31 December 2015

Throwback Thursday: Saying adios to 2015

I'm cheating a bit on my Throwback Thursday post today. Since it's New Year's Eve, it's the perfect time for a brief review about our year.

When my 2014 ended so terribly, I was happy to see a fresh year start last January. I wasn't sure where God was going to take our family this year, but He remained faithful, He never abandoned us, and He brought us through another year, better and brighter than ever before!

After spending some time decompressing and enjoying life with Damon at home, God orchestrated countless details that allowed me to start my own freelancing business. It's been a slow start, but that's usually the way small businesses begin. I have a few clients with consistent work and other clients who contact me when my help is needed. Now that I've gotten my feet wet in this entrepreneurial adventure, I plan to work on recruiting more clients in the coming year. I'm also committed to improving my business blog, so follow me on there as well!

To bring in some more consistent income, in August I started working part time as the office administrator at a local church. It just so happens that it's the church where Chris grew up and where his parents still attend! Through this work, I have discovered that I love helping behind the scenes at a small church. And I especially love helping a congregation that holds a very special place in my heart.

Chris is the lowest paid, most unappreciated investments manager I know. He enjoys his work and is a fantastic employee. This year brought some challenges to Chris at work, but he handled them all masterfully. On top of this, Chris is a phenomenal basketball referee. I love watching him do something he loves so much and is so good at doing! And if that's not enough, he's the most incredible husband and father I know, and I know a lot of them!

What can I say about these two? Avery surprises me every day with how much she is learning and growing. She can't get enough of her Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody books, and she has fallen in love with playing the piano. I used to think Avery was a mini-Chris; then along came Damon. Not only does he look like Daddy, he acts like him too. It is so encouraging to watch Damon learn new things so quickly, and I'm extra happy that he finally started saying Mama more consistently this month!

I have no idea what 2016 holds for us. But I do know that God is holding our future and us in His hands. The Carefree Clarks wish you a very blessed New Year!

24 December 2015

17 December 2015

10 December 2015

08 December 2015

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 6

Let’s head back into the book of Revelation! Remember that John is in God’s throne room, witnessing all of creation worshiping Him. John’s eyes are constantly on the Lamb who was declared the only one worthy to open the scroll with seven seals. Today we look at the first six seals on the scroll.

There are three judgments in Revelation – the scroll, the trumpets, and the bowls. The seven seals on the scroll set the stage for more severe judgments from the trumpets and then the bowls.

When the Lamb opened the first four seals, four riders on horses were released.

The white horse and its rider – The rider is carrying a bow and was wearing a crown. The rider most likely is the Antichrist because the word used for crown here refers to a victor’s crown not a kingly crown.

The red horse and its rider – The rider represents war. He is given the power to remove peace and to promote killing.

The black horse and its rider – The rider represents famine. He is given the power to limit food supplies.

The pale horse and its rider – The rider’s name is Death. He is given the power to kill more than 25 percent of the earth. The “pale” color actually is a pale green, sickly color.

The four horses and their riders will bring conquest, war, famine, and disease. God allows all of these judgments, but they are limited. God has the authority to send judgments on humans. These judgments are a warning for anyone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and an invitation for people to repent and turn to God for refuge.

When the Lamb opens the fifth seal, John sees the souls of martyred believers under the altar (which is the Altar of Sacrifice). The martyrs are crying out to God, asking when He will avenge their deaths. He told them to wait because more people must be martyred.

Why does God allow suffering? If we suffer for Christ, it proves we belong to Him. Suffering is temporary. It produces perseverance, character, and hope. Believers are called to wait on the Lord to resolve suffering.

When the Lamb opens the sixth seal, there is a severe earthquake. The people recognize the judgment is from God, but they refuse to turn to God. They cry out to the rocks instead of the Rock of Ages; to creation instead of the Creator. Who do you call on when you are in trouble?

