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.


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


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!


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!


These questions were posted by one of my mentors, Sally Clarkson, this morning on her blog, 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!


Journeys of Thankfulness


Every feel like your life is one giant roller coaster?  I do. Lately it totally feels like I’ve been on a roller coaster ride, and not one of those new smooth ones – one of the old-style wooden ones that constantly shakes, even when you’ve slowed down a bit! And I’m not a fan of roller coasters either. I don’t like feeling out of control, I don’t like that feeling of shaking up my insides. I usually only ride them to appease the people I’m with. And when I’m done, I don’t feel that, “Wow, I did it!” feeling – I just feel sick and unsettled.

Such has been my life. On the outside, I’m doing my best to keep it together, to maintain some sense of normal – mostly for the sake of my kids. But on the inside I feel like one more twist on the rails and I’m going to lose my lunch.

(For some context, here’s the update on me/baby: Since my last entry here, I have continued to have unexplainable bleeding issues, to the point that my midwife has referred me to an OB. Hopefully I’ll be seeing him asap and getting some answers.)

This week was the beautiful holiday of Thanksgiving – a day we set aside to focus on something that we should be doing daily – giving thanks. And I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t feeling it this year! I don’t think I realized just how much I was struggling until Thanksgiving came and I actually sat down to think about it. I’m struggling with a lot of feelings that, as a follower of God, I should be overcoming. Fear, anxiety, inadequacy, incompetancy, and of course, sheer exhaustion.

I’ve been trying to talk to God about it too, but even that has been so hard, because I just feel so lost. In the stress of everything, I’ve neglected my quiet time, which makes me feel so far away from God.

But I think He designed this morning’s Shabbat service just for me. 🙂 Our friend, Ken, spoke on how we don’t have to work to get to God’s presence, or try to find it somehow in our own power, but He is always there – right there with us. And then Rabbi Hylan spoke on thankfulness when it’s hard, when your feelings aren’t with you. It was exactly, precisely what I needed to hear this morning! It was so encouraging, so full of hope. And so honoring – that God used these men in this worship service in another state to minister to my exact needs. I was brought to tears more than once.

And now? I guess I try to take some joy in the roller coaster for as long as it lasts. Soak up the smiles in my kids’ faces, the new words my daughter is learning, hearing my son sing worship music at the top of his lungs in his adorable toddler voice, and cherish every moment.

And I think it’s okay to pray for the ride to be over soon too! ;-D

Heart Changes and Thankfulness

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged!  I love blogging, but the first trimester of pregnancy has kind of hit me like a mack truck, and I just haven’t been able to take the time for it.  But something happened last weekend that I want to write about before emotions and memories start to fade.

{Content warning: Some slightly graphic content below.}

Things with my pregnancy had been going like I’ve always experienced in the first trimester.  I’m blessed to have fairly easy pregnancies, and have never had morning sickness to the point of vomiting.  I do have some nausea and a lot of food aversions, but my main challenge is fatigue.  I wake up exhausted, struggle to get meals on the table throughout the day, and try my best to lay down and rest at some point in the afternoon.  It’s rough, but not totally unmanageable.  And it fades after the first trimester.

Emotionally, I have still been struggling with frustration about going through another pregnancy, and ambivalence regarding the baby himself.  The bitterness I experienced when I first found out that I was pregnant has faded, but I have been having a hard time taking joy in the life growing inside of me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last Friday, I was enjoying a lovely tea party with my beautiful daughter in her room after dinner.  We were having a great time together, reading and drinking tea out of the miniature tea set that I had when I was a girl, when I suddenly felt like I was having an incontinence issue.  I got up to use the bathroom, only to find that I was dripping blood.  It was scary. I got cleaned up and went downstairs to spend the rest of the evening on the couch.  I called my mom, my mother-in-law, my midwife, and sent emails to several friends to ask for immediate prayer.  I was having some cramping as well, which was also very unnerving, as bleeding with cramping has a much higher risk of miscarriage.  I did some googling (bad idea, by the way, if you’re concerned about a very scary possible outcome!), and just sat in shock for a long time.

I had so many thoughts going on in my mind.

Am I losing this baby?
What is this going to be like?
Am I really going to lose this baby after finally coming to grips with this pregnancy?
Is this happening because I wasn’t thankful enough for this baby?
Will we have another child?

