What I LOVE About Myself

This time of year, you can’t help but calculate if you are exercising enough, eating clean enough, spiritual enough, saving enough. Calculate and resolve. All by January first-ish. I usually find this process pretty exhilarating. Yes, I like lists and goals and plans and bucket lists. I like to think about what is better and best. I like to make plans and stick with them. But, it appears there is another way to do this new year thing.

Sitting on a school bus on its way to St. Augustine, I ran across a list of non-goals by Erin Loechner. Her list came just as the slew of resolutions of millions came through on commercials, articles, wish lists and blog posts. Her list appeared as my own thoughts of resolution were working their way through my heart and soul.

Erin says this . . . I think there is inherent worth in change, and I think there is inherent worth in the decision not to change . . . And this is why – year after year – I pen my own non-goals. The non-improvements, the non-betterments, the non-upgrades. The habits I want to stay the same because I once fought really hard for them. The ones I won’t allow to fall quietly by the wayside simply because I caught myself reading an article titled 20 Things To Change In 2016 . . . The ones – dare I say it? – I love about myself.

I had a mini revolution in my soul when I read these words. There are some good things about myself? Things I do well? I can think about those things and write a list? The non-upgrades have a place. And, according to Erin, this list can live in harmony with the calculated resolutions. I love this!

Today, I am sharing with you my non-goals. And, as a side note, I am going to be plainly honest. I am half way though Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love. And, if I have imputed anything from her brilliant words, it is to let honesty and truth run free! So, for those of you who know me well and for those of you who don’t, here goes!

  1. I am ending my struggle with the traditional definition of rest. Yes, my optimal physical rest looks like eight hours, but I am energized by the books God has placed in my hands. By following the delicious recipes from the cookbooks I continue to collect, like good memories. My rest is those minutes before I fall to sleep sinking under covers; receiving the peace and gratefulness I have for a cushiony place to rest my head/but remembering the many who have no place tonight. I don’t have to embrace rest in its traditional form. My rest is a way for me to worship Him. The more I understand how He defines rest for me, the more I value rest.
  1. I am melting off anything that is not authentically me. I’m done checking boxes and gathering stock for the image I hope to be. Maybe it has some to do with 40 or maybe it takes decades for God to bring you to yourself. This is not a personal announcement of an arrival. This is just me claiming what God has made and going with it. I don’t mind that I quiver with fear sometimes or push against the change He calls me to. It’s how I grow and I am thankful He just keeps convincing me to be me. I’ll just keep melting and I like it that way.
  1. I’m not a great acquaintance. Let’s be friends and connect. I don’t like shallow conversation. I’m not good at small talk because I don’t see the point. I like hearing a heart over coffee/tea. I like to hold a hand and remind a soul that He promises this season will pass and end in victory. I believe that truth is best with love. I believe that from glory to glory, all things come together for good. I believe that hope makes practical sense. And, after all, don’t fret, the God of love wins over darkness.
  1. The truth is I like peace the most. I know this begs the question of why I became a lawyer. But the reason for that is I love justice and equality. I imagined my lawyer life being more of like the civil rights movement than who owes money to whom. So, I smile because God made me to love peace. I also smile because life does not always pan out to your attributes. But in the same way I understand His love, I also understand the imperfections of our lives.

So, there you have it. A list inspired by someone I would like to know more about – – Erin Loechner. Honesty inspired by someone I am just getting to know – – Jen Hatmaker. Wrapped up in encouragement by two more people. My mom and Emily Freeman. And, in the spirit of writing this list, please do be inspired by me and write your own short or long list of non-goals. We spend far too much time getting there and far too little time documenting the good progress of God in us. Sisters, can I hear an Amen?

By Sasha Katz

Thinking Through January – Defining Yourself

By Sasha Katz

Defining yourself is complicated. Drafting a few sentence bio is torture to me. I know exactly who I am, but it is near impossible for me to get it down in a handful of words. I look at other bios. I see things like mother to 4, wife to a hottie, truth seeker, Jesus follower. Some use quotes, some create mantras, some ask you to buy their books, all in a line or two. Frankly, I don’t know what makes sense.