Things to Think About
  • The only refuge for God’s coming wrath is Jesus Christ.
  • God told the martyred souls they must wait for their deaths to be avenged. What am I waiting for God to do?
  • I must take comfort as I trust in God’s sovereign timing and righteousness.
  • God’s wrath will fall on those who refuse to call on Him for rescue.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’ ” – Revelation 6:16-17 NIV

This is the end of the first part of this BSF year! I’ll be back with more weekly lessons after the Christmas break. As you celebrate Jesus’ first coming as a baby, also celebrate His victorious second coming yet to take place!

06 December 2015

Avery’s piano premiere

Since Avery has had her taste of sports, we figured it was time for her to try something new. So back in June, she started taking weekly piano lessons. We simply wanted her to expand her horizons – we had no idea that she would enjoy music so much! It usually doesn’t take much prompting for her to practice each day, and she never has fussed about going to her lessons.

For about the past six weeks, Avery has played almost nothing but Christmas music. It all culminated yesterday when she had her first public performance at a local nursing home.

As we waited in line for her turn to play, she started growing a bit nervous. I told her the audience didn’t care how well she did; they would love her playing and applaud her no matter what! I also think she didn’t want to go up to the piano by herself. But I was so pleased when she bravely walked up to the piano when it was her turn.

Sorry that I didn’t get a better view of her, but you can see her little head behind the piano:

In case you can’t tell, the first song is “We Need a Little Christmas,” and the second one is “Jingle Bells.”

I was so proud that she played so well! She flubbed just a bit because the audience started singing “Jingle Bells” as she played it. She wasn’t used to that!

After she finished, her teacher asked her to play one more time in the separate Alzheimer’s unit. After a little convincing, Avery agreed to play her songs again. I could tell she was much more relaxed the second time around.

This time, I got a better view of her in action.

I’m so excited that Avery has found a new hobby! I think she’ll be sticking with music for the foreseeable future!

03 December 2015

Throwback Thursday: Hold on!

Undated photo
Circa 1991
Tucson, Ariz.

When they were younger, my dad and his brother had a tradition of taking these silly photos on family vacations. They appear to be falling off a cliff, but in reality they're on solid ground. Somehow, they passed this goofiness along to Karen and me. Recently, she found this picture and insisted I post it here. But how convenient that she didn't find a picture of herself!

01 December 2015

BSF 2015-2016: The Day of the Lord

If you knew when Jesus would return, you probably would live and think differently. Well, the Bible tells us that God’s judgment and Christ’s return are imminent. The Day of the Lord is coming.

What is the Day of the Lord? It is a term referring to God’s catastrophic judgment on the world and the corresponding deliverance of His people. It is not a single time or a single event.

The Day of the Lord is certain. And God lovingly warns us that His judgment is coming. The Day of the Lord shows that God is sovereign and in control. He is the one calling the shots. Sin and Satan will not triumph; God is the winner.

No one will escape God’s judgment. But there still is time to turn to God before He pours out His judgment. Believers should urgently share the Gospel with others.

The Day of the Lord is spoken about many times in both the Old and New Testaments. One such place is in the book of Joel. The prophet Joel called his readers to repentance. He warned his readers about physical destruction from locusts and an impending judgment against the country of Judah. But Joel’s book also has a spiritual warning for us.

While the impending locust invasion and the Day of the Lord seem like hopeless situations, God offers redemption. He called on the people of Joel’s day to grieve and mourn their sin then repent and return to Him. He calls on us to do the same.

Eventually God no longer will relent and will pour out His judgment. The Day of the Lord is coming – repent!

So what should we do as we wait for the Day of the Lord? We should live a repentant lifestyle, and we should ready ourselves and those in our lives for God’s judgment.

In 2 Peter, Peter tells us to do six things as we wait for the Day of the Lord:

  • Think rightly
  • Expect scoffers
  • Trust God’s timing
  • Live holy, godly lives
  • Expect hard questions
  • Be on guard and grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus

The Day of the Lord is coming – live a holy life and be ready!

Things to Think About
  • Do I live with an urgency to share the Gospel with others?
  • How will I live differently because the Day of the Lord is coming?

This Week’s Memory Verse
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13 NIV