• 2016 nwaMotherlode Summer Camp Guide for Kids
  • Northwest Arkansas Calendar of Events: May 2016

Devotion in Motion: What’s up with the Old Testament?

2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! ~ Psalm 119:2 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

It’s fun to be a country preacher, for a lot of reasons. One of the things I enjoy most is that people are always asking me interesting questions about the Bible. People ask great questions—and I find myself thinking about ideas and situations and things I’ve never thought about before. Because I’ve been studying a long time, sometimes I can answer a question off the top of my head. But most of the time I have to say, “Let me read a little bit, and I’ll get back with you later.”

old testamentOne of the most common questions is this: “Why is the Old Testament so different than the New Testament?” And I immediately understand where the “asker” is coming from. The New Testament reveals to us the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the knowledge that God is Love, and God is Light, and God is Life. But the Old Testament often relates stories full of darkness and anger and pain; some stories could even be called gruesome. Why is there such a contrast?

I think I can say that I understand this much better than I used to. And I’ll be writing about this for the next several weeks because it’s a big subject. You see, my whole view of what the Bible is changed because I read one little devotion written by the late Michael Spencer. (He wrote a wonderful blog called “Internet Monk” and passed away when he was only 54 years old. But that’s another story for a different day.) Bro. Michael said his understanding of the Old Testament became clear to him when a little old lady described the book to him: “Michael, the whole Bible is a story about Jesus. And the Old Testament is made up of the stories God tells around His kitchen table.”

Every family has stories that they tell (over and over again) whenever they get together. We have hundreds of them in our family. There are heartwarming stories like, “The Record Player that Daddy Brought Home When He Saw Santa at the Hardware Store.” There are funny stories like, “Gravy on the Ceiling: When Mama’s Pressure Cooker Exploded.” There are gory tales like, “When Bobby Mann poked John in the Head with a Pencil in Second Grade.” There are sad stories, and stories of tragedies, and stories of regular days when things happened that are only important to us. I’m only scratching the surface here, but our family has stories. We can sit around the kitchen table and go on and on for days.

Some of our family stories teach some sort of moral lesson. But most of them don’t. They aren’t supposed to teach any lesson. They are just a recounting of all the things that happened—good, bad, and indifferent.

word swagAnd from my point of view, these stories are MY story. They’re the story of the little boy who was the youngest of seven first-cousins and the adventures of how he grew up and lived and loved and eventually became a pastor, a husband and a dad. Even the things that happened before I was born are part of the story of ME because that’s where I came from.

So let’s think about the Bible as a book about Jesus. And the Old Testament is the book of the stories that God tells around His kitchen table. There are heart-warming stories, like “How Jesus’ (Many ‘Greats’) Grandmother Ruth Dearly Loved Her Mother-in-law Naomi.”

There are funny stories like, “The Time the Jackass Spoke to Balaam.” There are gruesome-stories-that-really-happened-but-teach-no-moral-lesson-and-belong-on-“The Forensic Files” like, “Judges Chapter 9: Angry Man Slices the Body of His Murdered Maidservant into 12 Parts (and Mails the Pieces).”

A lot of years passed between the stories of “The Garden of Eden” and “The Babe in the Manger,” and all those forefathers of Jesus were busy doing all sorts of things over the centuries. That’s where the Old Testament came from.

Clearly, our Heavenly Father is a God who loves to tell stories. The Bible says we’re made in His image; that’s probably why we love to tell (and hear) stories, too. There are so many amazing and interesting stories in the Holy Scriptures. But without a doubt, one we love the most is the Story of Jesus.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 29 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher will be writing more about the Old Testament next week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 24), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Burn, baby, burn: Homework inferno

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

My kids’ education just went up in smoke – again. Friday was their last day in school, so this weekend we held the annual End-of-School Bonfire. Other than Christmas and birthdays, it’s the one day of the year the kids look forward to most.

We stumbled upon this idea last spring. Tom was using a burn barrel to burn some twigs and leaves and suggested the kids toss in the piles of math worksheets and spelling tests they’d stacked on the kitchen table after the last day of the school year.

fireShocked, the kids looked at him for confirmation. “Really? We can burn our school papers?”

