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

Sprinkles are for Winners

Being a wife is way harder than being a mom, possibly more exhausting too. I think it’s because there is no option in not being a mom once you become one. It is eternal and undeniable. However, society has no issues if you stop being a wife. Many people even promote it, there are guide books even.

Society promotes personal happiness over all else; so if your husband doesn’t make you happy, leave him. As a wife, only 4 years in, I can confidently say, your husband will not make you happy a lot of the time.

And if you’re in the middle of littles you may question your sanity and wisdom and love and choice of mate. That is normal.

 

  1. he is a man and wired completely differently
  2. he is a man and therefore does not multi task efficiently
  3. he is a man and thinks he can fix everything with youtube better than a professional
  4. he is human and cannot read minds or thought bubbles (thank goodness sometimes)

 

Choose him anyways. Marriage isn’t supposed to be 50/50; you each carry the weight at different times. Sometimes you give and sometimes you get, and sometimes you can’t tell the difference through the exhaustion.

Society says it’s ok to quit, it’s ok to find your real soul mate and perfect fit. Many godly people say it’s ok to quit if your spouse isn’t godly.

 

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,” 1 Peter 3:1

 

But here’s the thing, once you say “I do,” you become one. And maybe the fit doesn’t seem perfect and maybe its borderline painful at times. But instead of quitting and thinking of all the ways someone else would be better, easier to live with, at least more helpful…

 

Lift each other up, stop pointing out flaws that shrink. Focus on your mistakes instead of his.

sprinklesareforwinners

Most of all remember you’re both tired, and you’re both trying, and you do love each other.

 

And go get some ice cream with or without the littles, because sprinkles help every situation.

(I do think there are some serious reasons for separation, this post is not in reference to abuse of any kind)

  • J

Not So Simple

not so simple filter“look for ways to serve the Lord” – actively pursue and search for AND act in ways that serve the Lord.

 

Small ways. Big ways. Simple ways. Complex ways. Self-sacrificing ways.

 

Anyway you can, say yes when God nudges. Anyway you point others towards His light, His love – that is serving the Lord.

 

Part of being a Christian is learning to be a mindful thinker, giving our fleshy impulses to the Holy Spirit and leaning on His power to act accordingly.

 

notsimple filterHarnessing my tongue, the strongest muscle in the human body, the smallest weapon I carry with me daily, connected directly to my thoughts; my heart.

 

My tongue is the number one way I do not serve the Lord.

 

I do not filter my words or my tone with one simple question, “will these words serve the Lord’s purpose or mine?”

 

All words serve a purpose. Very rarely are words purely superfluous. Are mine serving my own agenda, fueling my wants and desires to be heard and seen and understood?

 

Or do my words speak truth, and compassion and love, and point those I’m closest to, as well as passerbys, to God’s love and purpose?

 

Can I learn to filter my tongue with this one guiding principle? Will I spend my whole life trying?

Only with God’s grace every day…

– J

Not a People Person

I’m not really a people person in the broader sense of the phrase. Strangers catch me off guard and leave me somewhere between awkward shock and utter irritation. However, I’m slightly obsessed with my roots and my home people.

Yet, I think most friendships are expendable. (I blame moving a lot and an abnormal soul connection with my sister.)

I also know God disagrees. People are not expendable, friendships, relationships, are not optional. People matter above everything else. And strangers, new friends, old friends, this is how we let Jesus out of us and into the world.

My awkwardness and irritations rise because I am focusing on my agenda, my day, my plans, my feelings, not His will.

He made us for communion and community, the Bible is clear on this. And blogging safely from my neon chair with my coffee is not enough.

I must live out what I believe,

“even if I stumble, even if I fall. Even if I lose my step and make fools of us all.” – DC Talk

I must learn to be a people person, to be there repeatedly for people even when I want silence. I must sacrifice some of my time to give into God’s time.

He uses people, and ordinary moments. How many ordinary opportunities have I missed to spread love this week.

It’s Thursday and I have 4 missed calls.

  • J

 

Anything

“ the hardest things in life give you the most God” Jennie Allen

 

My life isn’t that hard or extraordinary. It’s actually pretty simple and dare I say (normal.)

 

I’ve started praying for anything.

 

Lord, I give you everything; do anything you want.

 

And somehow I sincerely and hesitantly mean it. Some small answers have been given. Mostly waits and not yets and keep going and keep mothering.

 

These answers are hard for my mermaid soul, I long to go deeper. Waiting and mothering often don’t feel awe-inspiring or like big, Godly work.

 

I’m learning Godly work is most often small though. It’s not the numbers reached or biggest impact; God uses small people in ordinary moments.

 

He says give your lunch, your knapsack of pretzels and pb & j and apple, and HE will make it worthy. He doesn’t say make a banquet feast and display it aesthetically on instagram and watch how many people He touches with it.

 

rlstedman
R.L. Stedman

Give your meal and he will feed 5,000.

 

It’s small steps, it’s a willingness to answer those small nudges.

 

So today, I’m finally making the cookies, for the neighbors. Not because I want to. I find conversations with them borderline painful. The nudge won’t leave though, and it’s a kind one.

 

And I said I would do anything.

 

t

Fierce Love

fierce-love-prophetic-art-by-marilyn-simandleI’m reading this book called “Choose Joy,” it’s excellent and uplifting and holds me accountable for my own joy. Regardless of the circumstances of my life.