Anyway, I spent the evening on “bedrest” and praying – for protection for my baby and for peace for me.  It was a quiet, somber night.  By morning, the bleeding had slowed dramatically and darkened in color (meaning no new fresh bleeding) – both of which were good signs.  I called my midwife who made plans to come by that afternoon and see if she could find a heartbeat.  I spent the morning on the couch, trying to allow the Lord to calm my fears, working on trusting that my baby and me were in His most capable hands.

Donna, my midwife, arrived just after 3pm.  She pulled out the Doppler and went to work to find my tiny babe.  And miracle of miracles, there it was! The most beautiful sound I have ever heard – the quick “lub-lub-lub-lub” of a tiny baby heartbeat.  Ahhh… 🙂  Donna told me that there are many reasons why the bleeding may have occurred, but at this point, all that mattered was that our baby was perfectly fine.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now that the scary part is behind me, I have realized that this scare was really a gift from God.   Before last weekend, my feelings regarding the baby inside of me ranged from resignation to ambivalence.  Now, however, I feel this amazing thankfulness that the baby is safe and well.  I feel protective and possessive (in a good way!) about this baby – my baby – who I am growing inside of me.  And I am so thankful that I was able to experience this shift in emotions.  It is a gift.

Anyway, I wanted to share this experience with you.  All of us, at some point, struggle with an aspect of our lives that seems like more than we can handle, or something we don’t necessarily want to deal with.  And we can choose how we react to it.  What kind of feelings do we foster?  How do we direct our thoughts?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~Philippians 4:8

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. ~Isaiah 26:3

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~2 Timothy 1:7

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. ~2 Corinthians 10:5

Many blessings to you, this week and always!

– Judy

This Crazy, Beautiful Life

It’s been a crazy, busy month here in our home! In the past month, I have taken 3 trips out-of-state, leaving my kids (except Avigail) for the first and second times. It has been challenging, but it has been good. Even my trip to Minnesota for my uncle’s funeral was a good trip – getting to be there with my family for this difficult time was priceless.

Now that I’m home, we’re working on getting back into a routine.  We’ve restarted school again after a 3-week break.  I’m so thankful that my home was kept in great shape (thanks especially to my wonderful mom-in-law!), but I’m trying to get caught up on the random chores that tend to get neglected when I’m busy.

And on top of all of that, I’m super tired because… I’m pregnant again!  Yep, we’ll be welcoming another sweet little one to our family next May.

And I think this is where I want to go for this blog.  I’ve been trying to figure out what to blog about, because I have had so much on my mind lately that it’s been hard to focus it all into a cohesive thought.  But I think that what the Lord has been teaching me has a lot of value, and hopefully you will be able to glean something from it as well.

Finding out that I was pregnant was not just surprising, but rather terrifying.  To be brutally honest, when I saw that second blue line, I sobbed and sobbed – body-racking, uncontrollable sobs.  When I was finally able to stop, it wasn’t for long – I cried many times during that first day.

See, way back when Mark and I first had Eliza, we wanted to have five children.  And that has been the case ever since.  But when I was pregnant with Avigail, Mark told me that he was thinking that he really wanted to be done having children with four.  I told him that if the baby was born a girl, I would probably be okay with that, but if it was a boy, I’d want to try again for a girl.  🙂  He sorta-agreed with me, and we left it at that.  It was still very stressful for me.  I didn’t feel done having children, didn’t feel complete, didn’t feel ready to end that season of my life.  Then Avigail was born, and the talks began again.  I actually struggled a lot with depression because of it. Even though I was sorta-okay with the idea, it was like a part of me would have to die.  But I love my husband, and I totally understand that he’s exhausted with parenting young children and ready to move on to the next season of life.  And over the next year, I finally came to a place where I agreed with him.  I was ready to move on.  While I knew I’d miss getting to have another baby, I also knew that I’d always wonder what it would be like to have just one more!

Anyway, back to my story.  So, I’d wrestled with all sorts of emotions over the past year in coming to a point where I was excited about being done having children and being ready to move beyond diapers and sleepless nights.  And no sooner had that happened (and we’d decided to take the next step towards that), than this happened.  It was as if God was answering us with a firm “No.”  I didn’t understand it.  Why?  Why had God caused me to get pregnant when I shouldn’t have been able to?  Why didn’t He listen to my exhausted husband’s heart’s desire?  Why did He wait for me to finally come to grips with not having any children, just to yank the rug out from under me with this shocking news?  And why did He pick me (again) instead of one of those couples who can’t have children and want so desperately to??  I was angry, hurt, sad, frustrated.  I felt so lost, and walked around all day in a daze.  I called my best friend, my mom, and my mom-in-law – all in tears.  It was a hard, long day.

