Sunday, July 4, 2010

It's Been A While...

Wow! It's been awhile since I last posted!

It's not really that I have nothing to write about, it's just that summer is wonderful...and busy! Even the wee one has been up and at 'em. Evan is moving around like crazy, and just tonight we had to lower his mattress because he is trying to pull up. He likes it. Doesn't he look happy?

This week we (as a family) have been learning/memorizing/studying one of my favorite Bible passages, Philippians 4:4-8. It says,

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 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 hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Isn't that wonderful? To me that is so rich. Perhaps it's because I tend to be a worrier sometimes, and this is a blunt command from the Almighty that I absolutely must NOT worry about anything. And there is a promise. A promise that when we rest in him, not only will our hearts be covered with His peace, but that it will guard our minds as well.

Most of the time, it's my mind that gets me in trouble anyway. Whether it's worrying, dwelling on the negative about people or circumstances, or just focusing on myself, it usually begins in my mind. I need God's peace to guard my mind.

Even though this has been a favorite passage for a long time, I still struggle with completely letting go and putting it into practice. I'm workin' on it though!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Love My Kids' Daddy

Many months ago I posted this photo of Jason and the little guy and wrote about how Jacob loves to imitate his daddy.

Not much has changed. It is not uncommon to see Jacob digging with his Daddy, pulling weeds with his Daddy, eating cereal with his Daddy, or eating other foods just because Daddy does.

Actually, it's not just Jacob. Imitating Daddy seems to be a big-time habit for all of the kids.

And he's a good Daddy. He is loving. He is playful. He teaches. He provides. He lets them know how important they are to him and to God. He prays for them. He has a desire to see them grow in the Lord. He hangs out with them. He helps them. He disciplines them. He laughs with them.

See, he tries to imitate His Father, too.

Perfect? Of course not.

But he is the father of my children and the man I love, and I'm so happy to be sharing my life with him.

Happy Father's Day to my hubby!

And Happy Father's Day to you too Dad!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Dedication


Yesterday was the day when we publicly dedicated Evan to the Lord. We, along with ten (I think) other families in our church, presented our infants and vowed to raise them in the knowledge of the Lord. It was really great because the service included a vow from the church and from extended family in supporting us as we strive to teach our children the ways of God.

I really appreciated the opportunity to do that publicly, although Jason and I, with each of our children, have done so privately on the night they were born. We do not take this lightly. Have you ever thought about the implications of this act?

I have.

I have wondered so many times what it will mean for our family.

It may mean that they will move far away from us one day.

It may mean that they will have to suffer consequences of sin committed.

It may mean that they will be used in a manner in which I personally would not choose for them (because of selfishness).

It may mean pain.

It may mean discipline.

It may mean suffering.

But despite how it sounds, we are not turning our children over to an inflictor of pain. We are entrusting them to the Good Shepherd.

Therefore.....

It WILL mean blessing.

It WILL mean joy.

It WILL mean peace.

It WILL mean life - abundant.

Those are the things we desire for our children. We desire for God to use them for His glory.

Yikes.

The very human side of me is frightened by that. There is something about relinquishing control that is both freeing and frightening. But His grace is sufficient, and His purposes are good. He doesn't call us to something and just leave us hanging. He gives us the means by which to pass through and thrive. I know that's big talk coming from someone like me whose oldest child is still in single digits. But I trust HIM. I really do. I trust Him so much that I give Him my most prized possessions on earth, for it is He who entrusted them to me in the first place.

Will I still worry about my kids from time to time? Unfortunately (yet honestly), yes. I often times struggle with forgetting that they are in God's hands. But my ever loving and patient Father is working in my heart about that.

Thank you God for our kids. May they be vessels that are filled with the knowledge of You and the truth of your Word. May they learn to pour themselves out daily so that Your Spirit will fill their lives. May they walk in your grace, and may their lives be a testament to Your glory......

Amen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Patches" and Chimney Tops




One week ago, we were living it up in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I love that place!

It was a mini-vacation of sorts, and we were blessed with two glorious days, which we spent hiking, shopping, go karts, mini golf, a comedy show, and more hiking!


