Covering My Head

About a month ago I began covering my head. I’ve kept pretty quiet about it because I’m not a fan of drawing attention to myself, but I’ve had a few people ask me about it, so I figured I’d write a bit about my experience.

I have pondered the idea of head covering for a few years and was opposed to it until recently. Back in September, I went to a women’s retreat and got some major breakthrough in my relationship with the Lord, specifically in the area of hearing his voice. I’ve often struggled with doubt in that area – doubt that He would speak to me, doubt that I would recognize it.

After I got home, I couldn’t shake the head covering thing. God kept bringing people into my life who covered and I started thinking about it more and studying it more.

There are many reasons why women cover, and many different social backgrounds. In Judaism, it is a mitzvah of modesty, coming from Numbers 5:18 where the woman’s head covering is removed as part of the test for unfaithfulness, and further taught in the Talmud. In Christianity, it comes from the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 about praying with your head covered and is more about your relationship to God than your husband. There are also many other religious and non-religious reasons.

In my studies, I couldn’t come to a point where I believed either approach was a mandate for me – I’m not Jewish, and I’ve read enough in-depth study on the Corinthians passage to believe that God doesn’t mandate a cover in order to pray.

So I continued talking with the Lord about it, wanting a black and white answer, because that’s how I roll. 😉 And what I got from Him was that He wants me to cover my head for a season, and that I’ll understand why when I need to.

I’ve been covering daily for a month now and it has been such a blessing to me. First, I have peace knowing that I’m waking in obedience to God’s word for me. It helps me keep my focus on the Lord all day. Having something on my head is a constant reminder that He is with me, that He sees me, and that I need to submit to Him. It helps me stay accountable for my choices. Plus, I feel beautiful and special, and in that way it reminds me that I am a daughter of the King, and His hands in this world. 🙂

I think we all have a tendency to see choices others make and view them as a judgement on us. “You eat this way? That must mean you judge the way I eat! You parent this way? That must mean you judge the way I parent!” I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable with my choice because they think that I must be judging them. I don’t cover because I think that wrapping itself is what everyone should do – I do it because the Lord told me to do it. 

I don’t know how long this season will last, but it has been such a blessing to me – so much more than I expected!

Shalom…

– Judy

Meet Our Newest Addition!

 

This past Shabbat we enjoyed a lovely brunch of crepes and coffee, then went to clean up, to find that our home has been discovered by the local mouse population! Needless to say, the rest of our Shabbat wasn’t very restful as we threw away food and cleaned up the attempt at a nest built by our visitor.

But the upside of this is that we decided to get a cat, and found this cute little guy on Craigslist! Meet Simba, our adorable orange tabby!

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As we were getting ready to pick him up, I remembered that as a young girl I wanted an orange tabby cat! I love how God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts, even the ones we forgot were there. 🙂

An Update on Us

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Well, spring is starting to come to Idaho at long last! We had a lovely winter, one we won’t forget. It was full of memories and surrounded by family.

In November, we had the honor of adding another member to the extended Rich clan, as Mark’s youngest brother got married. The kids were as cute as can be, all dressed up and thrilled to be getting another aunt!

At the very end of November, we moved out of our rental home and into Mark’s parents’ house for what was supposed to be a couple of weeks while they finished our new house. But 2 weeks turned into 2 months, and we ended up spending the better part of the winter there! It was tight quarters for all 9 of us, but it was also a very special time of bonding with his parents. I missed them when we finally moved into our own place!

Finally, towards the end of January, we moved into our new home! It has been a good transition for us, and we are finally feeling like we’re getting into a good groove. 🙂 I’m working on not being too task-driven, letting the settling in happen slowly and naturally, box by box. This is a big deal for me, because in past moves I have been hurried to get everything unpacked as soon as possible. Not this time! Maybe it’s because we own this house, I don’t know, but I just don’t feel that rush. It’s good.

The other thing that has been very good for us is that along with getting settled in, our Sabbaths have become more restful and predictable. We had really been missing that sacred time of focus on God and family. We’ve started attending a Bible study on Erev Shabbat (Friday night) and still reserve Saturdays for family.

And as good as winter has been, we are sure looking forward to spring! I’m ready for warmer weather and days spent planting in the sun. The kids get outside quite a bit now, but I know they can’t wait until they can run around without jackets on! Bring on the sunshine!