But in the back of my mind, I knew that I really didn’t have an option.  I really didn’t have a right to question God, a right to argue with His infinite wisdom and power.  So I had my day-long pity party, and went to bed an emotional mess.

The next morning, I came downstairs for my quiet time.  Thankfully I was up before the kids were, so my quiet time was actually quiet.  Ahh..  I opened up my gratitude journal, as is my habit first thing.  But I couldn’t think of a single thing to be thankful for.  My heart was hurting and raw.  I began to cry again.  I sat there on the couch, talking my thoughts out to the Lord.

“Why, God?  I don’t understand!”
“I’m SO tired, so very tired.”
“Why did you let me finally get to be okay with being done and then put this on me?”
“I can’t do this again!”  

And one by one, the Father answered me with His calm, sure words.

“Yes, Judy, you can do it.”
“You have learned so much through each of your children, but I have more that I still want to teach you.”
“I want you to trust Me.  Trust that I know best.  Trust that I will give you the strength you need.”
“You will come out of this stronger, and better equipped for the life I have for you, but you have to trust Me.”

As I began to let go of my own worries, He filled me with peace – and even a bit of joy!  I’m not saying there aren’t times when I still struggle.  It’s been 4 weeks already since I found out, and I’m still not always very joyful about it.  But if I keep my eyes on my Creator, He helps me see the joy and the blessing.  Remember this post? (You Are Joy)  This was my heart’s meditation that day, and it still is now. God IS Joy – He IS Peace – He IS Love.  And His ways – they are perfect.

Learning the Blessing of Mourning

Wow, where do I start?  This month has been one of the most roller-coaster months I have ever experienced.  In the course of one month, we have started school for the year, celebrated family birthdays(including my 30th!), traveled to Seattle twice, made some major life decisions (more on this later), received some surprising family news (more on this later, too), started a college course, celebrated the arrival of my newest nephew (welcome, baby Owen!), and lastly, received the shattering news of my uncle’s murder.

For those of you who don’t know me on Facebook, here’s the quick recap: on Thursday evening (the 27th), there was a shooting in Minneapolis.  A disgruntled ex-employee went on a vengeful shooting spree at his former office, killing 4 people plus himself.  My uncle was an innocent bystander – the UPS delivery guy dropping off a package at the wrong time.

My Uncle Keith

My uncle, Keith Basinski, was an amazing person.  Everyone loved him.  He radiated happiness and joy.  He was genuine and giving.  I remember his selfless hospitality – we always stayed at his house when we visited Minneapolis and he was always willing to do whatever to help us feel comfortable and welcome.  Mark said that he holds a special place in his heart as well – so full of joy and kindness.  Learning of his death was quite a blow. 

Death is hard to process by itself, but I’ve learned this week that murder is a different story altogether.  It’s so dark, so evil. 

I’ve been working through my grief these last few days.  My uncle was a believer, so I have the comfort of knowing his destiny and that he is with the Father right now.  But it is still hard to have someone snatched from life so quickly, so cruelly.

Mark has been reading a book about the Beatitudes, and he suggested the next chapter, which was on mourning.  So I read it this morning in my quiet time, and it really ministered to me, so I wanted to pass along some of the most poignant passages here.

“Mourning means they have given up their self-delusions about control, power and protection.  They know that life is fragile, and that they are not in charge.”

“Only when life jolts us do we see the real picture of our existence, that we depend on God’s graciousness for every breath.  Mourning brings about the acute awareness of powerlessness – an essential ingredient in spiritual growth.”

“Yeshua looked out on the brokenhearted in the crowd and saw that some were ready, posed to accept the incredible announcement about to be theirs.  they were ready because they were the blessed ones.  God could reach them, now, in the moment of their raw openness.”

“Yeshua knows that this comfort has two critical elements.  First, it is comfort found only by those who are at this moment open because of their agony.  And secondly, it is a promise that reaches beyond the immediate.”

“It is the guarantee that no matter what crisis comes upon us, God is here.  God is in control.  Our lives are not adrift on a stormy sea of emotional trauma.  The Holy Spirit will stand as our Advocate when we fall.  He will intercede.  All of His unfathomable power, care and love will be ours because God hears our cry.”

“So grief comes upon us, not as a judgment or a punishment but as the single most clarifying moment of life – the moment that I see that my life is not my own, that it is not even mine to keep.  At that moment, when I know my limits most intimately, I am ready to hear God’s message – comfort is upon me.”

