Three Months Later…

It’s been over three months now since my precious son was born. These months have been hard, but absolutely amazing! My son has truly been a gift to me. He is such a delight.

I wanted to write a post specifically to follow up on our choice to end this chapter of growing the size of our family. (Please read the first part of our story -here-)I want to do this in hopes that someone will someday find it and be encouraged. There aren’t very many people out there sharing about this important decision – it’s so personal – but I know that it helped me to read about others’ experiences when we were trying to figure things out.

When I was reading about vasectomy aftermath, I came across two distinctly different views.  Either women felt: 1. Relieved & Happy that they were finished having children, or 2. Depressed and Dejected that they were finished having children.

I fall somewhere in between.

To be completely honest, even though I had peace about the decision, I was a bit concerned about being depressed afterwards.  I struggle with a tendency towards depression to begin with, and I wasn’t 100% on the same page as my husband about our family size.  Sounds like a perfect storm for a major emotional struggle.  I was hopeful, however, that things would be okay.

Fast-forward a few months.  When Micah was 2 months old, I had to pack up his 0-3 month clothes.  That was when things really started to hit me.  I wept several times that day.  I had dressed 3 sons in those clothes, and I was done.  Done.  No more of that sweet newborn smell, no more of the squishy not-yet-firm limbs, no more of the fuzzy lanugo shoulders, no more froggy limbs all curled up on me.

And I am still grieving.  I know it’s going to be long process.  Today I gave away my tiny baby boy clothes to my sister-in-law who is expecting soon, and while it was easier than giving them to a stranger, it was still hard.  Part of me wanted to snatch them all back and lock myself in my bedroom and cry all over again!  And I haven’t done anything with all the baby girl clothes I have either… 🙂

But there are good things too.

The biggest thing is that my husband seems to have fallen in love with me all over again.  Not that we were ever “out” of love – he has always been a loving, caring spouse and my closest friend.  But something changed in him after the vasectomy.  I honestly believe that it was such a huge release of stress for him to know that the family we have will not grow any larger, that he will never have more children to provide for, that his wife will never go through 9 months of pregnancy again.  He has been happier, more carefree, and more affectionate.   And this has been a good confirmation for me that I did the right thing by yielding to his desire.

And my husband has been wonderfully understanding with me too.  He knows that this is hard for me, and has let me take time to cry and mourn and process it all.  I am so thankful for that.

So, all in all?  It’s hard.  I’m still grieving the children that I’ll never have.  I still find myself reminding God that He could work a miracle and I would be okay with that!  But I’m working on being fully present with the children that I have been given.  They are all gifts from God, and I am so, SO honored to be their mama.  And I’m leaning on the Lord for peace.

~ Judy

Why Choose Motherhood?

image

As a young woman, I never personally questioned whether or not I wanted children. I looked forward to marriage and motherhood with an excited longing, even in my teen years. Thankfully, this desire was balanced with a pretty high standard for what I was looking for in a husband, so I didn’t rush into mothering just for the sake of it, but I digress…

Lately I’ve had a few interactions that have caused me to spend some time thinking about the choice of motherhood. In this culture we live in, children are often seen as a hindrance, as an expense, even as a lesser-quality life (one complete with diapers, spit-up, messes, quarreling, and so much work).

While I would expect this in a world apart from God, what pains me so much to see this attitude in the church! I know so many Christian couples who don’t want kids because of the lifestyle changes that children bring, or the expense associated with them. I know of parents encouraging their children not to have very many children because of similar reasons.

My friends, this post may be a bit more blunt, but I really believe this message is important. I hope it encourages you to stand strong in your commitment to parenting, or softens your heart to it if you’re not sure where you stand.

Reasons Why to Chose Motherhood:

1. Refusing to have children is not biblical. People can argue this, but the fact is that God calls married couples to have children. He commands us to multiply (meaning increasing in number through the generations), He calls children a blessing over and over throughout Scripture, and has created the family structure for a specific purpose.

2. Because God has designed parenting as the natural outcome of marriage, it is a major source of development and growth that you were designed to have. I may catch some flack on this, but I firmly believe that nothing in the world can develop your character the way that parenting does, and if you chose to live your married life without children, you will never know the fullness of maturity and development that God intended for you to have. (Although if you have been unable to have children, you have grown through a unique trial as well.)

