My pursuits to be unconsumed by the daily grind require more transition than I expected.  Master of the calendar takes more than a book and a week.  Deciding on calendar design requires fighting a few longstanding opponents.  My opponents are the invisible kind, i.e. pressure, coming up short, being tired, pushing too hard, forgetting what I am made of.  What does your invisible opponent look like?

Even though I scheduled hard with a lot of heart.  Last week was somewhat of a bomb.   I simultaneously got hit with 1) the middle school snake schedule, 2) working till 9pm at least twice, 3) sleep escaping me and 4) missing two important meetings due to the failure of my calendars to sync.  My mom even asked me about the disconnect between my writing about time and my life last week. So, again, I consider time and the arrangement of it.

What I am learning as a person: I am learning that the silly little phrase Forgive Yourself can actually have meaning.

Verse:  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Deep Thought:  My shortage of strength, time, wisdom and peace is filled in by His love, creativity, vision and sacrifice.  I don’t know how He fills in my angst, worry, exhaustion and missed marks.  But He keeps doing the refill straight into my heart.  I am reminded to let God be God and let me be me led by Him.  Maybe it takes a book, a week and Him giving me a few more shots at mastering time.

Quote: …as Christ followers living under the ever-flowing fountain of God’s love, our hearts should be so filled with His daily kindness, and love, that we should have the resilience not to be angered or provoked when the most minor irritations of life come our way . . . Simplify by Bill Hybels (Chapter 5)

Book(s)/Blog(s)/People that Shape Me: If you need to understand forgiveness, there is no better practical, but also deep application of it than in Chapter 5 of Bill Hybels book Simplify.

I also am learning a thing or two about brevity that is sweet and lingering in Shauna Niequist’s Savor, Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are.

My Prayer to You: I pray that we would resist being consumed by our daily grind.  Instead that we would seek the presence of God to lead us to the hours of our day.  I pray for us to be prepared to fight battles to remove the invisible opponents hacking our efforts and hindering our journey.  I pray for us to be prepared to forgive ourselves for coming up short.  I pray for us to believe that we can try and try again until we have mastered the skill of designing hours.  Beside God.  Who promises to never leave or forsake us.  Amen.

Written by Sasha Katz

What I Have Learned Lately

Emily P Freeman’s Blog Chatting at the Sky inspired me to collect my thoughts, quotes and other good things in one secure place.  As well as to share them.  I cannot think of a better way to become a more authentic self.  I cannot think of better way build on the great work of all of the exceptional women and men around me. I cannot think of a better way to encourage and inspire one another.

What I Learned as a Friend: I can serve others when I am under attack myself.

What I Learned as a Parent: Those who are in the decision-making position are not always right, even when they are a believer.

Verse: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom. Let not the mighty man glory and his might. Nor the rich man glory in his riches. Let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me. Jeremiah 9:23

Deep thought: I’m learning that the invisible God is working far more mightily and miraculously than I will ever see in the visible world. I’m learning to deeply trust what I cannot see. This is changing the core of my human perspective and my understanding of the very air I breathe.

Quote: The miracle, upside down work of God is that our failure isn’t an obstacle, it’s an opportunity to remember to sink into God. Not having what it takes is not a liability, it’s a prerequisite. Maybe there is hope for us after all.  A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman (Chapter 5)

Book(s) that shape me: A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

My Prayer to You: May you breathe in the power of God; and breathe out His great plans.  May you be your authentic self.  May you serve others with your heart and soul despite your own storms.  I pray that you would trust a God that you cannot see and fine tune your sight to His invisible power.  I pray that you take in what He has for you, in part, through the good work of others.  And, at the end of every day, you never lose hope for the breakthroughs, miracles and every good thing He has planned for you.

My Family Tree

By JMathis

I always joke around that my family tree resembles that of the Kennedys (minus all of the wealth and extravagance). Like the Kennedys, we are fiercely devoted to social causes and passionate about serving in the public interest. Instead of using government as our platform to reach the masses, though, my family’s preferred vehicle of service comes in the form of ministry.

I have family members who are Christian educators, authors, activists, scholars, philanthropists, social workers, songwriters, musicians, missionaries, pastors, evangelists and seminary students. You can find us anywhere from the mission fields of third world countries, all the way to the staff of America’s largest megachurch—we are in every pocket of Christendom imaginable and we are relentless in our ambition to do God’s work.

Yet, despite all of this tireless fealty to things of a spiritual nature, we have another very pronounced commonality with the Kennedys—our family is continuously plagued by tragedy. While our tragedies don’t take the form of assassinations, allegations of rape and plane crashes which seem characteristic of the Kennedy clan, our tragedies instead revolve around one thing: mental illness.

Every branch of my majestic, stately family tree has been impacted by mental illness. We are cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandchildren, parents and even children of the mentally ill. We see it all around us and we say nothing. We pretend it doesn’t exist even though it is the imposingly large elephant in the room of every single family reunion and gathering.

