Monday, November 10, 2014

Just a few more days...

….until the 4th annual Marvin Newton Classic!

When the Newton family began this journey 4 years ago, our goal was to provide scholarships for student athletes who participated in the classic.  The first year was a little discouraging, and honestly, I was ready to quit.  We were exhausted, and didn't make as much money as we had hoped, but we decided to give it another year.  Oh, and the best part, we were able to award 4 $500 scholarships.

The second year was better, we knew a little more about what we were doing and were able to pick up a few sponsors to help offset the cost of concession stand food and t-shirt printing.  We also had more money at the end and presented 6 $500 scholarships.  We felt much better about things, too, and felt like we were honoring Dad's memory.

Last year was awesome!  We had a great guy named Scott volunteer his day and his vocal chords to do all the announcing of teams and sponsors throughout the day.  We had more teams, lots more fans, and ended up with enough for 9, yes N-I-N-E $500 scholarships!

This year promises to be even better.  We have 7 games, and cool new t-shirt in the works, and we're excited to get this thing going.   I'm anxious to see how many scholarships we will have this year.

So, come on out to the Viola High School gym on Friday, November 28th (Black Friday), and enjoy a day of some great high school basketball!  Here's the schedule:

11:00 am  - Viola  vs.  Salem  - Boys
12:25 pm  - ICC  vs.  Cedar Ridge  -Boys
1: 30 pm  - ICC vs.  Gainesville, MO - Girls
2:45 pm   - Valley Springs vs. Gainesville, MO - Boys
4:00 pm   - Flippin vs. Salem  - Girls
5:15 pm   - Flippin  vs. Rose Bud  - Boys
6:30 pm   - Viola vs. Bakersfield  - Girls

Monday, June 23, 2014

Today my baby is 10 years old...

Time has whooshed by at an astonishing speed.  He's in double digits now! (he's so happy, too.)

photo by my sis-in-law, Carla Jennings

As you can imagine, the week has been filled with the discussion of birthday gifts.  His recurrent theme is anything St. Louis Cardinals related, and was thrilled to find his uncles, Gary & Lance, and Aunt Lisa had sent Amazon gift codes…which he promptly redeemed for St Louis Cardinals memorabilia and a Matt Holliday (Cardinals left fielder & Logan's favorite player) bobble-head.  

Maybe I'm just feeling old, or tired, or just….blah.  But on my way home from the in-service (where I spent my day learning how to integrate Common Core into the Art classroom) today, I was thinking about the best gift I could give him….me.

I've spent so much time thinking of the things he would love most for his birthday,  but what joy would he get without me?  (yes, he's a mamma's boy, deal with it).  

For some time I've been saying I need to get off my rear and get back into better health.  This week I've really been hard on myself.  I don't want to be the fat mom…the one who has no energy because she's too heavy to move.  There was a time when I was in pretty good shape.  I was somewhat athletic and really enjoyed physical activities.  

Now I can't hang.  

It's time to stop talking and start doing.  (sounds suspiciously like a Lowe's or Home Depot commercial)  

It's time to get the extra weight off and get back to a more active life.  I'm 47… and I'm not getting any younger!

So here's the plan.  I ordered this little gizmo.  The FitBit.  It's supposed to help me track my fitness (or lack thereof), and give some encouragement to stay on track. (trust me, I need all the help I can get!)  It's also supposed to track sleep (or lack thereof), and maybe, just maybe, my sleep patterns will improve.  I'm willing to try.

FitBit is not assisting or providing any compensation whatsoever.  In fact, the FitBit people know I exist only because I created a free profile to set up this little gadget.  All opinions will be my own…and if I'm nursing sore muscles,  my opinion may be less rosy than other times.
So, I'm off again on another fitness plan.  I have changed our diet and I do try to incorporate more fresh produce and lean protein….and less sweet and gooey stuff.  (okay, confessions are good for the soul…I just polished off a bowl of ice cream with caramel sauce, but it was kind of like the last hurrah before I really get serious)

Pray for me.  I'm going to need it.  It is my desire to be a better, more involved mom…a healthy mom.  Someone who isn't tired all the time and has energy to work in the church, and give of myself.  (more on that later)

My alarm is set for early in the morning.  I'm planning to get up and walk, just to get moving.  Morning is the most beautiful time of day here on the farm, and it's always amazing to see God's handiwork bathed in warm, yellow light.  