One of the hikes we took was a 4-mile (round trip) "strenuous" hike. The two miles one way took us 1700 feet in elevation, so it was a pretty steep trail in many parts. It was rocky too. And beautiful. Anyway, Jason and I had been on this trail back before we ever had children, so it was exciting for us to get to take all four kids along this time.

At the beginning of the trail, Emily started to whine about something. Even though she is our resident drama queen, I knew that she was capable of handling such a strenuous hike.

While Emily was crying and holding on to my hand at the start of the trail, I looked at my mom and whispered, "Give her ten minutes....she'll be a new kid". I was wrong. It was hardly two minutes before she took off barking and panting, running to the front of the pack as happy as a lark.

I knew it would happen. I knew Patches would show up. Yeah, Patches. That's Emily's alter ego. Patches comes along on hikes in the woods and long family walks. Patches never complains. Occasionally, Patches gets a little wild, and I am instructed to say "Heel Patches!" and then Patches calms down and walks with me. Patches has a very cute bark and likes to run and leap and lead the hike. Patches also likes to sniff out various flowers and also doesn't cry when she falls down. Patches is great!!!

I found it humorous how quickly her attitude shifted, and how similar it is to the way I operate at times (minus the turning into a dog part). :) We really can choose our attitude, can't we? We can decide to stay in a sour mood or we can choose to smile. We even have the choice of how we will accept our circumstances or consequences. Our attitude really is something that we can control. That doesn't mean it's easy, but it is within our reach. And when we reach out, our patient, loving Father meets us there. He supplies the strength we need to make the complete adjustment.

These were just thoughts that I pondered as we hiked. It was one of my favorite hikes I've ever taken, in part because I love that trail (Chimney Tops), but mostly because I was so proud of how the kids enjoyed it and were so enthusiastic, even during the steep portions.

Jason took Ashlyn to the tip top of the peak, which is just up from the top of the trail. You actually have to scale the rock to get there, so we decided that Ash would be the only kid to go. It was a wonderful day, one that I will not soon forget. Here are a few pics:













Monday, May 17, 2010

Number One



See how my boy has grown? (And I like how he is taking down that lion!) :)



The kids and I just finished a biography about Lottie Moon. If you're like I was, you didn't know much more about this lady than that she was a missionary to China and that the Baptist church takes up an offering in her honor every Christmas, which is applied to international mission work.

This was the second bio we've read about missionaries to China (the other was about Gladys Alyward, and I highly recommend them both), and during both books we were riveted as we read about how these ladies received their calls from God, how they endured persecution, and how they lived lives that were far from successful by the world's standards, but were truly extraordinary in the eternal realm of Kingdom advancement.

Reading these books confirmed within me something which I have thought about for a long time:

Eternal Mindset.

That is the number one principle that I want my children (and myself) to grab a hold of.

I've asked them before to imagine their lives as a speck on a line that goes forever in each direction (not to discount their lives, but to offer perspective and see how much bigger God is than we are). I want them to truly understand that we should accept the things that God brings our way on this earth, whether it be blessing or hardship, in light of the fact that this life is so temporary.

Am I saying we shouldn't enjoy our lives on earth? Absolutely not! As always, looking to Jesus Christ as our primary example is a must. He enjoyed relationships with people, grew up obeying a mom and dad, went to weddings and worked for a living. But He always had eternity and His Father's Kingdom in mind.

People like Lottie Moon are fine examples too. At the end of her life, she had almost nothing to her name (she had given it all away). She had grown up in a wealthy Southern family. She had been well educated. She could have become very successful according to the world's standards. But that was not her calling. (Worldly success isn't bad, except when it comes at the price of giving up God's call on your life.)

A beautiful life, that's what she lived. A beautiful life full of people, pain, and prayer. I encouraged the girls to imagine, that even though she had nothing of value when she died, the souls in heaven who greeted her, thankful that she had made such a sacrifice so that they might hear the truth of Jesus Christ. What encouragement that is!

