Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Too Much of Myself

Well, today I have confession.  Lately I've kind of gotten stuck in this rut of comparison.  It's nothing unfamiliar--I've been here many times before.  And it's funny how it never gets to be any more fun than the time before.  It starts with a little comparison here, a little envy there, and before I know it I'm in a downward spiral that leaves me completely empty and miserable.  

I realize I'm at my end when I start to feel down on myself and weary.  Then the all-out-no-doubt-about-it-cardinal-sign-of-the-end-of-my-rope appears--that ugly beast....self-pity.  I start to think about how much better off I'd be if this.  And if only I could do that.  And then I label myself a complete and utter failure before God and man.  Ughhhh.

You're probably thinking that this happens over the course of a long period of time.  But this go 'round it seemed to happen overnight.  Literally.  I don't know what triggered it.  Maybe something dramatic?  Not that I remember.  Maybe someone did something really mean to me?  Not that either.  I'll tell you where it started.  My thoughts.  And little episodes like this are poignant reminders of my need for God to control my thoughts as well as my actions.  

I confessed my self-absorption and self-pity and just plain selfishness to my Father today, because it doesn't take long to realize what a barrier "self" can be to my walk with Christ and my work for Him.  I confessed it because I want to be in good fellowship with Him, not living according to my flesh.  And what I realized (again), is that at the end of the day (and in the morning, and in the afternoon, and every time in between), it really comes down to who I am before God alone.  It is He alone to whom I answer.  And it is He alone for whom I live.

Field Trip!

We had the opportunity to take Ashlyn skiing for the first time the other day.  It was homeschool day at Paoli, so we, along with many other homeschoolers, had a great day skiing and/or snowboarding.  There were lots of instructors there for first-timers, but Ashlyn had a really good private teacher--her daddy.

She had so much fun that she did not want to come home.  By the end of the day, she and her friend Victoria were riding the lifts and skiing the slopes together, without us!  It was a great time!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Taming the Tongue

I was talking to a friend the other day (she has a newborn), about the joys of being a new mom.  We laughed when we started discussing how much laundry just one little person can create!  I think we both agreed that the job at least doubles, what with all the clothes and cloths that get soiled as a result of an upset tummy or those infamous newborn diapers.

You know, the Bible speaks of a very small part of our body that has the potential to create much more serious problems than additional laundry.  Can you guess what it is?  That's right, our tongue.  I was introducing Ashlyn to some of the Bible verses on the tongue the other day, and she was quick to point out that our tongue was very important and started trying to talk without using it.  We laughed about that, but truly, it seems like sometimes we would be better off without it, doesn't it?

Nearly all of James 3 is dedicated to explaining the dangers of this small but destructive muscle inside our mouths.  In fact, verse 8 calls it "a restless evil and full of deadly poison."  James describes the tongue as a bit inside a horse's mouth or a rudder of a ship.  He is referring to the power that the tongue has over a person's influence and how controlling it can be.  According to John MacArthur, James' epistle consistently stresses "that a person's speech provides the most revealing glimpse of his spiritual condition."  That's a heavy statement, but then you can't really deny what the Bible says about this subject.  James 1:26 is just one example, "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless."  

So how do you tame this "restless evil"?  We can't.  The Bible is clear that only God can tame the tongue.  It goes back to Jesus' commandment to love God with our whole heart and to love each other.  Love, as well as self control, is listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (Galatians 5:22).  It is a result of loving God with all of our hearts and minds and loving others the way He desires.  It is a result of letting the Holy Spirit be in charge of our words instead of our own inclinations.  When we do that, then our tongue can be used for His purposes.

There is so much to be said about this, and there is so much about this in God's Word (which means that God takes this very seriously).  I challenge you to do your own research on this.  Go to the book of Proverbs and see how many verses you can find on speech.  For now, I'll leave you with these verses to think about:
He who restrains his words has knowledge
And he who has a cool spirit is a 
man of understanding
Even a fool, when he keeps silent,
is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, 
he is considered prudent.
Proverbs 17:27-28

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Morning By Morning

I never knew how much thirty minutes could add to my day.

It may not seem like much, but it has caused my mornings to run so much more smoothly!  I usually get up early (well, earlier than the kids) to spend time in the Word, write, and get a head start.  But even still, it seemed like I was always behind in the mornings.  So, lately I was encouraged to start even earlier.  What a difference it has made!  