I would try to jog a little, but I'm afraid this would be me…..I'm not kidding.  I'm about as fast as the little slug dude from Monsters University…'ve got to watch this little clip Running Slug, I really think I look like this when I try to run….at least he doesn't give up.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

When you're feeling like you aren't important….

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  -Luke 12:27

All 3 of these photos I took in our yard.  I love lilies, and have several plants that have yet to bloom.  

I love lilies, so much so, they were one of the flowers we used in our wedding. I don't know what draws me to them. They aren't fussy, the color is so vibrant, and they open themselves completely to soak in the sun and rain.  Maybe we should strive to be more like lilies, don't fuss about adding adornments, live life so vibrant that we shine from within, and open ourselves so that we may soak in the living water and light of Jesus.  

Each time I look at lilies I smile because I remember His words in the New Testament, both in Luke and in Matthew, and am reminded that God gives us something as beautiful as lilies, yet we are so much more beautiful and important to him.  Thank you, Lord, for such beautiful reminders.

 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? - Matthew 6:28-30

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Don't be fooled...

….things aren't always as they seem.

Like this little clip.  Have you seen this?

John Deere Commercial

Especially the guy who says, "That yellow seat is my favorite chair."  Yeah, right!  If that's the truth this guy is nuts!

I'm a big fan of John Deere.  I love The Beast (I wrote about it a couple of years ago) of a mower we have, but "perfectly level fresh cut grass" is not something achievable in our yard, probably because we don't have a "perfectly level" yard!  I managed to master the art of our zero-turn John Deere mower and can use it really well….if you don't count the sacrifice of 2 baby oak trees and a couple of lawnmower blades.

I may be one of those weirdos who really does enjoy mowing. (not kidding)  The hubs works really hard, and often long hours, so I thought it would be very considerate of me to mow the yard. (now I'm thinking homemade cinnamon rolls would have been a better idea!)

I started this chore 2 days ago.  It was hot, it was dusty, but I was determined.  Our "yard" is only about 4 acres.  We live in north central Arkansas.  We have a bumper crop of rocks…and dirt.  We live in grow zone 7, which means weeds flourish. (ragweed, fescue, Johnson grass, lespedeza (sp?), crab grass, orchard grass, rye grass, along with several allergen laden green things (those are really more weeds than grass), and the sprinkling of Bermuda grass we are desperately trying to encourage.

I have almost decided there are tiny creatures living in the grass who do not want their homes disturbed so they are sabotaging all my attempts at "perfectly level fresh cut grass".  I mowed the front yard with minimal trouble (if you don't count rocks, mole hills, tree roots, and ruts that came from somewhere unbeknownst to me)….then I ran out of gas. (Thankfully, the oldest boy had filled the gas can so that was only a minor setback.)  
half the front yard

looking to the side

Mower refilled, and I was once again rocking along listening to my iPod to drown out the sounds of rocks and mower blades colliding, then it happened….a terrible noise heard above the music in my ears.  In the split second it took to hear the sound, I also realized the ratchet strap which had been on the mower deck at my feet was no longer there.  Yep, it had bounced off and was now thouroughly entwined around the mower blades.   

Being the problem solver I am, I stopped the blades, turned the mower toward the house, parked it in the garage, and came in to take a shower.  Hubs wasn't really thrilled with me when he got home, but he calmly cut the strap (which he uses (used) to hold the sprayer tank onto the four wheeler), and, I'm sure, silently thanked God I hadn't really torn the thing up.  

The majority of the yard, however, remained uncut.