Tom shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t see why not. You already learned that stuff, right?”

The kids nodded furiously.

“Okay, then pitch it into the fire.”

They hooted and hollered as they retrieved their school papers and sprinted to the burn barrel with nine months of knowledge tucked under their arms. One by one, they crumpled up papers and shot them into the barrel, clapping wildly as book reports and algebra worksheets disappeared into a fine, educated smoke.

One of the neighborhood kids caught wind of the situation and asked if he, too, could pitch his papers into the fire. Why not, we said? So he ran home and came back with a backpack full of work to keep the fire going.

It didn’t take long before one of the kids wisely observed that the only thing that would make a homework-burning bonfire better would be the ability to roast marshmallows while your science project faces its fiery fate. The other kids agreed with gusto, and soon we were using wire clothes hangers to stab fluffy marshmallows and thrust them over the flames.

This year, at least two weeks before school ended, the kids were already asking about the next bonfire. Knowing it was coming helped get them through those last whiny weeks of school, when everyone had grown weary from early mornings and standardized tests.

smores photoDuring a recent trip to the grocery store, the youngest of the three kids asked if we could go ahead and buy the marshmallows, Hershey bars and graham crackers so we’d be ready for the end-of-school bonfire. Proof that our school system truly is teaching our kids a thing or two, she not only showed the ability to plan ahead, she also had the good sense to hide the chocolate bars from her older brothers so the s’mores ingredients wouldn’t disappear before the bonfire began. Smart kid.

When I picked them up from the last day of school, they climbed into the car, happily toting backpacks full of completed papers and graded tests. They showed me the stash of papers that would soon turn into a burn barrel inferno – bright orange flames licking the crumpled edges of vocabulary tests and American history study guides.

We kept the books, of course, and any folders that can be used again in the fall but the rest was tossed into our impromptu incinerator.

Huddled around it were our three kids and neighborhood friends, too – all of them gleeful for summer break, hopped up on s’mores and wide-eyed as they watched the flames do a celebratory dance for summer.

So if you detected the faint hint of smoke in the air last weekend, it wasn’t steaks on the grill. It was just the Rockwood children’s collective knowledge going up in smoke yet again. It was the smell of decimals and mixed numbers, longitude and latitude, conjunctions and proper nouns. The kids call it the smell of freedom.

Hello there, Summer. We’ve been expecting you.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

The Friday 5: Fun things to do this weekend in NWA, May 27-29

Friday 5
1. Rug Rat Adventure Day, Saturday. Kids of all ages are invited to participate in a day full of activities and learning geared toward our primitive roots of exploration. This free event will work in stations around the Pat Rack pond, including:

rug rat day– Tyrolean Traverse
– Monkey Bridge
– Rock wall
– Boat paddle
– Nature crafts
– Face painting

Ozark Off-Road Cyclists will be here with their ice cream bike churning homemade ice cream. There will also be fruit, water, and lemonade available. Woody & Sunshine will be there with their smiles and jams.

The event will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pack Rat Outdoor Center in Fayetteville

Click here for more information!

2. The 2016 Giant / LIV Bike Demo Tour, Lewis & Clark, Springdale, Saturday. The Giant Tour rig and the LIV sprinter van will be set up in the Lewis & Clark parking lot from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. with lots of men’s/women’s mountain bikes and road bikes for you to try out. Come on up, say “hello,” check out a Giant or LIV bicycle, and then go for a spin around Lake Fayetteville.

TO DEMO A BIKE, here’s all you’ll need to have with you: (1) a valid driver’s license, (2) a bicycle helmet, and (3) your own pedals if you want to ride something other than platform pedals.

Click here for more info on the bike event.

3. The Downtown Bentonville Farmer’s Market, Saturday. The Bentonville Farmer’s Market is held on the square every Saturday (through Oct. 29th this year) from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Click here for more info about the market!

Amazeum logo4. Zing Adventures (exclusively for Amazeum members), Saturday. This event will be from 9-10 am for kids ages 3-5 years old and a caregiver.

