Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's 'Torming!

We went camping again, yes we did.

In the middle of our first night there, I woke up to thunder, AND the sound of Jacob starting to squirm.  When I sat up to check on him, he raised up and said, "It 'torming mom!  I'm 'cared of 'torming!"  (It wasn't really storming, it was just thundering in the distance).  But he had a most frightened look on his face, so I told him to come over to my bed.  When he got into bed, he snuggled up close just as another rumble of thunder sounded.  But this time, he raised up and looked at me with a HUGE smile on his face and said, "It 'torming mom!"  Then he laid down and slept for the rest of the night.

It made me feel good to know that Jake feels safe when he is near me.  It also made me think about how thankful I am for the security that I find in God when life's storms are approaching.  Jake was fine with the thunder and slept like a baby once he was lying next to me.  I pray that I will be able to let go and trust in the nearness of my God, resting in the assurance that He will never let go.

Monday, May 25, 2009

All Grown Up

"I can't wait 'til I'm 40."

That's what my 4-year-old told me as we were driving down the road yesterday.  You can imagine my shock at her statement, so I asked, "Why in the world did you say that?"

"So that I can be a grown-up."

You can imagine HER shock when I told her, "Well, I'm not 40 yet".  You should have seen the look on her face!

She has lived a mere four years, yet it seems like an eternity to her.  She can't wait to "grow up" and get to do all the things that her big sister does, like school and soccer and softball, and then apparently she can't wait to be forty so that she can do the things that mommies do, like drive cars and take care of children.

While I can safely say that I don't wish to be four again, I can also safely say that little Emily doesn't see the whole picture.  She thinks it would be fun to be all grown up, but that's mostly because she doesn't understand all of the responsibility that comes with it.  But she'll learn.  And as she learns, God will give her the ability to handle that responsibility.

As I thought about that, it reminded me of how discontent we can sometimes become in various areas of life.  We wish for graduation, then we wish for marriage, then for children.  We wish for a good job, then we wish for vacation or for retirement.  We wish for our kids' graduation.  Life just goes on and on, and we are always looking to the next thing.  I'm not saying that's necessarily bad, but maybe we would be surprised if we just relish where we are and learn the joy of contentment!  Goal-setting is great, but God will teach us so much if we will be still and hear what He has to say to us right where we are.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Little Things

Some highlights of my day today...

I got to fix breakfast.

I got to teach multiplication and the Code of Hammurabi.

I made cheese sandwiches and cut up apples for lunch.

I took a walk with my mom and the kids.

I washed and folded four loads of laundry.

I made taco salad for dinner.  

I ate a honeybun on the way home from the softball game.

I prayed with my children and kissed them goodnight.

I's so exciting isn't it!!!  And to think that those were just the highlights!  (hee hee)  

I have to say, though, that even though my days aren't really very exciting, and even though I get tired of slicing apples and cutting the crust off of cheese sandwiches, and even though I'm itching for the end of May so we can celebrate summer break, I am thankful for my life, and I feel so blessed!  Sometimes it's tempting to look at the mundane aspect of our lives and get in a rut.  I have been there so many times.  But I also know that a thankful heart is produced by noticing and appreciating those same mundane things, recognizing God's hand of providence and blessing within our circumstances.

I forgot to mention that during dinner, Ashlyn randomly commented that she cannot wait for the day when she can see Jesus face to face.  Subsequently, Emily commented that when she sees Jesus, the first thing she is going to do is give Him a BIG hug.  And oh yeah, I got to see Ashlyn get on base every time she was at bat.  And then tonight she offered an apology to me (on her own) for an offense she had committed earlier today. 

But you know, even on days when those kind of encouraging things don't happen, I hold on to the promise that God will reward our efforts at being Godly parents.  Don't be discouraged!  It's our faithfulness in the seemingly mundane areas of our lives that so often lead to fulfilling rewards.  And God will always bless faithfulness to His Word.  So, if you're feeling in a rut--take heart!  Be encouraged that God sees the little things!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Family Week

This week has been a great week for family!

The first part of our week was spent camping, not too far away at Lake Cumberland State Park.  We had a great time!  We had visitors one night, and the rest of the time was spent just relaxing and doing whatever we wanted.

To me, camping is one of the greatest outings for a family because there really is no pressure to have to be anywhere or do anything.  Sometimes when we go on other types of vacations, we have it so planned out that while it is fun and recreational, there is not much relaxing!!!  But camping is different.  For us, there isn't a schedule, just being together, hiking, riding bikes, pushing dump trucks around (well, if you're Jacob), examining creepy crawlies in the woods and of course roasting marshmallows.  We had a GREAT time!

When we got home we were greeted by my sister, visiting from Texas with her newborn, Beau.  We've had a great time with them as well.  It was a quick visit (she's leaving tomorrow), but I'm so thankful that we had the opportunity to see her and hold Baby Beau while he is still a sweet newborn.  I have much to be thankful for!

Here are some pics from the camping trip...

Jason, Josh, Dad and Owen around the campfire

A photo op on one of our hikes

Jason and the kids

Emily climbing the monkey bars!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Helping Hands

Today at the Liddle Homeschool we took advantage of the break in the rain and had a morning of "horticulture" class outside!

I went to the greenhouse yesterday and purchased several flats of flowers.  I was the only one there...probably because it was pouring the rain!  But, I figured I'd been waiting long enough to get my flowers this spring--I didn't want to wait any longer!  So, I got the flowers, and today was the perfect day to set them out.  