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Six Months of No Blogging

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It has been six months since my last entry here! What happened to me? Well, to make a long story short, I decided that living life took priority over writing, and that my kids needed me more than my blog. I know I never wrote frequently, but I always felt like I *should* be writing more – and I struggled with guilt over it. Dumb, right? I mean, here I am with my real, flesh-and-blood family and I’m fretting over a blog. Now, I love my friends who read what I write, but sorry y’all – you’re not my priority! 🙂 So anyway, once I realized that, I decided to take a break from my blog – get some distance and perspective. Eventually I would return and hopefully have some joy and life to share with you all!

So, six months. A lot can happen in a half of a year, and that is true in our lives for sure! We are all doing well. The kids are growing like crazy and are a delight to spend my days with. Eliza has joined a fun program called American Heritage Girls – a scouting program for Christian girls – and is really enjoying making friends and earning badges. Judah is really growing into a big boy, reading voraciously and learning responsibility. Caleb has begun official homeschooling and is excited about learning to read and do math. Avigail is developing her spunky, fun personally I in leaps and bounds and is finally potty training, to my delight! And Micah – my sweet baby – has celebrated his first birthday and is doing his best to keep up with all his big siblings.

But the biggest thing that has happened in the life of our family is that we are in the process of building our own home on acreage. Back in January, we found a piece of land that we really liked, but the timing wasn’t right for buying. In March we took a look at the market again and that piece of land was still available. Almost 5 acres, just off the boundary of BLM land, no CCRs or HOA. Exactly what we were praying for. And it took a few months of figuring out the details, but in August our builder closed on the land and began the process of building our home. We are blessed to have found a wonderful builder who understands our priorities for our home and has been super flexible and knowledgeable to help us make our dream come true.

Anyway, we have about 2 more months until we move, and in the meantime my life will be filled with purging, cleaning, packing, and making house decisions. I may be updating my blog periodically, or I may not. 😉 But know that we are doing very well, enjoying life, and living richly!

~Judy

My Word for the New Year

The first day of the new school year, Rosh Hashanah, my birthday, New Years Day. All of these are new beginnings, fresh starts. I love fresh starts. I love a good excuse to evaluate and set new goals – makes me feel productive and refreshes my hope in the future.

This year, my RSS feed has been full of new years resolutions, goals, and focuses for this coming year.  I wanted to write something myself, but I was finding myself stuck. I had lots of ideas, but I didn’t know if they were from God, or from my own self.  So instead of blasting full-strength ahead, I’ve spent this week meditating on different things, and I believe now have some direction for 2014.

First of all, I wanted to have an anchor word for 2014.  Something to hold to when my world gets topsy-turvy and I’m losing my focus again.  My anchor word is Intentional.

Intentional.

It’s not all that unique or creative of a word, but it’s where I believe God wants me to focus this year.  In life, we have many seasons.  2013 was a year filled with pregnancy and caring for a newborn.  It was a year of gripping on tightly to the roller-coaster and trusting God to see me through.  And of course, He was faithful as He always is.  When barely holding on, counting the hours of sleep on one hand, it’s hard to live with much intention.  I’m okay with that, though.  I know that the wild ride is part of the season of newborns and new beginnings.  I enjoyed the ride and have so many sweet memories from those months!  I learned a lot about prioritizing my life and letting go of things that don’t truly matter.

Now we’ve begun 2014, and I am thankful for that year of prioritizing and letting go, and it has opened the door for me to live with more intention in this new year.

There are a few areas of my life in which I want to be more intentional.

1. My Walk with God – I desperately need to get back to my daily (pre-kids-waking) quiet time.  I did well on this until Micah was born, and since then it has slipped away.  Must get it back.  Must pursue my God with reckless abandon.   Must hide His Word in my heart. I’ve been a reader of Ann Voskamp’s blog for a few years now, and every year she puts out a Scripture memory challenge.  This year I’m going to do her challenge from 2012, which is to memorize the Sermon on the Mount.

2. My Relationship with Mark – When you introduce a new baby into a family (even if it’s baby #5!), it changes the dynamic of the marriage.  It’s hard to find time for each other when you are constantly caring for the needs of a baby completely dependent on you. Mark and I agreed early on that in those early months, establishing security and trust in our new baby was highest priority, so there have been many times that our own needs have gone on the back burner.  And that’s okay for a season – but it’s SO important to make up that deficit as soon as you can!  And that’s the season that we’re in now – time to make up the deficit.  I was inspired and challenged by Sarah Mae this week to be more intentional in my relationship with my beloved.  I am going to commit to praying for him daily, continuing our bi-weekly dates (and being more creative in planning some fun activities for us this year!), and pursuing him in the bedroom as well. 🙂

3. My Relationship with my Kids – Having 5 kids is hard work.  Hard.  It’s amazingly wonderful, and the blessings far outweigh the work – but it’s still SO hard.  The hardest thing for me is knowing how much I want to pour into each of my children individually, but feeling inadequate in doing so.  There is just only so much time in the day, and there are so many nights when I put my kids to bed and realize that we never really had a chance to connect during the day.  This year, I want to be more intentional about connecting with my kids. I want to listen better and laugh more. I am going to aim to spend one-on-one time with each of them every day (even if it’s just a few minutes).  I am also going to commit to praying for them daily (oh, how many days do I forget that?).

