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!

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.

 

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.

 

Friday Finds

I know, I know… I need to finish telling you about my trip… soon!  But today is just a short post to share a few of my favorite finds during this week.

This post by Michelle Lesley is spot on!  While her blog is geared towards women this post is necessary for all Christians to read.  Let’s be weird together… read the post and you’ll understand!

This podcast by Kevin Swanson was fascinating. This podcast was not what I expected it to be… you should take a listen!  I know, for those of you that think Kevin is a little… um… out there, I find his podcasts a breath of fresh air.  Someone bold enough to speak the truth. The world has enough wish washy Christians… we need more believers to stand up for Gods Word!

I was at a birthday party not too long ago and they served a white chocolate raspberry bundt cake that was truly awe inspiring!  Phil found this copy cat recipe. I haven’t tried it yet but perhaps this weekend. Then I’ll have to figure out how to make one gluten free for him!  Enjoy!

That’s it for this week. I’ll try to finish sharing about my trip over the weekend.

Gaylene

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

2017 Year In Review

It’s hard to believe 2017 is now officially over. It was a busy year for our family… here is a quick run down of what our year looked like!

  • Maga celebrated her 28th birthday on January 13th. She’s been 28 since… well a long time!
  • Natasha turned 14 on March 2nd.
  • Katherine turned 3 on March 6th.
  • Uncle Andy turned… I think 40 on March 13th.
  • Phil successfully finished his 1st full year of self employment on April 1st… no joke!
  • We celebrated Christ is risen on April 16th with lots of family at our house.
  • I turned 46 on May 11th.
  • Mikayla turned 12 on May 22nd.
  • Phil turned 48 on June 9th.
  • Natasha and Mikayla sold their Busy Bees Creations at the CHEC conference in June.
  • Alex turned 9 on August 4th.
  • Gaylene joined Keller Williams DTC.
  • We went camping to our favorite spot at the end of August.
  • Jonathan turned 7 on September 30th.
  • Phil and I celebrated 17 years of marriage on November 16th. Have I mentioned that I’m the luckiest gal on the planet? Thank you Lord for blessing me with an amazing husband!
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving at home then joined the Buttons for dessert and games at their house.
  • Our dear Miss Renee celebrated her 35th birthday on December 6th.
  • Our 4 oldest children performed in a piano recital. It was Jonathan’s first recital since starting lessons in August and he loved it!
  • We celebrated Christmas at home then once again joined the Buttons and the Keels for dessert and games at the Button’s house.

I’m sure there are many events I missed… my apologies… I need to start writing this stuff down throughout the year!

Christmas Traditions

This week we started a couple of our family’s Christmas traditions. Sunday marked the beginning of Advent and for the 2nd year in a row we are reading a story book about our Savior. Author Arnold Ytreeide has written four books for Advent. Last year we read Ishtar’s Odyssey and enjoyed the story so much that I bought Tabitha’s Travels. So far we are loving the story but we are only on the 3rd day of Advent so we have much adventure to read about!

The other tradition we have is each year I individually wrap Christmas books and keep them in a basket under our Christmas tree. We unwrap a book each night leading up to Christmas and read that book. This is our 3rd year doing this and the kids really look forward to this tradition. Jonathan got to unwrap the first book tonight and as usual he picked the Charlie Brown Christmas Story. Alex will get to pick the book to unwrap and read tomorrow night. My goal is to have 24 books that we get to unwrap each year starting on December 1st. We only have 13 books this year but I try to add one or two books each year.

What are some of your family traditions?