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Behold, I will do something new. Isaiah 43:19

Behold, I Will Do Something New. What? Wait!

Fourteen years ago, Finn was born and he changed our world. For the better, the oh so much better. Three years and one miscarriage later, Hays came along. We poured our life into our children. Homeschooling them, creating an amazing life full of adventure and fun while preparing a firm foundation in Christ.

During these years, many of my dear friends we adopting. Both abroad and domestically. Sweet Mercy, let’s make this clear: I never had a heart for adoption, fostering, adding any more kids into our home. Not a bad thing, just never felt that is where we were called as a family. Then, out of necessity, we took in a nephew a year and a half ago. His age is right in between our boys.  He is a sweet hearted, kind boy whose foundation was a bit shaky with a few issues that are natural with his background. After seven months of banging my head against the wall because I could not figure out why homeschooling was so hard, I was given the background on his previous years’ schooling issues. Yes, some important information that would have helped in the beginning. So, I bobbed and weaved, trying new curriculum, different teaching methods.

I have cried out to God regularly during this time, alright, screamed at Him a lot. He is a big guy, He can handle it. I was trying to “FIX” the boy, and, I was exhausted. The other two children were put on the back burner because the new boy’s life was on fire. Up until then, they had a pretty ideal life, this adversity has not been bad for them. You can’t grow during the easy times. But, admittedly, it’s hard to watch.

Two weeks ago, after doing school with our new boy until 6:30 p.m. three nights of the school week (as homeschoolers, we were usually done by Noon every day), my husband came in and said, “Enough!!! Your health, your well-being, and the boys can’t withstand this anymore. I need my wife to not be so stressed out and unhappy.” (paraphrase) So, we found a small Christian school that allows our new boy to do work by subject on his grade level and enrolled him. He is doing well, and likes it. It’s a good fit for him in this season.

Well……that’s not the shocker. My husband then asked, “Well, what about Finn?”

With my most innocent, bewildered face, I asked whatever was he talking about? homeschool mom

During the past year and a half, we have been to several homeschool groups/co-ops because Finn, bless his heart, is so much like me and loves to be around people and involved in things. We live 30 miles from any town, so that makes it hard sometimes. He has a friend Caleb that lives 45 minutes from us and we do not see him often, but that is about it. The diligent seeking of friends and activities for the boys has not gone well. Many of the groups did not have kids around the same age, or we lived too far away to get together often or have VERY different lifestyles. We do have a wonderful community on our mountain who have taken us in as family, but they are an older, retired community. So, no kids around.

If you ask our children what we want them to be when they grow up, they will say “to love Jesus, to love people, and to be happy.” Finn was not happy. He wanted friends. He was having a hard time adjusting to the new child in our world and other issues. He wants to be in a robotics club, maybe be in a play one day. He wants to go to ballgames and even a dance. 

So, this homeschooling mom of 14 years took her oldest to an academically challenging and hopefully FUN school for his very first day of school outside of our home this morning. He was excited, yet nervous. I have not cried today as I know he will thrive. He is ready for this new adventure. 

school pic

Well, I cried for three days straight last week. I might have got it all out. Maybe.

Hays will start school in January at the same school as his brother. He is excited to play sports and make friends. He is academically ready, but I want the next 9 weeks with just he and I, to enjoy some of the time missed over the past year and a half and to just enjoy what a cool kid he is.

So, the Lord has a new thing for our family. I never thought I would be here, but I am. Some days I feel like I failed as a mom, as a teacher. This has been very humbling. And then, I pick myself up and make sure Finn has a clean school uniform and see the smile on his face because again, I just want him to love Jesus, love people and be happy.

I will sacrifice whatever I want or need for that to happen. 

Podcast with #BossGirlCreative

When I started blogging over NINE years ago, I never thought I would be where I am. Sometimes you take a chance and amazing things happen. That chance was to open my heart, online, and attempt to write a love letter to my children. Back in the old bloggy days, there were not that many of us. So, I started a group in my home state trying to find any others. there were only a handful. Now I hear there are 31 million blogs in the U.S. alone. And, we have over 725 bloggers registered through Arkansas Women Bloggers. Sweet mercy!