3. As a Believer, I also believe that life begins at conception. I may catch flack for this too, but this is so important and many people tiptoe around this issue: Practically speaking, this means that most non-barrier forms of birth control (including the pill and iud’s) are off-limits. Why? Because they all function, either primarily or secondarily, as abortifacients. They make the uterine environment such that an embyro cannot implant and continue to grow, causing it to abort without the parents’ knowledge. Heaven is full of tiny souls whose parents don’t even know they exist! If you are trying to control your family’s growth, please, please be fully knowledge about your method of prevention!

4. By avoiding children, couples are allowing fear and/or selfishness to rule their lives instead of God’s truth. Fear can take many forms – it can be fear of change, fear of not having enough (money, time, etc.), fear of society’s judgments, fear of personal inadequacies. And I understand this! Honestly, I do. We have worked through every one of these fears. But the truth is that God promises to provide. He loves us so much more than the sparrow! If He creates a life, He will provide for that life. Does it mean sacrifice? Yes, it usually does. But like I said earlier,parenthood will grow you and develop you more than you can imagine. It is well worth it!

To close, I want to say that I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of never limiting your family size, and I understand that we all have our limits! (If you haven’t read about our journey with family size, just go back a few posts!) I’m not suggesting that you should feel guilty about not having any certain number of children.

But I believe that we need to foster a culture of life – one in which children are always considered a blessing and couples are encouraged to have families without fear!

Thoughts?

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!

image

Embracing Simplicity

The view from our friends’ home!

Last week I did something I never thought I’d do – I drove to Washington with my 4 kids, 34 weeks pregnant, without Mark. I was missing a good friend, and the time away sounded like exactly what I needed before this baby makes his appearance.

The trip was fantastic – the kids were content during the drive and I managed to stay awake with the help of my friend Red Bull. 😉

We spent the majority of our week at our friends’ home in the country. For 5 days, we had no internet, no cell phone, and no TV. But what we did have was priceless: the kids enjoyed being with friends they’ve known all their lives – with 5 acres to explore and play, the river to splash in, mud to muck around in, tepee-building, dog-chasing, and snake-holding. Inside, I was in heaven with the wood-burning fireplace in constant crackle, good food always cooking, yarn to crochet, books to read, and of course, wonderful conversations with my dear friend.

When we arrived home Sunday evening, I was unpacking the car, trying to hold my emotions in check. When I got to a pile of blankets that smelled strongly of wood smoke, I broke. I missed my friend, and I missed the peaceful, serene setting of their home. I missed the simplicity of our lives for that short week. My kids did too. They asked multiple times about moving there, wondering what it would take.

I spent yesterday unpacking our things and re-aclimating myself to our home. I spent a lot of time thinking about what made our friends’ home so special (other than the presence of our friends, of course!). The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the simplicity of their lives. There weren’t buckets of toys, but the toys they had encouraged creative play. No matter how hard I try, I feel like our home us taken over by toys! The kids were outside a lot, and dirt was embraced. That’s something I need to work on! Food was simple, but healthy and full of flavor! Mmm… I will dream about that steamed artichoke with roasted garlic goat cheese for weeks to come, I’m sure! And the flow of their days allowed so much freedom to be together and truly enjoy each other.

So, my goal these next few weeks is to harness my nesting urge that’s kicking in, and use it to simplify our lives a bit. How can I declutter our things and our time? How can I rearrange our home life a bit to make my priorities the priority again?

What about you? Any plans for simplifying your life a bit this spring? What are you thinking of removing or rearranging?

Blessings!
~ Judy

 

Here are a few more pics from the trip!

Playing at the river!
Cozy reading in front of the fire
Getting muddy in the pond

The Closing of a Chapter

This week marks the closing of a chapter of my life. My husband is getting a vasectomy.

For the past 8 years, my life has been consumed by motherhood. And this has been one of the greatest blessings I have ever known! Through my children, I have learned so much about myself and grown in character more than I ever would have imagined possible.

For the past couple of years, the size of our family has been on my mind almost constantly. When we first got married, Mark wanted 2-3 kids and I wanted 4-6. A few years into our married life, I was introduced to the “quiverful” teaching- basically the idea that since children are a blessing from God, we should desire many and not do anything to prevent them from being given to us. I was enamored by the idea of a large family and started imagining myself as a mom of 8+ kids. Mark, on the other hand, agreed that children were a blessing, but couldn’t find Biblical support to mandate or even push never limiting your family size. For several years, this wasn’t an issue, because we were both happy with the growth of our family. After having our second daughter (giving us 2 boys and 2 girls), Mark decided he wanted to be finished having kids. I, on the other hand, wanted more. I worked to come to grips with the fact that I was going to be a mom of 4, all while hoping that Mark would “see the light.”

