Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Update on the Gantts

Dear Friends,
Greetings from Johnson University, home of the Gantts for the next two years. We wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update on our adventures in Knoxville, Tennessee! God is here and we feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do what we are doing. Please let us share some of the details.
We moved from the only house our children have known on Saturday, July 2nd. After six months of trying so sell our house, with no luck, we decided to rent it out. We are praying for protection over the property for the next two years and that there would not be any major repairs required. It is our hope that we have had to keep the house for some reason. Hopefully it is because we will need a place to move into immediately following school while Jason completes the hours of supervised counseling that he will need to apply for his license. This could take up to two more years after he finishes school.
Our move here was, overall, uneventful. Jason did try to take out a gas pump with the fender of the giant moving truck, but for once having the liability insurance for the rental vehicle paid off! We were met at our duplex on campus by several smiling faces and strong muscles ready to help us unpack. What a blessing this was! We also had goodies waiting on our counter and a refrigerator full of food. This is just the beginning of the many ways God has continued to care for us so far! Our duplex is smaller than our house in Scottsburg, but was so well designed! There is more than ample storage, and we have found that everything we brought has fit perfectly into our cozy little home.
We are very thankful that we decided to come a little earlier than we had originally planned. It gave us just enough time to adjust and be mentally available for the adjustment issues that our children faced before Jason started classes. Karson, by far, had the most difficult time adjusting, but by now has met several wonderful friends that he hangs out with almost every day! Karson, Gus and Tyler have become pretty much inseparable. The three amigos have been welcome in our house almost anytime, except when the two little ones are napping. What one doesn’t think of, one of the other two will! It is interesting because Karson is the oldest in his family, Gus is the youngest and Tyler is an only child. Is this why they get along so well?
Abbagail too has adjusted beautifully. Only once did she comment to us, “Mom and dad, I’m not mad at you or anything, but I do miss my Grammie and Papa.” I’m not sure how our family would exist without her colorful personality on a daily basis! She has enjoyed playing along with Karson and his buddies as much as possible. There are not as many little girls her age here, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Abbagail will turn three on Sept. 18th.
Raleigh is just his joyful little self. He hardly ever gives us a fuss, and if he does, we know there is something he really needs tended to. He has cut three teeth so far since we moved here, and a fourth one is just about to poke through. We don’t call him Jolly Raleigh for nothing! He will be walking soon as well, maybe even before his first birthday on Sept. 23rd.
Karoline has found much time to care for the family, and it is so fulfilling! Whether it be trying to figure out economical meals to prepare, keeping the house clean, figuring out the ins and outs of homeschooling or changing poopy diapers, all are a joy to GET to do! She is so very thankful that her mother taught her the joys of homemaking, because they have never been needed more than now!
Jason is in his fourth week of classes. The first three were crazy, but the fourth seems to be better. The term “boot camp” has been used to describe the first few weeks of this Grad program. Yikes! He received six credit hours in his first three weeks and will have 15% of his classes completed after just the first five weeks of the program. It has been a tremendous amount of work, but he has met the challenge without flinching! He will begin the clinical side of his studies in the next week or so, and he is very excited about it. This seems to be a very unique program in that there is so much hands on training included. The professors that he is working with have proven to be some of the most caring mentors that he has ever encountered. They seem to be genuinely invested in the success of each individual student and love what they do themselves!
We have begun attending Seymour Heights Christian Church in Seymour, TN. We love it there and have found various ways to get involved. We had some prior knowledge of this church, and have found it to be a wonderful place for our family so far! We are going into the city this weekend for Feed the Need 2011. The church is participating in this program to prepare meals for the hungry. Karoline has also found a newly organized MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) to join. It seems to be a very intentional church and makes very good use of the resources that God has blessed them with. We are excited to be a part!
Karoline and the children will also be participating in a homeschooling co-op called The Edge that meets at the church once a week. Karoline will get to teach a class on bugs this semester to the kindergarten and first graders. It should be a fun time! Abbagail will get to be involved in a pre-school class there once a week. The other four days of the school week are spent working hard to learn the ropes of homeschooling. It has its challenges, but the rewards are so much greater!
So far, Johnson has been the perfect place for us to seek healing and new direction! There are numerous people here that share similar experiences as ours and we have enjoyed meeting so many new people. It has also helped to have many familiar faces around us. God knew what he was doing when he said, “GO!”
We want to thank all of you SO much for your love and support! Our needs continue to be met just in time! We are blessed and have found ourselves in one of the greatest tests of faith that we have ever experienced. It has been pure joy. What a great lesson to be learned, that when we reach outside of what seems visible or understandable, God meets us there! I’m not sure we will ever be able to settle for what just seems comfortable again. We look forward to seeing what is next, as each day seems to provide something new to learn!
Blessings to you all!

