What do you do when you go to the bathroom?

Last week, I got to spend several days in a Jewish day school.  As you can imagine, the experience was fascinating, enlightening, and rewarding both personally and professionally.  Being surrounded by others’ outer expressions and declarations of faith really had me reflecting on my own.

One observation in particular has continued to lead to more reflection since leaving…

The first day I spent at the school, I started in the kindergarten class.  They start their day with davening, which are specific prayers that reminded me very much of hymns, but with a more specific purpose.  So, these little kids are learning the special prayers that they will use to worship for the rest of their lives.

paperOne that they learned was a prayer that they were learning to say after each time they went to the bathroom, a prayer of thankfulness that their bodies were working.

Every time they go to the bathroom, they take time to thank God for keeping their bodies working. I don’t know about you, but God doesn’t typically come into my mind when going to the bathroom.

But why not? Isn’t He my Creator?  My Keeper?  My ultimate “maintenance guy?”

Every single thing I do should not just be done in, but preceded and followed by gratitude and praise!

What a difference it would make to our attitudes and lives if we looked at ALL of our experiences as a gift from God – if we recognized his majesty and power in everything – give thanks for everything always.

I learned so much and am still processing my visit to this school.  But I do know that those four and five year old Jewish boys and girls humbled my heart. They pushed me to contemplate all the ways that God’s hands reach into my life and be grateful for His many blessings He shows me everyday –  not just subliminally thankful, but intentionally and explicitly grateful.

– S

And Yet We Fail

As I read through the early books of the New Testament, Jesus love for His disciples is so apparent.  He knew them deeply, recognized their flaws, but still loved them beyond measure.  And yet, in John 13, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times, and Peter does.

Just like Peter, Jesus knows we will fail in big ways.

We can love God, devote huge parts of ourselves and our lives to Him, and we will still fail.

And Jesus will still love us. God will still shower us with mercy.

blog2We are not asked to be perfect, but to continuously see Him, draw closer to Him.  Allow our souls to be touched and moved by Holy Spirit.

Then, maybe, we can catch ourselves sometimes before we stumble and fall…

But, even if not, we will be able to rise from our own ashes to walk beside Him once more

….and every other time that God already knows we will fail, we can kneel in humility under His grace.

How blessed I am to be known and loved so deeply with the full knowledge of my failing humanity.

Please Be Ridiculous!

What is faith?  Hebrews 11 describes it as” confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  I like to think of it as belief in action.

Like Joseph (as in Jesus’ earthly dad, not technicolor dream coat).

Joseph responded repeatedly in obedience every time God directs him…and these are crazy  directions by all earthly understanding!

“Mary, though pregnant, is a virgin.  Marry her!”

“The king of all the land wants to kill your baby.  Leave!”

The king has died go back to Israel…oh wait, there is a bad ruler there. Go to Nazareth!”

do-itThese are NOT normal commands.  Yet, Joseph obeyed.

God would have ensured Jesus’ success as a perfect sacrifice regardless of Joseph – because His love for us is too great.  BUT, Joseph listened and followed God.  He played his part to bring God’s perfect will of how Jesus would come to us.

I want faith that responds to the seemingly ridiculous…

because often the seemingly ridiculous leads to the mirculous!

  • S


A Self-Reliant Man

a-good-self-reliant-man-vintage-art-posterI married a good man, who was taught to need no one. That kind of mindset is highly applauded these days…

Take care of yourself

Do your own thing

Depend on no one

Plant your own flowers

Frost yourself


Which are all great sentiments, to an extent. Except for the wife who was loved too much as a child and wants to be lavishly loved on as an adult.


The world is shifting – I know more people with divorced parents than committed.


It’s really no wonder people think independence and self reliance is the key.


Yet, I was raised to rely on each other. I was raised based on the most dependent love, Christ love. The most pure, uncomplicated, yet wholly dependent love.


As a believer and as a wife that is hard. It’s hard loving a man so unvulnerable, a man with so many walls.


It must be done, with Christ love, over and over and with a gentle word…


And there in lies my problem. Thank goodness I can be wholly dependent on my God for grace and mercy and love as I try my best, to rededicate my life to Him and to him.


