Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Last Page

Well, not really. But kinda.

It is January 28th. Another Happy Gotcha Day. For Hoss. His 18th.

Every year since the day we received our little munchkins, we have added pages to their Happy Gotcha Day books. Just a simple photo book. The first few memories are pictures of the "final court date". The date the papers were signed that they are ours. Then each year after that we celebrate by doing something as a family, which usually includes food. In the later years it was JUST food. We write them a letter expressing our gratitude to the Lord and listing many reasons we are grateful.

Because of some teen struggles, Hoss has empty pages, except for our yearly letters which were sent to him via mail and also copied and put into his book. 

With the beauty of the journey comes pain. 

With joy comes sorrow. 

With age comes questions. 

With time comes the right time. 

So today we write his letter and chow down on some chicken tenders. We close his book with this final page. But praise the Sovereign Creator the end of the story isn't over. Praise Him that He has written it and we can trust him.

There are still lots of questions. Not so much anger. Plenty of laughs. Seldom tears. 

Our dear Hoss,
One book closes and another opens. We are celebrating your 18th Happy Gotcha Day! We remember like it was yesterday. Those tiny fingers. Your constant cooing. Your soft, curly hair. Your early words that charmed our hearts. The "I love yous". The funny times with your siblings. Then one day, you grew up. Where has time gone?

You are closer than ever to understanding a parent'

s heart. One day, you will probably be a parent. You may feel the need for more answers. We are here for you whatever and wherever the answers find you. 

We love you. Three little words that mean so much! 

We do.

Lovingly,Your daddy and mommy

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Wall Of Remembrance

For many years I have been praying about my "memorial stones". After reading Hinds Feet in High Places, and being impressed about all those stones of remembrance she put in her pockets along life's journey to the high places, I desired to make a memorial for the Puebla Ponderosa to have to commemorate God's faithfulness to us.

So I had an idea. An idea of a remembrance wall. A place where we passed by daily and could take into our senses all that God has done and REMEMBER!  A place where my children can see visibly how God has rescued us and provided in amazing ways.

Just this week, life happened, and I walked over and read the past feats God accomplished in our lives and it encouraged me.

I knew I wanted the central point to be the journal pages from our family remembrances over the last 20 years. I printed them out on parchment paper, burned the edges and mounted them on a canvas that I painted. I then lacquered them.

Obviously, the "P" signifies the Puebla Ponderosa.

At first, when I was putting this wall together in my mind, I wanted the word "faithfulness" etched on something. But as time went on, I realized God's faithfulness wasn't changing, but our remembering to remember was. So my hubby cut out individual pieces of wood that I stenciled the letters to read "remember".

After we were married, I cross stitched our vows. I was determined to make this part of our wall of remembrance. These covenants were vital to the Ponderosa. God is the sustainer of all. He is the reason we exist.

Of course, pictures had to be part of the wall. I took a day a few weeks ago, to reminisce. If I am like each of you, I have gobs and gobs of pictures. If you were a fly on the wall of my heart you would have seen tears and heard laughter; sensed regret, and felt leaps of joy. Moments of treasured days have slipped away. It was good to remember in this way.

I strived to choose pictures that were integral parts of our lives for the past 20 years. 

Next, I had seen a beautiful piece of craftiness on pinterest with scrabble letter tiles. So I arranged our names and added an important dimension that has knit our family as one. A family from many backgrounds into a beautiful picture of art.

Before, Christmas last year I was given a creative chalkboard from this amazing online store. Each week we take turns writing what we are thankful for. My littlest had the last go modern lingo...bff's...that's what she is thankful for.

Lastly, I knew I wanted Scripture that reminded us how this wall came to be and to Whom we give glory for His faithfulness. The Lord has encouraged us to be strong and to be still.

So, there you have it. I pray these displays are forever etched in our hearts. I encourage you to find that arena in which to carry your memorial stones. 

Much love from the Puebla Ponderosa

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review - Frederick

The spirit of determination that allows one to overcome such adversity as Frederick Ndabaramiye did is quite amazing. Faith is always part of that spirit. Faith that God gives to believe in the hope of a future and faith that forgives those who try to take your life from you.

Frederick, an autobiography, is an unbelievable story of resilience and fortitude. Frederick lived through the Rwandan genocide and was severely maimed by his enemies. His story is one that touches the deepest nerve in one's soul. God had a mighty plan for him. God sovereignly placed people and things in his life to direct him exactly where he needed to be at the perfect time. As you read this book, you will find yourself immensely grateful for your own blessings, as well as, asking yourself the question of, "How can I be an instrument of service to those who are hurting around me?".