My prayer for my children is that God would turn their hearts toward Him. I pray that His purposes would be at the forefront of their minds. I pray that He would draw them to Himself and give them the desire to work for His Kingdom. I pray that we would all never forget that our work will one day be tested, and only what's done for Him will last.

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.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15


Sunday, May 9, 2010

My List


Reasons I love being a mom:

1) Ashlyn:
nature-loving, generous, energetic



2) Emily:
girly girl, dramatic, sensitive



3) Jacob:
comedian, independent, tough as nails




4) Evan:
cute, cute, cute





I love doing life with these kids, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for them!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Garden We Will Grow!

Yesterday, the kids and I took a trip to the greenhouse to pick out flowers, and today, being the glorious day that it was, we took advantage of the nice weather and spent the entire day outside cleaning out beds and setting flowers.

It was truly a blessing for me, because my kiddos really did help me. I was hoping they would give me an hour or two without complaining, but as it turned out, it was a whole day of happily working together!


At the greenhouse yesterday, they were asking for flowers that would be their "own". I told them to each choose two flowers, and I would buy one and they they would buy one. So the girls took their purses, shopped carefully, and each paid a dollar fifty on some great choices. This investment really sparked their interest in where the flowers would be planted, making sure they have a happy home where they can grow and thrive!


It was so great being able to spend the whole day like that working together. We had some good conversation, and there was lots of teaching and learning going on. Days like this are a good reminder to me that learning is truly a lifestyle. No matter what we are doing, there is always some kind of knowledge to gain that is relevant to real life.

Finally, at the end of the afternoon, 
I pulled out the sprinkler as a reward for their diligent labor!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thoughts of Earth Day


So last Thursday was Earth Day, huh?

I like the earth. Really I do. It's where I live, right? It's a planet perfectly designed for human life. It has a perfect atmosphere. A perfect magnetosphere. A perfect tilt.

I also like taking care of the earth. I like not littering. I like teaching my children to pick up trash, and when it is possible, to recycle.

I also like trees. And flowers. And mountains. And rivers. Oh I really like rivers. In fact, I think this place is beautiful. My family and I love to be out where we can really experience the beauty that God has created.

Yes, that God has created.

As much as I like this planet we call home, I still realize that the best is yet to come. This is not the end all be all. It's sometimes hard to imagine that as wonderful as our world is, that it is actually still in a fallen state. It makes me anxious for what is to come!

But, for now, this is where I live.

So I am all for planting trees, and picking up trash, and doing things that naturally keep our world beautiful (notice I do not mention things like taxing AIR. That's as far as I'll go with that for now).

Ahem.

Anyway, I say all this to say that...I like the earth.


But I LOVE its Creator.


There is a cult among us which encourages us to love the earth, yet it denies God as the Creator.

It denies that He actually is the end all be all. And one day, when the earth actually is destroyed, He will still be on His throne. Psalm 97:5 prophesies that the mountains will "melt like wax before the Lord" at His coming.

So, even in the midst of our "green" culture, don't lose sight of the fact that this rock is our temporary home. Sure, we should live responsibly and do our best to take care of it. God wants us to enjoy His creation and teaches us so much through it.

But my encouragement is this: the next time you plant a tree, don't just think of it as a small act toward saving the environment. Think, for example, about the miracle that God has provided through the dying of seeds and the restoring of new life. Realize that this earth is full of beauty that points to God. It is merely His creation, and He will not be outdone.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Emily's Song About God


I couldn't resist sharing this little nugget.

Maybe I should get her some guitar lessons? :)





Friday, April 16, 2010

The Motions

Ah, I love these days.

I love having the windows open; the fresh smell, the nice breeze, the low electric bill (relatively speaking, of course).

We've been spending lots of time outside, too. Doing schoolwork on the trampoline and in the treehouse is really motivating for my nature loving daughter!

So the other day, while we were adding fractions outside, Jacob kept wanting me to push him in the swing. I pushed him several times, but then I decided that maybe it was time that he learned to swing himself!

