Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Honor

I love Christmas! Even though it is technically over, the season is still in full swing for me. I usually wait until we are a few days into the new year before I start taking down my decorations. We are having a great time with all of the family being together this week. The cousins are having a blast together!

On Christmas Day, get together with both my mom and dad's side of the family. This year, on my mom's side, was the first time we had celebrated Christmas without my Mamaw.

This family has been through quite a bit over the passed two years. My Uncle Clint suffered a stroke in January 2008, and then finished the race in November of the same year. In early 2009, my Mamaw started getting worse as a result of lung cancer and COPD, and finished her race in June. But it's the in between times that have impacted me as well.

In the Bible, when we read about God's command to honor our parents, many times we automatically think first about children being obedient, but it goes way beyond that, doesn't it? My mom, aunts and uncles (pictured above, minus one) have been wonderful examples of what it means to honor their parents. I watched as my mother and her siblings spent countless hours tending to Mamaw. Feeding her, giving her medicine, rubbing her feet, reading to her, loving on her........honoring her. They were with her when she drew her final breath, and they continue to honor her and my Papaw today by the way they communicate, get along and show great love for one another.

I say this because as a mother, one of my prayers is that my children will always have love for one another, even after I'm gone. I have heard of families who divide over inheritance and other such issues after the parents have passed away. To me, continuing to love and respect each other, even after both parents are gone is a wonderful way of showing honor to them.

So, thank you to my mom and dad, and my aunts and uncles for providing this wonderful example of love and honor. I pray this kind of blessing over my family as well, believing that God will honor that.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Week at the Liddles

Merry Christmas!!!

We had a good week here at the Liddle home, starting with the "big snow" we had last weekend! It may have only been a few inches, but it was at least big enough to go sledding and also to make a huge snowman! Jacob and Emily also helped, even though they aren't pictured. Sadly, this snowman didn't last long. He fell forward that night and Ashlyn discovered that his nose had come out the back of his head. :(


On Christmas Eve, we made red velvet cupcakes and I let the kids put icing and sprinkles on them. They each had their own pan of cupcakes and their own portion of icing. Jacob took advantage of this, because most every time I looked over to see how things were going, I caught him sneaking and eating the icing. I let him get by with it most of the time--it's Christmas, right?

Emily's Christmas wish came true this morning when she opened up "Josephina", the American Girl doll that she has talked about for months. So, today at our family dinner, I happened to see her, along with Ashlyn, trying to teach Josephina to walk. I was glad that I had my camera in hand! In the picture, Emily is saying, "Come on, you can do it!!" And Ashlyn walked her over to Emily and then they both hugged her and cheered. HA!
Probably the greatest highlight for me this week was that this was little Evan's first Christmas. Even though he had no clue about the gifts or stockings or turkey or candy, it's always so special having a new one around on Christmas. It's a wonderful reminder of God's gift of life and the miracle of salvation through the birth of a baby many years ago.

So, another Christmas Day has come and (almost) gone, and it was a great one. As I think back on the day's (and the week's) events, and look forward to this coming week when we will celebrate with Jason's family and my brother and sister and their families, I thank God for all the blessings in my life, especially the blessing of His Son, who came to earth so long ago, to save a wretch like me. Thank You Lord!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Stand Corrected....

This is regarding my previous post where I wrote about Ashlyn's journal entry on the real meaning of Christmas.

Today she made sure that I knew that the two people--the "mourners" as I called them--were not just any two people. They were Mary and Joseph. She pointed out (and I could see it as I looked closely) that she had drawn tears in their eyes.

Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus in one drawing. Mary and Joseph watching their baby die for all of mankind in the next. All of the meaning that is encompassed in that when you really stop to think about it gave me chills, and I could not help but share it.

What Christmas is All About


This past Wednesday, one of Ashlyn's school assignments was to write in her journal about what Christmas is all about. This is what she wrote:

Do you know what moves me the most about this? It's the fact that she (without any prompting from me) clearly makes the connection of the cradle to the cross. I mean, she actually drew a manger scene in the corner (you can't see it that well on the scan, but it's there) but the main drawing is that of Jesus hanging on a cross, with the crosses of the thieves and even mourners standing beside.

