little nature lover spotted the turtle nests. She was full of questions about who, what and why? My  prayer is always that she would see the Creator as more important than the creation. I can definitely see her hugging some trees. ;)
 



My two Black Beauties!
 



As we were packing up to leave, my sister handed me a box that was light as a feather with a surprise in it. 
When we arrived home, I opened it to find blown up balloons and a card.
 

What a terrific idea! And a super big Encouragement! Each day the girls and I will be looking forward to the Scriptures and focusing our minds on His Word.
(This couldn't have come at a better time.)
 

I belong to the truth! There is rest in His presence.
When I show love in deeds not just words. Wow! So convicting too.
 

My sister is going through many trials herself and took the time and energy to put each handwritten note inside a balloon! This is love in deeds! 

How can you show purposeful love today?

Friday, July 11, 2014

He is Willing! (Even Though It May Not Look Like it)

Matthew 8:1-3
"When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. And behold, a leper came to Him and knelt before Him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing. Be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed."

What great faith!

Faith to believe and not doubt. Faith that has 100% trust that God is able. And Jesus shows such compassion. He rewards this mans faith with healing.

I realize that God does not always act in this way. Those times when our prayers are not answered immediately, He is still working in our lives to produce faith in us. This time last year, my world crashed around me and our family. I begged God to remove this trial. He chose to take us through it. His answer was, "No, I am not willing to remove it, but I am willing to be with you carrying you as you persevere."

Praise Jesus for His sustaining mercies. They truly are new every morning. My faith has grown despite still not having the "answer" I want. But I have a God who I can trust no matter what falls around me. He is my High Priest.

He answers my prayers, but not necessarily in the way I would like. He is teaching me to love in a deeper way than I have ever been challenged before. This road is hard and full of potholes (maybe sinkholes is a better description). But my Great God will sustain me. He will uphold me. He doesn't lie nor glory in seeing us suffer. He is glorified as we suffer and shine the light He has placed in us.

So, yes, there are many deep soul needs here on the Ponderosa. God knows them all and will answer in His time and for His purpose. And I trust in this.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Big Red and Cover Girl

The girls and I took a little trip to Tennessee this last week to visit with my sister and her family and Dad and Lindi. We had such a great time and made some awesome memories. 

We went to the local Pigeon Forge pool.


 We were given complimentary tickets to Dollywood's Splash Country.




 We drove the Cade's Cove Loop and attempted to have a bbq picnic, but we were rained out.







 Each time we visit there is a "first without mom" memory too. As we drove through Cade's Cove, I realized the last time I was there I took mom while she was sick on Chemo. She slept most of the way, but at one stop we got out and sat in the chairs we had brought. I read Psalms to her. As we passed that meadow on this visit I could see her sitting there.

I can't believe it has been 4 years since mom has gone home to be with the Lord. Time flies. Children grow. Time just changes things. But some things never change. 

Like the smell of Big Red gum and Cover Girl Face Powder. These are the smells that my sister and I were reminiscing about. Mom's purse always carried these two essential things. I can still hear her laugh and see her crazy ways. My sister embodies many of them. Ha! So many of her mannerisms are moms. This made me happy.

After mom left us, my sister planted a tree and had a plaque made that still sits in her front yard.


 I've said this before, but I am so thankful for the legacy my mom left.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

No Place to Hide

I am not one to typically like to read a military book or watch a movie based on military events, but when I read the bio of Dr. Warren, I was intrigued.

Dr. Lee Warren served for 180 days in Iraq as a brain surgeon. His story is raw, real and incredible. He finds himself in the middle of the mortars, gunfire and violence. While taking in all that happens around him, I stand amazed at how each person who worked along side him and other doctors as well were used during this critical time in history. My eyes often fill with tears when I think of our soldiers out there fighting for our freedom as well as others. I now have a new respect for those civilians as well. He not only treated our soldiers, but all men, women, and children who needed help. Although there were gruesome details that I normally can't stomach, I read in utter amazement in how God used this in this mere man's life. I also have a new respect for those who come home after seeing all that takes place on the battle field.

I was also greatly challenged with loving those most unlovable, namely my enemies.

You will be challenged as well.

Read it and be inspired!




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Horrible Nuisances

We love nature here on the Ponderosa. We love having bird feeders, water feeders, and have seen a large variety of birds. We often have wrens make nests in our tree fort, garage and plants on the front porch.

But no matter how much we love them, we hate the other creatures that the seed draws here.

SQUIRRELS ARE SUCH A NUISANCE!!!!

We have tried baffles, airsoft guns, etc. And now our birdfeeders stay empty. Birdseed is expensive and they empty the feeders in one day.

And now, I can't even keep the chicken coop open during the day because they find their way in to eat the chicken food. Maybe our resident pet whisperer can train her beloved hens to chase and peck them. Any other ideas? I'd love them.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A New Look

For 10 years, our kitchen here on the Ponderosa has been a pale yellow. Two weeks ago, "Mr. Cartwright" and I decided to be a little risky. 

Both of the boys were gone (or asleep) during this painting session.

When they saw our beautiful job, they pronounced, "We now officially live in a "black" house!" (No offense to those of you who are African American. My boys are too. They are always making these kind of comments.) (And while we are on this subject, my daughter has dubbed me the toasted marshmallow of the group due to my fun at the pool taking in the sun.)



I happen to love the color.