Chaos Can’t: Overcome What Comes Against You in This Shaken World by Allen Arnold

I’m a member of a local American Christian Fiction Writers chapter in San Antonio and one of the other members offered to facilitate a discussion on the book Chaos Can’t by Allen Arnold.

The book provides an easy ready, quite intentional by the author, in the way he breaks it up into short sections. Lots of white space in the physical book (I read mine on Kindle). But don’t let that mislead you. There’s plenty of practical depth to what Arnold gives us.

He begins by discussing what chaos is, then moves into the chaos we see in the world around us and in scripture. He reminds us that our enemy is not only the father of lies, he’s the bringer of chaos. But our Heavenly Father overcomes the chaos. In fact, our God created out of chaos.

Arnold then provides applications for guarding our hearts against chaos and for expanding our influence through our own creativity, by creating with our Heavenly Father. To become unshaken overcomes of chaos.

Arnold’s ultimate goal is to demonstrate how chaos can cripple creativity, but how creativity with our Heavenly Father, the Creator, can overcome the chaos around us.

I’ve always struggled with my writing time. It takes me a little while to get into my “creative space” and I write slow. Both demand a large chunk of time; I’m not one that can write a little in small chunks of time. I also struggle with writing when there’s a lot going on in my life. I let the chaos move from the external into my internal. I want to change that. I want to pursue my creativity in the midst of chaos rather than always wait for it to subside. My biggest takeaway is a prayer I am now praying: Jesus, guard my heart and keep chaos out and your peace within.

But don’t take my word for it. Pick up Chaos Can’t and free your creativity from chaos. After all, your Heavenly Father has placed creativity within you for his good purposes.

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The Gospel of Buc-ee’s

Jon and I have been traveling about the country now for about ten years (ever since we bought our travel trailer). Gas stops were always a challenge. Finding gas stations with easy in, easy out and enough room to navigate through. And of course, the challenge of finding clean bathrooms. There have been many times that I appreciated the convenience of pulling a bathroom behind the truck. I sometimes used the camper rather than brave the uncertainty and sometimes grossness of a gas station bathroom.

We stopped at our first Buc-ee’s when we were living in Mississippi and driving I10 to San Antonio to visit Jon’s parents. Our first mile marker on the long trip was the billboard near the Louisiana border that said “Only 262 Miles to Buc-ee’s. You can Hold It.” We counted down the signs until we got there. It became a beacon for every trip. We now live in New Braunfels (Buc-ee’s was kind enough to build in our new hometown) and when we drive east to visit our daughter and her family in Virginia, we have the option to stop (and often do) at four Buc-ee’s locations (and a fifth option if we drive about a half hour out of the way for the one near Gulf Shores). We’ve heard rumor there may be more coming along our route and we’re excited.

We have many reasons to love Buc-ee’s but that’s not the point of the gospel of Buc-ee’s. Over the years as we’ve traveled, we started noticing how gas stations are stepping up their game. They have cleaner bathrooms. More courteous employees. More coffee and soda options (pop for my northern family and friends). The newer gas stations are bigger, with more bathrooms, better bathrooms. And often more gas pumps that are easier to get in and out.

Sure you can argue economic competition. But. Buc-ee’s set out with a mission. Have the world’s cleanest bathrooms (it’s on their website). And have lots of them. Along with lots of gas pumps. Then combine it with great service, care about the customers and pay employees well. They did this and people came. And still come. And Buc-ee’s reaps the harvest of profit.

The gospel? Well, I don’t think Buc-ee’s went around trying to tell the gas stations how to do business. They weren’t telling other places what they should or shouldn’t be doing. They weren’t making a public fuss about the lack of clean bathrooms. They didn’t try to legislate for cleaner bathrooms or more pumps or higher wages. They just set an example of doing it well. Others took notice and started doing the same. And we travelers enjoy the benefits and the blessings.

“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:15

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 5:14,16

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Swiss Cheese Theology

Swiss cheese theology. Or one might also call it hole in the fence theology.

No, I’m not talking about holes in our theology or our doctrine. Rather, I’m suggesting that maybe our theology and doctrines only see a small portion of who God is. Like peeking through a hole in a slice of swiss cheese. Or a hole in a fence.

My kids call it stinky cheese, but I love swiss cheese. I was eating a piece of it recently and it had a perfect, round hole in the center. Feeling silly, I held it up to my eye and peeked through it. I couldn’t see the whole kitchen, only the tiny bit I could see through the hole. There’s the microwave. And if I turn just a bit, there’s the door to the garage. Turn a bit more, the stove top. You get the idea. Looking through that tiny hole only allows me to see a tiny bit of the room.

I’ve found numerous reports, counts, and estimates of how many different christian denominations we have. We know of the various great schisms in the church throughout the years. Eastern and Western Orthodox. Catholic and Protestant. And it continues from there. To major denominations we know of as Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, Pentacostal, Baptist, and so many more. Of course, that’s leaving out a plethora of other divisions that have occurred from the beginning of what we know of as the early church.

Each one has its own creeds, doctrines, tenants. Each one has lists of Scripture verses to support its beliefs. Sometimes even traditions held up along with the Scriptures.

And they all are like holes in swiss cheese. Or in a fence. By peeking through, we see glimpses of God. We see manifestations of who he is. But rarely does one exhibit or capture the entirety of our enormous God.

If we’re not careful, the holes become boxes. We wall off the section of our hole and claim we have the whole truth of who God is. And the others, well, maybe some have bits of truth, but not like we do. We stand on the truth we see in our box, proclaiming we’ve figured it out. And we don’t take the time or the opportunity to peek through the other holes. Sometimes we even react with shock at the idea. Because the other holes couldn’t be truth. Truth is seen through our hole. And we miss out on seeing so much more of our enormous God.