4. Everyday Life – Life gets so filled up with so many things.  Laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, errands, doctors appointments, the list goes on and on.  This past year I was able to purge my life of a few things that didn’t belong in it anymore, but it’s still so full.  Part of being intentional for me will be learning to be more efficient.  Also, I need to cut down my internet time in a big way.  I need to use the internet with intention – not just as a mindless way to disengage from the craziness.  Anyone else there with me?

2014.  Here’s to a year of intentional life!

– Judy

2013 Year in Review

What a fun year 2013 has been!

We traveled a LOT the first half of this year. In February, we traveled to Wisconsin (33 straight driving hours in a minivan with 4 kids!) to be with my family and celebrate the life of my grandfather, who passed away. In April, I took our little crew on our first trip without Mark. We went to Washington to stay with some close family friends, and it was a wonderful time of reconnecting.

Of course, the highlight of our year was the arrival of our new little guy, Micah, at the end of May. We were also blessed to be able to take a quick family trip to Washington for his Bris right after he was born. In July, my mom and sister came to visit for a week, and we had a blast celebrating summer together.

After that, things slowed down a bit around here as we settled into another school year and a fall of birthdays and holidays. We have (so far) taken a year-round approach to school, which frees us up to take more breaks during the year and have frequent days off. School has gone well this year, although having an infant definitely makes everything a bit trickier! We’ve also begun attending church again, and are excited about getting involved with our new community.

At the end of September, Eliza broke her leg, which has been an interesting experience for our family. She had to have surgery to put things back together and wasn’t walking for 2 months afterwards. Micah has been growing in leaps and bounds as well – he’s been our youngest teether (cut his first two teeth at 4 months) and crawler (crawling at 5 months!). Apparently he missed the memo that as the last baby in our family he is supposed to take his sweet time growing up! 🙂

This winter has gotten off to a fun start, with our little girl finally potty trained and our big girl finally walking again. We’ve also enjoed an earlier-than-normal first snow that has lasted on the ground for a few weeks now! We’ve had many days of snowplay and cocoa, and a couple of now-melting snowmen now add character to our backyard. Also, Mark and I have begun playing on the worship team at church. We are happy to be somewhere that we can help fill a need with the gifts God has given us.

We went to Colorado to celebrate a quiet but lovely Thanksgiving with my parents and youngest brother. It was nice to have a few days to relax there and get the holiday season kicked off! Thanksgiving was immediately followed by Hanukkah, after which we only had a couple more weeks before Christmas and family visits here in Idaho.

2013 has been a fun year of adapting to the many changes that the Lord has brought us. I don’t know what 2014 has in store for us, but I’m satisfied with knowing that we are held in the hands of a God whose love for us and plans for us far surpass our understanding!

Praying many blessings for you this upcoming year and always.
– Judy

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Eliza rocking her leg brace, finally walking without crutches!
Avigail, cheesing it up for the camera!

Micah, working hard to keep up with his big siblings!
Caleb and our little snowman!
Judah, my big boy, happy about his new scarf that I made him!

The Lord Establishes Our Steps

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Many of you all know that deep in Mark and my heart has always been the desire to build a healthy, vibrant, Messianic community here in the Boise area.

In that vein, we built a website to get our name out, hoping that others would find us who were also interested in this same thing. Through this website, we have met wonderful people and are so very thankful for that!

However, we have been realizing over the past few months that the Lord has really called us to something a bit different, at least for this season of our lives.

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but we have returned to the greater Christian church. Many Messianic believers cringe at this idea, turned off at the idea of facing replacement theology, supercessionism, and “grace vs. law” doctrine. And we know that it this change will carry with it its own set of challenges. But we also know without a doubt that this is the path that God has called us to walk. We are excited about joining with a local church, working to help grow their community, worship together with them, and build friendships for us and our children.