Last year, we received quite a shock to find out that despite our “best efforts,” we were expecting baby #5. (Read all about it here and here) It was a major adjustment all over again. And this time, we started really talking seriously about doing something permanent to close this chapter in our lives. I studied and decided that I could not agree with the idea that Scripture teaches against limiting your family size. So we agreed that Mark would have a vasectomy done. And I was mostly okay with that.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I had an emotional breakdown about the whole thing. I realized that I still had a deep desire for more children, and didn’t want that option taken away from me. I spent an evening sobbing, then the next day sat down with Mark and told him how I felt. I felt like I was completely torn in two: part of me wanted to respect my husband’s desires to move on in life, and the other part couldn’t bear the idea of never having more children. He listened and said that he would be happy to postpone things until we were on the same page.

For the next several days, I took a lot of time to sort through my thoughts and emotions, and to pray for direction and peace. I searched out wisdom online, and was disheartened to find that it was nearly impossible!  I found plenty of horror stories, reversal stories, and women who were excited that their husbands were having it done, but what I was looking for was like finding a needle in a haystack!  I finally found one story that spoke to my soul.  It was entitled, “Loving Him Means Letting Go” (and apparently it has since been removed from the host website it was on, or I would link to it).   The dear wife wrote about her struggles with giving this area to her husband, and how much peace the Lord gave her about doing so.  (One of the biggest reasons I’m sharing this here is that hopefully, someday, my story will touch someone else as hers has touched me.)  Anyway, I was relieved and honored that Mark was willing to postpone the vasectomy despite his feelings, but over several days I became convicted that I was only listening to my own emotions and desires and not giving full consideration to Mark’s.

So one day I asked him point blank, “Is there any chance that someday you’re going to want more kids?” His answer was pretty certain. “No, I’m very happy with the children I have and am ready to move on in life, out of this stage.” His concerns were valid: having young children is exhausting, and we want to maintain quality relationships with our children, not simply get by. He wanted to have enough time to invest in our kids’ lives and not be so overwhelmed that we have nothing left to give at the end of the day.

At that moment, I had peace. Peace that it was okay to be done. Peace that I was going to be happy and fulfilled with the family I have. Peace that honoring my husband was going to strengthen our relationship and ultimately our whole family. So I told him to move forward with his appointment, that I was okay with it.

I’m currently in my 35th week of pregnancy, and I’m trying to savor every moment of it. Every little baby movement is a gift, and most days I sit and spend a few minutes in thankfulness for this last chance to experience pregnancy and birth again. Each of my children are such a gift to me, and I’m excited about moving into this next phase of life – childrearing instead of childbearing. And I know that with my wonderful husband at my side, this next chapter will be just as life-changing and priceless as the last one!

~ Judy

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

Today is one of my favorite days of the year- Passover!

This year will hold a special place in my memory, as we hosted our first community Seder last night.  We turned our dining and family rooms into a banquet hall and fit 34 people in our home to celebrate God’s deliverance!

Messianic Seder tables

This is one of the holiest days on God’s calendar, and it holds even more significance for us as believers. Passover was the first holiday (other than the Sabbath) created by the Lord, set apart as a holy day to remember his deliverance of his people from slavery. Most of us know that Yeshua was crucified on Passover as well, fulfilling an even deeper aspect of the holiday.

As we went through the Seder last night, we talked about the meaning of each of the elements, and it always amazes me how God set up these symbols to all have dual meaning- both for the Exodus and for Yeshua’s death and resurrection. The most memorable part of the evening for me was when Mark taught about the afikomen. He was brought to tears, recalling our Messiah’s brutal, sacrificial death.

Our Master, Yeshua, told us what the significance of the afikomen is.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer… And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:14-15, 19

We believe the three matzot represent the unity of the Godhead – the Father, the Son (Messiah) and the Holy Spirit. The middle matzah represents our Messiah, Yeshua. There are may ways the afikomen points to our Master:

  • The first significance is in it’s name. Afikomen means “The One Who Comes Again”. Yeshua rose again from the dead to complete His mission of redemption and, of course, He will come again to establish His kingdom.
  • It is made without leaven which is a symbol of sin. Likewise, Yeshua was sinless.
  • The matzah is striped from hot, swift baking. Likewise, His body was striped by means of the Roman whip.
  • The matzah is pierced to prevent rising. Similarly, His body was pierced by the Roman nails in His hands and feet and the Roman spear thrust in his side.
  • As the afikomen is wrapped in white cloth, so was His body prepared in white cloth for burial in a tomb.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” … And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,  “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Luke 22:14-16, 20

Another key part of the Seder is the 4 cups of wine/juice that are drank in certain parts of the evening.  Each cup has a specific meaning.  The cup after the meal – the one that Yeshua took and said “Do this in remembrance of me” – is the third cup – the Cup of Redemption.  How appropriate is it that we are told to remember Yeshua’s sacrifice at the Cup of Redemption!  Not only do we celebrate the redemption of the Jewish people from slavery, but we celebrate our redemption from slavery to sin, bought by our Messiah’s precious blood!

