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. ūüėČ 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. ūüôā

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

Betrayal, Rejection, and God’s Goodness

I want to take some time to write about a topic that is very close to my heart – rejection. Not something most people associate with being close to their heart, is it? It is not a happy thing, but it is something that most of us experience at some point in our lives, and working through it is a major life shift.

Just over a year ago, we were betrayed by some of (who we thought were) our closest friends. Out of nowhere, with no legitimate reason except their imagination, we suddenly became their enemies (in their eyes), and our word meant nothing to them. I cannot express in words how incredibly painful this was for our family. We grieved for months. My kids mourned the overnight loss of some of their dearest friends, talking about them constantly (which was so hard for us to overhear). We couldn’t understand why this was happening. Couldn’t understand how people who told us we were “like family” to them could turn around and make up their own story about us and close their hearts to our defense. We wondered why the Lord allowed this to happen – why didn’t he clear things up in their minds and show them the truth?

A few months later, the pain of this betrayal barely scabbed over (and certainly not healed), intense pain hit our family again as another betrayal by someone very close to us was revealed. This one wasn’t directly against us personally, but the pain on top of the still-pretty-raw pain of our friends betrayal was intense.¬†I fell into depression. It was just SO much to handle. School fell to the wayside as I struggled to just cook meals and keep a clean house.

Thankfully, that terrible season didn’t last too long, and the Lord never left me alone in my sadness. He is so good, so kind, so loving. After a little while of healing, He opened the doors for us to start a Messianic fellowship, and brought us a few couples who were encouraging, supportive, and kind.

It has been a year since those intense days of pain, tears, and deep sadness. God has held us up, surrounded us with love (both from Him and from others), and strengthened our faith. But I still think of these betrayals almost daily. I still wonder why. I still miss the friends we lost – still wonder how they are doing, how their kids are growing, and still pray for them regularly.

I have often wondered, why does God allow other Christians to treat someone this way? Why doesn’t He put a stop to it – especially when it is all based on lies? Why does God allow His people to hurt others in His holy Name? I may never have the answers to these questions, and part of trusting the Lord is learning to be okay with the lack of answers.

So, how do we work through the rejection in order to heal and grow in our walk with the Lord? How do we keep these kind of experiences from being a hindrance in our lives, and how do we learn to trust again?

I won’t pretend I have all the answers. But I have learned a lot through this process, and maybe something I’ve learned can help someone:

  • Begin each day with the Lord. I cannot stress this enough. If your quiet time is inconsistent, it is imperative to make it a priority right now. You NEED to keep your focus on the Unwavering Rock. Time with Him will help you see everything else with a godly perspective.
  • See the spiritual side of things. In our situation, we saw immediately that this was a spiritual attack – the enemy preying on specific weaknesses in order to tear apart our relationship. Remembering that when I was feeling angry and offended helped to keep me from taking it too personally.
  • Allow yourself to grieve. Loss of a major relationship is almost like a death, except without the closure. You likely still have to see them living life (thank you, Facebook), going on as if they didn’t just seriously damage yours. Cry, yell, rant to someone you trust (get a therapist if that helps!), and even to the Lord.
  • Let a few things slide off your plate while you’re in the most intense time of healing. We didn’t do school for a while, and I didn’t give myself guilt over it. This was a season for healing.
  • Try not to over-guard your heart. This is a hard one. It is our default to say, “That person hurt me so much, I’m never going to trust someone again.” As an introvert, I already find it hard to branch out and meet new people, and because of this pain I struggle with¬†a tendency to avoid¬†building other close friendships.¬†But it’s so important to allow yourself to be open to new friendships. Not everyone is like that person who hurt you.
  • Remember that the truth will be exposed one day. This may not be until eternity, but God will reveal all truth in His time. Trust Him to defend you in this way.
  • Don’t expect to ever not feel some pain. Pain is a sign you’re alive, and at times the hurt is so deep that a tinge of pain will always be there. That’s okay. Let it be a reminder to always treat those around you with grace and kindness, never knowing what they are feeling inside.
  • Look for the hidden blessings. My gratitude journal was a lifeline for me during this time. Yes, there were days that I literally couldn’t think of anything to write in it, but most days I could. A lovely sunset, cozy days at home with my family, a husband to share my pain with. For us, this propelled us into walking out in what the Lord has called us to by starting a Messianic congregation. And God brought us people right away as direct confirmation and an answer to prayer. We celebrated this blessing!