The girls helped me so much with their digging and setting, not to mention their good company.  Ashlyn felt the need to pull all of the worms (the many, many worms) out of the way of the flowers before they were planted.  That took some time.  She carefully added EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM to her jar of fishing bait.  I hope she goes fishing soon so the worms can be put out of their misery!  :)

After a while, they sauntered off to pick flowers in the field and enjoy the time outside.  Jacob spent most of his time in the mud puddle where our beloved (and much missed) playhouse used to set.  Then he found a small spade and decided that digging around in the mulch with me was just as entertaining.

We had a good day, and I feel happy that my flowers are in the ground.  Sometimes having "helpers" makes the job twice as long, but the joy and excitement that they have in doing this job makes it all worthwhile.  I love their little helping hands!
Emily actually DID get her hands dirty today!  Then of course
she was back to her old self, posing nicely in front of the rhododendrons.
If you look carefully, you can see that big sister Ashlyn
is gently passing a toad off to her little brother.
After a while, Jacob finally let the little guy go and then 
hopped around the yard following him.  I was so afraid 
he was going to jump on it and squish it!  Ewwwww!
This was a dream come true for this guy.
His left eye eventually became caked shut with mud.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Leave Me Alone!

Do you remember the kid in school who was constantly pestering someone?  It seems like there was one in every class--the spitwad shooting, hair pulling, passing-notes-to-get-you-in-trouble kind of kid.  Or maybe you were the kid who couldn't seem to leave people alone!!  Ahhhh, memories of grade school...let's move on, shall we?

I couldn't help to think of those days this morning as I was gathering my thoughts for this post.  Isn't it irritating to always have someone nagging you?  You just want to scream, "Leave me alone!"

The Scripture I was reading this morning made me realize why I seem to want to scream that same thing on a nearly every day basis these days...except to a much more formidable enemy than those grade school pests.

First Peter 2:11 says, "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul."  The idea of waging war, to me, brings to mind the idea of something (or someone) not giving up against us.  In fact, John MacArthur describes this phrase by saying that our fleshly desires are "personified as if they were an army of rebels or guerrillas who incessantly search out and try to destroy the Christian's joy, peace and usefulness."

Incessantly.  How many times have you felt under constant attack by the enemy?  For me, it seems that once I feel I've gotten past one area, I get struck in another.  Then I am blindsided by a different attack.  I just want to scream, "Leave me alone!"

But you know, it makes sense when we remember the first part of that Scripture, where we are described as "aliens and strangers" in this world.  You see, as believers, this world is not our home.  We are constantly under attack because we haven't yet made it to the safety of home.  I dare say that if a "Christian" feels at home in this world and never feels under attack, then there may be reason for him to examine his heart and make sure that all is really right with God.

One day, we will finally make it home, and we will rest in the eternal presence of our Father.  But until that day, we take heart and find encouragement in the security of our salvation and the precious Word of God.  It reminds us over and over that we are not alone in this battle.  In Ephesians 6 we are given the weapons of this warfare and in many other places, such as John 16:33, we are encouraged to keep fighting the good fight, to keep hanging on and to keep trusting God. 

Lastly, remember that while this world is merely our temporary dwelling place, it is here that we have the opportunity to share God's grace with others and grow in our relationship with Him, which will make our eternity just that much sweeter.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Not Fair!

Now that my seven-year-old is going on fifteen, I've been informed lately that sometimes I am simply "not fair".  Fortunately, this didn't start until just a few months ago, but the other night I'd finally had my fill.  

We had just gotten home from church, and although it was getting late and already close to their bedtimes, we let the kids play outside for a few minutes and then continue with their regular bedtime routine, which includes a bedtime snack (usually a bowl of cereal or Emily's favorite-"peanut butter spoon").  As Ashlyn sat at the table, she felt the need to tell me that "for two reasons it's not fair!"  I was obviously curious about what was wrong with the situation, so I asked.  She emphatically replied, "It's not fair because on the way home from church I saw a kid outside playing with their dog and I saw another kid jumping on a trampoline!"

Knowing that I'd let her stay up a little later than usual, I calmly said, "Okay, so what's not fair?"

"That I have to go to bed!"

I took her bowl of cereal and said, "Ashlyn, would you like for me to fair?  Fair would be that you would be going to bed on time tonight instead of eating your bowl of cereal past 9:00.  Fair would be that you would have come home and gotten straight into bed.  Would you for like me to be fair?"  She looked at me sheepishly and then quietly asked, "No.  May I have my cereal back please?"

Of course I gave it back to her, because I love her and I wanted to let her finish her snack.  But I also encouraged her to be grateful for what she does get to do.

You know, in a spiritual sense, I've heard a lot of people say the same thing about our Heavenly Father.  They say, "It's not fair!  Why would God allow this to happen?"  Or, "Why would a good God send people to hell?"

The truth is, I thank God that He isn't "fair"!  If God was simply fair, there would have been no death on the cross.  There would have been no Savior.  There would be no grace.  If God was fair, we would ALL be destined to a life apart from His goodness.  Have you ever thought about this?  Please don't mistake me--I know that God is just.  But isn't it great that even though He is perfectly just, He has shown us such great mercy?

He doesn't "send" people to hell--man took care of that himself when he had the perfect life yet chose to sin against the Almighty Creator.  It is what we deserve.  Romans 6:23 tells us that the payment for sin is death.  In all fairness, we owe that debt--not Jesus!  But the next part says that through Jesus, we have the free gift of eternal life from our merciful Father.  I will take God's mercy and grace over His "fairness" any day.

I think this mindset comes from our tendency as humans to think of ourselves more highly than we ought.  We forget how HOLY our God is.  There is absolutely nothing we can do on our own to have salvation.  It is only by His grace and the faith that is given to us by Him (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I praise the Lord that He is not "fair"!  May we never forget what an undeserved gift of grace He has extended to us!