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

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Let’s Celebrate!!

6ffc87d6fc501dbbb19237aacc5656d7Celebrate good times, come on!

…and bad, and easy,and hard – because God is to be glorified  in everything.

This is what God has been commanding my heart so far in 2017.  Celebrate!  And there is so much to celebrate.

God is good always.  Our salvation is secure.  My hope and joy should rest in Him.  Life ebbs and flows, but He is constant!  He never changes,never leaves.  So, there is always reason to celebrate.

Jesus came not only to give believers life that lasts forever, He intends for us to experience this eternal quality of life right now.” (my BFS notes from this week)

That is not to say He promises an easy life full of only rainbows and sunshine, but that there is always reason to celebrate Him.  Joy always comes in the morning.

That is what celebrate has come to mean to me so far this year – worshiping God in joy over specific things, events, or people.  I often started a day thanking God for blessings, which resulted in a grateful and humble heart.  As I’ve been celebrating things with God in the morning over the last two weeks, I am still grateful, but I am overwhelmed with joy.

Some early celebrations this year:

  • I celebrate the sunshine.
  • I celebrate softly falling fat snowflakes.
  • I celebrate Scooby Doo with littles that can only be watched in TiTi’s bedroom.
  • I celebrate a family who cries with and delights in one another.
  • I celebrate a body designed be broken and cut open, and, heal again.
  • I celebrate recognized competency leading to responsibility (okay I had to talk myself into celebrating that one).
  • I celebrate that the depths of despair grow empathy and stronger searches for light.
  • I celebrate a God that knows me, loves me, and wants me.
  • I celebrate new beginnings.
  • I celebrate that my identity is rooted in God.
  • I celebrate that this is not my home.
  • I celebrate His air that fills my lungs.

And so, with each breath in, I will marvel at His majesty.

And with each exhale, I will celebrate his bountiful blessings.

  • S

In the Boring Stuff

“Motherhood is the hardest assignment I’ve ever been given and the most extraordinary life that exists.” Brooke McGothlin

 

extraordinary: very unusable or remarkable

 

exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, stunning, incredible, unbelievable…

 

This journey I am on.

 

I find it highly interesting that the word best used to describe my life (motherhood) is extraordinary.

 

Extra + ordinary.

 

And so many of my days are so incredibly extra (super) ordinary, and mundane and repetitive.

 

So ordinary that if you blink you miss the magic, and another same day with the same shows has repeated itself.

 

It’s a work, a discipline in training the mind to see the magic. To see Christ in the dishes. To see the holy work in the laundry, and the kisses, and the spilled messes.

 

If you blink too long, you miss the EXTRAordinary parts –

 

The extra cuddles after long naps or crankies,

 

The extra help cleaning up,

 

The extra minutes of water play,

 

The extra I love yous, followed with extra puppy kisses.,

 

The extra warmth in your bed, only noticed by its absence,

 

The extra nudge to slow down and look down and notice the ordinary in a new lens,

 

The extra nudge to notice the flutterby (butterfly) on the flowers,

 

And the extra cake and snacks,

boring-stuff

And syrup forever being associated with chubby baby Nici hands.

 

These are the moments of an extraordinary life. They aren’t flashy and well groomed and held in high esteem by society. They are what make a life worth living though.

 

And they are what make memories, the big things come and go; we are left with the day to day. The days make a life.

  • J

 

In the Midst of It

5bf873a2796a7e5a30aa92e085a2d1a4I am so grateful.  I want to be so grateful.  I love when I come to the end of something and can see how God worked things to come together for good- when I literally can see His promises of goodness fulfilled.  

However, we aren’t really supposed to wait until that point to be grateful.  We should worship in thanksgiving in the midst of it because we know He will grant what He has promised … even if we don’t see it yet.

In Genesis 24, Abraham sent a servant to get a wife for Isaac ~ confident that God would go before the servant and provide.  The servant made a sign with God to know which woman to choose.  When the woman said the words of the signal, the servant praised God.  Then and there – before talking to her father (which would have been essential to closing any marriage agreement).  

Anything could have still gone wrong.  Yet, the servant didn’t wait until he had talked and confirmed with her dad or for all the details to be finalized.  He worshipped and thanked God for the blessing in the midst of it.  He stopped the process midway because he knew God would see it through.  

How often do I do this?  Or do I wait until it’s “safe” to be thankful?

God is so good.  It doesn’t always make sense.  It doesn’t always seem fair, let along pleasant.  But He is good and honest and just…and we can stop midway in the process, uncertain of the details and worship Him in gratefullness because He is in control and will provide according to His promises and His will.

luke145regularSo, let’s stop waiting until the end of a process and start worshipping and thanking Him right in the midst of the process.  Maybe it will be in the midst of a process where the positivie end is in sight like this servant, or maybe it will be in the midst of it when it is painful and dark with no light in sight.  

