Fall

Things to Do With Your Husband #12: Yard Work

Whether it is landscape planting in the spring, mowing and weed-pulling in the summer, or leaf-raking in the fall and winter, yards require a lot of maintenance. This is work that can be fun if you have a little company. We have two very large oak trees in our front yard (and something like five in the back) that color beautifully in the fall.

Living among the gorgeous oranges, yellows, and reds is truly amazing. I am reminded each time I look or step outside that God is the greatest Artist.

Those painted leaves turn brown and crunchy, and a chill north wind blows through…

… and then I am reminded why we call this season

FALL.

before

before

The leaves have begun to fall. And when these two huge white oaks drop leaves… they really, really drop them!

Nate and I decided to tag-team this job. One of us raked and piled leaves while the other trekked to and from the burn pile in the backyard with the wheel-barrow. We swapped roles as my back started to hurt from raking, and then my feet tired of wheeling.

during

during

We raked and hauled fire fuel for about 6 hours that day… and only cleared the front yard of leaves!

after!

after!

The work was tiring, but enjoyable. We whittled away the time chatting and laughing as we plowed our way through the blanket of fallen leaves. There is something about hard work that does a body good.

And there is something about working together towards a common goal that does a relationship good.

The front yard looks again as if we never spent those 6 hours out there. Guess we need to do some more good, tiring work.

Down Memory Lane

Things to Do With Your Husband #11: See it Again

It is great fun to return to a previously enjoyed place, especially at a different time of year. This weekend, we took a one-night camping trip back to our honeymoon location, Petit Jean Mountain. Our honeymoon was in August, and we stayed in a house. The mountain looked quite different this time around.

The mountains were brushed with burnt oranges, deep reds, and cheerful yellows. The weather was crisp and chilly, but a welcome change from the burning heat of the August sun.

We stopped at an overlook we’d seen previously–the one that gives a nice view of the Arkansas River.

We  visited another overlook that we’d seen before–the Palisades Overlook.

In this comparison, you can see the difference in the foliage. Also, the sky looks bluer because when we visited in August, it was rainy most of the time.

On Sunday, we had a couple of hours to spend before heading out, so we drove out to an overlook we didn’t see last time–the Mary Ann Richter Memorial Overlook.

Richter Memorial Overlook

It allowed some beautiful views over the Arkansas River Valley. Petit Jean River also flows through here.

AR River Valley

more fall foliage

After taking in the sights here, we headed home. On our way, we made a quick detour to visit my best friend and meet her new little bundle of joy. It was a great weekend. I highly encourage you to take a trip somewhere you’ve been before, perhaps at a different time of year. Being in a familiar place brings back those happy memories while you create new ones.

Hike to the Falls

Things to Do With Your Husband #10: Take a Hike

Over the weekend, we took a one-night camping trip to Petit Jean State Park. Since our honeymoon there over two years ago, I wanted to return and hike the Cedar Falls Trail that is rated “moderate” for its steep, rocky steps and path that leads to the bottom of Cedar Falls. After checking into our campsite and having a quick lunch, we drove to the trail head which begins behind Mather Lodge.

Mather Lodge overlook

Cedar Falls Trail head

We began the descent on steps cut from the rocky mountain face more than 50 years ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The first 1/2 mile is a winding path that ends 200 feet below in the canyon of Cedar Creek. We passed huge stacks of rocks…

looking up

… and came to a rickety metal bridge spanning Cedar Creek.

one-lane bridge

The creek wasn’t flowing very much, but we would occasionally spot small pools of green-blue water littered with orange, red, and yellow leaves.

leaves

Finally, the pay-off for the walk: beautiful Cedar Falls. The water falls more than 90 feet into the canyon with high rock walls, like a bowl holding a stunning, deep pool of green below.

waterfall

pretty pool below

There were many people around, but we took a rest on a large rock, taking in our surroundings. Then, we began the hike back up, which was noticeably more difficult, but totally worth it. I was so proud of myself for making the hike. We enjoyed the sights and sounds; we oohed and aahed over the fall foliage, trickling creek, and huge boulders performing balancing acts on the path’s edge.

Bonus photo: we spotted some tiny carpet rocks on the way back!

size comparison: toe of a boot

I am so glad we were able to hike this trail after two years of regretting we didn’t before. It was difficult, but completely worth it. If there is something you are regretting not doing, I encourage you to speak with your husband about it–see if it would be possible to try again. For a long time, I didn’t tell Nate because I worried about his reaction. I worried he would think me silly for regretting something like that. He didn’t, though. He understood and was eager to give me an opportunity to try.

