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

He Is Risen!

Here we are 3 days after Resurrection Sunday and I’m just now posting that Christ Has Risen!  In truth, we started our Resurrection garden late so I was waiting for the grass around the tomb to grow a little.  In reality, the grass is not important to what Jesus accomplished the day the tomb was discovered empty.

Christmas and Easter are my two favorite holidays and yes I’ve read all the articles both supporting and advising against Christians celebrating these two days.  Each year I examine my motives and I attempt to bring a little more holiness to the activities we participate in.  I’m not a fan of easter baskets, bunnies and eggs.  My mom is sweet enough to color eggs with the kids each year and our kids love doing it… I think I’ve only done it once when Natasha and Mikayla were little and I decided that if I never dyed eggs again in my life that would be okay!  A few years ago I actually wood burned 9 large wooden eggs with the Resurrection message and that’s how we typically would go through the events with our kids.  However, I have been unable to locate them since we moved but I’m sure they are here somewhere!

This year, instead of Easter baskets we put together Easter boots.  Now that we live in Arkansas rain boots are needed several times a week… literally.  So, we purchased new rain boots for each of our kids and I filled them with a small bible journal, bible highlighters, colored pencils or fun colored pens, a new book (fiction), a glow in the dark cross zipper pull with a verse on it, and one large candy bar.

But the highlight of our Resurrection Sunday is our Resurrection garden.  It’s quite simple to do and it helps us to see the significance of the day.  Resurrection Sunday is NOT about bunnies, rebirth, eggs, candy and toys.  It is about prophecies being fulfilled.  It is about a God who loves the people He created so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins.  If you don’t understand the depths of the meaning of Jesus Christ rising from the dead I urge you to read the bible, seek out wise and Godly men and women who can help you understand the Scriptures.  Your place in eternity depends on it!

Yes, I know the tomb of Jesus was not red… I couldn’t find a small stone colored cup or pot!

The tomb is EMPTY… HE IS RISEN!

Katherine Turns 6!

Yes, I’m over a month late on this post!  But… at least I’m posting right?

Our dear Katherine Anya turned 6 on March 6th.  While I love and enjoy the birthdays of all our kids, Katherine’s always brings to mind memories of trauma that we experienced a year and half before she was born.  And yet, her birth is a reminder of God’s amazing grace, love and faithfulness after such a trying and emotional time for our family.

We love this little girl that God entrusted to us to raise in the love and admonition of the Lord.  She’s feisty, smart, loves learning (says her favorite subject is math) and adventurous.  She’s learning to ride her bike and roller blade before her siblings learned.  Katherine enjoys our church fellowship, reading along in her bible during our daily bible time and making gifts to give to others.

Happy Birthday sweet girl!  We love you!

Katherine got into the chalk!

Katherine’s first ride in the bike trailer.

Hiking in Elk Meadow in Evergreen. Katherine fell asleep as daddy was carrying her. August 2016

After swimming, playing the playground on a windy day!

How Can She Be 17 Already?

Yesterday we celebrated Natasha!  This fun-loving, kind, hard working and God fearing young lady is 17!

She’s gone from this….

to this….

She loves working at Harvest Moon Bakery.  She has learned so much in the last 7 months!

She and Mikayla volunteered at A Night To Shine in February this year. The picture on the right is the group from our church who also volunteered.

 

She also enjoyed going on a back packing trip with the teens from church also in February.

She continues to do well with her school studies in addition to working 3 full days at the bakery.  She really enjoys spending time with all of our church families and has some wonderful friends here in Arkansas.  She has also spent a lot of time writing her first book.  I’ve been blessed to read parts of it and she’s done really well creating her story.

Natasha is joyful and so much fun to be around.  She helps around the house with cooking and cleaning and helping take care of her younger siblings.  Truly, she’s a blessing to us!

Idolatry

I love our church… truly it is exactly what we were looking for when we moved here and God blessed us with a very short search!  Along with the singing, the teaching has been encouraging, convicting and biblical.  This past Sunday the teaching was so thought provoking that I thought I’d blog about it.  To be fair, much of the following words were spoken by Mr. Brian Hutton who taught this valuable lesson.  I’ve added some of my own thoughts to it but kudos to him for such a well thought out, prayed about and shared teaching.

In God’s Word, Exodus 20:3 says You shall have no other gods before Me.  Idolatry is the opposite!  Brian pointed out that it is no coincidence that when God gave the ten commandments, the first thing on His mind was to tell us to have no other gods before Him.  The Hebrew word elohiym used here is the same exact word Satan used in Gen 3:5 when he was tempting Eve and saying ‘ye shall be as gods.’

The Merriam-Webster definition of idolatry is 1: the worship of a physical object as a god, 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something.  However, Brian shared this definition… Idolatry is loving more than God what ought to be loved less than God and only for the sake of God.  Now, I had to read and re-read that statement a few times to make sense of it and let it sink in.  As a believer, the definition Brian shared has much more meaning.

