Friday, April 6, 2018

MY TESTIMONY

Here's the "more about that" I mentioned in the previous post...

I was around 6 years old the first time I realized I needed salvation - from hell that is.  I was at a revival meeting with my dad and the preacher was preaching quite a "fiery sermon."  I was scared out of my mind.  I grabbed my dad's hand at the invitation and wanted to go down.  I was so scared but didn't know what to do.  I remember the preacher coming and speaking with me for some time and eventually getting up in frustration, shaking his head, because he couldn't make me understand.  Funny how I can still remember that.

We came home and my mom and dad spoke with me further and we prayed some more, but I still didn't truly get it.

The churches we attended throughout my childhood were extremely legalistic.  Not sure if I knew I was doing this at the time, but looking back, I think I was convinced if I followed all the rules, I would be pleasing to God, but no matter how hard I tried, there was no peace. Some of the rules were easy - I had no problem wearing the proper clothing to church - a dress of course, and no way would I read any other version of the Bible but the KJV.  In my mind, those were the two biggest rules that seemed to abound as this is something I heard most Sundays, and I could handle those.  Other rules were a bit tricky but I certainly tried - but still no peace even when I was successful, and when I failed, my spirit would be crushed even further, but overall, I think I would have made a pretty good Pharisee.


Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

At the same time, I would often wonder if I had "said the right thing" when I was praying for salvation since I had been so young, so I repeated that prayer many times over the years but still continued to question.

As I got older and then married, we still attended somewhat legalistic churches - maybe not on the same scale but still in the same category.  Then we had children and I started homeschooling and discovered a whole new set of rules that I needed to follow! It was exhausting. I could blame home school organizations and ministries, etc., but ultimately I'm the one to blame, but I know God used that time to eventually show me a different way.

For example, we joined a local home school group, and maybe for the first time, I met women who read other versions of the Bible, and there was something different about them. Joy was flowing out of their hearts into their conversations and they seemed to have that peace that I was desperately searching for.  I questioned how they could be so close to God if they were reading the wrong version of the Bible.  Crazy, I know. (One church we attended had a week-long meeting on the dangers of using any version but the KJV, so I was pretty convinced about that.)  But this was the beginning of God opening my eyes and my heart to what I'd been trying to grasp for so many years.

When Brad left an eight-year pastorate, we were tired and needed a break from traditional church.  We started a home church and met some wonderful people that were not familiar with our form of legalism, and that was a blessing.  I learned from them, too.

After a few months, that came to an end as we were refreshed and ready to meet once again in a traditional setting. We were led to a church with a pastor who caught wind of our KJV-only stance.  He invited us to his home one evening and in a kind, loving, and intelligent manner, he showed us how the Bible is translated - in great detail - and put to rest all those "false reasonings" that we had been taught over the years.  Freedom.

[Please know that I am not against the KJV version of the Bible.  It's a beautiful version.  But I am against saying it is the only version that should be read.  From what I've seen and heard, this is something that is mainly taught in the "south" as I've met people from other places who didn't even know this was an issue.]

One of my best friends had a severe stroke at the age of 38.  It was my turn to stay with her at the hospital [her mom and other family members were not always able to, so our group of BFFs took turns staying with her].  She passed away on my watch, and I haven't been the same since.  It was a turning point and was a catalyst that made me examine all that I had ever believed - were my beliefs based on opinions that originated from the ideas of men or solid Biblical truths from God's word?

That's also about the time that I started this blog and left the old one behind.  It was a new start for me.  I didn't want to delete the whole blog because there were some wonderful memories on there of my children, but I did try to go back and delete the posts that were filled to the brim with my legalistic, condemning viewpoints.  I finally had reached the point where I knew and understood it was not about the rules but about a relationship.

Also, and I'm not sure exactly when this happened, I finally settled in my heart that salvation was a gift from God and originated with Him.  My salvation was not up to me - it was up to Him.  He called me to Him for salvation, and all I had to do was turn to Him, repent and believe.  Belief.  It had nothing to do with what I said or how I said it or what works I performed or rules I obeyed.  God was and is the author and finisher of my faith! Faith. And somewhere along the line, a HUGE burden was lifted.


Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.