Please understand that I'm not bragging on Ashlyn as much as I am praising God for working in my child's life to where she is making the connection that Christmas is really about our Savior--our Redeemer.

Every year I wrestle with the worldly view of Christmas--how to handle Santa, presents, and all of the things that have the potential to distract from the true meaning of Christmas. We have never taken drastic measures against those areas (i.e. we still buy gifts and we still leave cookies and milk on the fireplace), but we don't really push it either (well, we might tend to sometimes go a little bit overboard on the gifts). Still, we try to be intentional about teaching Jesus as the true meaning of Christmas and then pray that God will continue to work in their hearts (and ours) about how the Christmas story is really about our redemption from sin.

I think she covered it pretty well, don't you?

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Favorite 5-year Old




Emily turned 5 yesterday!

We celebrated by having a party/sleepover for her little friends, and it was fun! I did spend all day Saturday cleaning while Emily pretty much just laid around in her pj's the whole time (because, as she said, it was a "hard party"). Yeah, she was pretty tired!

Emily is such a sensitive soul. You know, like when she is about to get in trouble, all I really have to do is just give her a look. To raise my voice at her is never necessary, and when I have done that, it tears her up! She is our little drama queen, which can sometimes be really funny, but sometimes drive me crazy!!! She's a very funny child, and has a very silly, imaginative sense of humor. She is so much fun to be around (and really just to watch when she doesn't know you're looking)!

You know, I had a miscarriage two months before I got pregnant with Emily. I was so saddened by that, and I certainly look forward to seeing that child one day. But God can bring good from any situation, and I believe that Emily is the good that came from that. I can't imagine my life, or our family, without her! She is truly a light, and is a very insightful, loving child.

Happy Birthday sweet Emily!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When Doubts Arise...



I remember back a few years ago when we first decided to homeschool. Ashlyn was in preschool and we went back and forth on what to do for her upcoming kindergarten year. I remember Jason and I spending lots of time talking, thinking and praying about how we should approach our children's education. We then decided that we felt led in the area of homeschooling.

It's been a great journey so far! However, it's also been a journey laden with questions, doubt, and trial and error. Sometimes I find myself asking such questions as "Am I ruining my children?" or "Do my kids have too much of me?" I sometimes grow fearful that I am holding them back or that I am depriving them of things that they need. There are days when I feel overwhelmed, trying to meets the needs of my very needy small children, while at the same time trying to make sure Ashlyn is getting in all the learning she needs too. It is during these times that I seem to forget the benefits of homeschooling and all the reasons we chose to do it in the first place.

But even though I know that those thoughts are from the enemy, I still have them, and it seems like sometimes it can be a battle. Jason and I both are secure in our decision to educate our kids at home, and when doubts arise, there is usually only one thing that helps me overcome them. Well, maybe two things.

One is the encouragement I get from other moms who are in the same boat as me. I am so appreciative of people at church or at co-op who encourage me and let me know that they've been (or they are) where I am. That kind of support is invaluable to me!!!

The other thing (and probably the greatest thing) is prayer, and claiming the promises that God gives pertaining to wisdom. I pray all the time that God would turn the hearts of my children toward Him, and that He would work in their lives even when I mess up. I pray all the time for wisdom, whether it be for disciplinary issues or simply how to manage it all. Proverbs 8:17 says of wisdom, "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me." I have to believe that! And then in James, God promises that "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." Sometimes those are the words that get me through the day!

I love being with my kids, and I'm thankful that our family has been led in the direction of homeschooling. I just sometimes wish that I could see the big picture so that I can know for sure that things will turn out right. But, then, I guess if I could do that, I wouldn't need faith, right? My faith is what reminds me that He sees the big picture, and when doubts arise, trusting in His wisdom to lead me is the one thing that I can count on for certain.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pretty in Pink


I wanted to get a picture of Jacob wearing this pink snowsuit that belonged to Ashlyn (and then Emily). He was so embarrassed that he wouldn't even look at the camera!! He even asked me afterward, "Mommy, please don't take any more pictures!"

