Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our Day at the Falls

Today we went to Cumberland Falls, on what I think was maybe the hottest day of the year.  Or at least that's the what I was thinking around noon when we were standing out on the rocks.  But, hey, I'm always game for a trip to the Falls, and we really had a great time.

Jason's dad is visiting this weekend and he had never been to the park, so we were really excited about taking him down to see it.  One of my favorite things to do at the Falls is hike to Eagle Falls.  It is not a terribly long hike, but I would label it moderate terrain, because there are so many roots, rocks and hills.  I had a baby carrier strapped on my back the whole hike, but Jake never once made use of it.  He wanted to walk the whole time, and we let him, except for a couple of times when Jason carried him on his shoulders.  He didn't want much to do with me, as is usually the case when Jason is around.  He is such a daddy's boy!!!  I'm okay with that, though.  He did, however, fall and put a pop knot on his forehead.  The last time we visited the falls he was stung by a yellow jacket in the exact same spot.  He's okay though--he's a tough little booger!  

Ashlyn mostly ran ahead of us the whole time, climbing into caves and up on top of any rock she felt comfortable with.  Emily nearly talked my leg off as we were ascending the most steep part of the hike.  Oh, I love family times like this!!!  We love to look around and observe creation, and for me, I love to observe my kids in this awesome element.  Their personalities just come out so much!  Today, Jake was Mr. Independent, wanting to walk by himself the whole time (he really objected when we made him hold our hands), Ashlyn was the big explorer and Emily stayed close by my side, dreaming up stories and telling me every detail.  I loved seeing their excitement as we observed a very long trail of ants, a hornets nest, a millipede, a baby snake, a blue-tailed lizard, and a "wild" puppy on the side of the road!  They were so disappointed when I confessed that I had forgotten to bring the magnifying glass so they could examine the flowers and ants up close!

I have hiked this particular trail as a teenager, as a college student, as a newlywed, and as a mom.  I have to say that I am enjoying it now more than ever!  I get so excited when I think about the different adventures we will take together as a family, and I really thank God for days like today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Continual Praise

The other day I was reminded of something I had read in a book called On the Highroad of Surrender by Frances J. Roberts.  It has encouraged me so much today that I just have to share it.  

There is a section of the book about continual praise within the heart, regardless of circumstances.  Check out this quote:  "Anger, resentment, petulance, bitterness-none of which can live in an atmosphere of praise-will thrive if the eyes of the soul are diverted to the natural situation and are not fixed on Christ."  It goes on to say, "Relinquishment of burdens and fears begins where adoration and worship of God becomes the occupation of the soul."

Lately I've been battling so many negative thoughts, doubts, fears and attitudes.  God is so patient with me.  I'm so amazed not only that He tolerates me, but that He also loves me without condition.  Today He gently reminded me of how important it is for me to distinguish truth from lies, and I was encouraged in my spirit to offer praise to God every time a negative thought tried to enter my mind.  This ranged from quoting scripture to sitting at the piano to sing "How Great Thou Art" to singing the "ha, ha, ha" verse of "The Joy of the Lord is my Strength" (I am not exaggerating)!  

I have to say, I am completely amazed at the difference this practice has made for me today.  Instead of feeling worried and bogged down, I feel more uplifted and encouraged.  Yes, negative thoughts still try to fill my mind, but I am just learning to quench them with remembering what an awesome, mighty, huge God I serve.  When my mind is filled with praise for Him, there is no room for anything else!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Second Time Around

I always knew I needed to go back to second grade.  

One of reasons I love homeschooling is because it's kind of like going back to school and learning about things that I didn't quite get the first time around.  Today we continued our study of butterflies, and as we talked about the four life cycles of these fascinating creatures, I wasn't expecting to learn anything new.  I mean, I know about the chrysalis and about metamorphosis.  I know about the life cycles.  And I have heard a lot of really great spiritual applications that can be drawn from the amazing transformation.  But I must say, there was one part of metamorphosis that I was unaware of, and it reminded me of how brilliant our God really is!!!  