I told him how to do it. I got him started and then began chanting, "Out, in! Out, in!" trying to correspond with his swinging motion. He obediently stuck his legs out and pulled them in when he was supposed to. But was he swinging himself?

No.

He was moving his legs out and in, but that alone was not working. He wasn't doing what was really required to pull himself back and forth. He didn't have the power. He was simply going through the motions.

Sound familiar?

Sometimes people go through the motions too. Go to church. Pray. Read Christian literature. Do good deeds.

But we're not robots. God desires genuine fellowship with us. He created us in His own image, so that we could have relationship with Him as our Father.

Jake was getting nowhere by only going through the motions. Neither will you. It may satisfy for a while, and make you feel like you are on the right track, but eventually you will wear out, because you are not drawing from the real Source of Strength.

We don't have to settle for the motions, because the same Power which spoke the universe into existence is available to us! The same Power which defeated death and brought everlasting life to mankind is available to us!

Going through the motions--trying to follow Christ without having a real relationship with Him--is fruitless.

I could go on and on about the different implications of this, but for now, this is where I'll leave it. Just something to think about...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spotless




I was standing in the loft (as we call it), which overlooks the living room and dining area of our home. The house had been straightened up, the kids were all tucked in, and the lamplight was providing a cozy atmosphere in the now quiet house. The dining room light was on too, and as I stood at the balcony, I performed a mental appraisal of my view.

It all looked so perfect!

The dining room table was shining in the reflection of the chandelier, the hardwood floor looked spotless, the carpet in the living room looked clean and inviting.

Then, as if snapping back to reality, I started remembering things. I started remembering the giant scratch on the table that I made a few years ago with the back of a clock. I remembered the rugged etching in the wood, produced by my son with a fork. I started recalling all the scratches and spots on the hardwood, made from things such as Hotwheels and milk, respectively.

I then remembered the spots on the carpet, some of which were caused by the time Ashlyn's upset stomach couldn't handle a red popsicle. No amount of Oxy-Clean or Clorox has gotten that up completely!

None of those imperfections were visible from where I was standing, but I knew that they were there and could easily be seen with a closer look.

We are all imperfect aren't we? And we know it. Then why do we stand from afar and look in on others and compare ourselves and think that they are perfect? Everybody has scratches, dents and spots, sometimes caused by the most vile of circumstances, sometimes caused by accidents, and always caused by sin.

That's where we are as humans. We are all in the same need of God's Umbrella of Grace.

And once we are underneath, we are covered by Christ's perfection in the sight of God. Then, and only then, do we really become

Spotless.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Great Exchange, Part 2



I have read this passage so many times:

He was pierced through for our transgressions
He was crushed for our iniquities
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him
And by His scourging we are healed.

All of us like sheep have gone astray
Each of us has turned to his own way
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
Isaiah 53:5-6

I always knew what it meant, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I really realized something. I realized that how we often focus on the physical brutality of what Jesus endured. For sure, that is significant. It was ugly, horrible, and no doubt worse than anything we can imagine. However, I realized that God, in His wisdom, knew that we (as humans) can relate to physical pain. And as ugly and appalling as the torture that Jesus endured is to us, that is how ugly, horrible, and beyond imagination our sin is to God our Father.

As a human, the physical torment was horrible to Jesus. But as God the Son, I imagine that the bearing of the sin of all mankind was worse.

He bore the wrath of God that we deserved.

The ugliness of our sin was put upon Him, and He took the punishment.

The Jews who watched Him die mistakenly thought that Jesus was being punished for His own sin (Isaiah 53:4). But He was the substitute. Our substitute. He was the sinless God-man, experiencing both physical and spiritual punishment so that we would not have to; so that instead, we could experience freedom from condemnation.

We recently bought Emily a Bible that is the International Children's Bible translation. Here is Isaiah 53:5-6 from her Bible:

But he was wounded for the wrong things we did.
He was crushed for the evil things we did.
The punishment, which made us well, was given to Him,
And we are healed because of His wounds.

We all have wandered away like sheep.
Each of us has gone his own way.
But the Lord has put on Him the punishment
For all the evil we have done.