Joshua 24:15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

When you hear idolatry what do you think of?  A big golden statue such as a cow or bull?  A giant chocolate bunny – think Veggie Tales?  Someone steeped deep in sin?  Brian discussed 5 examples of idolatry and I have been guilty of all of them at various points throughout my Christian walk.

Idolatry of Time
Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Christopher Hitchens once said “I have no time to waste on this planet being told what to do by those who think that God has given them instructions.”  That is how the world manages their time, with no thought to God and His word.  THEIR time is precious compared to the perspective of ‘the time the Lord has given me is precious and I desire to spend it serving Him.’ This is an idol that I struggle with!

Idolatry of Misplaced Affections
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Matthew 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
The verse in Matthew is hard for me!  I love my children but I constantly remind myself that God loves them more and I am called to love God more.  He is the one who gave me children in the first place, even if only for a time!  As for 1 John, it is a fine line to live IN the world but not be OF the world.  The world and all that it offers can be very tempting, especially to new believers or believers who arrogantly feel they are above sin and can’t be trapped by it.  As said by Martin Luther “Whatever you love most, that is your god.”

Idolatry of Discouragement
Matthew 14:24-32 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out of fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!  It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out fo the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
As Brian started his lesson I never expected to learn about the idolatry of discouragement.  Discouragement can be an idol?  Really?  But as he was speaking and discussing the above verse in Matthew as well as Daniel 6:19-24 I realized that YES, discouragement can be an idol and I was guilty of making it one.  It’s been eye opening for me to see how I can let discouragement be my focus instead of keeping my focus on the Lord.  I’ve let it bring me down, WAY down and made sure that those around me knew it.  By keeping my focus on my discouragement I neglected the truth of God is my protector, my strong provider, my security and my hope!

Idolatry of Abundance
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
The idolatry of Abundance is the belief that resources drive this world, not God.  We freely pursue money to please the flesh (capitalism) or we try to control the money of others, because we want the power they wield (socialism).  Either way we idolize the power of money and demand the control over how it affects our lives.  We put money on the throne rather than God.

Idolatry of Sins
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
DL Moody once said “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”  That is so true! We try to get in the Word every day by ourselves and with our kids.  They will be faced with many temptations and trials throughout their lives and the best way to turn from temptation and weather the storms is to be grounded in God’s Word.  Our sins can absolutely, become idols to us.  We tell God, I will give up all my sin except…. fill in the blank.  Lord, I just can’t turn from this one!  It’s time to repent!

Really, what it all boils down to is idolatry of self.  Satan understood mankind’s greatest weakness as stated in Genesis 3:5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.  Brian notes of all the angles Satan could have taken to trip mankind up, he chose to appeal to our own sense of superiority.  Satan wants us to consider ourselves as gods, in direct opposition to the first commandment.

What is in your life that you’ve made an idol?  Homeschooling?  I have a wise friend who reminded me that as a homeschool mom it’s easy to make it an idol.  Exercise?  Career?  Looks/Image?  Knowledge?  A certain affiliation or membership to a particular organization?   I challenge you to reflect on your life, your priorities, your passions and test them against Scripture.  Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything in your life that you have or are close to making an idol.

I’ll end with two Scriptures… By the grace of God we can destroy idols in our lives!

Matthew 6:24  No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.

Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

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)

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!

Gaylene

Our Summer Bible Study

Here it is November and the kids and I have finally finished our summer bible study!  It’s a very in-depth study and completing it in 8 weeks just wasn’t an option for us.  It took us about 4 months after we started it in late June but it was such a good study that it was well worth the extra time.

Have you ever heard of the National Bible Bee?  Several years back in Colorado, we joined the National Bible Bee summer study program.  Several of our friends started a bible bee club where each we would would gather and play games with the intent of helping us remember what we studied during the week.  I remember that first year the study was on Jonah.  We also helped each other study our memory verses because at the end of the summer our local chapter held a huge competition with a written test and recitation of memory verses to see who would qualify to go on to the national championship in November.

This past summer NBB’s study was on the book of James so the kids and I spent weeks pouring over James, learning many greek words, memorizing scripture, singing, praying and being immersed in God’s word.

I love how you can study the same Scripture multiple times and learn something new.  Our workbook gave a summary of James…

…James was written by James to scattered Jewish believers.  It exhorts Christians for all time to live in such a way that their saving faith is vibrant and alive, not anemic or dead.  James gives practical, obligatory maxims that, when put into practice, produce a joyful, Christian lifestyle that is thriving and maturing in God.  We are not told our lives are free of trials, yet our key verse, James 1:2, admonishes us to be joyful in the midst of tests.