Jason, Karoline, Karson, Abbagail & Raleigh Gantt
7900 Johnson Drive
Johnson Box 777-1203
Knoxville, TN 37998

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moving closer to the face of God

The other day I was trying to tell Abbagail something and she was having a hard time focusing on me. We try to get out children to look us in the eye when we talk to them so they can learn to be attentive and also so we know that they have heard what we said. Abbagail was so distracted as I was talking to her and she was getting kind of frustrated that I kept asking her to look at me. In her frustration she brought her face very close to mine while I was talking to her. All of a sudden she had no problem paying attention to me and what I was saying. She maintained her eye contact and got the message.

I couldn't help but think of my own relationship with God while I was talking to Abbagail. The closer I seek the face of God, the more able I am to focus on Him and what he is telling me. As we move closer, the distractions become less. It takes so much more thought though and takes being very intentional about what we do. I, along with most people, have so many distractions around me. There are so many things I am pondering right now and we are trying to get through a situation that has left us with a huge sense of betrayal and frustration. I have never felt this type of feeling to this degree. It has given me such an opportunity to focus on myself and the hurt that I feel, but my daughter reminded me that this will continue to have my attention unless I move closer to the face of God. What are my distractions? What do I think is necessary, and what really is a distraction wearing the costume of necessity? Who are the people around me that are seeking the face of God, and who is just playing the game? Who are the people around me that need to see me seeking the face of God instead of trying to figure out what just happened? If I expect Abbagail to focus on Jason and I without distraction, then I must be willing to set the example. She needs to see my heart fixed on what matters and not what has the ability to steal my joy on a daily basis.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

Monday, April 18, 2011

The best for our children...have you studied?

I have come to realize that there is an enormous difference between wanting the best for our children and understanding what the best for our children really is. As my husband and I seem to be parting ways with modern culture in search of what God's best is for our family, we find ourselves walking down paths that just aren't popular with the crowd, yes even the "Christian" crowd. We find comfort in this, however, because Jesus too walked a path of a "square peg" existing in a "round" world. The longer I am alive, the more I have become uncomfortable in this world. Many of Satan's lies have been blown wide open for us. I use to feel the need to become defensive and to be understood, but that has transitioned into a feeling of peace as I have come to understand that God's ways will never be what everyone else is doing.

This leads me to the thought that we have not even began to understand what it means to "train a child in the way that he should go". We would love to claim victory through the second part of the verse, "and when he is old he will not depart from it", but we seldom want to truly seek the face of God when it comes to understanding what God means by training a child. I take this verse quite literal and believe that a parent that completely surrenders his AND her ways over to the leading of the Holy Spirit will experience the wisdom in this truth. We are seeking everyday, and know that we have so far to go. We don't want to take anything for granted and want nothing to slip through untested against the scriptures. God is moving in BIG ways and we are finding that we have to count on His ways, not the popular way. There are very few parents that I know that wouldn't say that they love their kids, and probably would give their own lives for their children. How many parents though, are willing to give everything over to the control of God in order to save their children? Would you give up your child's athletic success if the spirit so moved you? Would you sacrifice your child's academic achievements? Would you quit your job to spend more hours at home with your children? What would you be willing to do? Anything, to save your child?