Most of you probably already know this, but indulge me, please.  I always thought that a caterpillar, once inside the chrysalis, just kind of shrunk its body size and grew wings.  I DID NOT KNOW that the caterpillar actually becomes almost completely liquified, and then totally reforms!  Some of you may be laughing at my revelation (I told you I missed some things the first time around).  Regardless, that completely blows my mind.  If the solids of a creature liquify, wouldn't it seem almost dead?  And everything I've read says that no one can explain it.  So then I was really blown away by how that could compare to spiritual transformation.  The caterpillar is no longer anything of what it was.  It is entirely new.  What an absolutely brilliant, marvelous God we serve!  I love school!!  :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Springs in the Valley

Yesterday as I was reading the Bible, something jumped out at me and I felt the Lord speaking to me so clearly.  I was reading in Psalm 104, which is a chapter all about creation.  Verse 10 says of God, "He sends forth springs in the valleys, they flow between the mountains."  I simply love how God reveals bits of His character through His creation.  This verse just reminded me of the "valleys" that we walk through in our lives.  Sometimes we are on the mountains--when life is going well and everything is good.  Up there we can easily see around us, feel the pleasant breeze and feel like things are easy and good.  But sometimes we descend to the valleys--those times when we feel like we've lost our way, when the only way out is up and we feel no strength to make the ascent.  It's in the valleys where we feel alone, distant and sometimes afraid.  But just like He has done in His physical creation, God "sends forth springs in the valleys.  They flow between the mountains."  I noticed a couple of awesome truths from that scripture.

First, have you ever seen a spring?  Some are large, yet some are very small; almost hidden.  Sometimes you really have to look for them.  We can rest assured that when we are in a valley, the springs are there to serve as refreshment and comfort.  They may at times be more difficult to find than a flowing river, but when we look for them by seeking and following God's leading (He knows where they are), then we will find that refreshment.  In other words, God allows us to walk in the valley, but He certainly doesn't leave us without the things that we need to make it through. 

The verse also says that the springs flow between the mountains.  The water is not from another source, it is placed by God WITHIN the valley.  Many times we have the most spiritual growth when we are walking through these valleys.  We may feel like we are surrounded by giants, but we have the nourishment we need, and we can be sure that God has a purpose for our being there.  I just praise God for speaking through His Word and for never failing in His promises!  

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Battle Is On

Do you ever just sometimes want to look the Enemy in the eyes and scream, "LEAVE ME ALONE!!!"  Sometimes I just get this overwhelming urge to do that.  Doesn't it just seem like a perpetual battle?  Oh wait.  It is a perpetual battle.  

I guess that's why God speaks to us in Ephesians 6 about gearing up with His special (and very effective) armor.  
I guess that's why He promised us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that no temptation will be greater than we can handle and that He will always provide a way out.  
I guess that's why over and over in the Bible we are commanded to FEAR NOT.  
And I guess that's why we are given a glimpse of the glorious victory to come. 

I firmly believe in spiritual warfare, and I suppose in a way I'm thankful (for major lack of a better word) for it because I don't believe that the enemy would care to fool with someone who is apathetic or is already doing his bidding.  Still, it's a struggle every single day.  If it's not one thing, it's another.  Getting hit on the blindside.  And it can come in such sneaky ways--so how do we deal with it?  

For one thing, we claim the beautiful promises of God.  John 16:33 says, "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world."  1 John 4:4, "Greater in He that is in me than he who is in the world."  

Another way is to be sure that we are recognizing the lies from the truth.  I believe that one of the greatest tools of the enemy is weaving lies into things that we perceive as truth.  We know we are believing his lies when we have certain negative thoughts (about ourselves or others), prideful thoughts, jealousy, bitterness, and when we rely too heavily on our emotions.  We recognize these lies by saturating ourselves with the TRUTH of the Word, claiming those precious promises, and then of course, through prayer.  We have so much to cling to when it comes to spiritual warfare!  Just remember, however, that even though a battle may be won, there can still be wounds from the fight--and sometimes the scars may remain until eternity.  But through the tears, through the pain, remember that your God is on your side.  He will never forsake you, and He does not condemn you!  Any condemnation you feel is from the wrong side (Romans 8:1).  God wants you to have the victory, and thankfully, He promises to lead you there.  Now I just feel like screaming "THANK YOU GOD!!!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No Other God, Part II

To pick up from where I left off, I have long been thinking about things or people in my life that I have (without realizing it necessarily) equated with God.  A clue that I have done this is when I start to become too dependent on someone--when I have unrealistic expectations and am devastated when they are not met.  It happens when my happiness depends on where my relationship with that person stands at the moment.  