It has been an amazing journey full of women, bloggers and businesses, that I now call friends. I was recently interviewed about my journey by the amazing Taylor Bradford of Boss Girl Creative. Taylor heads up my Texas Women Bloggers community and I am blessed to have her as my real life friend. Take a listen when you have time. Click on graphic below. @theparkwife

Flea Marketing Tips and Some on Highway 65 in Arkansas

I love a flea market. Go check out some of my shopping tips and favorite flea markets on Highway 65 North in Arkansas on OnlyinArk.com.

Old stuff rocks,
The Park Wife

Hanging Out Around the Interwebs

Where I have been hanging out lately on the Internet (since I evidently have not been hanging here on The Park Wife).

I am thankful that Arkansas Farm Bureau has entrusted me to be the content provider/editor for their Taste Arkansas blog. I am able to bring along some of my Arkansas Women Bloggers where we get to talk food and Arkansas, two of my favorite things. Here is what you have missed from me if you have not been over there lately.
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1. Cleaning your wood cutting board. I have a gorgeous cutting board, monogrammed of course, from my friends at Paul Michael Company of Lake Village. I displayed it for a long time for fear of ruining it, but now I use it and love it!  Go read about how I clean it and admire its beauty on my wall.

Cutting Board 1

2. How Southern are you? If you cook a mess of greens often, you get my “y’all” stamp of Southern-ness approval today. If you do not, go check out how to clean and cook up some Southern Collards on Taste Arkansas. Of course, there was bacon involved.

3. On  National Pi Day, π enthusiasts, well more like my friends that love pie, joined me on Taste Arkansas linking up their pie recipes. A post full of deliciousness, go get a recipe for your next pie.

Pecan-Pie-lo

4. Not to be outdone by pie loveliness,  I talked about making a cheese platter and also about local cheese artisan Kent of  Kent Walker Artisan Cheese. He produces delicious cheeses using old-world, handmade methods from all Arkansas ingredients in downtown Little Rock.

I was blessed to meet Rhea Lana Riner a few months ago. She is the founder and owner of Rhea Lana’s Children’s Consignment Events. I love the spirit behind why her business started and how she runs it.  Her business began as a ministry to young families, and in many ways, it still is. It Rhea Lana’s heart’s desire to add value to the lives of families by providing excellent quality merchandise at affordable prices. And it is also her desire to help women learn to gracefully wear those hats that we all wear – and to mature personally, professionally, spiritually and emotionally. So, when she called and wanted to hire me to get some bloggity awesome going on her blog with my The Women Blogger ladies, seriously, how could I say no? She and I are soul sistahs. Here is what I have done over there this month.

GirlsEasterRL

5. It is time to get the perfect outfit ready for Easter, I help give you a little inspiration with some fun fashion boards for kids. I know, the boy one does not have mud and tears in the knees, so it is not my real world, but one could only hope for them to look this good until after the Easter pictures are made.

Boys Easter Basket

6.  Easter Basket Ideas  – Do not be impressed with my creativeness. Really, I try.

arspAwwww….look at my sweet family, oh how the boys have grown.

7. Over on OnlyinArk.com, I listed 10 Spring Break Ideas. If you are coming to our park, let me know, I would love to see you!

8. Do you like to go to flea markets? I visited some along Hwy 65 in Arkansas and am sharing some shopping tips on OnlyinArk.com today.  No, I really do not NEED another vintage lantern nor cast iron skillet, but I will go looking for them anyway.

Thanks for hanging with me in this online bloggy world, it is a beautiful thing.
The Park Wife

Quack, Quack, a Weekend With the Ladies of Duck Dynasty

The Duck Commander family is the real deal. Seriously, the real deal.

I recently attended the Heart to Home Women’s Conference in West Monroe, LA featuring the women of Duck Commander. It was amazing. I have a lot to share on parenting, mentoring, and marriage that really spoke to me and filled my empty cup.

The event was hosted by Dr. Joneal Kirby, founder of Heartfelt Ministries, which is a gathering place for God’s daughters that hopes to help us join hands and hearts in friendship. Joneal and her team did an amazing job sharing their passion for helping women connect in authentic relationships and grow spiritually. There was a whole lot of amens coming out of my mouth. Tears shed. Prayers happening.