Any time and all times, I want my soul to sing His praise!  I just have to remember to stop and keep my eyes focused on Him in thanksgiving.

-S

Give Thanks

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances”

1 Thessalonians 5:16

Attitude matters as much as behavior. I’ve been told this my entire life… “its not what you say, its how you say it.”

There are a few key people I’d like to shove this concept down their throat, nicely, and on repeat.

Truth is I need it for myself, just as much and maybe worse.

I understand the concept, I even understand how it applies to me. I’m still grappling with how to effectively apply it.

I’m apologizing a lot these days.

My inner snapdragon feels justified and then uncontrollable and then guilty.

Anger easily fills me up, I hate this, but it’s a truth.

I can easily write lists and lists in my gratitiude journal and I do, daily. And anger still seeps in and would fuel me entirely if I let it.

I could spew flames about 10 different situations while being grateful for 20 and run off the endorphins for miles…I’m not sure what that means about me.

Anger easily fuels me, then leaves me smoldering ashes to clean up…internally and externally.

give thanks“Give thanks in ALL circumstances”

God’s directive is pretty clear, so today I will give thanks not complaints. I will rejoice if it kills me…and I’ll work on tomorrow, tomorrow.

-J

Blessings Accumulation

“ Every time we feel satisfied with what we have, we can be counted as rich, however little we may actually possess” Alain De Botton

I have a slight obsession these days with de cluttering, organizing, reorganizing, decorating, redecorating, donating, simplifying…

Some would call it nesting, but there’s no denying I also do this when I’m not pregnant and grasping for more order, more control in my life. Surely moving the sofa across the room and adding a bookshelf with some baskets will bring internal peace, right?!

I guess in many ways this correlation between rearranging my home and control is a good thing because turning to controlling my eating is second nature.

I like order. I also enjoy controlled chaos. I like it woven together to my liking in bold color chunks, well designed for optimal use.

blessing accumulation1I’m supremely good at cleaning out cupboards, boxes, shelves, closets…I place very little emotional value on objects. And I am a highly emotional person. Which is why I love that quote by Alain de Botton.

I can easily de clutter my living space because the real, the hard, work is done internally. I have deep meaningful relationships with numerous people that fill me up. I have a deep rooted faith that reassures me in quiet confidence that my battles, my daily struggles, my lack of control, are already pre-determined and won (even if the war is ugly).

I don’t need trinkets (and yes I do have a few I adore) because no visual reminders are necessary when I have flesh and blood companions to carry on life with. And so, daily I try to remind myself just how rich, just how blessed I truly am.

When life gets crazy I will continue to simplify (so if you visit and it appears I’ve gone minimalist you’ll know its been a stressful season). I will purge externally because internally I am so fully aware of the growing accumulation of blessings I have somehow been deemed worthy of.

-J

Expectant Gratitude

“With gratitude for what he had not yet received, Abram [Abraham] worshipped as if there was no doubt about God’s truthfulness.” from Lucifer’s Flood by Linda Rios Brook

I like to think that I am a generally thankful person.  I recognize many of the blessings that God has given me.  However, what about the ones that He has promised and I haven’t yet received?  Because He has made some bold ones (see Be Bold) to all of us and I can hear Him making some individualized bold ones to me now if I would let Him.  How will I respond to these bold promises of what He can give me?  I hope like Abraham!

Talk about bold promises – look at what God promised Abraham.  There are no dark obscurities here; it’s quite the list.

  • God will bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who treat Abraham with contempt (Gen. 12:3).
  • God will bless all families on earth through Abraham (Gen. 12:3).
  • God will give Abraham a son through his wife despite  the fact that they were way beyond the age to physically be able to have kids (Gen, 15:4).
  • God  promises Abraham will have more descendant than the stars (Gen. 15:5).
  • God promises Abraham more land (Canaan) than Abraham could ever have imagined for himself (Gen. 15:7)

These were crazy, huge, BOLD promises.  What was Abraham’s response to these promises upon God promising them NOT upon actually receiving them?  Sacrifices, altars, and gratitude.

“With gratitude for what he had not yet received, Abram [Abraham] worshipped as7b4a9512f37533fcd0ab69dd1d07a462 if there was no doubt about God’s truthfulness.” from Lucifer’s Flood by Linda Rios Brook

Abraham trusted that God would follow through, even in the seeming impossible.   He didn’t wait until he received a blessing or understood how God would make good on these bold promises.  He worshipped God in gratitude right then and there with the confidence that God would follow through in those promises that were earthly and those that were heavenly, in those promises that Abraham would see and those that were for his children and their children.  He had unwavering faith that God would follow through.  This type of faith leads to many miracles, but it also leads to a spirit of gratitude for our Savior.

Lord, flood me with gratitude for all your bold promises you have made and are making to me!
-S