Today, since school is out and I'm a stay-home-mom for the summer, I decided to finish.  I probably should have prayed for rain.  

My first problem was the sneezing fit which occurred approximately 8 minutes (or 2 iPod songs) into my chore.  (It's difficult to sing along with Little Big Town while you're sneezing!)  As if the sneezes weren't enough, the problem was compounded by the fact that I am 47, have given birth to 3 children, and had a hysterectomy (some of you ladies will understand…things happen when you sneeze, cough, or laugh vigorously.  (TMI?)   A short bathroom break followed.

Once again enthroned on the yellow seat, I began the rough terrain of the side yard.  There is one particular area with ruts deep enough it might be a safer alternative to a tornado shelter than the basement. (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but a tractor did get stuck there last year)  Still sneezing, and bouncing, and doing my best to avoid the dead briars, still clinging to the fence like the guardian hedge in Sleeping Beauty, I continued….for a couple of minutes.  Yep, the mower ran out of gas, again, but this time, the big gas can had less than a pint in it, just enough to get the Beast started and moved to the garage.  The only explanation I have for running out of gas this quickly is, either someone has been joyriding on the lawn mower, or grass fairies (who don't want their homes disturbed) are siphoning gas from the mower as we sleep. (I'm leaning toward #2).

I could make a trip into town, fill the gas can, and continue the job, but my itchy, watery eyes don't want to, and after 2 Benedryl caplets and a shower, I've decided a nap sounds much better.  

Oh, that just for the record, that yellow seat in the NOT my favorite chair….the soft club chair (with the matching ottoman) in which the posterior end of my anatomy currently rests in my favorite chair.  

Sorry John Deere!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

It's over….

…School, that is.  Friday, May 23rd wrapped up the 2013-2014 school year.  I'm ready for summer break.  I need some rest.

My plan was to have everything "summerized" by Friday afternoon, but it didn't happen.

Plans change sometimes, and this was my desk/classroom just before I left earlier than intended, so another day next week and I'll be good….I can get more finished when I'm by myself, anyway.

It's been a tough year.  I'm exhausted.  The last semester has been filled with more frustration that I've experienced in a long time.  It's very difficult for me to deal with people (kids) who have no respect for property or people.  I have to remind myself they are just kids, they are immature, and who knows what other issues they're dealing with at home.

This summer I will pray for them.  I will pray they are blessed, and happy, and healthy.  I will pray that, in spite of myself and my sometimes really cruddy attitude, that I will go into the new school year with God's light inside me.  I pray that I will be an example to show Him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How about a praise?

A few weeks ago I blogged about a sweet girl from our church, Charolete, who was battling cancer.

Wish I could be this gorgeous with no hair!  
Please note that I said WAS battling cancer.  Though I'm 2 or 3 weeks behind posting in on here, Charolete finally got the news that she has, once again, kicked cancer's tail.  Her last doctor visit shows that she is now CANCER FREE!  (can I get an amen?!!)  Throughout her ordeal, she always had that smile on her face, even on days you knew she probably didn't feel like smiling.  She is such an example of faithfulness.

Now, I ask you to pray for another friend, Racheal.  She, too, is currently in the same fight, but her faith has never wavered (at least not that we can see).  I truly believe that God is going to heal her body and remove this hateful disease so Racheal can enjoy her family.  She is an inspiration, though she would probably try to disagree.  I admire Racheal and the faith she and husband, Jamie, exhibit.  Ever faithful.
Please join me in praying for victory over cancer for Racheal.

"For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28

I swiped this from Racheal's Facebook….I hope she doesn't care! 

I believe that God is still in the business of miracles.  We won't always see them, but He knows all things.  I also believe all things…even the bad stuff…happens for a purpose and He can use our trials and valleys in a great and mighty way.

I know this.  I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of friends.  (maybe sharing their stories is something I should consider)   He will never leave us or forsake us.  He promised.  He NEVER breaks a promise.