Unfortunately, I didn't get to get a picture of the lavender snow boots he wore (he tried to refuse, but I told him he couldn't play in the snow if he didn't wear them--hey, they fit him and no one was going to see him!!)

Oh, the price of having older sisters!! :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The True Beauty of Kindness

First of all, to those of you who have said a prayer for our family during this week of illness...thank you!! We are gradually getting better, although Emily and Jason are still feeling quite icky. Hopefully we will all be well soon!!

Second of all, I would like to mention that while I still have a great desire to keep up with this blog, I have been struggling with the issue of time. However, I hope that you will keep checking, because I plan to keep writing! And in that same vein, I want to thank so many of you for your comments...I love to hear your thoughts and comments!!
I want to continue on with thoughts on the Fruit of the Spirit. I was thinking about kindness and goodness this morning. Kindness is a beautiful thing, isn't it? But as I was thinking about that, I also wondered if sometimes kindness is not always exactly what it seems.

I'm not trying to be cynical--motive is what I'm talking about. If I'm truly honest with myself, can I really say that all of my acts of kindness to others are solely for their benefit? Are there some things that I do, albeit good things, which are done simply to make me feel better about myself or to make me look good in front of others? When I reach out to those in need, is it always because I truly care for them, or is it sometimes out of obligation?

You may wonder why this matters, since good is being done no matter what. Certainly this is true, and the outward benefit to the recipient usually remains the same. What is different, however, is the inward (and eternal) benefit to us. Consider 1 Corinthians 3:12-15:

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

God sees beyond our outward deeds, doesn't He? He sees the intentions of our hearts. According to this Scripture, our deeds will be tested by fire, and those which are done for eternal good and for the building up of His kingdom will stand. All else will be burned up. I personally believe that this goes for our motives as well, for even when we do good, God would rather it stem from a heart that desires to please Him, not to uplift ourselves.

The Christmas season always presents many opportunities to exhibit kindness and to share goodness with others. This year, evaluate your motives for what you do regarding kindness. Is it self-serving? Or is it out of a genuine concern for those whom you serve? I want my good deeds to count for something not only on earth, but for eternity as well. God will surely multiply the effects of those deeds which are done for His glory alone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Day

It's quiet now. It's 10:37 pm and I can only hear the soothing bubbling of the aquarium, and every now and then the heat pump when it kicks on.

It's been a bit of a rough day, today. Two, possibly three, possibly four of my kids have the flu. My husband has the flu. I might have the flu. I feel okay, but I'm not counting myself out yet.

I'm not writing this to invoke sympathy. I'm just writing because I finally have a moment to sit down and write, and this is what's going on right now!

I want to thank Jesus for helping us through this day!



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Got Patience?

Wow.

I'm really having difficulty finding the time to keep up with this thing.

Maybe it's part poor time management and part just sooooo much to do!!! Maybe I'll get it all figured out one day...but I doubt it!

Still, life is grand, ain't it? I mean, seriously, on the night that I was going to write about "patience", I totally lost it with the kids!!! Jason was gone for the weekend, and we'd had a pretty "good" day (especially when you consider that we all went grocery shopping in a very busy Wal-Mart...which is a hateful experience even when I'm by myself).

So, that night, the kids were being hyper-maniacs. I was trying to get them settled for bed, when BAM!!! I heard a bedroom door slam. That usually is enough, all by itself, to get me fired up, because I have this thing about people slamming doors. Anyway, what made it worse this time is that just as it was being slammed, I happened to look that way just in time to see Jacob barely getting his hand out of way.

I lost it.

I think I scared the kids to death, because they had nowhere to go. Daddy wasn't home. Mimi and Poppy were gone. It was just Mommy and her blaring vocal chords, spewing accusations and threats.

I didn't hit them, or cause them physical harm in any way, but it was the type of rant that made me want to go to my room and cry when I was finished. I'm pretty sure I did.

I also apologized to the kids later, and of course they were, as kids always are, very forgiving.

I'm so thankful that God's forbearance is much greater than mine. He is so patient with me. I mess up over and over again. I play hostess to spiritual pride, self-pity and bitterness. I am prone to wander away from what I know is the truth. I am at times ungrateful and selfish. I am worthy of nothing that I have.