This story is one of hope for the future. One boy's story of how he overcame incredible odds and become a man who helped others do the same.

**As a part of the blogging network, I received a free copy of this book.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Our 2015 Family

Saturday, we celebrated the joining of two lives and their becoming one. "Mr. Cartwright's" niece got married and it was a wonderful celebration as well as the perfect "excuse" to take my photo-evading children's pictures. (Namely, my big boys. I'm sure you mothers of boys out there understand.)

So enjoy.

You will notice that my youngest girl and boy have the most really would think they are cut from the same so many ways. My sweet, "Marie", just smiles beautiful, without any antics...and my oldest, well, I don't have any of him by himself. Surpriiiiise. Surpriiiise.

Grandpa Puebla and Grandma Puebla made an appearance as well. It's been so long since we have all been together at such a formal celebration.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I Did It Again...Followed By An Apology

Today, my mouth and emotions got the best of me.

But, I mean, all I asked was a simple command. And he didn't want to do it in my time when I asked...I'm the mom. I mean,  just's that simple.


And like many other times, words spewed out of my mouth that were, indeed, truth. Just not spoken in love. Therefore, words that really didn't need to be said at all. (And might I add, they were pretty loud words...thankfully the windows weren't open today.)

I excused myself from the school table and went to my room, feeling pretty lousy. I knelt down and cried until I couldn't open my eyes. I screwed up again. Again. AGAIN. I want to have the right responses. I get so tired of failing when it really matters. I want to love the unlovable, but boy, it is so hard at times.

I texted him and told him how wrong I was and how sorry I was. That no matter what happened, I didn't have the right to speak that way to him. (Thank God for texting, especially when you are dealing with someone who struggles to let go and forgive quickly.) Then I proceeded to get on the computer and look at some of the blogs I follow. Guess what?

Yup, you guessed it. Lynn Cowell's blog was titled, Words of Wisdom, and yes, it nailed it!  I was encouraged and uplifted and sent back to the Word.

I will start again tomorrow, trying to think about my reactions and then responding.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It's Only a Diamond!

The unthinkable has happened!

As "Mr. Cartwright" and I were out for dinner last night (to watch the first half of the Oregon/FSU game) I looked down and to my horror, discovered my diamond was missing in my engagement ring! I wanted to cry! If it weren't for my boys sitting there with us, I would have. Tears welled up instantly but I was able to restrain them from overflowing.

I could do nothing but think about it last night. My heart was so sad. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary and I kept trying to tell myself ,"it's only a ring". I kept reminding myself that it is a symbol of a love that doesn't fall apart like way the ring has. 

So my head hit the pillow and my thoughts wouldn't stop. 

But God had different plans. I had a dream about being back in Honduras and ministering side by side with our missionary friends. I saw the faces of poor, beautiful people. I sat beside orphans and the unwanted. I awoke from the dream at 3:30 a.m..

I couldn't fall back asleep. I rose with a strong desire to pray and commune in the Word. I read Luke 12. I was struck by the words of our Great Shepherd. 

Luke 12:
29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I prayed for the souls of my children. I prayed for my quick responses of anxiety. I thanked the Lord for his amazing provisions.

6:00 came too soon and I turned my thoughts toward the day. As I was basking in God's goodness under the torrent of water, I proceeded to rub my ring to clean it, which is something I do very frequently in the shower, and I realized I didn't have it on.

I, then, found it quite ironic, that I hadn't had one thought about my diamond. Perspective. That's key.

I still desire to fill that empty space on my ring one day, but I realize there are things in life much more meaningful and eternal. This new year my focus will be on seeking first His kingdom!

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Messy Love Story

There is a war being waged against marriages these days. The war of fidelity is the most difficult as our culture screams tolerance to all forms of sexual sin!

My latest book review takes on this subject. Before I read The Song, I had heard about the movie. It sounded riveting! The Song, written by Chris Fabry, is a beautiful love story following two young people who have been dealt lives of hardship before they met. They meet in a magical way, but once Jed King's music career takes off, they are left with a fractured relationship. 

Chris Fabry does a great job showing the reader what can happen when you don't put Christ first in a marriage. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the new life you have made and the busyness of that life. Children come. Boredom can set in. Life can become monotonous. And there the trap is set.

Mr. Fabry reminds us that marriage is a covenant. He also shows how with the Lord, strong love, and forgiveness one can make it through any storm that comes their way.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review - A Very Fine House

Being in the midst of a home of three teens and having hit some difficult years I chose a memoir for my next book review.