My prayer in all this is that through grief, many people who were blessed by my Uncle Keith’s life will be even more blessed through his death.  May they find the One who was the source of my uncle’s joy, the foundation of his giving and generous life.

“Oh, so happy are those who at this moment are broken over life’s finality because the day is upon them when God’s gracious love is at hand and they have the promise that death is defeated.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

A few links honoring my uncle, Keith Basinski:

* All quotes except for Scripture are taken from “The Lucky Life – The Backwards Beatitudes,” by Skip Moen, D.Phil.

Stretching, Growing, and Entering a New Season

Some of you may know that I visited the Seattle area this past weekend.  Mark sent me to a women’s retreat at Beit Tikvah, our home congregation. I was excited and a bit apprehensive about it, being that it was the first time I’d ever left my big kids overnight (yes, ever!).  I also had with me a heavy feeling – not in a negative way, but in a full way.  I knew that the Lord had something planned for me in the retreat, but I really had no idea what.

I arrived in Seattle with Avigail on Friday night, got settled into our friends’ home (what amazing hosts they were – such a blessing!), and got a good night’s sleep.  On Saturday morning, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with my lovely hosts and a relaxing devotional time before making our way to BT for morning service.  The speaker for the women’s retreat was Melody Green, wife of the late Keith Green (revolutionary Christian singer from the late 70s/early 80s).  The theme was “No Compromise”, but I didn’t yet know what that really meant. 

Keith Green    
 (Click Here for Keith and Melody Green’s testimonies and ministry website.)

Throughout the weekend, Melody spoke about their lives together, their ministry, and the challenges she has gone through since his untimely death.  Her main teaching text from the first day was this:

“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

(Revelation 2:2-5 ESV)

I meditated on this a bit on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and didn’t quite know what to fully make of it.  How to we really love God?  (My immediate thought-response was “If you love me, obey my commandments.”) What works is Yeshua referring to?

On Sunday morning, her main teaching text was this:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

This really hit home.  How can it not?  As a busy mom, my life is consumed by the daily details of raising children, educating them, and running a home.  How often to I even take the time to give thought to all of the people around me who are needy in one way or another?  When was the last time I stepped outside my comfort zone to feed someone, invite a lonely person to my home, or provide basic living essentials such as clothing to someone who needed them?

I’m not beating myself up over this – I believe that we all go through seasons that are each important for their own reason.  Since we’ve moved, I’ve been in a season of reestablishing myself.  I’ve been focusing on getting back to the core of who I am and how my relationship with God works.  And there’s nothing wrong with taking time to do that.  In fact, without that foundation, you really can’t do anything else! 

But the Lord was speaking very clearly to me this weekend that this season that I’ve been in is coming to a close.  It’s time to refocus a bit more on those around me.  Time to reach out and share God with others, especially in practical ways.  I don’t yet know how this is going to look, but it’s something I’m praying about and working through, and I’m excited to see how the Lord will be glorified in this next season!

Four Months of Grace, Thanks, Joy

“I run my fingers across the pages of the book. I read it slowly. In the original language, ‘He gave thanks’ reads ‘eucharisteo.’ I underline it on the page. The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning ‘grace.’ Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.

But there is more.  Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, also holds the Greek word chara, meaning ‘joy.’ I breathe deep, like a sojourner finally coming home. That has always been the goal of the fullest life – joy.”     ~Ann Voskamp, Selections From One Thousand Gifts

Two years ago I read a book that moved me deeply.  “One Thousand Gifts”, by Ann Voskamp, challenged me to see my life through the constant lens of thankfulness and grace.  I started a gratitude journal – a list of thanks, of blessing, of grace.  It is a discipline, this learning to see grace in all things.  But it has deepened my walk with the Lord and helped me to see through His eyes so much more.  It has brought me more patience, more understanding, more joy.

It has been four months now since we moved to Idaho.  There has never been a doubt in my mind that this is where God wants us to be, yet there are times that it has been very hard.  Settling into a new home is a long process, especially when that includes starting over in the area of relationships.  But we have been blessed to meet some great people and are excited about what the future holds for our family.

As we hit our 4-month anniversary in our new home, I also reached 500 in my gratitude journal.  It’s a big mark for me, and as I reached it I took some time to look back and read many of my entries over the past several months.  I was struck by how many of my thanks would not have been possible without the Lord bringing us here.