Still, He is patient with me when I complain to Him. He gently reveals to me my misguided behavior and persistently shows me the correction I need.

I really want to be the kind of mother to my kids that my Father is to me!! I'm a work in progress, I know, and I'm glad that He sees me through the blood of His Son.

When I think of the love I have for my kids, even when their behavior is at its worst, I know that I'm just starting to scratch the surface of the love that my Father has for me.

Psalm 103:8-9, 13-14

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness
He will not always strive with us
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
Just as a father has compassion on his children
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him
For He Himself knows our frame
He is mindful that we are but dust.

Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fruit of the Day--Joy

Joy.

This picture brings me joy.


Being with my family brings me joy.

My friends bring me joy.

My husband brings me joy.

The fact that Jacob has gone three days with no "accidents" brings me joy.

I felt joy when Ashlyn encouraged me to do my morning Bible study again today.

I felt joy when she wanted to sit next to me with her Bible too!

I felt joy when Emily told me she wanted to be a rock star who worships God. :)

But, if all of those things were taken away, would I still have joy? I believe that many times we confuse true joy with mere happiness. So, what is the difference?

Happiness exists when something good happens, or when life is going well. When a person has true joy, it exists even when things are not always good. There is only one place from where true joy comes, and that is from the Giver of all good things: God.

When I realize that He is my true source of joy, I can feel it even when things aren't going all that great. I sometimes have to intentionally plug into that resource, lest I become overwhelmed by the uncertainty of my circumstances, but His abundant flow is available to me at all times. The enemy would like nothing better than to steal away our joy, especially during times when we are vulnerable, like when we are going through a difficult time. But God's Word is full of promises, including several on joy.

Jesus said in John 16:22, "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." We can believe that when we find our joy in a relationship with Him, our suffering on this earth will one day be turned to everlasting joy.

Real joy is deeper than happiness. Happiness can fade, but true joy will last. And when we walk in the Spirit instead of our flesh, divine joy will be evident in our lives and others will hopefully be drawn to Jesus as a result.

I dare say that everyone experiences happiness to some degree, but only those who know the hope of Christ ever experience true joy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You Veterans!

In honor of Veteran's Day, the kids sang this song at a senior adult luncheon. I just couldn't resist sharing it!!

The girls were very nervous, but I was proud of them for getting up there! Make sure to notice how Jake NEVER misses the word "up" in the chorus.

To all of the veterans out there...thank you!!!!!!

Hope you enjoy the video...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fruit of the Day--Love


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

We have a thing at our house called the Fruit of the Day, and it has nothing to do with apples and bananas.

A couple of years ago I started this with the kids in an attempt to teach them about the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. It caught on very well, and the kids really enjoy it. For instance, if the fruit of the day is love, then we try to be aware all day of showing love to one another. The next day the fruit of the day would be joy, and we try to think of ways that we can bring joy or feel joy even in difficult circumstances. It's a great way to become aware of what it means to let God's Spirit rule our lives. Over the past few months we have gotten away from doing this every day, but lately it has resurfaced and I have started to be intentional with it again.

So, as I was thinking about it, I thought I might do a few posts on the passage in Galatians 5, starting, of course, with love!

So, what does it mean to love others God's way? If you're like me, then sometimes you choose to conveniently ignore some of the most basic Biblical principles about love. Here's an example: say you have been hurt by someone and have a legitimate right to be angry. It's easy enough for you to just forget about trying to mend the relationship, and you may feel like that's okay because you have been wounded and have a right to hold a grudge. You are the victim, right?

But consider Jesus' words, found in Luke 6:32: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." And verse 35, "But love your enemies, and do good...and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." Loving in God's way means loving even those who have shown no love to us. It means loving, even when there is no return.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:9 to "Let love be without hypocrisy." That means that we must love for the right reasons, not for self-centered reasons. The only way that we can accomplish this is by daily denying ourselves and LOVING the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, because when we truly do that, then we relinquish our RIGHTS to His power, and then He enables us to love even those who seem unlovable to us. Make sense?