Of course, there are many mornings when I don't really want to get up when I intend to.  It is during those moments that I try to be strong and remember the benefits that I reap from this extra half hour!  I have sincerely learned to treasure these times in the morning, though.  And once I'm actually up for a few minutes, it's fine.  I just love the stillness, the darkness, and the nourishment that my soul receives at that time of day.  My heart and my mind are fresh and I am able to focus on God's Word and my prayer time with Him.  And as if that were not enough, I feel more energized and prepared to serve my family.  

But make no mistake; there have been mornings when I have come dragging in after everybody was up, and Jason was so sweet to let me catch some extra zzzzz's.  But I feel so much better when I get to be with my family during this time.  Plus, I believe it pleases the Lord when we give Him first priority.  I know there will be days when I won't "feel" like it.  But isn't that how it is with everything?  I guess discipline is what I'm seeking from myself here.  I know that I won't be sorry!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recipe for Snickerpoodles

I had several requests for the "Snickerpoodles" the kids and I made.  They are fun and very tasty! it is!

1 package (about 16 oz.) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
Chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips
Prepared white icing and pink icing

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheets.  Let dough stand at room temperature about 15 minutes.

2.  Combine dough, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and vanilla in large bowl; beat until well blended.  Combine sugar and remaining 1/2 tsp. cinnamon in small bowl.  For each poodle face, shape 1 1/2 tsp dough into oval.  Roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture; place on cookie sheet at either side of face.

3.  For poodle ears, divide 1 1/2 tsp dough in half; shape each half into teardrop shape.  Roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture; place on cookie sheet at either side of face.

4.  For top of poodle head, shape scant tsp dough into oval.  Roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture; place on cookie sheet at top of face.

5.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Immediately press 1 chocolate chip and 2 mini chocolate chips upside down in face for nose and eyes.  Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets.  Remove to wire racks; cool completely.  Decorate with icing, if desired.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Battle

I had a bad dream last night.  I'd set my alarm for a half hour earlier than usual, but instead, I woke up a half hour before that.  Have you ever tried to talk in your dream but felt to weak to get the words out?  Then when you wake up you realize that you were actually trying to say the words, but you were asleep.  In my dream, I was finally able to speak what I was trying to say.  I woke myself up when I physically uttered the words "Jesus Christ".  

Basically, I dreamed about spiritual warfare.  I don't believe that it meant anything, but it caused me to wake up with lots of heavy stuff on my mind.  

Perhaps my dream came from the research I was doing right before I went to bed.  My dad recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti.  The pictures and stories that he tells are so unbelievable, especially concerning the poverty of this country.  Did you know that Haiti was once one of the richest, most beautiful countries in the world?  But did you also know that it is a documented historical fact (and I read this last night) that in 1791, the ruler of Haiti, in an effort of "free" his people from the French, dedicated the country to Satan in a ceremony?  The deal was to serve him for two hundred years.  Then in 1991, two hundred years later, the country was rededicated to Satan.  This same leader officially proclaimed Voodoo as a recognized religion in 2003.  Haiti is now ravaged by poverty, disease and violence.  The Dominican Republic shares the same island as Haiti, and it is said that from the air especially, there is a stark contrast between the two countries.  The desolation and devastation of Haiti looks brown up against the green rainforests and vegetation of the DR.  

I am not fixated on this, however.  The good news is that Christians are now going to Haiti all the time, ministering to these people and sharing with them the good news of Christ.  It just reminds me that the battle for the people of this earth is a spiritual one.  The Bible is clear that our "struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness..." (Ephesians 6:12).  But God does not leave us hanging.  That same passage goes on to give us clear instructions of how to fight in this battle.  We should never take this lightly--it's a matter of eternal life and death.

I don't believe that we are to be "hung up" on the dark forces that are at work, but we are to be on the alert and, as I have said many times, saturate ourselves with the Word of God so that we can be prepared to live in a world where so many still need to know and claim the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And pray for the people of Haiti, that God would do a great work in the hearts of these people.  It is documented that in 1997, a Christian revival took place at the very location of the evil "dedication".  I don't claim to know all about this, but I know that 1 John 4:4 says, "...greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."  My dad said his life was changed by seeing how the people worshipped God and had joy, even in the midst of such poverty.  God will certainly prevail, which is a great hope for us and the world!  (This is a picture of my dad, getting ready to speak at a church service).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Her Element

A couple of days ago, when the weather was oh so warm, the kids and I ventured out for a late morning nature walk in the woods behind our house.  We saw a few limbs that had broken down from the ice storm, but most everything else was still the same as the last time I'd been down there, which was back in the fall.