I'm still grasping all these truths as I'm a rule follower by nature and the legalism still creeps in on occasion but, thankfully, less and less it seems. God has shown me so much in His Word and is  continually teaching me, even in these past three months of 2018, and I am truly overwhelmed.  

I used to be scared of God - when it was all about "following the rules" - but now I see Him as the loving Father that He is - and just the thought of how it will be to see JESUS face to face - for the first time - is unimaginable - but I truly cannot wait to meet my Savior who is so patient with me.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

SPRING BREAK

It's spring break week!  We've had a very slow week. The kiddos have had friends over, had a doggy wedding, and have enjoyed lots of play/leisure time.  It's been nice.




I've had a leisurely week as well, and as I peer at my sidebar, I see my goal to blog more this year is sort of sliding.  But I do have a good excuse as I've been working on one of the other goals.  Reading more!  And that I have.  I decided I'd give fiction a try as I haven't read fiction in YEARS.  For many, many years, I've stuck with non-fiction, Christian-themed books because I need all the help I can get, but as I've started reading fiction again in 2018, I've come to realize that I can learn from these types of books as well - if not more in some cases!  (An added bonus is that as I'm reading more, my children are reading more too.)

I'm currently hooked on one particular author - Francine Rivers.  She has one book series called The Lineage of Grace.  It explores the lives of five women who were in the bloodline that produced our Messiah. Five very unlikely women - from a human perspective.  But God.  Oh, how I am so thankful for the "But God"s in scripture.

So far I've read Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth.  These are labeled historical fiction because the author takes known facts from the Bible along with historical facts from that time period, joins them together, and then produces a story.  It really gives life to these stories and makes you think about how things could have been - and may very well have been similar to the stories that she tells.  At the same time, I've found myself searching back through the scriptures and seeing things I haven't seen before about these women and their stories.  Can't wait to read Bathsheba and Mary.  *Special thanks goes to my local library for having these books on hand. :>)

I also picked up a novel written by the same author called Redeeming Love.


It was apparently her first novel after becoming a Christian, and it is beautiful.  It's an 1800s version of the story of Hosea and Gomer.  I read the "Prologue" and then closed the book and wondered if I could keep reading.  I was a bit rattled.  But I continued and ended up reading all 464 pages in two days.  I found myself hurrying up with chores, etc., so I could get back to the book.  It was that good.  I finished it yesterday evening, and I'm going to need a few days to recover before starting another book.  It left me a bit undone and with lots to think about.  It especially has me thinking about the trafficking we have going on in our world today and how those caught up in such EVIL [against their will] would relate....

It also left me thinking about my own life and rebellion at times against God's love towards me.  His patience and mercy is beyond comprehension.

Mrs. Rivers gave her testimony at the end of the novel and related how some people know the exact time and place of their salvation, but she doesn't.  It happened over time.  And that's exactly how it was for me.....

More about that in the next post.

Friday, March 16, 2018

THE DEFINITION OF A GRANDMA

Last Thursday morning around 5:30 a.m., I was still in bed but Brad was up, and I heard his phone ringing.  I assumed it was Madison as she leaves around that time for work and calls occasionally with random questions.  I've finally reached the point where my heart doesn't skip a beat when I hear the phone ring so early.

But this time, it wasn't Madison.  It was Brad's dad calling to let us know that his sweet mother had passed away.  

She's been in a nursing home for a few years after falling in her home and for some reason never walking again from that point.  It's a call we had been expecting but not really if that makes sense.

Brad wanted to get to Texas ASAP, so he started looking at flights and a few hours later I was dropping him off at the airport.  Madison flew out the next day while the rest of us drove ~ well, I drove and Cari helped a bit.

We weren't able to have the funeral until Monday, but it was a beautiful service and represented her well.

The other day, I heard a message by Ted Cunningham, and he said when he performs a funeral, he always starts out with Ecclesiastes 7:1-2.
A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one's birth; Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart. 
I admit I've never given much consideration to these verses, and I was confused that he would start out a funeral this way, but the more I listened, the more it made sense.