In the process, we are praying that the Lord will open doors for us to share the joy that we have found in the Torah and in discovering the Jewish roots of our faith. But that is not our main reason for returning to church. It is truly where the heart of God has drawn us.

And we want to seek the heart of God most of all.

My New Love – Essential Oils!

If you know me personally, you’ve probably already heard about it. I have recently been introduced to Young Living Essential Oils, and I am in love! I know that’s almost obnoxiously dramatic, but for good reason.

Our family tries to live as naturally as possible. We avoid prescription medicines and even OTC stuff as much as possible. And in our quest for health, we have used many different herbal remedies and even homeopathics. But nothing we’ve used compares to the concentrated power that these therapudic-grade essential oils have!

In the past couple months since I’ve started using them, they’ve become a part of our daily life. We use them to maintain our health as well as help with other challenges in our bodies.

In the weeks to come, I will be sharing about how we use certain oils specifically, but for now I want to share with you this graphic on some of the most common uses for the Everyday Oils Kit. (The Everyday Kit is how most people begin their essential oils journey and is an amazing bargain!)

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10 Confessions of a “Super Mom”!

Hahaha… I’m chuckling as I write this.  I’ve recently had a few people comment on how amazing it is that I can parent 5 kids and homeschool them, or have home births, or something like that.  So I wanted to take a lighter look at my life as a busy mom.  I give you 10 Confessions of a “Super Mom”…

 

10. I do NOT dust my house.  Like ever.  If I pull a book off a shelf and happen to notice it’s dusty, I *might* just wipe it off, but the rest of the shelves?  Not a chance.

9. I am a perfectionist.  Ugh.  Do you know how hard it is to be a perfectionist when you have 5 kids ages 7 and under?  I have really had to work hard at not getting stressed out over things not being “perfect.”

8. I have horrible handwriting.  Seriously, it’s just awful.  If I concentrate I can make it nicer, but…  It is so unfeminine and I’m totally embarrassed by it.

7. We are late for everything.  It’s almost funny, except not…  😉

6. I don’t exercise.  I really don’t.  Every time I have tried to get into working out, it lasts a couple weeks at best.  I just don’t enjoy it and have a horrible time motivating myself.

5. I yell at my kids.  This is one of those more serious confessions.  I really don’t “believe” that there’s any benefit to yelling, but anger has always been a challenge for me and sometimes it comes out.  It just does.  Ugh.

4. I struggle with cooking dinner, hate lunch, and have delegated our breakfast oatmeal to Eliza.  My former love for cooking has died a slow, painful death.  Or it’s at least in a coma…

3. I can’t remember the last time I deep-cleaned our house.  I keep it surface-cleaned to a moderate level because I enjoy having people over and a messy house stresses me out, but deep-cleaning?  I guess it happens at Passover…

2. I have a major tendency to put way too much on my plate.  Then I end up doing a halfway job at stuff.  I’m currently working on weeding my life a bit – pulling out things that shouldn’t be on my plate at all.  (More about this soon)

1. I struggle a lot with comparing myself to others.  Comments about my parenting often make me uncomfortable because while I believe that God has given me to my children, I have a hard time not just seeing my weak points and struggles.

 

Truthfully, I think we’re all “Super-Mom’s.”  God has given each of us to our children, and He knows exactly what He’s doing!

How are you doing today?  Are you seeing yourself as God’s gift to your kids?

More on this later…

– Judy

Introducing Our New Addition!

I’m currently laying in bed next to our beautiful little baby boy, Micah Jonathan. He was born last night, and now I’m going to write my final birth story.

**Warning, following is the birth story of our little Micah. There is some typical birth-style graphic content.**

Well, first of all, our birth journey – like all journeys – didn’t start here. It started 9 months ago when we discovered that we were expecting a surprise baby. That was the start of an emotional 9 months, filled with all sorts of trials and triumphs. (You can read more about it by clicking on the “About Me” link above)

These past few weeks were especially challenging, with a trip to Colorado, increasing pelvic pain, and sheer exhaustion from not getting very solid sleep. As my due date approached, I found myself thinking and praying often that the Lord would bring this baby close to his due date (May 22nd), and not 2 weeks late like his big sister was. When this day came and went, I decided that the weekend would be perfect – Mark already had an extra day off of work for Memorial Day. But alas, the weekend came and went too.

Once again, I found myself second-guessing things and grappling with trust. What if he was late like his sister? Would the birth go okay? Why was God “pushing the limits” of what I felt I could handle?  I lingered in the land of doubt and worry for most of the weekend. Monday evening, Mark and I took the kids to the aquarium, which was a good diversion – and even more, it was a lovely evening of focusing on enjoying the children I already have, which we all really needed.