The idea of you coming across me somewhere on the web or social media sounds like an opportunity for community. The idea of us knowing one another through words and similar cares and concerns is a good thing. I like transparency, friendship and being spoken into – – as much as I like to share what God has tucked into my heart and soul.

But then I think, what do you really want to know about me? I think about my hats, my identities. Do I name them for you to describe me? Mom, wife, writer, lawyer, friend, daughter, sister. I suppose that is literally how I could define me. But, I am finding, as I get grown up, that the hats don’t do much except define. I am way beyond the hats and I am tired of square boxes. Scratch the mom, lawyer, writer, friend chant.

I’m scratching writer because I mostly find pleasure in sharing my thoughts in a way that keeps my insides feeling free. I’m not publishing books or looking for editors. Writer doesn’t seem to fit. I don’t think I can stick with wife either. The term leaves out the whole experience of being a wife. Those four words are just so limited and leave far too many questions in the margins. What kind of wife am I? What kind of marriage do I have? What exactly do I want you to know when I say wife? Other than I am not single? Scratch it.

In as much as I am a lawyer, my crazy days are mainly due to the fact that I am a business owner and mother at the same time. Lawyer sometimes actually feels irrelevant as I navigate these two repelling magnets. On top of that, I’m not the average mold lawyer. I hate disputes (unless there is real injustice involved). I sweat through the battles I fight for my clients. And, while I really do love a lot of the lawyer work I do, I will be forever questioning the time I lose with my children every day. Lawyer is off my list.

Rather than list the things that define me, I think I am or hope to be the following: I like listening, looking into the eyes of a soul, seeing what is on the inside. Offering what I can. Helping the water wash over, leading to pure, peaceful places. The place where there is the serenity of winter, but the atmosphere makes you warm. Like the covering of a soft down comforter. Like a rest that lasts a thousand years. And, when you start to move again, the warmth and the peace and the serenity move with you.

That is no bio. But I leave it with you anyway. I pray that you travel sweet today. That the wind moves with you and that you are warm on the inside.

Peace: Walking Through November

As I continue to read through Mark, I see the simplicity of how Jesus spoke of common, everyday life to shed light on deep truths.  For the moment, I’m stuck on the meaning of bread.  Bread has a very comforting way of fulfilling hunger and the hungry soul.  Jesus had compassion for the multitudes he spoke to.  After meeting their spiritual needs, He fed them bread.

Jesus fed 5000 and then awhile later, another 4000, with the loaves of bread on hand.  I imagine it was a sight to see — God’s plenty rising up in the baskets whenever the bread supply became low. I think about those holding the baskets and serving the bread.  I imagine they felt peace as the problem of hungry was solved.  They probably experienced gratitude for the shift from less to more than enough.  I am certain that I would have flooded with overwhelming joy to be able to give to others.  Peace.  Gratitude.  Joy.  It’s not at all a surprise that we experience peace and joy from carrying the baskets He asks us to.  Whether we have big or little faith, it is all wrapped up in our willingness to carry the basket.

Later, as Jesus and the disciples headed into the boat, Jesus gives them a truth about bread.  He says, Beware of the leaven of bread and the leaven of Herod.  Despite the miracle of feeding many with little, the disciples figure Jesus is making reference to the fact that they forgot to buy bread for their journey in the boat.  As an old friend of mine would say, Really?  Could the disciples really have thought Jesus was concerned about their lack of food or that they forgot to buy it?  Was it really that big of stretch for them to catch the spiritual meaning?

I’m stuck on bread because I think Jesus is saying something very powerful here.  Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive or understand?  Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?  Matthew 16.

I think about challenges in my life.  Struggles.  Times when I don’t understand.  Seasons of less.  Lack.  Pain.  Hurt.  Trembling.  The truth is I’m still here (with enough bread).  He’s always delivered the hurt to healing.  Trembling to peace.  Less to more.  But yet, every time I experience less and not more.  Pain and not ease.  Whenever I go from big picture living to lack of understanding, I crumble on the inside.  I figure there’s no more bread.