The Heart: Part 2

Yesterday, I told you that from our heart, our emotions escape us (most often out of our mouths, but in other ways too).

In the same way that we can follow emotions from the heart to our outward expressions, we can trace every behavior and expression back to the heart. In this way, every sin or foolish act is a heart issue. If we want to deal with that sin or folly, we have to examine the heart.

A murderer first sins in the heart, usually by allowing anger to dwell there. An adulterer first sins in the heart, by not repenting of jealousy or lust. A thief first sins in the heart, coveting; a glutton, maybe by allowing sadness to take up residence in the heart. By not evicting negative emotions, we sin.

In fact, Jesus said that anger in the heart is akin to murder (Matt. 5:21-24); that lust in the heart is equivalent to adultery in the flesh (Matt. 5:27-28). By allowing negative emotions to reside in our hearts, we pollute our bodies and minds, and our lives become tainted with them.

However, it is not sufficient to address the behavior or sinful action (as many behavioral counselors attempt to do)–we must consider the heart. To rehabilitate a murderer, it is not enough to say “don’t murder again.” That sinner needs to know Jesus because only God can cure the rage in the heart. For the adulterer to have any hope at all, that sinner needs to know Jesus, as only God can reorient the heart back home. You cannot simply tell the glutton to stop eating so much; the glutton needs Jesus to change the heart, so that the sinner seeks God instead of food, for comfort!

I struggle with sin in my life, but I know that I cannot help myself. I need Jesus in order to have a change of heart (a phrase used too loosely today). Without God, I can do nothing to save myself. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s grace covered me and gave me a new heart. Amen!

The Heart: Part 1

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Proverbs 4:23

I have begun a new journey of discovering who God is and how I am supposed to live my life. My textbooks? Psalms and Proverbs. The palms teach us about God, His miracles and His character. The proverbs teach us about the Christian, his nature, his sin and his purpose. I have set a new goal of reading Psalms and Proverbs daily, finishing both every month, which requires that I read 5 chapters of Psalms and 1 chapter of Proverbs each day. Some months, I will have to read more than that to finish (30-day months and February).

Today, the above proverb resounded with me and, amazingly, many verses in the psalms I read coordinated with this “heart” theme.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalms 19:14

Jesus echoed the proverb many times over in His teaching. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34); “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’ ” (Matt. 15:18); “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6.45). And those are probably only a few examples.

Therefore, we can follow every sinful thought/feeling up and out of the heart. Every thought and feeling is expressed in some way: speech, tone of voice, facial expression, body language, conduct and behavior. When your husband angers you, maybe you don’t yell at him, but you withhold your affection for a while, or slam doors and cabinets, or punish him with silence. When he saddens you, maybe you don’t approach him in tears, but you mope around the house or comfort yourself with food.

I am a cabinet-slamming, comfort-food-eating, pout-er. That is how I usually express anger and sadness, unfortunately. But it is not healthy to allow these negative emotions to dwell in my heart. The proverb says my heart is “the wellspring” of my life! An angry or sad heart yields an angry or sad life. Surely you’ve met women like this… you wonder how their heart even beats, it seems so calloused and rough. I do not want to be that woman, that complaining woman whose face is void of laugh lines, but filled with valleys from constantly crinkling her nose and eyebrows!

Where is my hope, then? In God! He can redeem my negative emotions! If I open my heart to His teaching and discipline, I can learn to be filled with joy, instead. I have seen this miracle at work in my life, when God has convicted me of pride and taught me humility. He illuminates my sin and folly and brings me to repentance.

Are you asking how this happens? The answer is prayer. When I get angry, I pray. After a few minutes of ranting to God about whatever my husband has “done to anger me,” the inevitable happens: my sin and folly is exposed before me. Oh. So it’s not his fault, but mine? So it doesn’t matter what he did–it’s my reaction that is the problem? I repent to God and ask for the strength to humble myself before my husband and ask his forgiveness, too. And when I do that, another miraculous thing happens. Usually, my husband is encouraged by my humble heart to also repent of his sin and folly!

Whether we want to admit it or not, our actions are usually the outbursts of our hearts. Every emotion can be followed out of the heart, and most often, out of the mouth. We can cut off this highway by erecting a barricade of prayer, and God will redirect traffic appropriately. Blessed is He!

Tomorrow: tracing actions and speech back to the heart.