I will share more about the content of the conference, but today,  I will share a few pictures and thoughts from the trip because my mom  in Mississippi will ground me if I do not put them up soon. She can not wait to see and read all about it.

We started out the day on Friday with a little shopping. Rebecca Robertson’s store Duck & Dressing was precious. It reflects her personality; simple, chic, edgy with a Southern twist. As I walked in, I wondered if my Junk Gypsy friends had a hand in decorating it.

ddcollage

We then headed to the Duck Commander warehouse. Everyone was warm and welcoming.  We were able to take a behind the scenes tour. It’s exactly like you see on tv.

warehouse

Jase was evidently out fishing (there are not any hunting seasons in right now except squirrel I think) so I helped out a bit at his desk. Willie, you can send me my pay in the mail. Thanks.

JaseDesk

Then it was time to eat. Hello, it’s Louisiana people, food is the love language. So, they took us to Willie’s Diner. We were served some delicious meatloaf, chicken, mac & cheese, and banana pudding. It was all wonderful. I would have liked to try the bologna sandwich, hoping of course that Willie chose Petit Jean bologna since it is the BEST! And from Arkansas.

Miss Kay and Willie stopped by to welcome us and Miss Kay gave us all signed cookbooks! If you have not tried to make her biscuits, do that today. Your family will thank me.

willies diner

The conference began Friday evening. I was lucky enough to be on the front row right by the family. I got to see them interact with each other and again, they are the real deal. I was also back stage several times and saw them interact with one another, they truly are a loving family. And, I know exactly why. I will share that in a future post. Hint: it has to do with the matriarch.

familypraise

The praise team (with Missy Robertson) from White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ was amazing. The speakers were inspiring, thought-provoking and challenged me.

Oh bloggity world. I have been in this blog world for over eight years now.  I have met some amazing people in real life from all over the US that are bloggers, social media influencers, businesses working with bloggers. Also, there are mutual blog world friends that hear we will be somewhere, tell their friends, and bring us together. Jana (top right in below collage) was working on media for the conference. She is friends with my friend, blogger legend @alli Worthington. Jana invited me to come back stage to meet and interview Missy Robertson. Another new friend as a result of blog world connections.

MissyCollage

It was wonderful. Missy is genuine, kind, and on fire for Jesus. There was a lot happening around us, but she answered my questions (yes, interview coming up on a parenting blog post soon) completely focused on me. Her eyes never left mine. If she was not so kind, I would be upset with the fact that she is around my age and looks like a teenager.

Seven years ago, I wrote a post here on The Park Wife about my mentor mom friends. WOW, seven years ago. Although I went to the conference not knowing anyone attending, my mentor mom friend Lydia and her family now live in Monroe. We had dinner on Thursday night and then sat and talked and talked.  She mentioned that she and their daughter AC were going to be at the conference on Saturday evening to man the booth for Show Hope, a movement to care for orphans, restoring the hope of a family to orphans in distress around the world founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth.

AC was born in China and her forever home is with Lydia and her husband Charles. She ran up and hugged me during the conference and told me that she was going to get to model during the fashion show. Rebecca Robertson saw her in the lobby and asked if she would model for Duck & Dressing. I went backstage to snap a few pictures.

anna claireAgain, these Robertson ladies are the real deal sistahs!

And, then there was Mia. The youngest daughter of Jase and Missy Robertson, this 5th grader is AMAZING. Born with a cleft lip and palate, this young lady is one of the strongest and most courageous young ladies I have ever met. Her positive energy and love for the Lord radiates from her. And, her Grandma Kay adores her (and all her grandchildren I am sure).

miacolage

Go check out the Mia Moo Fund which is dedicated to raising awareness and funds towards research, treatments and causes of cleft lip & palate.

Mia gave her testimony, there were many tears a flowin’ in that room. And then, she sang. She was blessed with the gift of music like her mother.

Let it shine Mia. Yes, always Let it Shine.

Again, I will have a lot more blog posts coming up about the content from the conference from my new soul sistah Shellie Tomlinson to parenting guru John Rosemond to more Duck Commander women teaching/mentoring.