On days when you wonder if the sun will ever shine again, don't give up.  Hope in the Lord is a gift from heaven…a gift from Him.  Cling tightly to hope no matter the circumstance.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Counting down…..

This is it.  This is the long-awaited week.  The week that seemed an eternity away when school began in August.

Thursday night at 8pm he will walk across the gym floor and accept his high school diploma.  Time has flown by at light speed.

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that my little boy (now 6’ 2” at 17) will graduate high school in 2 days.  It will seem even more surreal when we show up on Friday at the Mountain Home campus of Arkansas State University and register him for classes.

Austin & "Red" at the North Central Arkansas District Fair.

National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY…He's the head above everyone in the second row.

He’s my laid-back kid.  He doesn’t get excited easily.  He is the one with the quick wit and dry sense of humor.  He’s an outdoorsman and usually has a gun or fishing rod in his truck.  He likes the farm and has no desire to live in the city.  He’s a country boy.  Mud doesn’t bother him (just look at his truck after the rain).   He’s always been the one who wasn’t embarrassed to hug his mamma in front of his friends.  He’s kind hearted.  He’s a hard worker.  He knows Christ.  

Around 18 months…he loved the camo overalls.

His dad and I are proud of him.  That little tow-haired, active boy, who was fiercely protective of his mamma, (ask Lance about that) is now a man.  He will be 18 in July. 

He is planning to pursue a degree in Agri Business.  I always knew he would do something with animals, or land, or farming.  I pray that we have prepared him to step out into the world.  I pray for his present and for his future.   I pray for him to be a man of God.  

It seems like only yesterday he was a baby, and I blinked and he was grown.  I am anxious to see what his future holds.

Austin, I love you to the moon and back.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Strength, courage, and faith.

There is a beautiful young woman in our church.  Her name is Charolete.

She is a shining example of faith, strength, and beauty.

She always has a smile.

She is at church as often as she can be, even though there are days when she probably doesn't feel like sitting on a pew for an hour.

Charolete has cancer.  She has been battling this disease since she was 13.  She is now in her mid 20's. (I think?)  She is taking high doses of chemotherapy to shrink the tumors in her body.

Her hair is gone, but it only accentuates her beautiful face.  Today she was in the "High Profile" section of the state newspaper.  Our pastor had a copy and recognized her, and I watched her pale skin turn bright pink.  It was precious.

Swiped this from a friend's Facebook page…because I didn't get a paper today.

Even in tough times, she is doing so much to help others.  In a time when so many dealing with cancer or other serious illness struggle to disguise side effects of the chemo under wigs and scarves,  Charolete doesn't hide it.  It's inspiring.  I would only hope that I would have that confidence and courage.  She gives people hope, though she may not realize it.

March 8th, 2014 a ball (The Hope Ball) was held in Little Rock.  Proceeds benefitted the 20th Century Club, which is a residential type hotel that provides free nights for patients taking cancer treatments.  Charolete starred in a promotional video.  (link below)


Cancer is a terrible disease.  It would be difficult to find someone who hasn't been touched in some way.  Not only does it affect the patient, but friends and family as well.

I wish I could eradicate cancer from the world, but all I can do is pray.  Pray for Charolete, and for Racheal (another friend in our church just beginning her treatments).  Pray for researchers, and doctors, and patients.  Pray for hope….but at long as we have people like Charolete, it isn't difficult to hold on to hope.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Let the change begin in me...

“If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”  Ephesians 4:21-23

Peace roses I planted in my yard to remind me of the peace that only comes from a personal relationship and fellowship with Christ Jesus.

 This morning, our Sunday school lesson was from Paul’s letters to the church at Ephesus, and how he admonished them to pray for a change in themselves; focus on changing their individual hearts and minds, and God would take care of the rest.

So often (preaching to myself here, too) we have the tendency to pray for God to “fix” someone else…as if we don’t need to be fixed.  Often we fall into the trap that if God would just change the heart or the attitude of the other person, things would be just right.  It reminds me of the old Irish curse:

  “May those who love us, love us, and those who don’t love us, may God turn their ankles so we will know them by their limping.”  