When one of us falls too far into the deep end, instead of throwing that person a life preserver, we whisper in hushed tones to each other, swapping knowing looks that simultaneously say “another one bites the dust” and “glad it wasn’t me”. We then proceed to step over the lifeless body and march towards our next assignment from God.

Apart from the obvious hypocrisy that runs rampant in my “spiritually oriented” family, we are still a family that is deeply rooted in the love of the Lord and one another, as confusing as that may sound. Unfortunately, these same roots are invasively thick with shame and silence. My family reminds me of the ficus tree—graceful, elegant and capable of growing in poor growing conditions. Yet at the same time, so rapidly destructive that it can rip through beautiful gardens and seemingly solid foundations such as sidewalks, patios and driveways. My family tree is both glorious in its legacy, while often heartbreaking at its core. 

A year after giving birth to my lovely babykins, I found myself still in the clutches of postpartum depression. I thought the “baby blues” were only supposed to last a few weeks, maybe months, but mine trudged on with a happy face, seemingly without an expiration date. I masked it well, staying busy with work, community volunteering and church involvement. However, deep inside, I knew that my internal compass was completely out of sorts. Looking back, I can remember feeling that pregnancy had caused every neuron and fiber in my body to be thrown off whack—as if someone had tried to rewire my neural structure, but did so incorrectly, with my orderly inner alphabet of “ABC” suddenly turning into a chaotic “ACV”.

After one year of this uneasiness and inner turmoil, it then hit me like a freight train. How many of my female relatives had languished in untreated postpartum depression, eventually hitting the point of no return? How many of my male relatives experienced intractable breakdowns after coming face to face with repeated stressors that could have been removed? How much could some of this mental illness have been avoided? Why was there such shame in taking the proper medication for something like this, or for sharing this with family members?

While the Christian holy-roller side of me would love to tell you that I broke this generational curse through prayer and fasting, the truth is, I finally caved and got help by seeing my doctor. She put me on anti-depressants and overnight, my world got much clearer and brighter—my wiring finally started to fuse in the proper order. Even though I was praying and reading the Word throughout this dark period of my life, it was not until I went on “happy pills” that I could say there was a light streaming in over the horizon.       

From a Christian perspective, I have no idea what this means. I know that God could have healed me without the use of any medication, but for some reason, medication was the course of action I followed. I would like to believe that the Lord took down my pride and led me to that decision just in the nick of time—still early enough where I could continue to fulfill my purpose and destiny in Christ. I have to trust the Lord and not over-think it theologically. After all, how should I know if Christians are to avoid anti-depressants? Maybe they should, maybe they shouldn’t; it’s not for me to decide or debate.

At the same time, I know very few people who would sweat out cancer, like some faith-healers, by relying solely on the Word of God. Most of us would seek treatment like chemotherapy, in addition to strengthening ourselves through daily meditation of scripture, prayer and fasting. Furthermore, we would enlist the help of family and friends for care, comfort, support, and more importantly, to wage spiritual warfare against this disease. Why should mental illness be treated any differently? Why is it sacrilegious to suggest that medication might be beneficial to someone facing a bout of mental illness?  Why is it taboo to share with friends, family and church leadership that you’re depressed?

In terms of my own experiences with post-partum depression and in light of my family history, I have learned a few things that I feel blessed and compelled to share with you:

1)      If you see someone sinking, throw that person a life preserver. Put aside years of shame, anger, guilt and fear of awkwardness, and help that family member or friend get through this difficult season.

2)      Throw away your pride and see if medication might help. As my doctor said, physiologically, we are a large mass of chemicals. When your inner chemical makeup is off-kilter, correct the imbalance through diet and exercise, and if necessary, the proper medication. 

3)      Seemingly normal, well put-together people experience depression—even people who are involved in ministry. If someone had a baby, even as long as a year ago, reach out to her and probe; ask the right questions. If someone just lost a loved-one, really assess how she’s doing a year later and offer a shoulder to cry on with continued support.

Even King David went through several seasons of depression throughout his life. “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah.” Psalms 32:3-4.

However, David prayed for wisdom, repented and sought the face of the Lord during emotional famines like this:

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalms 51: 6-12

Have you prayed for wisdom for you and your family members in the area of mental illness? Have you repented of any unrighteousness in your life? Have you sought God’s face in how to deal with your depression?

I’m sick of the stigma that mental illness carries, and I will continue to engage in spiritual battle against the strongholds of shame and silence that repeatedly threaten to bring down my family’s long-lasting Christian heritage. I’m tired of the tragedy of mental illness that perpetuates itself in my blood line, and I take authority over it in the powerful name of Jesus. I’m also done with my pride that seeks to distance myself from getting the proper help and support that I need to move forward in the things of God.

I am ready to find my true legacy in Christ—not the one my family bestows upon me through genetics or in the way that my family members and I were raised.