Anyway, I hope that perhaps this helps someone get through a hard time. If you have been recently betrayed by someone, remember that God is on His throne, and His love for you is bigger than you can ever imagine!

If you’ve been through a betrayal or rejection, what has helped you to heal from it and grow stronger in your faith? I’m starting this book, Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst, and am excited to see what wisdom I can glean from it. Her writings have really spoken to me in the past. ūüôā

Uninvited_Cover_Front

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. ūüôā

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

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 ‚Äúgrace vs. law‚ÄĚ 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.

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… ūüôā

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?

Priorities, Goals, and Passions

Earlier this week, I wrote a list of confessions I called, “10 Confessions of a Super Mom.” ¬†I wrote it in response to a few comments I’ve received lately, as well as all the comments I get in passing from random strangers (“I could¬†never do that!”). ¬†Because the truth is, no one is Super Mom, and at the same time, we all are. ¬†We are all doing the best we can with the support, knowledge, and well-being we have at that time. ¬†But that post got me thinking. ¬†How do we measure our success? ¬†Do we measure ourselves by someone else’s measure? ¬†Is it an arbitrary measure based on our feelings that day? ¬†I think we can all agree that there are days that we really struggle with our own measure of success and feelings of failure.

So I wanted to write down a few thoughts I’ve had recently about measuring success. ¬†Here’s the thing – my measure of success is not the same as yours! ¬†Isn’t that a freeing thought? ¬†Your success is going to look totally different than mine. ¬†We will likely have some things in common, but certainly not everything. ¬†And that is OKAY. ¬†That’s the way it’s supposed to be! ¬†God made us individuals – not made from a cookie-cutter mold!

I would like to propose that there we should measure our success by 3 things: our priorities, our goals, and our passions.

Our Priorities

We all have priorities. ¬†Some of them may be well-thought-through, maybe some of them not so much. ¬†I would strongly suggest that you take some time (with your spouse if you’re married) to figure out your true priorities and write them down. ¬†You will have family priorities and individual priorities.

Here are mine:

1. Cultivating a heart that seeks God and finding my rest in Him.

2. Honoring my husband and passionate loving him.

3. Being an example of godliness for my children, demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit.

4. Cultivating deep, intimate friendships with my children.

5. Creating a home of peace where hospitality is practiced regularly and freely.

 

Our Goals

Taking our priorities to a more practical level is done by making goals. ¬†We should have a variety of goals that cover our priorities – short-term and long-term. ¬†Again, this is a great thing to take some time to pray about (with your spouse if possible) and write down. ¬† It’s also very important to re-evaluate these regularly and make adjustments as much as you feel you need to. ¬†And also? ¬†It’s totally okay to let go of your goals if you decide that they no longer fit in your priorities! ¬†There is so much freedom in letting go of a goal, especially because we can often hold guilt over these.

Our Passions

This is another important area of life that I feel sometimes gets overlooked! ¬†We focus so much on the “big stuff” – like our relationship with God and our family. ¬†And there’s nothing wrong with that, those things¬†are most important. ¬†But many of our passions have been given to us by God and they are a big part of what makes each of us unique! ¬†If you don’t realize that and understand that there is much life to be had in enjoying what you’re passionate about, you’re going to end up living a very unfulfilled life.

Now, maybe this should go without saying, but I’m talking about healthy passions here, not harmful or sinful ones. ¬†They should be things that complement your priorities, not pull away from them. ¬†Things like knitting, cooking gourmet, running, crafting, writing, gardening, etc. are what I’m thinking of. ¬†These are ways that we renew ourselves, refresh our souls, find beauty in the everyday. ¬†And as such they are important also.

 

When I am pondering how I’ve been doing recently as a mother, wife, and individual, this is where I go. ¬†I go to my priorities, goals, and passions. ¬†Am I living my priorities? ¬†Am I working toward my goals? ¬†Am I enjoying my passions? ¬†When I can see myself doing these things, I know that no matter what my emotions that day tell me, I am¬†successful.