Some things that stood out to me from this study…

  • Enduring trials builds our faith and helps us be steadfast.
  • In James it says to ask for wisdom we need to pray in earnest without doubt.
  • The result of a faithless prayer is to be double-minded with little faith.
  • Temptations come from our own desires and lusts.
  • Following the enticements of my own heart ultimately leads to death.
  • James spoke strongly about temptation leads to sin, which leads to death.
  • By remaining steadfast in trials we will become mature in our walk.
  • Those that endure and persevere receive the crown of life.
  • James 1:2 Consider it all joy my beloved brethren when you encounter various trials.
  • We must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
  • Prove myself doer of the Word.
  • Moral filth in our life is an impediment to our ability to receive with meekness the Word implanted.
  • The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
  • Our tongue can bless and curse… all in the same sentence.
  • God’s grace is sufficient, rejoice in my trials and the power of Christ will rest upon me.

My kids were able to memorize many passages over the last 4 months and they all said this was one of their favorite studies.  Can’t wait for next summer’s National Bible Bee study.

Next up, we are going to go through the DVD series call How Do We Know the Bible is True? by British theologian Brian Edwards.

 

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.

 

My Love/Hate Relationship with October

I love the colors of October with the brilliant oranges and deep reds mixed in with some left over green from summer.  I love the slightly cooler temperatures and especially like it here in Arkansas during the fall.  I enjoy seeing all the fall decorations including scarecrows, hay bales and pumpkins.

Image result for arkansas fall colors public use

Image result for arkansas fall colors public use

What is it that I don’t like about October?  My least favorite holiday occurs at the end of October.  Friends, I dread Halloween… every single year.  I’ve never been a big fan and I think I dislike it more each year.  I’ve gone back and forth between celebrating it and not but the years we have celebrated Halloween nothing scary was allowed.  One year we had a little fall party for our family and we did crafts, played snacks and ate lots of yummy food.  Most years we haven’t handed out candy and our kids haven’t been trick or treating except at the local trunk or treat for several years.

My kids keep asking what we are doing this year and I just can’t decide where I stand on this issue!  I decided to search the Scriptures for some guidance and I made notes of questions I want to ask my family about this holiday.  I would highly encourage you to get a little booklet from Answers in Genesis called A Biblical and Historical Look at Halloween. You might be surprised that by the end they don’t have a staunch “NO” to Halloween.  Anyway, here are my thoughts…

1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
Is what and how you are celebrating helpful; does it build you and your family up?

1 Corinthians 10:24-30  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbors.  Eat anything that is sold in the market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; For the Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains.  If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake.  But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?  If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
Who is watching what your family does?  Are you serving your neighbor and drawing him closer to Christ by the activities in which you participate?

1 Corinthians 15:54-55 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
Our Savior died to put death to death.  Does the activity you are considering glorify death?

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”
Could the enemy be subtly present in the activity your family might be apart of?

1 Corinthians 10:31  Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Can I bring glory to God while I’m joining in on this activity?

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Does this activity make light of sin, evil or darkness?  Does it celebrate or honor sin?  Even if only a little?

Ephesians 5:11-12 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
Does this activity cause spiritual unfruitfulness?  Would your family be participating in a work of darkness or something shameful?

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Does this activity allow you to ‘dwell’ on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, etc?  Or does it cause you to ‘dwell’ on darkness?

Additional questions to ask yourself and/or your family:

  • Is Halloween a celebration of the devil?
  • If we participate will it be teaching our kids that the devil is fun?
  • If you participate in a fall festival or trunk or treat is this celebrating Halloween?
  • Can carving pumpkins be fun – yes!  Although I read that they were originally supposed to be scary faces and put near front doors to ward off evil spirits.
  • Do your teens understand who the devil is and what it looks like when their generation celebrates him?  2 Corinthians 11:4 says ‘he masquerades as an angel of light.’
  • Do your kids know how to fight the devil (fight temptation to do wrong)?

Friends, I still don’t have an answer!  But I know that every year at this time I just dread the ‘what are we doing for Halloween’ question.  If it was simply cute little kids dressed up as frogs and lady bugs that would be great but the darkness I see in the costumes and decorations just make me sick to my stomach… literally.  Why are people drawn to such darkness?  I just don’t understand how anyone can enjoy cut off heads hanging on their porches and demon babies adorning their front yard.  I just don’t want anything to do with any of it!

Yes I’ve read those comments that are ‘supportive’ of Halloween….

  • it’s just costumes/decorations and it’s not real
  • just let them be kids
  • if we don’t pass out candy we are not very nice Christians as we should open our doors and shine the light
  • our costumes should be scary to scare off the evil spirits
  • your kids are deprived if they don’t participate

… and many other similar comments.

PERSONALLY, I STILL DON’T LIKE HALLOWEEN.  I have hesitations about it which makes just ‘enjoying’ it difficult.

Perhaps this year we will find a trunk or treat to do and just leave it at that….

Gaylene