I don’t want to be a Kennedy or even a descendent of Billy Graham. I just want to be a member of the family of God.

Furthermore, I may never fully understand why my incredible family tree produces both sweet and bitter fruit, but I do know one thing: I am of the lineage of Jesus Christ and I will do everything I need to do to help my family to continue serving our Father.

Doubting Thomas Saved My Life


By JMathis

I owe my life to Doubting Thomas.

Many historians say, that after being transformed by the life of Jesus, Doubting Thomas traveled to the southern tip of India and spread the word of the Gospel there. It was then that Christianity in India was birthed.

In a land that is over 80% Hindu and 13% Muslim, I come from a lineage of Christians who claim that their spiritual roots can be traced back to these early St. Thomas conversions. Only 2% of the entirety of India is Christian, and I come from that lucky few.

Lucky? Actually, no. Humbled, yes, and brought-down-to-my-knees grateful, that Doubting Thomas didn’t remain a doubter.

This is me speculating, of course, but I don’t think Thomas was always a doubter. I bet the instant Thomas heard Jesus’ message, he knew that this was someone very, very special–someone absolutely worth abandoning his fisherman’s day-job, and someone worth following to the utter ends of the earth.

In many ways, Thomas reminds me of me. It is in my personality and nature for me to believe very easily, fall in love easily, and give you the benefit of the doubt easily. I am not a born skeptic, but rather, one who immediately sees the good in people.

However, it’s not so easy for me to stay that way once the chips fall. When things get shaky, uncertain and scary, that is when my heart fills with doubt. Why did I trust this person? Why did I believe him? Why did I think she knew what she was talking about? Once that doubt hits, I am outta of that situation. I mentally check out of that relationship, friendship or course in life, and I don’t look back.

Thomas could have been like me. The second he heard that Jesus had died, I’m sure he was flooded with thoughts like, “Did I just leave my steady paycheck for a guy that ended up dying at the age of 33?” “Was Jesus a criminal like the Pharisees claim? Maybe he really was here just to stir up trouble.” “What about all the promises that Jesus made? I thought I was going to be part of a “kingdom” where I was going to help “King Jesus” overtake the corrupt leadership of this land, so I could finally be rich, powerful and famous!” With thoughts like these, it would have been so easy for Thomas to say, “Well, I guess Jesus was a good friend while he was here, but dead is dead. The guy’s dead. Gotta move on with my life.”

That would have been my cue to get out of there. And fast. I would have said, “If this guy is alive, he better show his face, and with all the works—the bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang. In the meantime, I need to make up for all the time I lost in the past three years just hanging around, listening to a lot of nice, but useless stories that I didn’t even understand.”

Maybe Jesus knew this about Thomas and all of the other disciples, and that’s why he reappeared in front of the disciples just one last time right before ascending into heaven. Maybe he knew that Thomas was just vocalizing what everyone else was thinking—“I need to see it with my own eyes, if Jesus is really living, breathing and truly risen from the dead.”

Or, maybe he came back just for Thomas.

Jesus could have easily ascended directly into heaven, leaving Thomas behind in a world of doubt, confusion and eventual disbelief. But, just like the parable of the one lost sheep (Luke 15: 1-7), maybe he came back just for Thomas.

And, do you know why? Because that was in Jesus’ personality and nature—to turn around and reach out, even to just one lost sheep. One little, whiny, dazed and confused, lost sheep. And, why? So that once that sheep’s life was changed, that same sheep would go out and tell all of the remaining sheep, that Jesus was the kind of person who went out of his way, to save the inconsequential life of one lost sheep.

Thomas didn’t stop being a doubter just because he suddenly came to his senses, or became enlightened. Thomas stopped being a doubter because Christ in his risen form, came to Thomas personally and showed Thomas his bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang.

Was Thomas lucky? No. He was probably humbled, and brought-down-to-his-knees grateful, that Jesus made one final pit-stop so that foolish, silly Doubting Thomas wouldn’t remain a doubter. Humbled, and brought-down-to-his-knees grateful, that Jesus delayed seeing his Father, just to go after one lost sheep like him.

It took seeing the bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang, for Thomas to believe. Once he believed, his life was transformed and he felt compelled to tell the world about Jesus and to fulfill The Great Commission—even to places like the uttermost parts of the earth…places like India, where it is almost statistically impossible to not be Hindu.

What are you waiting for? Are you waiting to see the bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang, for you to believe? What will it take for you to follow Jesus’ example, and reach out to that one lost soul?

Don’t stay a Doubting Thomas. If Thomas had remained a doubter, I wouldn’t be writing this to you today.

Am I a follower of Jesus today because I am just lucky?


It’s because Jesus made one final pit-stop for Thomas, which changed Thomas’ life in such a radical, life-transforming way, that Thomas went into the most remote regions of the world to reach out to one of my great-great-great greats.

Jesus made one final pit-stop just for me. Am I lucky? No. Just humbled and brought-down-to-my-knees grateful.