May’s Zing Adventures is inspired by Homestead Cabin. Game play and dress up just as homesteading families did long ago. Discovery stations will provide new experiences with old-fashioned playthings. This workshop will provide inspiration for summer fun activities to recreate at home.

Fee per child/adult pair: Amazeum members $10

Advanced registration and payment required.

Click here for information about becoming an Amazeum member!

5. May Festival of the Arts, Eureka Springs. The arts festival will continue through this weekend in Eureka.

Click here for a full list of events!


Kids in Northwest Arkansas: Local Snapshots

Local Snapshots category bannerrachel popsicleWant to share this green popsicle, Mom?

Happy Spring, mamas! We love the Springtime snapshots you’ve shared with us. We’re showing them off in this fun post, but if you haven’t had a chance to send in pictures yet, don’t worry! You have a few more days to submit photos, but be sure to get them emailed to us by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, 2016.

HOW TO ENTER: You may submit up to 5 photos for the Snapshot Contest (and photos don’t have to be taken during the current year.) Email the photos to gwen@nwaMotherlode.com.

The winner of the Snapshot Contest gets a 16×20 beautiful gallery-wrapped canvas print of her favorite photo, produced by Scott Frame & Art. It’ll be ready to hang on your wall!

collage1hardy5 680collage2brother sister collagecollage3Smile Shoppe logo 2015 width 500The Photo Category, which is always full of smiles, is sponsored by The Smile Shoppe, a pediatric dental practice with offices in Rogers and Springdale. The Smile Shoppe specializes in the treatment of infants, children, adolescents as well as children with special needs. Dr. Jeffrey Rhodes and Dr. Emily Fourmy are both board certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Click HERE for more info on the Smile Shoppe. (And let your kids check out their fun website which also includes free coloring sheets and online games.)

Summer Camp Spotlight: Kaleidoscope Dance Academy

Kaleidoscope Dance Academy Camp is one of the camps we’re featuring in this year’s Summer Camp Guide. My own daughter (who is now 9 years old) attended a Kaleidoscope camp two years ago and fell in love with dance and the studio itself.

She had taken dance classes at a different studio in the past, but I’d decided to look for different options. I wanted a studio that is committed to letting little girls look, dress and dance like young girls – not sexy women trying out to be a Lakers girl. And I also wanted a studio that cared enough to choose dance music with lyrics that wouldn’t make me cringe if my daughter started singing it in the car with her grandmother.

Laine Harper

Laine Harper, Kaleidoscope Dance Academy Director

After I met and talked with Laine Harper, Director of Kaleidoscope Dance Academy, I knew I’d found our new dance studio home. She’s not only a dancer and an instructor, she’s also a mom who truly cares about the values and the type of atmosphere created at the studio.

When I attended my daughter’s first Kaleidoscope dance recital last spring, I was so impressed, not only with the quality of the dancers, but also because none of the choreography made people in the audience feel as if it was inappropriate for the age of the dancers. And the costumes were SO cute but never too revealing or in bad taste.

If you’re on the hunt for a great place for your son or daughter to learn dance, I’d definitely recommend trying one of the Kaleidoscope dance camps this summer. (By the way, Kaleidoscope has a large group of boys who take classes here, and they are amazing! So fun to watch them on stage.) Here’s more info on the camps:

Kaleidoscope Dance Academy offers themed dance camps in the summer that are perfect for kids who are new to dance as well as more experienced dancers who want to sharpen their skills during the Kaleidoscope ad graphicsummer. Each camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon, and each dancer will receive a camp t-shirt. Some camps include field trips, snow cone treats, visits from real princesses and more!

Summer sessions and themes:

  • June 20-23: Tropical Paradise (Ages 3 to 9; grouped by age)
  • June 27-30: Art of Dance (Ages 5 and up)
  • July 11-14: Frozen in July (Ages 3 and up)
  • July 18-21: Dance is Amazing (Ages 5 and up)
  • August 1-4: Princess Camp (Ages 3 and up)

Click HERE to visit Kaleidoscope’s website for info on summer camps.