We also need not forget that Jesus said to not only love Him wholeheartedly, but to love others as we love ourselves. He didn't suggest this as a way to live, He hailed it as the greatest of all commandments. We must love the way He wants us to love, and that includes the ultimate display of love--forgiveness.

I really struggle with this in a couple of areas of my life. It's extremely difficult sometimes to show love in the way God commands. But, if I truly want to live by the Spirit (and not my flesh), I have to learn to give up my "rights" and love Him with my whole being. I trust Him enough to know that when I do that, His love will infiltrate my life and spill over to others as well. It is not easy to let go, is it? But I have found that taking it one choice at a time, and praying for His strength seems to make it much less daunting.

Never forget that when we choose to follow His ways, He promises to hold our hand and give us the strength we need. The next time you are faced with a choice to either harbor a grudge or let go and love, choose the way that He commands. You will find freedom, release, and your life will beautifully exhibit the fruit of living by God's Spirit.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A "Public" Thank You



Disclaimer: I normally would never ever ever ever choose to post a picture of myself in a hospital gown more than once, except this was the only picture that I had of myself with Dad and Evan. :)

I am finally feeling well after a very rough week of "healing". To make a long story very short, I now know that I am severely allergic to a particular adhesive which was used on me before I left the hospital. In short, it was pretty miserable for several days there, but I am much better now. I feel like I'm sort of getting back into life again, which basically means that I am able to move around and do such glamorous tasks such as go to Wal-Mart, wash dishes, teach school and clean house. It's ironic to me that doing those things now actually makes me feel better. I guess I thrive on some sort of normalcy (whatever that is for me now). :)

However, as difficult as those few days were, it would have been a lot harder if it hadn't been for the great help that I had.

Of course, Jason is always a wonderful help and very supportive.

And we are so thankful for the wonderful meals that have been prepared for us by several friends and family members.

But, I wanted to "publicly" thank my Mom and Dad for all they have done for me over the last two or three weeks. From watching the kids while we were at the hospital, to cleaning my house while I sat and held my newborn, my parents have been invaluable to me. Jake has bonded with Poppy (my dad), while Mom has driven me to my unplanned doctor's appointments and spent many hours at my house folding my laundry, washing my dishes and taking care of my other three kids while Jason was working. This allowed me to rest and heal and spend time with Evan, knowing that we were all in good hands.

Several mornings, Mom came down to the house very early to fix breakfast for the family, just so I could sleep. And all of this is on top of the already great things they have done for me in the past, like teaching me the value of loving and living for Christ, just to name one.

When I thanked my Mom the other day for all the support and help, she replied to me, "That's what parents do, Amy. They take care of their children."

I would only add one word to that statement: that's what good parents do.

I thank God for my very good parents.

And to you, Mom and Dad, I also say "thanks"-- for what you do for me and my family, and for teaching me how to be a good parent. I love you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We're Gonna Keep Him

This was the scene this morning in our room. No, it isn't like this every night. Most of the time it's either no kids or one kid who ends up snoozing between us. But lately, everyone wants to be where Evan is--and for now that is in our room.

He is a popular little fellow, that Evan. At the hospital, Jake didn't care about having anything to do with him. But since we've been home, he has tenderly shown his love by taking time out from playing to come and stroke him on the head or give him a little kiss. He even asks to hold him now! I love to ask Jake what the baby's name is, because he can never remember. He always gets this thoughtful look on his face as he works hard to come up with the right name. I always have to then say, "Eh..." and then he shouts, "Evan!!" But, of course, as is obvious from the picture, he has much love for his little brother.
The girls love taking turns holding him, and Emily was singing him to sleep the other night. They are such big helpers, fetching diapers, holding him and being loving to him. I'm so thankful that everyone is taking to him so well.
As for me, I literally have my hands full, because when I have a newborn, I hold them all the time. Well, obviously, I let my family hold him some, and occasionally I'll put him down to accomplish such tasks as showering or brushing my teeth. :) So, I guess it's not all the time, but they are like this for such little time that I want to relish every moment and hold him in my arms before he gets big enough to start squirming around.

Some people believe that this can spoil a baby, making him want to be held all the time. My belief is that a newborn cannot be spoiled (and that has been my experience), for they grow so quickly and the time passes so fast.