I enjoyed being outside in the nice weather, of course, but the greatest part of that day was getting to see Ashlyn doing what she loves to do.  She led us on the trail that she and Jason have been clearing.  She carefully maneuvered Jacob through the shallow creek water, and she cleared out the perfect place for them to throw rocks into a small pool.  As we hiked along her trail, Ashlyn showed us the large limbs that her Daddy had placed as borders.  She showed us the best place to sit and have lunch.  And she even plopped down on a large moss covered rock and informed us that it provided the most beautiful view on the trail.  It did.

You see, school can sometimes become tedious in the cold days of winter, in part because Ashlyn thrives on being outside.  As she sat on her rock with a view, she picked up a slight handful of moss and asked, "What's this?".  I explained a little about moss, and from then on we took note of all the places we found it growing.  When we came back inside, she wrote about her new discovery in her journal.  I wasn't surprised that our need for fresh air resulted in an unplanned hands-on science lesson.

I love watching my children do the things they do best, and learning along the way.  I can't help but feel that God might think the same about us.  That's something for me to think about, and when I do, I smile.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Declaration

I'm really sorry that today's blog is lengthy...these are just some thoughts that came to mind this morning...

For a long time I have felt very strongly that we live in times which are very urgent.  It doesn't require a long look at our world to realize that we are in a downward spiral morally, socially and in many ways spiritually.  As pessimistic as that sounds, though, I know that our future as Christians is not completely bleak.  There are fiery trials which we now and will endure, yet we hold hope that they will end with our glorious reunion of loved ones and our Lord Jesus Christ.  

With those things in mind, I was thinking of James 4:4, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

What is friendship with the world?  As I read several passages this morning, I couldn't help but think about how easy it is to get sucked in to the world's views.  After all, it is all around us.  Television.  Radio.  Newspapers.  Magazines.  Sadly, many people, even Christians, don't realize that we are subtly (and many times not-so-subtly) bombarded with information and programs that are so often just secular rhetoric.  Before you go thinking that I'm some paranoid homebody, I don't think it's wrong to be in the world.  After all, Scripture teaches us that we must be relevant in our world so that we may spread the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).  We have to seek God's wisdom in living a life according to Biblical standards--not merely good standards.

It is so important for us to be on the alert at all times, as is urged of us in Ephesians 6:12, as well as 1 Peter 5:8, which says "Be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  I am so burdened that so many do not take this seriously. 

We cannot be "friends" with the world.  James is very clear that such a friendship is hostility towards God.  So how does that apply in a practical way to our lives?  Unfortunately, I can't answer that for you, but God can when you seek His wisdom on it.  For me, in a simple sense, it means saturating myself with the Word.  It means that I can't believe everything that I read in newspapers or on the internet as truth, unless it matches up with God's Word.  It means that I have to be keenly aware of God's truth so that I am able to recognize the lies.  

I realize that the world, since the fall of man, has been morally and spiritually below God's standards.  That's why He sent Jesus.  But the times of today carry a sense of urgency that calls out to believers, prompting us to adhere to the truth of God's Word like never before.  

Consider these lyrics, from the chorus of Mercy Me's song "Crazy",
I have not been called
To the wisdom of this world
But to a God who's calling out to me
And even though the world may think
I'm losing touch with reality
It would be crazy to choose this world
Over eternity

That's my desire.  That's my declaration.  How about you?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dog Days

It was a nice weekend at the Liddle's.  We spent lots of time outside, happy to get some relief from the recent icy temperatures.  On Saturday, the kids and I made Snickerpoodles.  In case you're wondering, that's not a typo!  We had lots of fun rolling out the dough,
shaping the poodles (plus a few cut-out hearts) and dipping them in the cinnamon and sugar,
and then decorating and enjoying the finished product!
Emily still won't eat her poodle.  I'm still trying to convince her that it won't keep forever!!