And to see the day the walls come down.

  • J

Christmas is Over

15419767_10109356708892194_5520719584611047593_oChristmas was hard for me this year. We decorated and trimmed, not one, but three trees. We drank plenty of hot chocolate and ate candy and sang the songs more than ever before.


And it all felt like it sounds: secular and beautiful and surface. And I often felt like a character going through motions.


I didn’t have the warm and cozies despite the oodles of family and good things. I felt so off I even started an advent devotional- which sounds lovely but was truly an act of desperation, to find and cling to the Christmas of old.


We had a Jesus Birthday cake, but my December felt desperate for Christ.


My home needs to be saturated, not in Christmas decorations, but Christ.


15589580_10109446017117794_5125888555205362410_nChristmas is over but it didn’t end, it was just the beginning. January 1st was the new year, but Christmas is the new life.


And the only way to feel Christmas when 12 months roll along is to live in the depths of Christ the next 11.


So here’s to a new year, a new beginning Christened in a secular glow with a holy reality


Christ was born, Christ has risen, and Christ lives in me. In this very drafty old home, Christ abides.


So it’s about time I start seeing Him everywhere.

– J

Rejoice, Be Glad

“and the greatest gift we can give our God is to let his love make us happy”- Ann Voskamp


Before becoming a mom I wouldn’t have fully understood this. But now, three kids later, it rings true and hard.


I so desperately want my love to be enough. I want them smothered and adored and laughing in the bliss of it all.


I want them fearless and bold and secure and glad to be themselves in this world, because my love has brought them there.


But my love will never be enough. Even if I didn’t fail daily, even if I wasn’t hanging on the end trying to regrip most days. I couldn’t; I cant fill them up enough.


There is a cross shaped hole, a longing in their tiny souls for a perfect love I can’t fill.


And as a mom that is hard. I want to fill it up. As a human, a sigh is let out and the pressure lifted, I can’t be enough, but I know the one who can.


This Christmas there is so much hustle and bustle and trying to get situated and in our new groove. Growing pains are running rampant and I feel guilty everyday.


I am not enough for them.


And that is ok. Moms that is ok.


rejoiceJust lean on the One who is. Talk to the One who can fill them, talk about the One who came down small as them and will put the broken pieces of them and this world back together again. He will put the pieces of me right where he designed them to be, in His hand. He created me to be their mom, I am enough for this moment, but not for their hearts. Only His love can truly fulfill their needs


And the greatest gift I can give back to Him is to let His love, His perfect love fill my holes, fill my guilt, wrap me up and make me glad.


Rejoice, Hosanna, Glory to the King of Kings.


He is mine and I am glad.


Christmas Started Early

Christmas starts early in this house. (Each year it seems a little sooner than the last.) And I wake up early, sitting here, looking at our three Christmas trees. The earlier Christmas starts, the more money people make, the more commercial it can become.

But the earlier we start, the holier the outcome.

Between candy cane clusters placed excitedly with two year old hands and fisher price Jesus in the plastic cart…under the blinking tree…you can feel the secular merge with the holy and it’s magical and meaningful.

christmas-starts-earlyFaith was designed, intended for the masses. It’s natural for the worlds to collide; this odd pairing of elf and manger.

All glitter, all one star.

But it’s fitting, because my life is all mess, lovely, and smelly, and faulty. And too often I say no to God. I place him in the manger, holy baby perfect, and deserving, right into the middle of the smelly mess.

I turn him away every time I’m too busy.

And yet his perfect grace lights me up, washes the grime off, and decorates me from the inside out.


I shine glitter, sacred glitter, holy elves.


Santa giving, Nici giving, God’s grace given.


It’s for the masses and it’s full of meaning, and I’m fairly certain the angels rejoice when each tree is lit – a  holy secular merger of peace, love, family, and faith.


Lit up bright with elves and candy cane magic, reminding us of the not so plastic Jesus in a manger.

  • J

Getting Over Myself

In many ways society tells us how we feel matters most in life. Do what makes you happy. You deserve the very best. Indulge yourself.


get-over-yourselfI do believe in striving for a happy life, and eating red velvet cupcakes, any flavor cupcake, in extra sprinkles and life at the beach.