Passover & Communion

Growing up in the church, communion was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have memorized the verses our pastor read every time:

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-25

But in doing this every month, it was never explained to me that what Christians do as Communion was in fact instituted by the Messiah as a part of Passover!  While Communion does have beautiful meaning and symbolism, the depth of Passover far exceeds it.  God created this day to be a sacred celebration for His people, and we – as Gentiles grafted into His people – are encouraged and welcome to partake in it and receive the blessings that it entails.

This season, I encourage you to look into Passover yourself.  Learn about the dual symbolism that the Lord gave us to remember Him by, and let Him speak to you through it!

Many Blessings this Passover Season,
– Judy

Working on Being a Servant Mother

Over the past several years of parenting, no one has had a greater influence on my parenting heart than Sally Clarkson. Though I’ve never met her, I feel a kinship with her. Though she is a generation older than me, her past struggles are the ones I work through every day. I know, so mushy! But it’s totally true. I can’t tell you how many times her writing has brought me to tears because it’s like she’s reading my innermost thoughts- those ones I’d never voice on my own.

So as the new year kicks off, I’m rereading my favorite book by Sally, “The Mission Of Motherhood.” And since it blesses me so much every time I read it, I want to share a little bit of it with you. If this blesses you, please, please go get her book. It won’t let you down!

Chapter 4 – The Servant Mother | Mothering With The Heart Of Jesus

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

When I first opened this chapter, I realized that I’d never thought about this verse in the context of mothering before. But if it applies to friends, how much more should it apply to our children?! We are to disciple our children, right?  Yeshua served His disciples.  He gave of His life in a literal way. We will most likely not have to do this, but were can give our lives in service every day. Every time you have to set aside that cup of coffee you just poured, or trade a moms night out for a child-date, you are sacrificing of your own life. You are demonstrating the greatest kind of love.

A few powerful thoughts from Sally:

“Choosing to be a servant mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering – and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of time at that moment.” (page 66)

“I made a decision in my heart years ago, as I began to understand this principle, that God did not want me to resent my children for taking up my time. Neither did he want me to make them feel guilty for the sacrifices on had made on their behalf. I was called to give up my rights simply out of my love for Jesus. If I had struggles and complaints over the years for these issues in my own life, they have been between me and the Lord, not between me and my children.” (page 69)

“My children didn’t need me to be on top of all my chores or even to be perfect in taking care of all their need. What they need was for me to be content and patient with life. They needed me, as a mature Christian, to walk by faith that God was in control, allowing His Spirit to give me peace and joy in the midst of life’s inevitable ups and downs.” (page 72)

This is one of those areas that I’m constantly trying to find balance on. I have a habit of not taking time for myself to be refreshed- giving until I crack. So I’ve been working on finding time for myself again- daily quiet time, reading encouraging blogs while I put Avigail to bed, cups of tea throughout the day, etc. I’m working on going for quality over quantity in those set aside times. And it’s working pretty well. Most days. But what about those days when I feel like I’m losing my mind? Those days that I melt down to a teary, depressed mess?

I think this chapter comes at a perfect time for me. It gives balance on the other side of the equation. Yes, time for refreshing is critical. But when that time is found interrupted by the myriad needs of my little ones, the messes, dirty diapers, and arguments, what happens then? I don’t have the right to throw a pity party or become resentful of my responsibilities. I just don’t. Because, ultimately, I’m serving my Lord.

So, this week I’m trying to remember this elemental fact: I am serving the Lord by serving my children. My attitude to them is ultimately to God. And I want to be the kind of mother who really does demonstrate the servant heart of our Master to my children.

~Judy

I’m working on compiling a list of practical ideas for serving my kids! Will you take a moment and comment with something you do for your children to serve them?

The Great Priority Challenge

Priorities.

Seems like a common thread running through so many of my thoughts over the past several months. So often I come to the end of the day or week and find myself unsettled about the way my priorities have been stacked those past days. I realize that the bulk of my time had been spent doing things with no eternal value- surfing Facebook, Pinterest, or a favorite forum, researching random things online, you know the drill. These “smart” phones aren’t really so smart for us when its all said and done, are they? Then there’s the things that do have value but become entirely too important. Planning homeschool curriculum, learning how to make new, healthy meals, organizing family photos. Valuable, but in balance.