193. all of our friends who helped us move – working so hard, long, and selflessly
196. laying-on of hands and prayers from cherished friends
199. the sweet surprise of a beautiful drive to get to our new home
200. our new home – beautiful – and on the outskirts of town, in a beautiful setting off a country highway
213. grandparents living close
237. the homeschool freedom we enjoy in Idaho
250. horses down the street, in pastures of wildflowers
257. our first time enjoying our neighborhood pool
274. two generations of brothers, throwing footballs in the backyard
280. joy-filled days spent at the grandparents’ house
285. the freedom, space, and safety we enjoy in our new home
294. summer days!
296. family time at the pool
298. mountains in the distance, decorating the horizon
299. grandparents, close enough to babysit
300. renewed vision for the future, with God’s calling at the center!

I know that big changes can be so scary.  Even when you know that God is speaking, taking that big step of faith is so hard, so unsettling at times.  We doubt, we wonder, we can’t see the future, and it is so, so hard!  But as I’m learning and growing, the Lord is good – always good – only good – and He knows the beginning from the end.  He knows the plans He has for us.  He knows the desires of our hearts.  And His plans for us are bigger than our own!  But in order to get to that place of being used, we must trust.  We must choose to take joy and offer thanks even when it is hard.  It is a discipline, but one with amazing payoff.

311. evening family walks around our neighborhood
367. family time to explore our new town
393. clarity, given by God, about His purposes
396. sunny days – now the norm
399. grandparents around for birthday celebrations
429. making new friends!
440. the sun, red at sunrise and sunset from all the smoke – beauty from the ugly
448. blue sky again after so many days of smoke-haze
458. Avigail’s love for the outdoors, and how easy it is for her to access it
480. three kids in a row, all on scooters
501. the multitude of birds in the tree next door, all chirping together in the morning
507. my children’s growing comfort in the water
509. the park behind our house
510. a summer of children riding bikes and scooters to their hearts’ content

If you’ve never done it (or if you’re just struggling with faith or joy), I highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal.  It will bless you, because it will bring you closer to the One who gives blessing. 


As A Man Thinketh

“The aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”

-James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

As I said the other day, I struggle with depression. It’s a topic that I’ve read a lot about and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. I have tried hard to keep it from getting the best of my life. But no matter what I do, it keeps resurfacing.

So the other day, as soon as I felt it creeping back in, I confronted it head-on. I remembered what a huge difference it made for me last time when I finally admitted to my friends that I was struggling. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, and just felt this shift in my mindset – like I was no longer a passive victim, but a fighter, and it had to go! Shortly after that time, I was feeling much better.

Anyway, I’ve been pondering a lot over the past couple of days. Why do I get depressed? Is this something God has allowed in my life as a lesson to learn? Is it an attack? Is it physical, spiritual, or both? Am I going to struggle with this for the rest of my life?

And as I’ve been thinking, praying, and meditating on Scripture these past few days, I’ve felt HaShem impress upon me some important truths. I want to share them with you, and my hope is that someday my openness will be a blessing to someone else struggling with this ugly beast.  I don’t have all the answers, but I will share with you what I have!

God is bigger. No matter what I’m facing, He is so much bigger than all of it!

This morning I read the last several chapters of the book of Job. It is HaShem’s answer to Job after everything he has been through. Very powerful words, very moving. If you haven’t read it recently, do it!

God knows. He sees everything. He knows my heart. He knows my thought processes.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, …discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  -Hebrews 4:12

God’s love never fails. It never gives up. He knows all of this, and yet His love doesn’t give up or even waver in the slightest.

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever.”  -Psalm 100:5

God created my mind to have a strong influence over the rest of me. My mind is of utmost importance, and I cannot ignore it.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” -Romans 12:2a

God tells me what to focus my mind on, and His plan for me is abundant life.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  -Philippians 4:8

God does not force His will on me – I must choose it daily.

“Choose this day whom you will serve.”  -Joshua 24:15

Finally, to close I want to add one more thing.  It is important to remember that I can go through all the right motions but not truly let Him speak to and change me.  This does more harm than good, tricking myself into thinking I’m doing well, but setting myself up for failure! This is why I believe there is so much power in admitting my challenges. I must be real with myself.

So today, I am choosing to renew my mind with the truth of God’s word. I will set my mind on Him, and walk in faith.

“If then, you have been raised with Messiah, seek the things that are above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  -Colossians 3:1-2

~ Judy

P.S. If you enjoyed the quote at the top, you can download the entire short book for free off the website,  It’s a good read!