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.

His Piece, His Time

I like puzzles.  Chaos turned into order. Each piece in its spot.

But, have you ever done a puzzle and found a piece that seems like it should fit?  So, you shove and push, maybe manipulate the edges a little to try to make it fit because for some reason you’ve decided it is the one?

a6f91adb68e4a0bcc523c94cc3aa7897I find myself doing this to my life.  Sometimes forgetting that God has the perfect piece He is preparing and holding for the perfect moment.
My job isn’t to try to find something else to fit a spot, but to wait for God to show me that perfect piece at just the right moment and then act in obedience.

I don’t need to try to strong arm things into working that He doesn’t intend for me.  His piece, his plan is so much better than the ways I try to make something work.

  • S

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

 

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

A Prayer for today and everyday…

A decision has been made. Half of us are happy (and relieved), and half of us are angry (and frightened).

My prayer today is the same as it was yesterday morning.

I pray for our leaders, for our new president elect. I pray for wisdom, perspective, and ears for hearing.

I pray for good, wise counsel. i pray that voices are heard.

14962656_10207667694391113_8661302653781604361_nI pray that the dialogue is filled with words of unity.

I pray for us, the American citizens.

I pray that we can put down our swords and come together after one of the most divisive elections in grace and humility.  Boasting and finger pointing are not only unnecessary, but detrimental.

Ultimately, no matter which side of the political fence you sit on, the same is true today as yesterday –

God is sovereign regardless of who sits in the White House.

-S

His Works and Ours

“For the works of the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.” Jesus in John 5:36

We know Jesus is the Messiah.  His truth, His being spoke to our heart.  But His works (and words) pointed to His undeniable identity about all – His divinity and fulfillment of prophesy.

We are saved through faith.  Period.  End of story.  None of us will ever be good enough.

adfgHowever, our works do point to the master of our soul.  We proclaim to the world our love and devotion to Him by how we act.  We have the amazing potential to point others to Him through our words, our hands, our feet, our attitude.

The healing of hearts, of our world, only comes from salvation, which is only possible through faith.  Through the way we walk through this world, we can help others see the grace and mercy that meet us daily.

So, we must live our lives authentically.  We must live our relationship with Christ out loud.  We must live openly and in love.

  • S

He is Truth

ss“If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.” Jesus in John 5:31

The validity/truth of God’s grace, His goodness, His mercy, salvation is fact.

The truth is proven by millions of testimonies that point to Him.  People have experienced the power of His love, grace, and mercy.  People know His saving power.  His truth has stayed true through generations.  It is not limited by space or age or gender or race.  It knows no limits.

His love is boundless and His arms are open.

Where is my sense of urgency?

So, what if my testimony is the one piece of evidence that someone is waiting for?

After all..the “hour is coming.”

– S

Honesty is the Worst

ca1f2a17cd2008de92debd5a06e6f30eIf you asked me what my priorities are my answer is always on auto pilot -faith and family. I would likely tell you in that order.  I’ve been really convicted over the last week that this has not been true lately.  It is true in my heart, but it is not reflected in my actions…so what does that say about my heart???

We can say we value or prioritize whatever we want, but the truth is revealed in the time and energy we actually devote to different people or categories.  I recently recommended to someone to chart their time to see where their priorities lie. How pretentious of me to suggest that and not apply it to my own life.

So, let me do that here with you. This is what a basic weekday looks like for me… 

15-40  minutes a day on devotions.  Okay, on Sundays you can add extra time for church.  On Mondays, I can add extra time for my Bible study (I started BFS this year and would highly recommend looking for one in your area). Sure, I conversate with God throughout the day.  But still, my set aside devoted daily time is 15-40 minutes

1.25 hours eating – anyone already see the glaring issue right away?  I spend at best twice as much time eating than with God. Eating!

2 hours with  my family, playing with my niece and nephew, hanging out and talking to the most important adults in my life.

1 hour cuddling with a child/children during calm down/bed time

1 -2 hours leisure time – after the kids go to bed  doing whatever I want on that day

6-7 hours of sleep

9 hours at work

Then, throw in a short work out most days.

 

None of these are bad things.  Actually, they are all positive things.  HOWEVER, the overwhelming take home from my weekday schedule?  God is not my priority.  I am letting other, albeit positive, things to come between me and my time with God.  How often do this?  We focus on work, on being “healthy,” on relationships – instead of focusing on the one who truly can sustain us and cares more about us than anyone else can.  We make excuses because they promote a positive, healthy, and balanced life, but forget that God is the number one ingredient to all of those.

If I am not devoting more time to my relationship with God, in His word, praying, meditating on His will – can I honestly say my relationship with Him is my greatest priority?  Simply put, NO.

I’m trying to force myself to be honest with myself.   This means acknowledging the decisions that I am making.  So, when I feel God nudging me to spend time with him at night, but I choose that hour of leisure activity, I am audibly saying, “No, I don’t want to.”  Because by not spending that time with Him, that is what I am saying…

”No, God.  I don’t want to spend this time with you.  I 651c825f1c23f503c629ec8e360d0390really just want to spend it doing X,Y, or Z instead because I think I deserve it.”

By doing this audibly, I am acknowledging my rebellious and selfish spirit.

And let’s be even more honest. I would NEVER say that to my niece or nephew.  So,why am I okay saying that to my Creator, my Comforter, my Savior?  
So, I am trying to make a concentrated effort to pour more into the most important relationship in my life.  I want to be able to logically defend that He really is my first and foremost priority.

Man, honesty hurts.

-S

A Little More Reverence for the Temple

I take a lot of care in a lot of areas of my life. I have high standards and push to meet them.  This is an impossible standard to keep up on everything.  And, so, I always let the same thing slide to the back burner – my physical health.

Everything else seems so much more important, but what I too often forget is that this is an essential component to me being able to do ANYTHING else. My service and honor of God cannot happen without my body.  The healthier I am, the more I can serve God.

I’ve been reading Exodus and Leviticus.  I’m so struck with how much care they had to take with their tabernacle, their temple.  And do I take that much care with my temple?

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.- 1 Corinthians 6:19

22675fde848e04d411bb7edfa3615f77What does this mean – I don’t know.  I don’t know where I carve the time for this.  However, it does mean I can make wiser choices with the time I do have.  Wiser choices with fueling my body.

I need to look at my body differently.  I need to look at my health differently.  I need to respect the temple that God has given me and treat it with the reverence it deserves.

-S