On the flip side, when I’m not feeling good about my life and I can’t seem to pin down why, this is also a great place to start! ¬†By looking at these 3 areas, I can usually figure out what is being neglected and can either adjust it accordingly (let it go and release the guilt!) or make a game plan for making it better.

In addition, this is a great filter for deciding whether something belongs in your life. ¬†Whether you’re thinking about spending money, time, or resources on something, you can compare it to your priorities, goals, and passions to decide if it’s worth the expense. ¬†As you make a habit of doing this, you will find that your life is where you want it to be, because even when things don’t go the way you’d like, you know what’s important to you and you are making those things your focus.

 

Blessings,

– Judy

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… ¬†ūüėČ

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

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

Living a Quiet Life

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 ESV

I have been fairly quiet lately- both here as well as on Facebook, where I used to be fairly active. I still really enjoy writing, and see blogging as a long-term thing in my life, but over the past couple of months I have really felt little desire to write in my free time. Tonight, as I enjoy some much-needed alone time, I am thinking about this. And the verse above popped into my mind. “Aspire to live quietly.” That is what I’ve been feeling so much lately!

Rabbi Shaul (or Paul, as most refer to him), is sharing with the believing community in Thessalonica. He’s celebrating their love for each other, and encouraging them to lead a quiet life, mind their own business, and to work with their hands. In doing this, he says, they will walk properly- be a good witness- to the world around them.

Over the years, I have gone through phases of growth in the way I relate to others. I used to be very quiet, unsure of myself, and unwilling to speak up in most situations- afraid of saying the wrong thing or freezing up. Like many people, confrontation makes me rather uncomfortable. But somewhere along the way, I was able to finally break out of this. I met people who were introverted and yet outspoken, and it was inspiring! These women were strong and knew who they were. I wanted that for myself. I wanted to feel strong, to be able to stand up for what I believed in. And so I started doing just that. It was uncomfortable at first, but the more I did it, the easier it became! It felt so good to finally feel like I knew who I was and was able to express that without fear.

But as I’ve grown, I’ve realized something. While being able to stand up for yourself is crucial, it is equally important to know when to speak up, and when to let things roll off your back. It’s also so very important to always speak with grace. As Rabbi Shaul says to the believers in Colossi:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

Anyway, I guess I’m just trying to say that to me, this is a lot of what “Live a quiet life” and “Mind your own affairs” means. It doesn’t mean we should be doormats, never speaking up about right and wrong, but it does mean that we should use wisdom in deciding when to speak and always speak with grace.

It also means for me, that I just don’t say as much in general. I’ve taken stock and simplified my life, and if something (for example, a thread on Facebook) doesn’t directly edify my life and my family, I will think twice before joining in.

The last thing the rabbi encourages is to “work with your hands.” In addition to being a rabbi, Shaul/Paul was also a tentmaker. He knew what it was like to work with your hands. I found it intriguing that he included this in his letter. What is it about working with your hands that ties into your speech and relationships?

image

I personally enjoy working with my hands, especially when it doesn’t include doing dishes! I like creating things, making beauty, and using my skills to bless others. At this stage of life, my hands are usually busy maintaining our home. Is there a purpose to this beyond just daily life?

According to Rabbi Shaul, working with your hands is part of the bigger picture of being a godly witness to the world around you. When I think about why, this is what comes to my mind:

1. It keeps you from being idle. Scripture is full of references regarding the danger of idle hands.
2. It allows you to create. I believe the Lord made us hardwired with a need to create, after all, we are made in His image.
3. It can often provide us with a way to bless others. If you don’t know what to use your hands to make, look to the needy world around you. Put together bags for the homeless. Knit blankets for the elderly forgotten in a nursing home. Make a care package for an inmate. What a witness we can be, simply by working with our hands. And if you’re at the place in life where keeping your home is all your hands can handle, that’s okay too! Your home is your highest calling.

Anyway, my time here is running out, but I wanted to be an encouragement tonight and share these thoughts with you all. I pray that it blesses you!

~Judy