Patricia's funeral a few months ago was a prime example of this.  Looking back on her life made me examine mine.  The same is true for Brad's grandma.  A funeral does what a party can't.  While you're mourning the passing of a precious friend or family member, you're also giving consideration to your own life (the living are taking it to heart) and if you're making a difference in the lives of others as they did and leaving a "good name."

That's not always the case I'm sure.  Sometimes the funeral is so tragic that you can't get past the grief to give any thought to your own life, but more often than we think, I believe most people experience this type of self-reflection, and I certainly did this past week as we remembered grandma.

She was celebrated as a woman who loved others well and was known best for her hugs.  I wasn't much of a hugger when I met her, but she changed that.  


In 2003, Grandma went with us on vacation.  We flew into the airport in Boston, rented a car, and then started driving with no plan or reservations in place.  We did this for several days, and it was one of my favorite trips ever, and we saw some amazing things throughout the New England states.  She talked about this trip for years.

Amelia and Matthew have this saying they came up with when someone is being selfish - "That person is an all about me."  Most of the time, they're being funny when they say it and often kiddingly say it to each other or other family members, but this week they commented that "Mawmaw (that's what her great grandchildren called her) was definitely NOT an all about me!"

That's the truth.  She was such a "giver" and just didn't seem comfortable being a "taker."  

Before she got down, whenever we made a trip to Texas, we always had a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies awaiting us, and we'll forever remember that she always used leftover bread bags to store them in.  

Brad was her only grandchild, and I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for her when he moved to Georgia.  When he first moved here, she sent him the local paper on a weekly basis and did so for many years until he told her she didn't have to anymore.  For a long while after we got married, she mailed us cards pretty much on a weekly basis to let us know she was thinking about us.  For a wedding gift, she gave us a quilt that she made herself that we have used extensively throughout the years as well as a beautiful crocheted bedspread that I still have in the box (I must find a way to display this).  On Valentine's Day and Easter, we always received a goody box with homemade cookies and banana bread and our favorite candy.  When she didn't feel like cooking anymore, she started sending mail order gift boxes.  Every Christmas, she sent us a family ornament along with our gifts and always remembered us on our birthdays and our anniversary.

She would visit us once or twice a year and stay a couple of weeks, and her pastor mentioned how he would hear about the trip weeks before it happened and then for some time after she got back home.

It wasn't just us that she loved like that, her pastor also commented how he knew he was loved by her and many others did as well.

After retiring, she did volunteer work at various places and also did what she could at her church, which she was a member of for 76 years!  And what an amazing life she lived ~ almost 92 years old at her passing and never having any serious medical issues except for the dementia at the end of her life.  She had her share of pain with the passing of an infant son from a heart condition when he was three months old and losing her husband very unexpectedly when he was 61 years old, but I believe the joy of the Lord was her strength as she walked through those times in her life.



As we drove home on Tuesday, we brought home a trunk that she always had in her possession.  There's no telling how old it is, and this is one of those moments when I wish inanimate objects could speak.  The trunk was filled with old photographs up to more recent ones that included our family, report cards of my father-in-law, his first baby shoes, their house plans and land survey, and many other interesting memorabilia.  I look forward to adding to it.

This trunk is just another reminder of her love for others, and I have many other things that she blessed our family with that will leave me with loving thoughts of her until I see her again one day.  We will miss grandma, but she left us with a lot of good memories, and what a wonderful feeling to know she is walking again and worshiping her Savior face to face. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

BEDROOM MAKEOVER

It's really hard to believe, but we've been in this home for a year now!  I've learned in the past year that no matter how much effort you put into the building of a home as far as lessening the probability of an abundance of future maintenance, there will almost always be something that needs to be done.  That's just part of home ownership.

The chickens are certainly doing what they need to do!
Last spring/summer, we didn't have the time to focus on the outside very much, so that's our priority now.  In the next few weeks, we have plans to build garden boxes, have some decorative rock hauled in, and get some landscaping accomplished around the front of the house.  I hope to make the front porch more user friendly as well by adding furniture/rocking chairs, etc. ~ hoping the yard/garage sale season will be productive for those things.

I finally had the opportunity, motivation or whatever you want to call it to start working on our master bedroom.  You would think that would have been a priority, but I've been so focused on the main rooms that it hasn't.  It's definitely not been a place that I've wanted to hang out, but after this past weekend, that's slowly changing.  