Loving our children and wanting the best for them begins with complete surrender! Allow your children to feel uncomfortable in this world, you will do them a huge favor! Allow your child, however, to know the unconditional love of  a family life that reinforces what God expects of each of His children. Who you and your family are at home, is who you really are! Does everything your child understands about God come from someone else teaching them in a class you drop them off at? Is God contained in a church because that's the only time your child hears His name? Do sports, work and entertainment come before family worship time? Like I said, what your family does at home is what your family is really about. The disciplines of family life do not come easy, but only when we are seeking God intentionally will we ever know the joy of all He has to offer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Will the mother in me please stand up...

Conviction has overcome me lately in so many areas. It has been nice, although uncomfortable at times, to experience a fresh wind. I am thankful that God loves me enough to change my circumstances in order to teach me more about Him and myself!  One area that particularly has stuck with me and I am motivated to improve is my role as a mother to my sweet little Abbagail. Karson and Raleigh are no less important, but my ability to train and equip our little girl is just different. I have something that no other person in the world can give her, and that is the love and example of a mother as we share the same gender. She needs me now more than ever as her little heart is being shaped by everything around her! I have had so many distractions lately, and it has been so convenient to let time pass by with the hopes that soon things will be different- more organized, less to do, less unknowns, more time, more energy, and the list goes on. I have found myself so easily aggravated, and I have had to confess this sin to my family and to God! 

Sunday we attended church with our house church and it was such a wonderful time of worship. The children within the participating families are included in the worship and teaching time, and it is such a wonderful addition to our time together. We were worshiping together, and I got the privilege of watching one of the purest forms of worship I have ever seen. Abbagail danced before her God without worry of those around her and what they might be thinking. I’m sure as the mother of this sweet child, it meant more to me than any other there, but it was precious. She gracefully swayed to the music with hands held high and I was at that very moment drawn to her and given a glimpse of how I bless God when I am pure.

As mothers we have so much to instill in our daughters, but it has to begin with ourselves! Do I smile when I’m working? Do I treat her daddy with the respect that she needs to know and be able to show her husband someday? Am I giving her the time to learn about what I’m doing, or am I just trying to get the task done the easy way? Am I doing what it takes to keep her heart??? I’m not willing to allow her heart to be misled in such a formative stage of her heart, or any other stage for that matter. Her ability to fulfill her calling as a child of God depends on it!

Lord, lead me to what is noble, pure and right! My daughter is watching and I want what I have to give her to be what she finds to be right in the end!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Don't get caught up in the offenses of others...Not thought about it much, until now.

“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend” Psalms 15:1-3.

One of the functions of Christ's people is to tend to the sufferings of those we fellowship with. It is so tempting, however, to take up someone's offense against another as we seek to console or encourage them. There is very little wisdom in this and it certainly is not scriptural. Sometimes hurt feelings are due to  misunderstanding, differing opinions, a rebellious spirit, or the inability to handle admonishment because of immaturity. There are always two sides to a story, and it would not be an intelligent individual that acts on or forms an opinion based on one side or without all the facts.

When I'm offended, it is so easy to want to seek sympathy from individuals who are naive to the situation, and in a sense, spreading the disease. Of course they will side with me, they trust me to speak truth. Truth is so easily lost when there is emotion tied to a situation though. We think we are telling the truth, and most of it probably is, but expecting someone to side with you when they only know one side of the story is taking advantage of the individual. We should love and encourage a friend with hurt feelings, but reserve our opinions and avoid taking sides. We do not want to find ourselves participating in others' sins by becoming offended by the situation.