Today is Good Friday. No doubt that many of you will be thinking on these things today and praising God that He provided the Substitute for our atonement. I pray that you will have a weekend full of reflection and thanksgiving for the One who took the punishment that we deserve.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Great Exchange, Part 1


With this week being the week before Easter, we are being even more intentional in talking about the "Easter" story. Yesterday, I had a discussion with the children (after reading to them about the life and death and life of Jesus) about some of the primary accusers of our Savior....the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were one of the most "upstanding" (in their own eyes) citizens, weren't they? They were the keepers of the law! They followed the book to a tee. Yet Jesus reserved His most harsh words for this group of "religious leaders". The problem was, they didn't just keep the law. They added to the law. They worshipped the law. They glorified themselves in the name of following the Holy God.

I am tempted to quote the entirety of Matthew 23 here, but, for obvious reasons, I will not. But I ask you to read it, and as you do, think about the church today.

What have we, in the name of Christianity, added to the commandments of Jesus to love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves?

Consider these man-made traditions: dressing up for church, singing only certain kinds of songs, using only a certain translation of the Bible, going to church several times a week. I'm not saying that those things are wrong in and of themselves, but they become wrong when they are seen as rules instead of personal preferences.

They become wrong when they are kept and then used to promote ourselves as more holy than others.

They are wrong when they become more important than following Christ--which has nothing to do with following a set of rules, but has everything to do with freedom from sin and the law (Galatians 5:1).

The Bible is clear that as Christians, we are simply to be like Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2). On the cross, He exchanged death for life, and freed us from the law of sin and death. Does that give us a license to sin? Of course not!!!! Galatians 5:13-14 says, "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'."

Freedom from the law means that we are free to fulfill the law of Christ, which is love (Galatians 6:2). It means that we are no longer bound by sin. It means that we should not be like the Pharisees, who believed that keeping man-made traditions would somehow make them greater in the eyes of God (Matthew 15).

Yes, Jesus had hard words for those people. He called them hypocrites, white-washed tombs and a brood of vipers--and this was the "religious" group.

Jesus' death and resurrection was so much more than we sometimes understand. He set us free, and He wants us to walk daily with Him--not so that we will be glorified and simply look holy, but so that He will be glorified and we can be holy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Non-Distractors



After last week, I decided that something had to change. Maybe you know what I'm talking about, or maybe I'm the only homeschooler who wonders what it would be like to get through a lesson without "distractions". What are these distractions of which I speak?

My younger children.

I know. I'm terrible.

It seems that sometimes I have a mindset which causes me to sometimes view my younger kids as hinderances to the older ones' learning, because they sometimes "interrupt" our studies. Granted, there are times when Ashlyn needs to work alone to keep from being distracted, but this week a light bulb came on in my head. This is nothing new to many homeschoolers, but I finally realized (after much prayer) that the beauty of home education is that my children can (and should) learn together!

We have started doing some studies together--even including Jacob, who has trouble sitting still, but is picking up on all kinds of stuff. It's been really fun doing this, and we are actually looking at a new curriculum for next year that is aimed at teaching all children together!

This week I sort of rearranged things in the schedule and made a greater effort to make sure that everyone truly participated in the morning Bible reading/study.

It paid off Thursday, when we had been reading about Lazarus being raised from the dead (about which, by the way, after I said that Lazarus might have even already started to stink, Emily proclaimed, "God made him smell good!") Jacob decided he wanted to "read" from his Bible. He opened up his little New Testament and very emphatically stated, "God made stuff! He made airplanes, rockets and helicopters!" I laughed, because that's where he is right now! Every time we have discussions concerning Jesus, he says something about the things that God made. I know that he really is gleaning information not only from Jason and me, but from his sisters as well.

This has made me feel so refreshed with our school days. I feel like I can relax a bit and instead of say "It's time for school!", I can say "It's time to learn!" and my precious little "distractions" become welcome contributors.

