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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Our Messianic Sukkot Celebration

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Tonight begins the week-long festival of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles). This is a festival of praise, joy, and celebration with themes including God providing for his children in the wilderness, God dwelling with us, and for Believers, the birth of Yeshua. It’s closely follows the more somber and introspective holidays of the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Ten Days of Awe, and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

In our family, Sukkot also typically falls around the end of birthday season, and by this time in the fall, this mama is usually worn out and out of creativity to make a special holiday for our family. So this year, I decided early to plan a bit better so that we could do more and make it more memorable. We aren’t able to build a sukkah this year (a temporary dwelling for eating and hanging out in), but I was able to make a list of a few things that would set this week apart from the rest of the fall season:

1. We got out our decorations. We actually have had a box of fall decorations sitting in the garage unopened for 2 years! This year, the kids helped me take them out and set them up.

2. Apple cider. My husband requested a bottomless crock pot of cider kept on for the holiday, so I’ve been stocking up on apple cider so we’d have enough to enjoy it all week. Mmmm…!

3. Chili for dinner. Nothing says fall like a bowl of hot chili, right? I think I’m going to start a tradition of starting Sukkot with a meal of a hot fall stew (maybe chili every year?).

4. A fire in our fire pit. I love fire. It captures my senses in a way nothing else does. The sight, sound, smell… Just ahhhh… 🙂

5. A special fall candle. I love lighting Shabbat candles every week – it’s a beautiful sensory experience that deepens the setting apart of the day. And we light Shabbat candles on the first and last days of Sukkot that are special Sabbath rest days. But what about the other days? I want the whole holiday to feel cohesive and special. So I got a pretty orange candle to light every day of Sukkot, just because. 🙂

6. A nativity set. This one is something in really excited about, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but hadn’t prioritized until this year. We believe that Yeshua’s birth took place during the Feast of Tabernacles, and we read the story of His birth this week, so I wanted to incorporate a visual element too. I chose the Willow Tree nativity set because I liked the simple, rustic look of it and the lack of facial features (I have a thing about images of Yeshua).

So anyway, the kids are in bed now and our first night went as well as we’d hoped for. We started with lighting Shabbat candles and blessings over grape juice and challah. Dinner of chili & bread was a hit and no complaining! (Mama win!) After dinner we lit a fire in the fire pit and migrated outside to roast a few kosher marshmallows that were getting stale. (Totally not planned but it felt good to say “yes”!) Then we got everyone some cider and listened while Mark read the nativity story from Luke. That was a bit rough – 5 tired kids who are now eating marshmallows and cider and totally distracted by a fire (one of whom is trying to stick himself into said fire and won’t let me hold him!). We had to pause and restart a couple times, but in the end I think it went well. 🙂

Now, time for a cup of tea and some quiet reading to end my day.

Shalom,
Judy

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

Essential Oil Spotlight: Bedtime Rub Recipe!

I want to send a special shout-out to my fellow sleep deprived mamas! I honestly can’t think of another thing that affects my mama abilities so much as my sleep does (or lack thereof!). And by the time the kids’ bedtime comes around, I’m often exhausted myself and not in the mood for any of the battles that can so often accompany that time.

And so I present to you: my Bedtime Rub Recipe!

I use this coconut-oil based salve to rub on my boys’ backs every night as they lay in their beds. It does wonders – and I mean WONDERS – in helping them settle down to a peaceful night’s sleep. It helps me too – the aroma is soothing and calms me as I help them calm down. Total win-win if you ask me!

bedtime rub recipe young living essential oils

Here’s to a better night’s sleep for you and yours!!

* If you are interested in ordering these oils, please contact me or check out this post -here-!

** I recommend only using Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils for topical application.  There are no fillers, no additives (as there are in pretty much all other EO brands), and they are the only oils I trust for my family!

 

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

Here’s to a Healthier You in 2014!

Okay everyone, I have to share this awesome testimony of how Young Living essential oils have been rocking my world!

On the Thursday before Christmas, I started coming down with a cold. I could tell it was a bad one too – my chest felt tight and I had major body aches. You know that feeling, right? That knowing that your body is succumbing to something; that feeling of everything being “off”. I just knew that if I wasn’t serious about fighting this off, it would ruin our extended-family time that would be filling our days over the next week.

So, I immediately intensified my oils use. I started taking capsules formulated with oils to fight off sickness. I used oils on my chest and sinuses. And I used them on my kids too, seeing the same symptoms rearing their ugly heads in them too.