So, the Liddles are doing well, enjoying the first days of the Evan's life, and taking in God's blessings. Now, I gotta go get Evan...he's been in the swing long enough. :)


Saturday, October 24, 2009

True Love



~C. S. Lewis

I could have decided that my heart was too valuable. That it wasn't worth the risk. But because I didn't make that choice, my heart is wide open. Wide open for pain. Wide open to yearn. Wide open to be broken.

But more than that....

it's wide open for joy. Wide open for happiness. Wide open to love and be loved.

It's sometimes a scary thing to look at my children, or to watch my newborn, so helpless and dependent, and realize the depth of love that I have in my heart. It's scary because I know that it makes me vulnerable to the worst kind of pain. To love, is indeed, to give your heart away. But the joy in the journey far outweighs the pain of a loveless life.

To be in a place of feeling and vulnerablility is far better than the callous, cold "safety" of a guarded heart that refuses to love.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Welcome Little Evan!




Mimi and Evan
Jake was more interested in his new helicopter I think!!


I don't deserve this. I really don't. As my doctor was stitching me up today, I couldn't help but ponder the blessings of the Lord upon my life, and I was overwhelmed with the sense of His love and goodness, especially knowing how faithless I am sometimes.

Oh, did I mention we have a BOY?????!!!!! We have never found out the gender of our babies ahead of time, and usually we have a pretty even number of girl/boy guesses. But this time, I don't think that even one person guessed a girl! Everyone was right!

The surgery went so well. I'm sorry if this is too much information for some of you, but I'm going to share it anyway, because it is a testimony of God's protection over us! When my doctor made the first incision, she called Jason around so he could see what she was seeing. My uterus was so thin that the baby's hand could been seen through it. Amazing! That's why she had recommended an early delivery, and I know that God was in it. The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, which, obviously, can cause major problems. But not today. Praise the Lord!!

In addition, I think that this is the best I've ever felt after any surgery. I'm humbled and amazed, and that doesn't even begin to describe my feelings as I look at my newborn child.

Evan Michael Liddle is clearly one of the most beautiful babies in the world. No, I am not biased in the least. He really is. He is perfect in every way.

I keep asking myself, "What have I done to deserve this?" And I know in my heart that the answer is...absolutely nothing. I accept it as a blessing from God, and I can only say that I am so thankful. Words cannot describe.

Also, to the many of you who prayed for us and sent words of encouragement, you will never know what it meant to me as I was facing this day. Thank you!

It's hard to put into words all that I am feeling, so I will end with this verse today...

Every good thing given and every perfect gift
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
with who there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:17

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Real Peace of Mind


Okay, so this was a picture of me yesterday morning, before we headed to the hospital.

I was really dreading the amniocentesis, but as it turned out, it was no big deal! It really felt no different than when I've had my blood drawn. I did have some pain afterward, but that has since subsided.

We had to wait four hours for the results of the fetal lung maturity test...it seemed like an eternity! And then, when it came back that the lungs were too immature for delivery, my initial disappointment was almost overwhelming. However, it didn't take me long to get over it and be thankful that our baby appears to be healthy and is scheduled for delivery Monday at noon.

Something the Lord has shown me through this, though, is how much I need Him and how little I trust Him sometimes. The night before last, I worried a lot. My thoughts were nearly out of control. Fears about the amnio, the surgery, the safety of my other three children, the baby's health....I could go on. I know. It sounds ridiculous. I was subjecting myself to a sort of mental torture, brought on by entertaining (instead of dismissing) thoughts of fear and anxiety. It nearly paralyzed me.

Isn't it amazing how easily we trust our own fears instead of the One who promises to cast them out with His love?

It reminds me of Peter, walking toward Jesus on the water, when all of a sudden he realized that he was....walking on the water! It's easy to encourage others and give advice, but when it comes to living it out, it is a difficult task. I found myself praying Philippians 4:6-7 about every 15 minutes. I quoted it in my last post, but I love the translation of verse 7 in my daughter's Bible. It says, "And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Peace which surpasses every thought....will guard my mind.