Reading the Bible can be a dangerous thing. If you want to hold on to your hole, your doctrine, your tiny bit of truth, don’t read the Bible. And by reading it, I mean the entirety of it. Beginning to end. Not just your favorite parts. Or the parts that describe your hole, this verse or that verse. This passage or that passage. The whole thing.

Because there are parts of the Bible that will blow more holes in your Swiss cheese. More holes in your fence. It can be uncomfortable. It might shake a bit of your foundation.

But you might find that suddenly you’re seeing more of God than ever before. You’re seeing more of his story and what he’s doing and how it all might fit together in his expansive plan.

You see the microwave. And you turn just a bit, and there’s the door to the garage. You turn a bit more, the stove top.

Suddenly you realize there’s an entire room. A house. God’s house. Bigger than we’ve known. Bigger than we realize. And because of Jesus, it’s filled with all of us who love him, each peeking through our own holes to see him.

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Building a Raised Bed Garden

Last year we grew some tomatoes and peppers in our butterfly garden. The plants produced will into December. Even though we like to travel quite a bit (meaning we’re not always here to harvest), I’ve been wanting a raised bed vegetable garden. I’ll consider it a community garden to be shared with neighbors during the times we’re away.

We have quite a few live oaks shading much of our yard (what a blessing in the Texas summer heat) so we picked a small area behind the butterfly garden that receives a lot of summer sun from morning to early afternoon.

I’ve been planning to write about the building process for my Practical Living category and have been taking a few pictures to share. We thought we’d be through with everything except the planting by now. Little did we know the interesting events that would interrupt our project.

During our mild Texas winter weather earlier this month, Jon and our youngest, Jonny, started the garden. Jon put down road base to help level the slope in the area and used bricks for further leveling. He purchased 2X6 for the bottom frame and 4X4 for the uprights.

The uprights are 6 feet tall because of our hoofed friends who like to eat just about everything. We plan to install fencing and a door to enter, to let us in and keep them out.

Jon and Jonny finished framing it with wood we had left over from the house. The total area is 8X8 with about 2 foot wide planter boxes and a walk-in area to access all the planters.

Then it was my turn. I treated inside the planter boxes with linseed oil since they would come in contact with the soil. And on the outside I used our Cider Mill outdoor stain we had left over from our patio.

We had hoped to fill it with dirt from the local rock and soil place before forecasted rain and cold moved in. We didn’t quite make it and this week the weather has definitely brought our project to a screeching halt.

Before Texas fell to the grip of what is typically northern winter weather (I moved to central Texas to escape the northwest Pennsylvania winters!), I brought every potted plant inside and Jon and I mulched and covered as many of our plants as we could in our butterfly garden. However, we’re afraid they may have succumbed to the elements during 0ur week of below freezing temperatures (and a night down to 6F). Our plants are meant to be heat and drought tolerant. Not freezing temperatures tolerant.

I have the sinking feeling that along with purchasing vegetables for the raised bed garden, we may also be replacing many of the plants in the butterfly garden. Hoping for the best, but also trying to manage my expectations. Spring will tell.

Until our beloved mild Texas winter weather returns, we’re hunkering down, dealing with power and water outages, dreaming of spring planting, and sort of enjoying the unexpected winter wonderland that’s come to visit.

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DIY Sea Salt Spray

Years ago I set up a page on this site called Cleaningunder the All Natural heading. It contains many DIY (do it yourself) recipes for various cleaning supplies for the home. Some I still use, such as vinegar and water on my tiled floor areas and a soap scum remover for tiled showers. Some I’ve reverted back to store bought (because truthfully, I became a bit lazy about it).

But I do like knowing what goes into my products, whether cleaning supplies or foods we cook (I think I mentioned one of the things I love about Whole 30 is the cooking with fresh ingredients rather than processed, albeit some are convenience purchases such as cauliflower already riced or butternut squash already cubed, or canned tomatoes or green beans).

I also tried the natural thing for my hair, baking soda scrub and apple cider vinegar rinse and I found that it really didn’t do much for my hair. So I’ve gone back to shampoos and conditioners, although I look for sulfate free brands.

I have fine, thin, wavy hair. Which, if you have this kind of hair, you know is a huge challenge. It’s incredibly hard to find hair products that don’t either dry my hair out or weigh it down, or both. With the trend of sea salt products to “texturize” and create that “beach hair” look, I wanted to give it a try.

I reviewed quite a few products, from the cheaper brands to the more expensive lines, checking out their ingredients and the comments users made about them. But couldn’t find one I felt comfortable trying or wanted to shell out money for.

Therefore, I decided to google and see if anyone happened to have recipes to make my own sea salt spray (of course there are, because we can find a plethora of recipes for just about anything and everything online).

I’m a week into using the product I made and so far so good. I may add a bit more sea salt in the next batch, just to see if it can give a bit more texture. But it does give the “beach hair” look, provides some texture (which translates for thin hair as some body/lift) and doesn’t dry my hair out.

If you’d like to try it, here’s the recipe I found at

  • 1 cup warm water (warm enough to dissolve the salt and the coconut oil)
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp Epsom salt
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp pure aloe vera gel
  • 5 drops essential oil (for a nice smell)
  • Add each ingredient one at a time to the warm water, stirring until dissolved.
  • Pour into a spray bottle and use on damp hair, scrunching as applied.
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