People disappoint.  Period.  The Lord spoke to me about this a couple of years ago, and after much wrestling (for some reason) I finally realized that He WANTS to be my everything, and for true joy to abide in my life, He MUST be my everything!  Jason is a wonderful man, but he cannot be my everything.  My parents are great people and I love them, but they too will disappoint me.  I would do anything for my kids, but they cannot be my everything.  On the reverse side, if I am ever in a position where someone is too dependent upon me, they too will be in for a rude awakening.  When you place someone you admire or love on a pedestal, think of the unfair pressure that you are placing upon them.  There is only One who will never disappoint--only One who can handle the pressure, and it is only when we realize that and place ourselves wholly in Him that we can find true joy.  When we place our hopes in others before the Lord, that is when we find disappointment, hurt and even a loss of faith at times.  But when our hopes are only in the Lord, then we can have joy even in the midst of pain and disappointment from our fellow humans.  

A great reminder for me is Psalm 73:25-26, "Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  He alone can fulfill our desires and hopes for contentment.  Let Him be your everything!

No Other God, Part I

Oh yeah.  I'm an Olympics junkie.  But before you start thinking that I neglect my family to watch these games, you must know that I am not alone.  Every two years, be it winter or summer, the Liddle family (kids included) is practically glued to the TV for the two weeks of Olympic games.  We LOVE it!!!  So, obviously, just like the rest of the country, we have been very excited to see the success of Michael Phelps this year in China.  It has been amazing and so fun to watch!!

However, the other day I read a comment on the internet that was not so much shocking as it was just plain disturbing.  The comment read (as if written to Phelps) "You are Jesus".  At first I was just really taken aback and actually offended.  How dare someone be so irreverent?  I mean, I think it's awesome that I got to witness Olympic history; I was as excited as anyone!  But to compare him to Jesus?  As I mulled it over, I was just reminded of a sad but simple truth:  many people know who Jesus is and will sometimes even recognize His greatness, but they are very far from knowing Him.  

In Isaiah 45:5, God proclaims "I am the LORD, and there is no other;  Besides Me there is no God".  God will not be equalled.  He is a jealous God.  Please don't get me wrong; there is something so satisfying about watching a fellow human "max out" his God-given potential.  These olympic athletes are fun to watch, and they are even great role-models in many cases.  But sadly, it is too often that they are given an unfair responsibility--one that no human could ever handle.  No one but Jesus.  He actually DID save the world!!  So, with that in mind, I have to say that there is actually alot more that I would like to write about this subject, but I am going to save it for tomorrow.  For now, think about this:  what (or whom) have you placed on a pedestal in your life?  Of course, most of us would not be so blatant about it as the comment I read online, but I wonder if we would be surprised when we look deep within and realize what people or things we are, in a sense, equating with God.  Think about that...part II is coming!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Emily started ballet this week!  She has been so excited about this, and loves wearing her little tutu, tights and shoes.  This is no big surprise, though, and I can totally see her enjoying this.  It's such a change from Ashlyn, who tried one ballet class a couple of years ago and begged-I do mean BEGGED (with tears and all)-me not to take her back.  We didn't go back, and now she is starting her fourth season of soccer.  

Anyway, Emily gets to take the class with two of her best buds, Caroline and Anna Keith.  These girls, along with a few others, have been together in the church nursery and in Sunday School since birth.  They are so funny together, role playing princesses and such.  We (their mothers and I) often wonder how their relationships with each other will unfold as they grow up together.  Although we hope that they will always remain close and support each other, only time will tell.  But for now we will laugh, take pictures and ooh and ah at them as they perform their recital and pretend to be princesses, knowing that to us, that is exactly what they are.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Yep, I had one today.  No, it wasn't a nervous breakdown.  It wasn't an emotional breakdown.  It wasn't even a mental breakdown.  I just got to that point where I had to drop to my knees and surrender it all...again.   

I guess you could call this a confession.

I have been really trying to seek God's direction for our school year, and presently I am very excited about where I feel He is leading us.  However, today as I looked back, I realized something. I realized that God was leading me, and then it was as if we got to a certain point (of my choosing) where I decided to take the reigns myself, bid a friendly farewell and say, "I've got it from here!"  

So today, I confessed my sin of self-sufficiency to Him.  I prayed for encouragement.  I prayed for wisdom.  I prayed for strength.  And you know what?  The Lord has already begun to show Himself faithful.  A dear friend called me at the right time and offered some divine (she doesn't realize it, but I'm sure that it was) encouragement.  The Holy Spirit has comforted me and reminded me that Christ is my rock--on Him alone I stand.  All other ground (including myself) is sinking sand.