Oh, how I need His peace to guard my mind! I can't explain to you how much this Scripture has ministered to me over the last few days. I see my constant need to give everything to Him, including (and sometimes especially) my mind. Worry is so horrible, because while He promises strength during trials, He simply commands us not to worry. But even when my faith lacks so much, my loving God is willing to give me peace. He is willing, in spite of my weakness, to calm my spirit and remind me of His perfect love, which really does cast out fear.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Perfect Peace


Last week was a crazy busy week at our house. I spent lots of time getting out baby supplies and cleaning and organizing in preparation for the new arrival. Toward the end of the week, we had a visit from Ann, my good friend whom I hadn't seen in years! We had a great time catching up and reminiscing about old times. Then, over the weekend, we went on a camping trip (within an hour of the hospital of course!), and had a lot of fun, even though it was rainy the first night and really cold the second night. We had a heater and lots of blankets though, so we were toasty warm during the night.

I didn't have a picture of us camping, so I posted one of Jake as he helped clean the van after we got home, since he had kind of a hard time on our trip. Yesterday, after he'd spilled hot chocolate on his face (thankfully it was more on the warm side), he fell from the top of a six foot slide onto the ground. His fall was head first, but he landed on his back. It scared him, but he wasn't hurt a bit. We thanked his good friend Jesus for watching over him and protecting him, since a fall like that could have been a lot worse!! (By the way, that spot on his forehead is not a bruise, it's chocolate ice cream.)

Now, though, we are home, unpacked and looking forward to another busy week. The big delivery is scheduled for Wednesday, and while I am very excited, I also have a bit of anxiety. It's nothing crippling, just thoughts about how everything will go, and worries about things that could go wrong. Sometimes my mind is my worst enemy!!

But contrary to the way I used to be, I'm usually not that much of a worrier. There are just so many unknowns to me this time, and I have found myself becoming more and more anxious. So this morning, I laid it all out before the Father. I was comforted, first of all, by Romans 8:39, that there is nothing that can separate me from the love of my Father. It helped me to remember that even through all of my fears and worries, He loves me so much, and nothing can change that.

I also found comfort in the fact that He is so faithful, even when I am lacking faith, or at least having a hard time trusting. I know that He is trustworthy, and that no matter what happens in my life, He is totally in control. I find such great strength in being able to believe that promise without a doubt, keeping in mind the truth of Isaiah 26:3, "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You." God really does bring such peace when I lay my anxieties before Him, and I thank Him for promises such as these.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made know to God.
And the peace of God,
which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Creative!


I had to have a talk with my girls today,
after which Emily started to tear up a little.
This was the exchange that took place next:


Ashlyn: Emily, are you crying?

Emily: No, my eyes are sweating!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Desert


Have you ever felt like the Lord was being silent?

Every day (well, MOST every day), I get up, open the Word and pray for God to reveal His truth. There have been days when I felt like I was going to burst. God has taught me some wonderful things during our time together. But lately, I get up, open the Word, pray for God's truth to be revealed, and yet He seems so...silent.

It's not really that I'm not learning anything, it just seems that I'm not hearing things like I want to. I haven't had one of those "WOW!" moments lately. It's almost like I'm in a desert, which seems extraordinarily dry when you've been through the rivers too.

But, to use the title of an old Margaret Becker song, I can truly say "The Hunger Stays".

No matter what kind of phase I seem to be in, there is always a hunger for the truth. I know that God is there, even when I can't necessarily feel Him. Sometimes I wonder why God allows these times. Why does He make Himself obvious at times, and then at others He just seems so far away?

I have to believe that it's for our own good. It's like a type of workout for our faith in Him, because if it were all easy, all the time, then how would our faith grow?

Trials don't always come in the form of pain and suffering. A trial can actually be like an examination--an assessment. So when God seems "silent", He really isn't. He is just as present as always, doing what is best for us by helping us build our belief and faith in Him.

During these times, it can, at times, be harder to stay awake while reading in the mornings. And it's sometimes more difficult to be motivated to get up early (unless you are nine months pregnant and you wake up a lot anyway...hee hee). But I know that He is there. I know that my time spent alone with God is invaluable. I know that there will be more rivers. And I know that He is there, even in the desert.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Scary Stuff

Not too long ago, I was upstairs having school with the girls, when I heard Jacob, who was playing downstairs, scream a most horrible scream.