BEFORE
AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER
I painted the dresser using RUST-OLEUM Chalked Ultra Matte Paint in Aged Gray from Home Depot.  I am now a fan.  The only prep I had to do with the glossy dresser was wipe it clean.  The paint applied easily, covered well, and dried quickly.  This was a project that was easily accomplished in one Saturday afternoon.

I still have much to do.  It needs more pictures/wall decor, rug, curtain, pillows, etc., and I'd love to find a headboard and nightstands for the bed ~ once again, waiting for what I might find at garage sales.  But at least I feel like I have a good foundation to work with, and I actually enjoy being in there now.

I work best at a slow space when it comes to decorating.  It doesn't really come naturally to me, and a lot of times I don't know what a space needs until I see it.  I generally know what doesn't look good rather quickly, but sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what will look good.  So I just take my time and try not to stress about it in the meantime, but having the clutter removed from the corner of the bedroom was definitely a stress reliever! And I'm another step closer to making this house a home. 😊

~Rhonda

Friday, March 2, 2018

DRESSING UP MY HOME

For "making my house a home" inspiration, I love to read the Magnolia Journal.  Last spring was probably my favorite issue, but this spring's is a close second.  The articles are almost always something I can relate to, something dear to my heart, or are just plain motivating!



I like to read each issue slowly.  I don't want to rush through it since it only comes out quarterly, so I take it a few pages at a time ~ savoring each word or idea.  (Just like I'm savoring this season of Fixer Upper ~ that last show is going to be tough to watch, knowing that there will be no more!)

But not only is Joanna an inspiration, this spring-like weather we've been having is quite the motivator as well, which helped me realize it was time to dress up my front door.  I had hung a fall wreath and  then a Christmas wreath, but the door has been bare since Christmas left.  

I started looking on Pinterest for ideas to make a wreath and found plenty. I made my way to Hobby Lobby to get started, but I admit I was quite thankful when I realized their wreaths were 50% off and I wouldn't have to make one.  I found an adorable boxwood wreath and snatched it up.  Ribbons were also 50% off, so I grabbed a roll of that as well to dress it up a bit.  I love it.


Another recent find was this metal sign from Hobby Lobby, which I attached to an old window frame and now have hanging in my living room.


Slowly but surely, it's all coming together, and like I've said before, I think I need to get a job at Hobby Lobby. 😎

Friday, February 16, 2018

CELEBRATIONS

I love finding a reason to celebrate.  Nothing compares to the fall/winter celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I like to make the other holidays feel somewhat special, too.  And birthdays are definitely a reason to celebrate around here as well.  

I celebrated my birthday last week, and the weekend before, I enjoyed supper out with the family and then came home to a nice surprise of a new desktop computer.  I damaged my old laptop when I was cleaning it with rubbing alcohol, bent down to pick up something, and ended up spilling the bottle of alcohol on the keyboard. :>/  The computer still worked, but Brad was tired of watching me tote around a laptop with an extra keyboard. 😉

The actual day of my birthday, I came home to another nice surprise from my thoughtful kiddos.  I am truly blessed.


Throughout all of my tea-drinking years, I've been boiling my water in a small cooking pan.  My sister will probably be quite relieved to know I now have a tea kettle, which I bought with the gift card she gave me for my birthday. :>)

We've also celebrated Groundhog Day - well, actually, Matthew did in one of his classes at his co-op.



Then last Friday, I decided we'd celebrate Valentines Day a bit early, and the celebration continued at their co-op on Tuesday and at church on Wednesday.

At the pastors' wives conference I attended, one of the speakers had three of these pictures for sale at their booth.  I immediately thought of my three girls and snatched these up as part of their Valentines gifts!



I generally make these at Christmastime and forget about them the rest of the year, but Matthew didn't and asked if he could make them for our Valentine party







It's been a fun couple of weeks!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

THE NEW YOGA MAT

I love my new yoga/exercise mat, and Amelia got really excited when she saw it.  I was confused about that until I realized she thought it was a giant coloring page! 😀


MY TESTIMONY

Here's the "more about that" I mentioned in the previous post... I was around 6 years old the first time I realized I nee...