I don't know what took me so long to figure this out...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Dad


Last week, my dad had a birthday, so we had a birthday party for him! Naturally, Emily wanted to know what "kind" of birthday party he would be having. She was so sincere when she asked, "I mean, will it be Tinkerbell, or horses, or...just what kind of birthday party will it be?" I knew then that we should come up with something!!

So, fifteen minutes before the family arrived, I dressed Jake in a train engineer costume that my sister-in-law had given me (thanks Aimee!) We decided to have a train party, and that was the best we could do. But that was very appropriate, given that my dad is a retired engineer! I was shocked when my dad walked in with HIS engineer cap on too! That was such a cool coincidence!


In honor of his birthday, I want to share just a few reasons why I think my dad is awesome! Here they are:

1) He is likable. He never meets a stranger, and rarely does a non-stranger go away from Dad without hearing about Christ.

2) When Dad was nineteen, he was in a horrible car accident with some of his friends. He lay in a coma for a full week, his family unsure that he would ever wake up. But he did wake up, and when he did, he was never to be the same. God had spared his life, and for Dad there was no other option but to live his life for HIM.


3) Dad loves God and has a passion for seeing others experience salvation and grow in their faith. He has one of most evangelistic hearts that I know. I have seen him share his testimony with "strangers" and friends alike, and I am aware of many occasions where he cared enough about people to lovingly confront their sin.

4) Dad has always been an example of gentleness and patience.



5) Dad taught me the futility of worry.

6) Dad has kept a diary which contains events from every day for as long as I can remember. He can tell you what happened on any given day since...sometime in the 70's.

7) Dad has a major sweet tooth (which he graciously passed on to me....thanks Dad).

8) Dad loves solitude.

9) My dad has unparalleled devotion to his family. Not only has he always been a faithful husband and father, he is also a devoted son, not hesitating to help take care of his aging parents.

10) My dad is not afraid to show me and tell me how much he loves me. If I have a need, whether it be helping with the kids or helping me get my vehicle (with all the keys lost) to the dealership to have new ones made, Dad will always put himself last and help. He's just that kind of guy.

11) Dad goes the extra mile to make you feel special! This was the sign he made for my birthday "party"!
Well, I could go on and on.

You know, Dad has spent many hours of his life on a train, making sure that freight gets where it needs to be and that it gets there safely.

Sometime in the near future, Dad will be boarding another train, but this time as a passenger. He is taking a trip across the country via Amtrak. I have no doubt that on this trip he will meet many non-strangers, and that within those brief exchanges, many will hear about the One who can change lives, and can get them where they need to be.

I've learned so much from my Dad, and I cannot even express the gratitude I feel to the Lord for allowing me to be raised my a father who loves, cherishes, instructs and honors his family like mine does.

Thanks Dad. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The End of the Rainbow


We learned about St. Patrick today (go figure). :)

We all wore green (even if the kids didn't think my "khaki" green was green). All day, no matter where we went, my kids were the "green" police. When we pulled into the church parking lot, we saw Harold getting out of his truck, and immediately Ashlyn said, "Uh-oh! Harold's not wearing green!" I don't think she pinched him though (that's not to say that no one got pinched of course).

We also talked about Irish folklore--gold, luck, rainbows and leprechauns. I had come across this recipe on a magazine's website, a
nd I thought it would be fun, especially considering my kids' love of rainbows. Turns out, it was fun!


I guess you could say we found our pot o' gold. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

And Then There Was Jake

Look at this kid. I mean, really look at this kid.

The expression. The pointing finger. The jeans.

I do a lot of praying about Jacob. Not that I don't pray for my other kids. In fact, I pray specifically for all of them every day. But with Jacob, I find myself whispering a lot of "in the moment" prayers.

As the above photo so accurately exhibits, Jacob is a child who does his own thing. For example, if Jake doesn't feel like talking to you, he doesn't whine, or say he doesn't want to talk, or even look at you. You are just invisible to him.

If Jacob wants a bouncy ball from the bouncy ball machine at soccer, and you tell him that you're sorry but you don't have a quarter, he doesn't hear you say that. He just keeps asking and you keep having to tell him over and over that you physically cannot get him a bouncy ball even if you wanted to. It doesn't matter to him. He didn't hear that. He just keeps asking.