In the middle of the night Monday, I awoke to contractions. They were eventually strong enough to get me out of bed, but then spaced back out and I went back to bed to awaken with nothing. Tuesday morning in my quiet time with the Lord, I took some time to try to realign my thoughts with His, remembering that He was watching over both Micah and I and would bring about labor in His time. That night, the same thing happened as the night before, only the contractions were stronger.

Wednesday morning I continued having contractions, but very far apart – every half hour or farther. I knew things were progressing, but figured it was going very slowly and started looking forward to my ladies Bible study that evening. But first, I decided to mow the lawn. 🙂 And we don’t have a power mower either – it’s a reel-style! I finished the lawn around 4pm and the contractions had picked up in frequency quite a bit. At that point, I figured it was probably just due to the exercise and waited to see if things continued. Around 5pm, I could tell that the contractions weren’t letting up, so I let Mark know how I was feeling (he was home) and started cleaning up around the house.

At 5:30, I began timing contractions and making last-minute preparations to our birthing space (master bathroom). They were around 5 minutes apart. Over the next hour, the contractions increased in intensity and became 2-3 minutes apart. I checked his heart tones, and they were good – around 140bpm. I filled the tub, and Mark got the kids settled with dinner and a movie, telling them baby Micah was on his way.

At 7:05pm, I got into the tub, which felt amazing. Seriously – water birth (or even labor) is so relaxing! After about 10 minutes, and a couple of longer breaks between contractions (which I desperately needed!), I started feeling a slight urge to push. I know that this is the final part of first stage, as the body is transitioning into the pushing stage, and I kept telling myself that I was almost done. It was hard though – the pain was intense and the anxious feelings of transition are near impossible to ignore.

I finally started pushing around 7:25, and it was a bit different than previous labors. I didn’t really have strong urges to push with defined contractions. It was more like a constant need to push, and I did as much as I felt I could without risking tearing. As I was pushing Mark noticed that his bag of waters was broken, but I had no idea when it had occurred. His head was born, then his body just a couple of pushes later, at 7:40pm. Mark supported my perineum as best as he could and caught Micah, lifting him immediately above the surface of the water (all while leaning over the edge of the tub because things went so fast he couldn’t get in!).

Both of us were immediately struck by how blue he was. Most water babies are a bit purple, or even blue in the extremities, but he was blue everywhere. We immediately set to work trying to get him to breathe, rubbing his back and soles of his feet, and warming him up. He had a very short cord, which made things especially tricky. After a couple of minutes, we decided to get him out of the water, so Mark helped me out and we resumed simulation. We sucked out his noise and mouth several times and kept rubbing his back. He was breathing, but not regularly, and slowly pinking up in his torso. I then delivered the placenta, which went smoothly with no hemorrhaging, praise the Lord!

About 20 minutes after he was born, he was almost entirely pink, and things were stable enough that we called the kids up to meet their new baby brother. What a sweet time that was! They were all so excited to meet their brother and see this little guy that we have been waiting on for so long!

Around 8:45pm, we cut our little guy’s cord and nursed for the first time, which he loved. His cord was short – only 17 inches or so, which might explain why it took so long to go into labor (that happened with Avigail too). Since then he’s been doing great! Loves to nurse and snuggle and had a few periods of wonderful alert time today.

We also chose Micah’s middle name today. Name meanings are very important to us, and this is what his name means:
Micah- “Who is like God”
Jonathan- “God has given”
We chose Micah because of the nature of our surprise pregnancy and it’s reminding us of the sovereignty of God, and we chose Jonathan because he is absolutely a gift to us!

I’m not exactly where to go from here. This journey of our 5th child has been such a road of growth for me, and I am so thankful for the grace of God in giving me another child! I’m thankful for the opportunity to have an unassisted birth, thankful that the Lord gave me the instinct to push him out quickly, thankful that he pinked up well despite his slow start. I’m thankful that I get a chance to tandem nurse, thankful for one more little boy, and thankful for the peace I have in closing this chapter in our lives.

But most of all, I’m thankful for the ongoing lesson of trust that He is teaching me, and pray I can pass this on to my children. Our God is so good, His love for us is never-ending, and He wants to give us good! But so often we don’t know ourselves what good really is, and that is where trust comes in.

Many blessings to you on whatever road the Lord has you on, and may you find trust and peace on the journey!

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