Which is a good thing. But today I don’t feel like choosing joy.

My husband is gone, bug had a horrible night, Nici is…well Nici, always intense (one way or another), and I’m supposed to be compassionate. I’m tired.

 

I’m supposed to choose joy and radiate Christ. I do feel like flipping some tables, Christ did that…so does that count?

 

As Christians we are held to high standards, which is a good thing, a biblical thing. However we are often judged, for having those standards, “you call yourself a Christian, yet judge others.”

 

Yes, I judge how people show love. I’m working on it, my empathy, compassion, grace (whatever you want to call it) is growing. But my standards for how we should love one another is high. And that is Biblical.

 

That doesn’t mean loving everyone is easy. It does mean we are called to try. It also means holding myself and those I love to high standards. I’m passionate and overly emotional…so is my God.

 

You don’t let your son die for others, for sinners, for those completely unworthy, unless you’re overcome with fierce irrational love.

 

You don’t hang suffering and tortured unless overcome with fierce irrational love.

 

So I’m reading this “Choose Joy” book, not feeling joyful, not feeling overcome with love. But feeling fierce.

 

And maybe that isn’t something to push aside as I search for sunshine. Maybe God purposefully placed this fierce beast within me so I could accomplish great irrational things.

 

Regardless of who is uncomfortable with it (myself included).

 

And yes, fierceness requires high expectations and unbounding love.

  • J

Impossible Love

motheres-impossible-love-louise-bourgeois-and-tracey-eminA mothers love is impossible. You learn an entirely new dimension to love when you become one.

Each time a baby is born so is love. So is a mom.

Each child has a different mom, because each child is unique and requires it.

So all those articles for “first time” moms are kind of crap….unless you read them with reverence for each consecutive child (or my personal preference, not at all.)

The good moms spend our entire lives, our very existence and all the moments in between simply being mom, and trying to figure out how to be the best mom our child needs.

We err on the side of love, but no matter what they get to grow up.

And some babes yell loud, and early, and late and always. And some prefer silent rebellion. And some mess up early and walk gentle and stubborn, moving mountains in supposed solitude.

And yet, some feel deeply and let anger penetrate and some crave love to the point of idiocy.

And some babes are still little and outright defiant and give literal smacking kisses.

Being a mom is an impossible blessing, they grow up, they mess up, they wear you down.

But if you’ve done it right they have learned…err on the side of love.

So sleep peaceful, weary mommas, knowing you’ve done your all and it was the best and it was good enough.

And if all they learn is love, that’s good enough. It will guide them back. Because a heart ready for love is a heart ready for Christ.

-J

The Holy Option

Exodus 22:51 “you are to be my holy people…”

What does it even mean to live a holy life?

Yes, I’ve got Jesus.

Yes, I pray. Yes, I know I am forgiven without mosaic rituals. But what in MY personal journey needs some redirecting…could use some holy water.

Needs refocusing to “seek him first”

Striving for holiness is like striving for perfection, except failure is an option and expectation thanks to grace and mercy.

So, as a Christchild, a daughter of royalty, holiness IS my high throne, my birthright and gift.

IF I choose it. IF I am willing to seek him first and again and again.

But the question remains, what in my life must I purposefully redirect on Christ.

And the answer comes fairly simple to me, yet hits hard. Love.

I like to think I live love out. I love hard and obvious and my love standards are high.

I also snap, hard and obvious and it hurts those I love most.

Tensions can be high. Love is strong.

the-holy-optionI get to choose which one will be louder. And I pray for grace and mercy and strength to choose the holy option.


Keep awake! Watch at all times. The devil is working against you. He is walking around like a hungry lion with his mouth open. He is looking for someone to eat. – 
1 Peter 1:5-8

And so I know I must purposefully choose love. It may not come naturally, but it is my holy calling.

– J

He Speaks

“And the dialect of God is the day just as it comes” Ann Voskamphe-speaks

 

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.

 

God 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 cant rightly explain it.

 

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

-J

 

Old Godly Way

Ask for the old, Godly, way and walk in it. Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

I’m still looking for a verse for this year (yes, I’m running out of time). I’m also reading through Jeremiah right now. I’m not sure why, so far it’s somewhat dull despite the hellfire warnings on repeat.

But this little gem of a verse stood out. Screamed directly to my spirit, embodying all I’m yearning for. Rest. Soul rest.

 

I do know I wanted something different this year. A little less processed, less compared, more content life.

Truthfully I want smaller bills and a bigger garden. I want a mouth overflowing with praise, not complaints. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’ve reached any of those goals.

So I’m thinking about this verse, “the Godly way”

Do I even know what that looks like in my frazzled uncomfortable body?

Is it as simple as contentment and gratitude? Simply being present in the now, while striving for a better “next?”

old-godly-way-kristinschmuckerIs it possible to do, to be both?

God is love. Faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Maybe the godly way is simply choosing love. Not choosing joy, not choosing contentment, not choosing the sprinkled donut. Choosing love.

And when this year, this moment gets too overwhelming, when I can’t see the love choice through the exhaustion and over the screaming fits…I will promise myself to slow down. To sit down and repeat, to beg for…

the old, Godly way, and walk in it…and there I will find rest for my soul.

  • J