If Jacob doesn't want to take a nap, and he screams and cries because you are making him, and so you decide to discipline him for his disrespect, he doesn't care. He will take the discipline and continue to scream and cry so much that you finally have to shut the door and hold it shut so he doesn't succeed in trying to get out, and then you have to (with one hand because the other hand is on the doorknob) reach to the nearby bookshelf and find your copy of The Strong-Willed Child by Dr. Dobson and frantically search the pages to see if there is any other advice for this situation, all while saying an "in the moment" prayer that God would help you to stay in control!

Whew. Just remembering that day wears me out.

Jacob is a good kid. He is also a funny kid. He's a darn cute kid too. He is a good, funny, cute kid...with a very strong will.

I have prayed lots of prayers for wisdom concerning this three year old boy. This task of parenting sometimes seems daunting, doesn't it? But God knows our children. He knows my little boy. He knew what He was doing when He gave him to us, and He has equipped us (though sometimes I question!) to help shape this strong will that He has given Jacob. I mean, if the conviction with which Jake lives his life as a three year old carries over into a life that longs to please the Lord, I can't imagine how much he will be used for the Kingdom!

I'm nowhere near a perfect parent. These "battles" with Jake wear me out sometimes! I always pray that I will know where to draw that fine line of Godly discipline and arbitrary punishment. I try to stick to the areas of disrespect and disobedience, and, you know, if he wants to wear his pants backwards or sport his monster truck galoshes when it's ninety degrees outside, I'll let it go. Some battles aren't worth fighting! I want to spend my energy on the ones that are, and trust that God will show me how to do it, since He knows my son better than I do!

But oh, how I love this kid. He's awesome...backwards jeans and all.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Real Amy Liddle


If you've been following my blog for any reasonable amount of time, you may notice that lately I've been a little restless with the layout, etc. So, in that spirit, I am also in the process of trying to add a few things and have updated my profile.

As I was doing that, I was thinking about all the different people I've "been" over the years (daughter, sister, wife, mother, etc.), it reminded me of an area in my life in which God has totally transformed me.

I'll start with this example:

When I was younger, growing up in a small town, I was always receiving compliments for the way I sang. (Please understand that this is not a boastful statement; instead it is a truthful one that is necessary to prove my point.)

As I grew up and continued singing, I kept receiving praise. Maybe too much praise, because over those formative years, even though I always had a desire to grow in my faith, I was unknowingly being held captive by something: my identity. You see, by the time I finished high school and entered college, my whole identity was wrapped up in who I was as a musician. In other words, I needed praise from people in regards to my music. I needed it so much that if i didn't have it, I felt completely defeated as a person. That is very unstable ground, my friends. Unfortunately, for people who have spent time in the spotlight, it is an easy trap to fall into.

I cannot say enough about God's patience with me. He never gave up on me. Even though I struggled in those areas, maybe He saw in me a heart that was seeking Him as much as it could. He gently brought me to the realization (though gentle is not always without pain) that I was not merely Amy the singer. He taught me that I was much more, created in His image, and that He wanted me to rest in that fact that I was simply...His.

Fast forward through several years and a lot of growing up....

These days, I still love making music. It is a gift that I choose to give back to God. But what's different about these days is that I don't need the praise of others to confirm that I have done that. I have learned that when I sing, God is "hearing" my heart. He knows when I am doing it for Him and when I am doing it for others. It matters to me what He thinks of me. I can rest in the fact that music is a part of who I am, but it is not who I am.

I could go on and on about other facets of my life that I have had (or am currently trying) to lay aside and then realize that I am simply...Amy: forgiven, loved and blameless because of Christ. And you know what? Because God cares enough for me to bring me around, I am also free.

Free from having to depend on others for my joy.
Free from having to worry about making a mistake.
Free to live my life according to what God brings my way, not according to others' expectations (although I would be lying if I said that I have perfected this!)

So, who am I?

Forgiven.
Loved.
Free.

His.

That's who I am.