Anyway, since the new year began, I’ve been working on reassessing my day-to-day life – trying to make my actions line up with my priorities. This is my first blog in a month, and I’ve been mostly quiet on Facebook as well. It’s not been easy, and it’s still a work in progress. But I’m figuring some important things out. We’ve established a good school routine that is working well for everyone so far. I’m trying to nurture my kids more and fight with them less. I’m really enjoying my relationship with my husband again and feel like I have more ability to meet his needs than I used to. I’m keeping up on housework (mostly). And I’m figuring out how to fit “me time” into my life again. I feel good. I feel capable- not perfect- but capable.

And here’s the thing. God has given me this life. He didn’t give me your life or you mine. He knows us inside and out. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. And He promises that He has given us all we need for the life that He has given to us. But we still have to do our part. We have to be proactive about keeping ourselves in check. We have to foster our relationship with Him so that we are living in the fullness of His Spirit. And we have to keep trying- keep making baby steps, and trust Him to help us up when we fall. Because we will fall. I will fall. I will react again out of anger instead of responding in love. And I will do it again. Because that is the nature of being human.

So I want to encourage you today. I want to challenge you to take a look at your priorities, and then take a look at your life. Do they complement each other? Is there something taking up too much of your life that shouldn’t be? Can you let something go in order to experience more of the life that God has for you- the life you ultimately want?

May the strength of the Lord be with you. This journey we’re on is hard, but eternally rewarding!

~Judy

Wrapping up 2012

What a year 2012 has been! We began the year in our home in Washington, enjoying the snowy winter (including a 10-inch snowfall and power loss!). In March, life changed dramatically when Mark lost his job and we felt God tell us it was time to move to Idaho. What a huge and fast change for our family! In 3 weeks time we had completely relocated. Our summer was a fun time of bike riding, pool play, shaved ice, and exploring our new town. Things were starting to settle down a bit, and then came our crazy, busy fall, complete with the discovery that were would be having a fifth child! Now we are wrapping up the end of the year, and getting ready to begin hosting a Messianic home fellowship in less than a week. What a wild year our family has had!

image

These questions were posted by one of my mentors, Sally Clarkson, this morning on her blog, http://itakejoy.com. I thought they were a good, concise list of things to meditate on as we wrap up this year and move into the next.

The first question addresses stress. What source of stress in my life can I eliminate as I go into the next year? I think for me, my biggest source of stress is sleep deprivation. I am always tired. And for the most part, I bring it on myself by staying up to late. Ugh. This is something Mark and I have been struggling with for a long time, and I feel like I will never know my full potential until I master my sleep habits. It’s a major goal for this year!

The second one is hard to answer. I don’t feel like I do much to please others. I have one volunteer position that I’ve had for a long time now, and I’ve thought about taking it off my plate, as the commitment causes some stress to myself and the kids. But honestly, it’s one of the only things that I do outside of my family and friends, so I feel like it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective. I have to figure a few things out in that arena.

The next question is a good one to think about. My biggest goal for my children this year is to help them learn to resolve conflicts between each other without my constant mediating. My older two are just starting to understand this concept, but they often default to coming to me first. I’m looking forward to helping them work on their communication skills and empathy with each other.

The word that comes to mind with question four is Grace. I want my children to understand that while we try to do what is right, we serve a God who freely gives grace to His children. And I know I definitely need to work on giving more grace to my kids as well!

And now, I must get back to my little crew. 🙂 Happy New Year to you and yours, and may your 2013 be blessed!

~Judy

New Year, New Beginning: The Next Season of Growth and Change For Us…

image

As we get ready to embark on a new year, we are also gearing up for a new adventure in the Rich family! For the past few months, Mark and I have been praying about forming a congregation here in the Boise area. We have become aware of a deep need for Biblically-solid Messianic teaching here and have felt led to take a step forward to try to fill that void.

We have been so blessed by the past 8 years we’ve spent at Beit Tikvah. While things aren’t perfect there, we have learned a lot about leadership, balance, and priorities. It has given us a great foundation that we hope to carry with us as we move into this next season in our lives.

We will begin opening our home for worship and Bible study this upcoming Saturday at 2pm. If you’d like more information about what we believe and our style of practice, you can check out our website at: http://houseofhopefellowship.com.

Mark and I would love your prayers during this time! We need a lot of wisdom and seek to honor the Lord with our actions and attitudes in all things. Thank you and much love to you all!

~Judy