Until then, I am Happy, Happy, Happy and truly blessed,
The Park Wife

 

Heart to Home Conference

As the owner of The Women Bloggers, over 3000 WOMEN bloggers strong, I have been blessed with some truly amazing women that teach me something new about life and myself daily.  However, the balancing act of being a help meet to my amazing husband, a homeschool mom, and running these networks has been the greatest lesson into who I am and who I want to be. And, to be honest, a little overwhelming.

I have a lot of conference options in the social media world in 2015 and I actually put one on~ our 5th Annual Arkansas Women Bloggers University.  I am also scheduled to speak  at several conferences; first up, the keynote at Arkansas Women in Ag, helping women tell their farm stories through blogs and social media. Y’all know I love farmers, farm wives and of course, promoting Taste Arkansas and Arkansas Grown.

HOWEVER, over the past few weeks I have been yearning to be surrounded in real life, in one place, with women who are seeking to have more of Him and less of themselves in their hearts, minds, worlds. A place where I can be encouraged and feel that I AM ENOUGH, I am His masterpiece just as I am, that being a mom is an amazing calling. And, a place where Miss Kay hugs me and tells me why I can not get my shrimp grits right.

Heart to Home Conference

Yes, I am going to Heart to Home Conference in West Monroe. The conference will feature the Women of Duck Commander (I wrote about my families love for the Robertson’s in a post promoting their Season 4 Premier), Dr. Joneal Kirby (who I can’t wait to meet and soak up her knowledge, love, and heart for the Lord and women), and then there is Tracey Eyster. Oh Tracey, the creator and host of MomLifeToday.com will be the emcee. If you are one of my Arkansas Women Blogger gals, you will remember Tracey as one of our speakers from the 2013 conference in Little Rock.  I could gush on and on about how Tracey’s nuggets of wisdom were given to me right when the Lord planned and how her heart for supporting and encouraging me and so many women has made all the difference. Check out the videos of Tracey interviewing me for MomLife Today over in the sidebar of my blog. This woman. When I think of her, it just makes my heart happy.

Heart-to-Home-Conference

I know it is going to an amazing weekend. I will get to tour Duck Commander, eat at Willie’s Diner, be encouraged, rejuvenated, listening and learning what the Word says, delving deeper into this amazing job I have been given. For I do know,  much is at stake.

If you are going to the Heart to Home conference, let me know.  I would love to meet up with you and hug your neck! Of course, there will be a lot of Instagramming and Tweeting happening from my end.

A wife and mother, it is who I am,
The Park Wife

Note: I purchased my own ticket to this event, I have not received anything in return for this post. This is about my heart for women and using the gifts I have been given to shine His light.

 

Friday Favorites {January 2, 2015}

Welcome to my Friday Favorites. My mom, aka as the World’s Best Grandmother, just left to go back to Mississippi after a two-week visit. I am so thankful and blessed to have her. I talk about the Secret She Kept from Me for 20 Years here, and some of her amazing Grandma skills with I Was Taught to Chase Fireflies. So today’s list centers a lot around Moms.

#1. Taylor Swift

Alright, I am 43 and have missed out on Taylor-dom. Sure, I hear some of her songs on the radio and love them, I have also heard and read many stories of her talent as a songwriter. But, here is what won me over: Taylor Swift is a great person. How does this relate to moms? Well, evidently, her mama raised her right.

Taylor is very vocal about the fact that her mom is one of her best friends. So, Andrea Swift, I salute you for being there, lifting your girl up, and holding her when she was down. I always say the proof is in the pudding.  In the description of this video, Taylor writes “I experienced so many moments of true love this year, and all of them were with you. Here’s to more magic in 2015.” Yes, Taylor I am a FAN, of your music and your example of how to lead an authentic life with a heart for others. You do ROCK sistah.

Taylor also scoured the internet for fans in what became known as the 1989 Secret Sessions. Check that out when you get time.

#2 – This guy.

Learn from him and his mistakes. Pick up the phone and call your mom.