So, am I ready to give up homeschooling?  Absolutely not!  Of course there are areas of weakness that I have to work through, since some of my responsibilities do not come naturally to me.  However, there is not a doubt in my mind that this is what our family is supposed to be doing.  Is it time consuming?  Yes.  Is it difficult at times?  Yes.  Does is require sacrifice and discipline?  Yes.  But do I believe that it is the most rewarding job I will ever have in my life?  I say an emphatic YES!!  

To that, I thank Christ, my Rock, for these times of "breakdown", because it is truly a demonstration of His care and concern for me, and above all reminds me that on Him alone can I stand!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The First Day of School

Today was the first official day of our school year here at home.  Today was also my first day ever homeschooling with an 18-month old boy around.  OH MY!!!  Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that it certainly was a challenge.  We tried to start out with piano lessons, but we had to postpone because apparently he wants to learn to play too.  So, we simply switched to our Bible lesson and the day went on.  Ashlyn did a great job, as did Emily.  So, it wasn't terrible, it was just a wee more difficult because Jake is so into everything.  EVERYTHING (note the first picture above).  Yes he climbed up there by himself. See what I mean?  But what would we do without boys, right?  

Anyway, it's just like I tell my piano students...anything worth doing is hard work.  And isn't that true?  So, even though I will continue to face challenges, there is nothing I would trade for this opportunity to educate my kids.  I am so thankful that I get to teach them, while learning things for myself at the same time.  Let's see...what lesson did I learn today?  Teach piano during naptime!!!  :) 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

How Good and Pleasant It Is

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity."
Psalm 133:1

One of Ashlyn and Emily's favorite games to play together is one that they call "Princess and Dog".  Yes, I agree that it sounds odd.  Emily, our little miss priss, is the Princess, so she puts a jump-rope around the waist of Ashlyn, our animal loving vet-wanna-be, while Ash pretends to be the lead dog.  They love this game.  It's funny to me because each one is very happy in their role--they never argue about it.  Emily is always the princess.  Ashlyn is always the dog.  That is that and they love it.

When they were playing the other day, I started thinking (yikes!).  As a mother, almost nothing blesses my heart more than to see my kids playing well together and getting along.  However, along those same lines, almost nothing is more frustrating than those days when they are arguing and complaining to one another.  That really helped me gain a better understanding of how pleased our Father must be when we are striving for peace and sticking together, even in the midst of adversity. Then, how sad He must be when we, His children, argue amongst ourselves and cause divisions.  

This may sound negative, but the Bible says that the enemy is always seeking to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8).  It's just the unfortunate truth. It is so important that we are not ignorant of those schemes, and that we rise above our emotions sometimes for the sake of peace, so that we can be in unity.  That is my prayer for my family as well as my fellow believers.  Let us always keep in mind the words of Jesus in John 13:35, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

He's In Control

Yesterday, I was pushing Ashlyn in the swing, and Jake was running around playing. We were both out of her sight, as I was pushing her from behind.  Worried that he would run into the path of the swing, she kept saying (over and over), "Mom, watch Jake!  Mom, please watch Jake!"  Okay.  I acknowledge that it was sweet of her to look out for her brother. However, in my mind I was thinking about how I really didn't need her to tell me to watch him when she wasn't even looking in our direction.  What I wanted was for her to just enjoy swinging and stop worrying about something that was out of her control at that time.  After all, doesn't she realize that when she was that young, I protected her without her help?   Then it occurred to me how many times we do the same thing to God.   

Remember in Job 38 when God was revealing His omnipotence to Job?  Verse 4 says, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" 

Sometimes we think that God needs us to tell Him what to do or how to do things.  We worry that He is not doing His job well enough.  We don't say it in those words, but if we were honest, I think we'd realize that it really is that way.  Just as I wanted Ashlyn to enjoy herself instead of worrying about something that I was fully capable of doing, there are many times when we skip out on the enjoyment of God's blessings because we are worried that He is not taking care of things the way we'd like.  We want to be in control. So, because I love her, I graciously assured Ashlyn that I would not let Jake get hit by the swing.  Likewise, because He loves me, God repeatedly assures me of His faithfulness. He wants us to rest in His peace.  Philippians 4:6-7: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

He Cares For All

Matthew 18:10 - "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven."