I wonder how many times we jump to the emotional rescue of friends by taking on a similar opinion of the "bad" person simply from their "bad" experience. The offense is not between us and the "bad" person, so when the situation is resolved and forgiveness has prevailed, where does that leave us? We aren't given the chance to forgive, and therefore, we carry the negative feelings that weren't even ours to carry in the first place.

Soooooo, the moral of the story is to leave sin alone! I have learned this to the nth degree in the past few months. It isn't easy, but leave the sin at its source, and don't carry it with you. What good does it do to offer to get sick with someone? Instead, offer something to heal the situation, and many times this just means keeping your mouth shut. Yes, even when it doesn't seem just or fair.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Grandma Boley: There can never be another one like her!

Before Grandma was scheduled to have surgery to remove the cancer within her body, many of us wrote letters that she could read as encouragement while she was in the hospital. I was asked to share this letter with you that I wrote:

Today you need to know how much I love you and am so thankful to call you my grandmother.  You are such a beautiful woman, both inside and out. You are so strong and are the rock of our family.   Thank you for teaching us what love is and showing us what it feels like to be so loved.  You have helped me become who I am. I have had one of those days where I wonder how other mothers do what they do.  Being a mother and doing it well is hard work!  I often think about how you did all you did and how my mom did all she did. However you did it, you did it well!  I pray I can be the kind of mother that you are and taught my mother to be! I have always admired your calm nature with your husband, children and grandchildren.  There is so much I am seeking to display in my own life that I have seen you display. There is no greater calling in life than to be a wife and mother.  You and my mother have shown me what it is to embrace both rolls and to make them my priority.
Thank you.
I love you,

Grandma has given us the gift of generational faithfulness. In Deuteronomy 6:5-7 it says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.”

The statistics are overwhelmingly clear that if we do not lead our children intentionally, passionately, fervently, to know God and love Him while they are in our homes, the likelihood of them giving their lives to Christ later in life is slim. Why is this? It is because God has given the greatest responsibility and power of evangelism to parents. The very nature of who grandma was was an impression on her children, grandchildren, and all those around her.

I remember a plaque that Grandma had hanging in her kitchen at the A-frame in Lexington. It was Proverbs 31 and is my first memory of what the Bible has to say about what a Godly wife and mother is. I would like to read it to you, because it is a very accurate description of who Grandma was!

10A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
   and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
   bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
   she provides food for her family
   and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
   her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
   and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
   and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
   and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Thank you Grandma for giving our family the gift of faith displayed through the love of your Savior, your friends and your family!

Grandma is receiving her reward and she so badly wants us all to be there to enjoy it with her someday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Man…

Many times I find myself stopping just to take a gaze,
At the man I call my husband, I am blessed in so many ways!
Ten years ago I married a man, but not the ordinary kind,
He’s much more than I ever prayed for, more than I thought I would ever find.
He has shown me what it is to love me like Christ’s church was loved too,
And he works so hard to lead us like so very few men do.
Some days I’m married to Mr. Steady, his ways are tried and true.
Other days it’s Mr. Visionary, with ways that are so new.
He has given me so much freedom to be the Mom God wants me to be,
I get to show our little ones I love them, and staying home has been the key!
He works so hard to present me pure before his risen King,
He honors his vows in every way, like he promised with a ring.
I could have searched the world many times over to find someone more fit to wed,
But I know with all my heart that it is only him to whom my heart was lead.
Reflecting back over the past ten years brings  more joy than I can explain,
I wouldn’t change a single moment, the good, the bad, the pain.
Thankful is what I am that God saw me fit to be a helper just for you,
I want to be even better as God searches me through and through!
I can’t even begin to list the ways that he’s no ordinary man,
But thank you God for giving me Jason as your perfect loving plan.

The next ten years I promise still to love you with all I’ve got,
I would do it again, and again and again, without another thought.
Jason Gantt, you are my husband and I honor you today,
Together with our awesome God, there is no other way.