Why do we have the mentality that the problems in our lives would magically disappear if God would just change the hearts of those with whom we disagree?

Are you guilty, too?  I shamefully admit that I had the same problem.

Just over a year ago I felt like my world was crumbling at my feet.  Things needed to change.  I prayed for change in another person because I honestly thought that would fix the problem…until one night when God revealed that I was the problem.  
One evening, in the desperate cry to God to change the heart of another person, His voice quietly asked, “What about you?”  

Ouch.  Sometimes the truth hurts, but it was truth I needed to hear.

From that point my prayers changed.  Rather than asking God to fix someone else, I began earnestly praying for Him to change my life so that it would be pleasing to Him. (It’s a good thing our Lord is still in the business of miracles!)  In His faithfulness, God began to change my attitude and my heart.  I was able to release much of the anger and bitterness that had been building up like bile in my soul, stealing my joy and delight in the Lord and in life.  As God began to make changes in me, He also began to change my circumstances.   The pieces began falling up.  (I was reminded of high school when we watched a 9mm film of an earthquake, then watched it backward as it rewound onto the reel, buildings lying in shattered ruins on the ground began falling up, back into place….wow, I just really dated myself with that last comment, my kids think a VCR is ancient technology.)

When we are miserable in our current circumstances, the real change, the change from sorrow to joy, cannot come from another.  We must allow God to change US before He can change our circumstances. 

We have to let go of our “righteous indignation” (which I learned this morning is just another word for sin), admit that we are probably a major part of the problem, and allow God to work in ways we can never imagine.

King David had to learn the same lesson:

Have mercy upon me, O God, 
According to Your loving kindness; 
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, 
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, 
And cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, 
And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, 
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.  Psalm 51:1-4

When we finally reach the place when we can get over ourselves, God will come in and fill the void.

Yes, there are days when I find myself wishing that He would change the attitude of another, but He gently reminds me that I am not blameless and I never need to forget how much He has done in my life. He reminds me that I need to mind my own business and trust His judgement.  He knows best.

In my classroom I have a quote, which reads: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Allow Him to be the change…after all, this world desperately needs more Jesus!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jumbled thoughts

Never have I been more determined to write something worth reading, something inspired, something….profound.(?)  I have draft after draft of what began as a good idea (at least in my head), but fell flat when it landed on paper.  I hate that!

Instead of locking myself in a room with my thoughts, I just placated myself with mindless television…and when I say mindless, I mean MINDLESS!  Seriously, I'm losing faith quickly in the Discovery Channel!  "Clash of the Ozarks"?  Really?  If you haven't seen this show (which aired for the first time last night) don't watch it.  I think my IQ dropped during the course of the show.  Why did I watch it?  There's a very good reason, it was filmed 40 miles from me in Hardy, AR.  Chris (the hubby) grew up very near there (and his parents still live about 10 miles away from there), but never heard of the big feud between the two families.  I have yet to find anyone who has.  What saddens me most is the fact that Discovery had to search long and hard to find the most toothless people available!  I'm a native Arkansas, I don't drink moonshine, I have a penchant for shoes, and I still have all my teeth!  How about a show that really digs into the seedy side of Hardy, AR….you know, the place filled with antique shops and retirees! (although there is a tattoo parlor and a store named "Goths R Us"…though I haven't browsed their merchandise.)