This morning I was seriously convicted by that verse.  I believe and have read that the "little children" part refers to other believers who may be easily thrown off course or may stumble.  The command is that we do not look down on these fellow believers, since, as with all believers, there are angels who are waiting for God's command to come to their aid when needed.  That simply tells me that God is very concerned with all of our lives, so who am I to look down upon or forget about those who may be struggling? 

I noticed that in the verses immediately following, Jesus tells the parable about the lost sheep; about how much He cares for even one that may be stumbling or has fallen away (not from grace, but from the will of God).  The next passage teaches us how to gracefully deal with a stumbling brother in the church for restoration, and the next passage commands (and I do mean commands) us to forgive our brothers and sisters with unending grace, since God has done the same for us.

So, as I was reading this chapter as a whole, I was thinking of a particular situation in my life.  The Lord reminded me in a very powerful way that I am to forgive, love and PRAY PRAY PRAY about my words and actions.  God cares for all of His children very much, and no matter what has happened, He does not desire for anyone to be astray.  Notice that this chapter begins with a lesson from Jesus on humility, as He said that ALL must come to Him as little children.  May we never forget:  we are ALL dependent on His amazing grace, and that grace is never out of reach.

Monday, August 4, 2008

About Our Friends....

It has been a weekend of emotion for me (and alot of other people I know).  Losing a pastor is a terrible loss in and of itself; but we're also losing some of our best friends in Aaron & Kelly.  Okay, so I know they didn't die or anything.  And I know that they feel God calling them elsewhere.  I know we will see them again.  But I still feel a great loss.  We have had some great times with the Hogues, so what can I say?  It's just hard when you have to let go sometimes.  From vacationing together to being prayer partners to just having pizza together on a Sunday night, we have just been really close and we love them so much.  

The other morning Aaron was saying how difficult it can be to balance the enjoyment of life with the sacrificial living we are called to do.  We agreed and concluded that the balance comes when your joy is found ONLY in the Lord.  We have not been put on this earth merely for our own enjoyment and pleasure.  We are here to glorify the Most High and build His kingdom.  When you find your joy in Him alone, then you can find peace and enjoyment in circumstances that may not have been your first choice otherwise.  God has been speaking to me about the temporal nature of this world for several years now, so it is clear to me that this world is not our home, and that one day all of these people who have been separated on earth, doing the Lord's work, will have a big reunion...forever!  Okay, now I really am starting to talk like they're dead.  I'll stop with that.  I'm just going to miss them! 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Love My Mom & Dad

I'm tired. I haven't had much time to write the past couple of days, as I have been doing things that are very productive, but don't allow any time to sit at my computer. Yesterday I picked green beans and broke them with my precious grandparents. Mom and I were going to can the beans, but we ran out of time yesterday due to a Beth Moore weekend simulcast event that we were attending at church.

After a few miracles (the satellite wasn't working) we were actually able to view the event and it was really good. But today was even better.

God has been speaking to me about my laziness of spending good quality study time in the Word. Really, the only time I can do it is in the mornings, because every other--and I do mean EVERY OTHER MOMENT of my day is filled. Yes, I do have some down time where I can sit and write sometimes, but for the study of God's Word and good personal time with God I need to be free of distraction. The mornings offer that for me. However, lately, I have just been pulling the covers over my head. Not that it is bad for everyone, but for me, when I feel God urging me to get up and I do that, I believe it is wrong when I refuse. So, I was reminded this weekend of how I HAVE TO BE deeply in the Word if I want to grow and fulfill God's purpose for my life. I needed that. Pray for me that I can get up early now!!!!!!

At the end of the simulcast, we were supposed to look at the person next to us and give some specific words of encouragement, given by Beth Moore. Mom was my partner, and I got so emotional, because I knew that she REALLY meant them for me. Mom has always been one of my biggest fans and has done NOTHING in my life except for encourage me to walk in the ways of God. I used to get mad at her for always bringing out the "spiritual" part of every situation, but oh, how I am thankful now!!! So today, we got the opportunity to can those green beans, and in the process (the very long process) I continued to build on the already firm relationship that I have with my mom. And, I can't forget my awesome Dad, who would do ANYTHING in the world for me. In fact, he watched all three of the young 'uns today so that I could go to the simulcast. AND, he cleaned my house!!! Sometimes I wonder why I have been so blessed. Thank you LORD!!