It was the kind of scream that prompted me to run straight to him because I recognized the fear in his voice.

I got to the top of the steps and could see him standing near the front door, his blanket up to his face, frozen with fear. Amidst the crying, he kept saying, "That 'care me! That 'care me!" I couldn't imagine what he'd seen!

I was a little nervous, because I thought that maybe he'd seen someone out the front door or something like that. I picked him up and tried to comfort him, cautiously peeking out the front door. Then he pointed to the window in the next room. I said, "Jacob, what scared you?"

He pointed out the window to my flower pot on the porch and said, "That!"

Pretty scary, huh? He still talks about it now, though he isn't afraid anymore. I think I'll just leave it there as a Halloween decoration, right next to the Jack-o-Lanterns.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wide-Eyed

I'm convinced that it's God's way of preparing me for all the sleep I'm not going to be getting for the next few weeks (or months).

It seems that towards the end of all my pregnancies, I wake up around 3-4:00 am--WIDE awake. I typically get up early, but most of the time it isn't until around 5:30 or 6:00, since, in our household, no one usually rouses until 7:30-ish (for now).

However, I try to look at the bright side and realize that I'm getting at least 2 or 3 hours of uninterrupted time! I do take advantage of this, because even though I'm not getting much sleep, at least now I can decide what to do with my extra time in the mornings. When the little one comes, that will pretty much be decided for me!

Speaking of the little one, if all goes as planned, he or she will be here two weeks from today!!! The girls have made a pink and blue paper chain in their room and tear off a piece each night. Jacob has a fascination with peeking at my "big bewee" (belly), and Emily goes to the "hospital" to have a child nearly every day. We are all excited!

Wow, God is so gracious and I'm thankful for His blessings. These quiet moments are precious to me amidst the constant flurry of activity that comes with having small children at home. God is faithful to fill my soul and give me encouragement to face the day. And even though I have (and will have) many extra-tired moments throughout the day, He always gives strength and stamina when I need it most.

I hope you find encouragement in this Psalm today as I have:

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Psalm 34:1-8

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twelve Years and Counting!!


Twelve years ago on this day I made a promise that would change my life.

I promised to stay committed. I promised to love. I promised to forgive.

Twelve years ago on this day I married Jason!

You know, in some ways it seems like just yesterday, but it's so natural, and so much has happened in our lives, that sometimes it seems like a long time. I am SO thankful to have a husband who not only loves me, but also loves God and loves our children. Jason is such a great dad; I love watching him with the kids, and obviously they adore him.

I think marriage is one of many ways that God chooses to form our character. I know that Jason and I both have grown so much, in so many ways. When you're married, you learn about selflessness. You learn about forgiveness. You learn about respect. It teaches you to be vulnerable.

Of course, anybody can choose to NOT learn about any of these things. I mean, technically, a person can be married yet choose to live the way they want. But God calls us to something greater--and the rewards He promises are unimaginable!

I would be the first person to tell you that it's hard (well, Jason might beat me to it), and that our marriage isn't perfect. But, we both know that God blesses when we obey Him by keeping our commitment to each other. We trust that He will keep HIS promise to reward obedience.

I could go on and on about this, because I know that the enemy has a great desire to destroy one of the greatest institutions that God created: marriage/family. It helps us to remember that truth when we feel like giving up. It helps when we remember that it actually isn't the two of us against each other, but in fact, it's two of us plus One against a very vicious enemy. When we remember that truth, then we are better able to combat the lies in a way that actually produces more strength for our marriage.

I don't have it all figured out. But I know that I am grateful for my marriage, for my husband, and for the patience that God demonstrates to both of us time and time again. The more we depend upon Him, the more love He gives us for each other.

I hope that this Scripture will encourage you as much as it has Jason and me in the journey of marriage:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able
to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:11-12

I LOVE being married, but I'm so thankful that God doesn't leave us to go at it alone! We acknowledge our need for Him and pray that He will continue to bless!