I guess it's all about the image you project.  People really do believe what they see.  Your words can say one thing, but you actions and image speak volumes.  Today has been a very classic example of just that.  Today someone told me, "I'm a good person, I really care about people" then turned right around and told the sweet little girlfriend she's stupid (repeatedly) and to just shut up.  Good person? I hope that isn't the true definition of a good person because I would really hate to see the bad one!
As you can imagine, a long tirade from me about showing respect ensued.  I don't think it sank in because the response directed toward me was disrespectful (from a high school kid), too.  This may have been the point when I may or may not have said he should be thankful he wasn't dating my daughter.  Of course, my daughter would have knocked him out in floor long before I had to step in. Less than an hour later another student was speaking to his mother on his cell phone (in class, no less, no respect for classroom rules), using language directed toward her that infuriated me even more.  I don't care how smart you think you are, or just how mature you think you are, you have no right to call your mother a name! (especially one that could mean the animal Jesus rode into Jerusalem on was not very smart.)  Given the course of the days events I may or may not have told him it was a good thing I was not his mamma.  (just think of Bill Cosby's statement "I brought you into this world, I can take you out!")  And it was only a few minutes later when I told yet another student to do something and his reply was, "No.  You didn't say please."  I gave him "the look" and melted him on the spot.

I guess today was just one of those days when I'd just had it.  All those thoughts that you don't have time to worry about crowded in.  I'm tired.  I don't sleep well, but nights like this it's much worse. Why can't I just turn off the brain for a little while.  I don't want to think.  I don't want to worry.  I don't want to be disappointed.  I just want peace….and quiet….and sleep.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pray for our kids

I have first period study hall.  I hear many conversations of events and happenings over the weekend and I am more convinced than ever that we need to pray for our youth.  They need positive role models.  They need to know that alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and foul language do not lead to a happy life...both on earth and for eternity.  

Please pray for the kids...the future of our country.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't take His beauty for granted.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Psalm 19:1

So many times I'm in such a rush in the mornings that I forget to take time to give thanks to God, but there are some mornings when He does something so amazing that you just have to stop and soak it all in, like the sunrise on Thursday morning.  Thank You, Lord.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Time to Fight

Salem First Baptist Church, Sunday, January 12, 2014:

Elbow to elbow, crowded pews, 479 people gathered for a single purpose, to worship the I AM, Jesus, the ONE TRUE GOD.  The sermon was powerful; God-breathed, "It's time to stand and it's time to fight! … Men, God created you with the heart of a warrior!" Words spoken with conviction and a passion that only comes through a personal relationship with God.  It was a challenge, a directive, to the men present to stand up a be MEN.  To fight for family and faith.  To fight to return this country back into 'one nation UNDER GOD…'.  To fight for the moral and family values that now seem to be looked upon with ridicule and scorn…deemed as antiquated and outdated.  It was a challenge to the men present to once again be the spiritual head of the household.  It was a directive straight from the holy book, the Bible.

Though it was directed toward the men, it ignited a flame within the women as well.  Everyone listened, even the 9 year-old on the pew next to me who usually spends his Sunday mornings drawing wolves, longhorns, and deer on the back of the Sunday bulletin.  He asked questions on the way home.  The 17 year-old listened.  On the verge on manhood, he listened.  He was moved.  He is ready to fight.

We are becoming a nation desensitized to the collapse of good moral values and beliefs.  The sitcoms make the husbands out to be bumbling idiots who can't do anything right.  What happened to "Father Knows Best"?  I'm sure Ward Cleaver, John Walton, and Andy Taylor would be aghast at today's prime time programming.  Yet we accept it as something we cannot change, turn a blind eye, and continue in our daily lives.  We have traded "The Walton's" for "Modern Family", all in the name of progress.

I was guilty of it, too.  Yesterday a flame was ignited.  Small and flickering, but a single spark can start an all-consuming fire.  Yes, you will encounter opposition.  Yes, you will be ridiculed by some, but that is what Jesus dealt with on a daily basis.

"For where two or more are gathered together in My name, there I will be also."  Matthew 18:20

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear them from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14

It happened, the altar was full, men were kneeling in the aisles, humbled, seeking God, asking Him to heal our land.  Return us to that ONE NATION UNDER GOD.

To watch the sermon delivered by Brother John Hodges from Salem First Baptist Church in Salem, AR, click the following link.  You will be blessed.  Time To Fight. SFBC, January 12, 2014