#3- Homeschool Resource

The Buckaroos received an amazing, fancy microscope for Christmas from our neighbor who is a real life astronomer. Now what does this Science-weak mom do? Google it. I found Carolina.com, Science and Math Curriculum.  Oh my goodness, I am ordering a zoology Microscope Slide set for Little Buckaroo. He loves animals and one of the things he wants to be right now is a dolphin trainer (in addition to running a summer camp on the beach and designing weapons for the military). Oh and yes, the Fishes, Whales, and Dolphins, National Audubon Society N. American Field Guide had been ordered.
Audubon Society Field Guide

#4- J.M. Cremps After Christmas Sale

I talk about JM Cremps, The Boys Store,  often on The Park Wife since it is my very favorite mom resource when it comes to finding adventurous gifts for boys. FYI-they do not pay me nor probably even know I am talking about them.  This is from their site:

We believe JM Cremp is someone most of us can relate with and we hope that you will feel comfortable welcoming him into your family. He is an explorer and an adventurer. He has been around the world experiencing great adventures. He’s also grown up in America as an adventurous boy. He has not lived a perfect life, but he has learned from his mistakes and failures. Through it all he has learned the importance of faith and his Christian roots are woven into his stories.

He has a strong love for his country and believes in defending our freedom. JM Cremp raised five sons of his own and has been married to his wife and best friend for many years. We aren’t quite sure of his age, but he isn’t all that young and isn’t all that old. His name is Jebediah Manchester Cremp….we just abbreviate it JM, and sometimes refer to him as Jeb.

jmcremps

I love the mission and heart behind this company. Go check them out at JMCremps.com.

Have a wonderful weekend, and make sure you spread a little love in the world,
The Park Wife

Since I have blogged for a bazillion years and have the wonderful  The Women Bloggers communities, every single day I read posts from amazing women in my eight states, plus my bloggy world friends that live in  other states where I do not have communities (yet).  So, I want to share some things that have blessed me this week that you might not have seen yet. If you have others, put them in the comment section below.

 

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie Success and Delicousness

It has been a busy holiday season and well,  I can not wait for even more. Spending time with good people, celebrating our Savior’s birth, making friends delicious food, and a lot of dirty dishes (o.k. that I could live without the dishes).

After years of avoiding it, I finally mastered the pecan pie. Hop over to my post on Taste Arkansas where I talk about what I call Candy with a Crust. One note: I made another one yesterday in my cast iron skillet, so much better than a pie plate.

Pecan Pie
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” -Psalm 34:8
The Park Wife

ARWB Ornament Exchange Year Three

I have some wonderful women in my real life brought to me through the blog world. They are women that are there for each other in good times and bad. And, during the holidays, we make sure to lift each other up and celebrate the season. This is my tribe.

For the third year, Arkansas Women Bloggers had an ornament exchange. I always love to see whose name I get, it brings another lady into my world up close and personal. This year I got my new friend Brittney, AKA Razorback Britt. Now, bless her heart, I am not crafty, those fancy shaped scissors freak me out and you do not want to get me started on glitter. It has been banned in our home.

So, I did the best I could. I know Britt’s favorite color is leopard. She is so trendy and cute, so I went with trying to make a leopard purse.

Brittsornament

I had to “borrow” this pic from Britt’s blog because in true The Park Wife fashion, I forgot to take a picture before I sent it off.

Full disclosure: Britt is also a Zumba gal. I tried making her a Zumba ornament. It got ugly. No, seriously ugly. I stepped out of my “no glitter rule” and bought glitter glue. It ran, did not dry over a two-day period. Sorry Britt, I did not send you that monstrosity (because it was STILL wet and would have stuck to everything).

And then, mine arrived from Lisa!

ornament-1

I love them. So very thoughtful. A stranger who out of the kindness of giving is now in my life.

ornament-2

Yes, I DO believe!
The Park Wife

A Christmas Hallelujah

December has arrived and I am ready for a month of celebrating the birthdays of both of the Buckaroos and THE main guy, Jesus.

There is dancing happening to Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, cookies baking, and gifts being made and bought. I feel quiet jolly. Next week is slammed packed with holiday parties and events, and I am ready. I am going into the week prepared, well, as prepared as I get, focusing on memories, not trying to put on a show of being perfect or “put together”.  Not worrying that my gifts are not enough or my decor is not Pinterest worthy.

I came across this recently and thought y’all might enjoy it as much as I do.  Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one of my all-time favorites. You need a little focus and encouragement, listen to it over and over.

Blessings friends!
The Park Wife