Sunday night, a heroic effort took place at our house.  Jason discovered that two puppies (belonging to my brother) were stuck in a small culvert underneath our driveway.  Jason, Josh and our friend Mack tried pulling the puppy out, but he was completely stuck.  At the time, the other puppy could not be seen, but the guys suspected that he was in the pipe too.  After two and a half hours of digging, pulling and coming up with makeshift rescue tools, both of the puppies were safe.  The kids prayed for the puppies, and I did too...I couldn't stand the thought of the poor little guys suffocating to death.  The puppy furthest in was so stuck that Jason didn't believe he ever would have made it out on his own.  They actually had to get a rope (tied to the end of a broomstick) around his back legs (which were stretched out behind him) and pull him like a calf is sometimes pulled during delivery.  Here is a picture of Bella, who was rescued first, with Josh.

And here is a picture of the heroes, Josh, Jason and Mack.  (That is not a microphone that Mack is holding, it's a flashlight.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Who's the Judge?

As I was folding laundry the other day, my thoughts were interrupted by the heated conversation upstairs.  I listened for a minute, until I heard Ashlyn vehemently declare, "You have to give Mommy two pennies for that!"  I knew that Ashlyn was referring to a rewards system (of sorts) that I am using for Emily right now.  

Hardly anything irritates me more as a mother than to hear my children try to administer judgment to each other.  I can't stand it when I am encouraged to discipline one child by another.  I just want to say, "Stay out of it!  This is mommy's job, not yours!"

I wonder if God feels the same way when we go around trying to place judgment on each other?  Sometimes we don't think of ourselves as being that way, but we are all like that to an extent.  Jesus spoke directly to that subject in Matthew 7:1-2, Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

Those are very poignant words that we should not fail to heed.  Do we really want to be measured according to our own standards?  Sometimes we set the bar so high for others, yet we forget to look at ourselves first.  Plus, as with the case of Ashlyn and Emily, we are simply not in a position to declare judgment!  God alone knows hearts and intentions.  He alone has the right to pass judgment.  This isn't to say that we shouldn't use wisdom and discernment that God gives to us, sometimes referred to as "righteous judgment".  It's okay to be upset when we see God's name clearly being dishonored, but we should follow His instructions for our actions.  He is the ultimate authority!

I believe that part of my work as a mother is to not only administer discipline where needed, but also to make sure that my children know that while they answer to Jason and me, we (and they) (and everybody else) ultimately answer to God.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


A few years ago, I was working in my little garden, and the Lord really started dealing with me about something.  I was thinking about how, at the time, my brother-in-law was considering interviewing at a church in California.  When my sister told me about it, I didn't like it, because if he got the job, then of course they would be moving all the way to the West Coast.  So opened my heart to a lesson from God that has deeply affected my heart and is still being taught to me today.

When I'm thinking, I like to have little conversations with God.  On that day, I started thinking about our happiness on earth and wondered if it really mattered.  I didn't want my sister to move to California--I wanted her to move closer to me!  But what was more important?  My happiness, or whether or not they followed God's call on their lives?  I think that's a no-brainer.  

It's not that God doesn't want us to be happy.  Psalm 37:4 says, Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.  That sounds happy, doesn't it?  It is!  But is doesn't mean that he grants the carnal desires of our hearts.  When we truly delight in the Lord, that means that we find joy in obeying Him, knowing Him and living according to His Word.  When we do that, our view of "happiness" changes.  The desires of our hearts become, in a sense, His desires, and we are able to experience true peace.

So, as I thought about this, I realized that our happiness on this earth isn't nearly as important as following God's leading (and encouraging our loved ones to do the same), for God's peace is way more satisfying than "happiness".

They didn't move to the West Coast, but they also don't live very close to me.  But that's okay, because there is work to be done on this earth.  There will be a day when we will all be together, all the time, with our Father.  This world is merely temporary--our mindset should be on eternal things, because that's when it really counts!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Ice Storm

Jason and Ashlyn racing down the hill (I think Jason's getting some help, huh?)
Emily is a little apprehensive of sledding (she gets that from me).

Even though all of our trees were completely iced over, we really didn't have any major damage.  We could hear tree limbs snapping in the woods behind our house though.  We certainly didn't get hit as bad as many people, but it still makes me thankful for the conveniences such as electricity and hot water!!
Ah!!  I finally have internet service again!  This is why I haven't updated my blog in nearly a week.  But please understand, I'm not complaining.  After all, nearly everyone around us has been without power for the last week, and we only lost phone and internet for a few days.  The ice storm hit our area pretty hard, so please pray for those without heat and electric, that God would continue to provide and that He would strengthen their patience.

I wanted to post some pictures of the ice, but maybe my connection isn't quite up to par yet.  I couldn't get the pictures to upload.  

Hopefully I'll get to post them soon.