A Very Fine House, written by Barbara Cofer Stoefen, is a heart wrenching story of a mother and daughter's relationship through the addiction battle. She writes very candidly yet compassionately. The battle is truly felt as you read through the pages of a hurting mother. She profoundly moves through fear and anger to compassion and love. It is a beautiful testimony to how strong the family bonds are no matter what comes your way. A mother simply cannot stop loving and fighting for her children.

Having gone through a very rocky road with one of my own, I felt her pain, yet was a little discouraged by the few times the Lord was brought up. I know from experience, I would not have made it without Christ and Him being my rock. "Faith" is a very subjective word. I would love to have a sit down with Mr. Stoefen and unwrap that a tad bit more.

In light of that, I was encouraged to persevere in my own mother/child relationships. And I want to remember this profound quote: "Those who might judge the disasters of others may not yet have had their own." Very true. Very true indeed.

A Very Special Gift

This Christmas our family was given a very special gift. One that my heart is overflowing with gratitude for. Before I can speak more specifically about it, I'm going to tell you a little about the last several years. Many of you have heard and read about it.  But for others this may be the first time you hear about our story.

Like many other families we have had our share of ups and downs. Five years ago our oldest left on a journey at 12 that would take him away for a few years. Years that I felt we're stolen from us and him. Days during those years where I asked "why" so often I dreamt about it. 

Four years ago my beloved mother was taken home to be the Lord after a year long battle with cancer. She left a huge hole in our family but thankfully, a legacy too! She is so much of the reason we have so many wonderful memories. Some of those memories and traditions were centered around Christmas. Cookies, baking, hospitality, FAMILY, etc. These were just a few.

My father became lonely very quickly and the Lord provided him with a wonderful, Godly wife who has complimented him in so many ways. But just like all things in life, people adjust to these changes in many different ways. Some of my siblings have struggled while others were able to immediately accept this change. Emotions were very high at times and differences were hard to overlook. Time had to be allowed and patience given.

Fast forward to a little over a year ago. My oldest is home but under very difficult circumstances. Christmas was dampened by decisions made by precious ones. Many tears were shed and it was tumultuous, to say the least. But I had been learning to take each day in light of God's glorious plan for our lives. This was just part of it.

So this year, plans started to be made for Christmas. In years past, my brother, his wife and 4 children; my sister, her husband and 3 children; my youngest sister, and my parents would spend late Christmas Eve into Christmas Day together. We would all sleep around the Christmas tree, while listening to Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams and many others. We would enjoy trying to set booby traps for my dad as he brought out our stuffed stockings. we had hoped these would wake us. One year it worked as my brother had set a string attached to a tower of plastic cups across the the path my father would take to bring our stockings. What a fun memory!

Many years have passed since we have been able to all be together again.  So as the time got closer for celebration this year we all made plans to meet at my brothers and renew our tradition. Miraculously, we all arrived and made it quite the Christmas Eve overnight. There were 23 of us in all. The children were sacked out on the floor in the living room and all the adults took the bedrooms. Unlike when we were little, our beautiful kiddos let us sleep past six a.m. We read the Christmas story and then sang two praise and worship songs. 

I had a pretty neat idea for dinner time conversation. I had received 12 napkin ties from Ever Thine Home. Each napkin tie had a question or conversation starter written on it that gave you an idea to share around the theme of family and thankfulness. I envisioned laughter and heartfelt sharing, but I could never have realized what exactly the Lord was doing in each of our hearts during this hour of full bellies and tear streaked cheeks. Each napkin was placed randomly around the table. But I believe that each person sat just in the seat they needed to be in to let the healing begin. I wish with all my heart there was deep healing in my own children's hearts as well. They have such holes of pain and loss that often come when you are the adoptee. But as I think through how Christ used the Christmas dinner in the adult's lives I realize we are all in our 40's or older and finally getting "it".

Well, back to the story. 

As my beloved brothers, sisters, and dad and his wife shared hurts, joys, reflections and sorrows, there was a realness to our conversation. There was vulnerability and unspoken healing. Forgiveness was given and received without the normal apologies. Many, many tears were shed amidst the realities of life lessons including parenting, marriage and yearning for other's hurting hearts.

FAMILY! That is what we received! As all of our children are growing and getting their wings, we realize that this may be the beginning of some very different traditions. New friends which may become spouses, college days, jobs in far away places: all these things play into these new memories and traditions.

But for today I am so grateful for seeming to have come full circle. 

Here are a few pics for you to enjoy!