And my turnaround was remarkable!! I have never recovered from a cold like that before. I actually waited a while to share this because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke – it was that amazing. These kind of colds normally knock my out for a good week of coughing and blowing my nose. Here’s a brief timeline of how quickly I healed using my Young Living Essential Oils: On Thursday was when I felt it coming on. Friday I coughed sporadically throughout the day. Saturday it was already moving from my chest to my head with intense sinus congestion. Sunday it was loosening up and I was blowing my nose a bit. And that was IT! On Monday I felt almost completely back to normal – minimal sniffles, and that was IT. My kids all recovered quicker than normal as well, which is just as exciting, because having 5 kids in the house, colds can easily take us out for a few weeks by the time they cycle through everyone.

These oils work! They really do.

Now, I want to address a couple of concerns that you may have – concerns that I know I had when I first started looking into essential oils.

Concern One: How do essential oils work, anyway? How can they really be that powerful? Okay, let’s talk about this a bit. Essential oils work on a cellular level. They are extremely concentrated, with each drop of essential oil containing around 40 million-trillion molecules. We have 100 trillion cells in our body (which is a lot!), but one drop of oil has enough molecules to cover every cell in our body with 40,000 molecules! These molecules are made of compounds – Phenols, Monoterpenes, and Sesquiterpenes. These compounds clean our cells, deprogram bad information in our cells, and reprogram them with good information. (For a more detailed description of what these do, please read this article – she explains things in a clear, fun way! -Let’s Get Our Learn On-)

Concern Two: How much money will I have to spend?  So, first let me say that yes, I know that Young Living are on the expensive side when it comes to essential oils.  But there’s a good reason why I have chosen to trust Young Living with my family’s health instead of the local drugstore brand or another competitor – Quality.  There is no regulation for the labeling of essential oils – basically, if your bottle contains any essential oil at all, it can be labeled “100% Pure”.  Most essential oil companies use a cocktail of pure essential oil, fragrance, and chemical copycat fillers.  When it comes to oils, you get what you pay for.  If your bottle of oil only costs a couple of dollars, you can guarantee that it’s not a pure oil.

Young Living has been in business for over 20 years and is the only oils company to offer the Seed to Seal Guarantee. From Young Living:

We carefully monitor every step of the production of our oils from beginning to end through our unique Seed to Seal® process, ensuring the purity of each essential oil and protecting nature’s living energy in every bottle.

When I am using essential oils internally and topically (remember that anything that goes on your skin enters your body), I want to be sure that it’s both completely safe and most pure/powerful.  I look at the expense of Young Living oils as an investment into the health of me and my family, and it is totally paying off!  Instead of spending $30 in cold medicines that only mask symptoms and don’t actually help heal (and have tons of side effects!), I spent $50 in essential oils and got better in less than half the time (with no side effects)!

Here’s the thing. You will spend money on health for you and your family – it’s just a matter of how you spend it.  Essential oils are safe, effective, and created by God.  Pharmaceuticals are loaded with side effects, not so effective, and made in a laboratory.  How do you want to treat your body?  I am so thankful for God’s gift of essential oils and am SO excited about a healthier 2014!

– 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!

Anchor Points

Life has been rather chaotic around here lately.  I would love to say that things are smooth and I have adjusted to life with five children, but the reality is that life with a newborn is rarely ever smooth!  There are constant bumps in the road, and every time you start to get into a groove, something major changes and you have to readjust all over again!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, with the holiday season upon us in full-force.  With everything that has happened in our life in the past 6 months, I have had a tendency to allow the busyness to derail us from truly living. At the same time, I have had an almost panic desperation about cherishing every moment, knowing how fast this stage of life will be all over.

I need to find a way to cherish all the important moments, but also keep the laundry and dishes clean – know what I mean?  The mundane and the priceless collide everyday in these parts, and I feel a bit lost as to making the most of it all.

The other day I was remembering reading about the value of “anchor points” – places in your day, week, month, and year that “anchor” your family.  Essentially, the idea is that no matter how crazy your day, week, or month becomes, if you stick to your anchor points, it will bring rhythm to your days and help calm the chaos.

So I’ve been thinking about what these “anchor points” are in our family, and I thought I’d write them down here – share them with you – and maybe it will help you in your journey of mothering!

Daily Anchor Points

1. Breakfast Devotions: I lead a short devotional every morning as we eat breakfast together.  This usually centers around character development, and right now we are going through “Our 24 Family Ways: Family Devotional Guide,” by Clay Clarkson.