I’m also fully confident that how I feel isn’t really all that important and I certainly don’t deserve all the good lavishly afforded to me.


My God simply and desperately loves me, and wants good things for me. However sometimes that costs, and sometimes I’m told, “because I said so.”


And like my Nici not understanding why he can’t have ALL the dinosaurs or just suckers for dinner (and lunch and breakfast) I may question my Father’s logic.


Which is silly considering God isn’t logical, faith isn’t logical, love isn’t logical.


And contrary to societies beaming message that my feelings, my life is most important, being a mom is a crash course in fully internalizing this phalacy.


How I feel comes after my purpose, simply, desperately and extravagantly loving my babies.


And right now I’m praying for the courage to set down how “I feel.” To not gage my life on a moment’s happiness while in a difficult season.


I am lavishly loved and blessed, and need to get over myself.

– J

And So, I’m Okay with the Suffering…Today

As Christians (and really just as humans) we always have this constant question of why there has to be suffering.  How can a loving and merciful God allow such misery as that which exists all around us?

There are big answers about free will and the continuous, if already won, battle between powers of Heaven and Darkness.  But, that doesn’t necessarily help the specific.  What about this specific situation of suffering of so and so?

I was reminded of this constant debate when I was reading Exodus this week.  In Chapter 9, God sends the plague that kills the Egyptians’ livestock and the boils.    Before sending the hail, God talks to Pharaoh through Moses and tells him,

But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Exodus 9: 16.

God makes sure Pharaoh understands that He could have struck Pharaoh down at any point, but chose to save him for this moment.  So, Pharaoh is suffering, but not dying, to show God’s power.

But what we cannot ignore is that the Egyptians weren’t the only ones suffering.  The Israelites were in slavery.  They had been in slavery for generations!  As if slavery isn’t bad enough, the conditions of their enslavement were being tightened all the time.

So, for me, the underlying implication of this verse is that, yes, God allowed Pharaoh to live and suffer to show God’s power .  I can justify that in my own earthly logic (a tyrant, a slaver) – but He also allowed generations of Israelites to suffer for the same reason for this same moment.

I don’t claim to know God’s plan.  But He seems to make it clear that their suffering contributes to a layer of purpose that seemingly does not directly even tie to them.  So, if generations of Israelites could suffer for this moment of demonstration of power.  Then, why would I think my suffering is always about me?

This can be a hard pill to swallow.  So, God is having people suffer – lots of people – so at some future date He can show His power?  Maybe.

Or maybe there is a reason this time that ties directly into my life.  A lesson to be learned, some blessing to be gained that I cannot see.

But sometimes, I think we make the mistake of assuming everything is about us.  And it just isn’t.  We are small and insignificant compared to the greatness of His universe.  My brain is too limited by the confines of my earthly experience to understand on any intellectual, emotional, or spiritual level the magnitude of our God.

So, I am left with one choice.  Faith.  I believe and trust a God who loves me and who has a plan for me, but I also believe and trust a God who saved the world and has a plan to maximize salvation, which may mean effects for me or others that I don’t understand or seem unfair.

But, you know what?  I’m okay with that.

  • S

He Speaks

“And the dialect of God is the day just as it comes” Ann Voskamp

I pray a lot more now than I used to. I’m a mom and a wife, on my knees is a way of life: scooping up toys, lifting up babies, cleaning up spills… begging for new mercies and more grace. Desperately seeking wisdom in this journey.


he-speaksGod has the ability but, in my experience, rarely speaks loudly. His message is powerful and perfect and He can bend the winds of my life; I suppose that’s why He doesn’t shout.


He is communicating constantly; it’s just in our amplified neon world it is easy to miss the wind.


My God talks in subtleties; in rainy days and perfectly timed peonies, in traffic jams and puppy kisses, his guiding hand, a forceful slow down child.


He wakes me before dawn to ponder life with Him and see the world in the clear dark of dew.


Faith, communication, is more than a feeling or a justification of wants and I can’t rightly explain it.


But He speaks all day and I can only hear when I quiet down, and it’s worth the slow down.