2. School Time: I’m working to make school time a more anchoring time for us, and not a point of struggle.  I am trying to achieve this by focusing on connecting with my kids instead of focusing on educating.  Relationship is primary, education is secondary.  🙂

3. Tea Time: My kids are so much like me in that they can’t get enough quality time.  I also have a love affair with good tea and coffee!  I enjoy my morning cup solo, but in the afternoon, we are working on establishing a “tea time” together while the younger two nap.  They LOVE it, and it helps everyone stay in good spirits, which of course helps school go well too!

4. Daddy’s Return Home & Dinner: I’m working on also remembering a daily clean-up time right before Mark gets home so that the house is inviting and all put together before dinner. I try to play fun music to help motivate them, but sometimes this is still a challenge!  Still working on it though.

5. Bedtime: We are pretty involved in bedtime.  For the 3 older kids, bedtime includes lullabies (really worship songs) and backrubs with a “lullaby rub” I made with coconut oil and a blend of Young Living Essential Oils.  It smells amazing and knocks my kiddos out.  😉  The younger two both nurse and rock.  I usually lay my toddler-girl down and hold her hand while she falls asleep, and I rock my baby to sleep and transition him to the co-sleeper.

I also have my own “anchor points” in the day that are strictly for me – my morning quiet time (which has been rough-going lately due to way too many nights of teething and little sleep) and my evening time.  After the kids go to bed, I try to get some reading in, enjoy a cup of tea with my hubby, and maybe get a fix of Downton Abbey or another show we’re currently addicted to.  😉

Weekly Anchor Points

1. The Sabbath: The Sabbath is by far, the most powerful anchor point our family has.  Given to us by God, the Sabbath offers a reprieve from the world’s demands and influence – a day to rest our bodies and invigorate our souls.  We keep a Biblical seventh-day Sabbath in the traditional way, from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, but the principle of resting applies if you rest on a Sunday too.  God gave us the Sabbath because He in His divine wisdom knew that we needed that day to rest and focus ourselves back on Him.

Practically speaking, for our family this means we only do work that is necessary for our family to function in peace (I have to still feed my family, make sure we have washed dishes, strip peed in beds, etc.).  We keep the TV and computer off as much as possible (although we still stream live feed from our Seattle congregation).  We enjoy relaxing pursuits such as drawing (kids), crochet (me), playing music, or playing games together. And most importantly, we worship together as a family and study the Word together, as a family and with other believers.

2. Wednesday nights: Wednesday nights are an anchor point, mostly for me.  Every other Wednesday we alternate between our date night, and my ladies’ Bible study.  So I know that Wednesday nights are always a night for me to be refreshed – a very important thing for a busy mama!

3. Sunday morning church: We’ve recently begun attending church on Sunday mornings again.  We’ve found a community where we can serve and grow, and are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us there.  After church we resume our normal Sunday to-do’s and such, but Sunday mornings are now another anchor point.

Annual Anchor Points

1. Holidays: Keeping the Biblical holidays has always given our family a full calendar of anchor points throughout the year, but I will admit that there have been many times that a holiday has passed us by without getting the full weight that it deserves.  Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to bring more meaning and memory into our holiday celebrations.  I am working on a family devotional for the Biblical holidays from a Christian/Messianic perspective that I hope to share with you all as I complete it. I’ve also been taking advantage of Pinterest to find ideas that we can use (sometimes changing slightly) to add to our celebrations.

2. Seasons: I really want to do more to embrace the seasons that God has given us.  I’d like to work to develop seasonal traditions, learning to appreciate the year in a more cyclical way.  I’m thinking I’m going to get this book: The Rhythm of Family for some inspiration in this area.

3. Birthdays: Having a family of 7 people, we celebrate a lot of birthdays around here!  All of our birthdays fit almost exactly into 6 months of the year, and I have been thinking about also doing little celebration for the 1/2 birthdays during the other 6 months.  I have heard some really neat ways to do this, and I really love the idea of honoring my kids individually again during the year.  We are also working on developing more birthday traditions as the kids get older, but right now we keep it simple with the birthday child choosing the 3 meals of the day, and cake/presents after dinner.  We also take off of school for birthdays.  🙂

 

So, what about you?  Have you ever thought about establishing “anchor points” in your family’s life?  What anchor points to you already enjoy?

Blessings!
– Judy

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.