So, like the disciples, I sit in the boat with God.  Whose resources are beyond my comprehension.  And, I worry about no bread.  I ponder all of the mistakes I’ve made to contribute or cause the lack of bread.  I get numb to the miracles I’ve seen.  I get dumb to the metaphor of bread.

But, Jesus has compassion for me.  He knows all too well my physical and spiritual needs.  He knows that when He quiets my soul that I can understand.  Jesus wasn’t bothered by the disciples mistakes or what they felt they lacked.  He’s not necessarily trying to teach me about the leavening in bread.  He’s working towards a deeper meaning.  He’s pulling me away from things like the doctrine of hypocrites and false religion.   He’s pulling me towards truths to fill my hungry soul.

Peace: Walking Through November

~ another day of week 1 ~

As I am reading through Mark, I read parable after parable.  God shares a parable with the multitudes and then He shares the meaning with a few.  The parables speak of natural things that can lead to supernatural understanding.  Back then, He spoke about planting seeds and candles under a basket.  Now, I think He would have talked about commuting to work and smart phones.  My mind doesn’t think in the way of parables.  I like the meaning Jesus shared with the few.  I like to skip ahead to the supernatural.  But the supernatural happens in the every day.  The supernatural happens in the every day.

After hours or days of sharing the unknown through messages of what was known, Jesus retreated with His few to the sea.  When I think of retreat, I think of peace.  Jesus often sought His retreat by getting into a boat to rest at sea.  This is also where Jesus revealed the deeper meaning of His parable messages.  At least it seems this was God’s plan.  But, frankly, I am not sure what is worse . . . on the land, Jesus has the multitudes seeking Him and constantly yearning for more.  On the sea (where He is seeking retreat and peace), He’s got Peter sinking, others freaking out every time the boat rocks in a storm and repeated lack of understanding of the deeper meaning of the parables (and everything else) He shares with them.  Peace at sea?

God, however, did keep His peace because He is peace.   He is our peace and He is our brother.  Because He was fully human for a time, we can connect with Him in a personal way.  When I think of Jesus at sea, I imagine that the Creator probably connected with the water, the flow of it, the open space all around Him.  The heavens up above Him.  I think He found His otherworldly community at sea.   I think out on the boat, He experienced the community of the Trinity.  Of course, God doesn’t have to find community or the Trinity because He is both.  But, in the way I understand, being out at sea for Him was what we call a prayer closet or quiet time with God.

The parables may continue to mystify me.  But, following God’s example makes sense to me.  I am Florida grown and when I look out into the blue ocean with lighter blue skies behind, with the warmth all around me, I experience peace.  My life and my circumstances sometimes mystify me, but when I get into a boat or a prayer closet for quiet time, I experience the Trinity.  I know that peace is present.  There is peace on land and peace at sea.  Supernatural peace happens in the every day. 

Peace: Walking Through November

~ week one ~

There are a thousand reasons to lose your peace this time of year.  There is the juxtaposition of serving real need straight through the holidays and feeding/buying/satisfying me.  Go ahead and be honest.  Go ahead and laugh out loud if you need to.  Both laughter and honesty are good for the soul.  The truth is wherever you land on the spectrum of self and other centered, you will be fighting the good fight of peace from now until January 2, 2016.

The reality is most of us will have a two sided list.  One side looks like supplies for shoebox stuffing parties, love bags and food pantries.  The other side is filled with gift lists, holiday menus, decoration ideas and party plans.  Between both lists, we have the capacity to lose our peace and purpose in the midst of so much to deliver.  But, I think, instead, we can choose to breathe in small and simple.

Small living is something that has been working its way into my soul for awhile now.  Small living, in part, means simplicity.  Think of spring cleaning of the mind, body and soul.  Think about organization; mental clarity, like first things first; clear purposes; financial order and internal peace.  These are basic truths.  I have learned to bring these things to the forefront of my life planning and decision making.  I can say things like I have a plan, I (think) I know where I am going.  Simplicity helps me stay on the course I believe God has planned for my life.

The other bend of small living speaks to living and moving and breathing as if every single moment and encounter matter.  This means knowing my poeme – – or the poem that God has put in me to express in this lifetime.  To know the sound, feel, space and touch of my poeme.  To know that poeme can direct and breathe right into your planning and decision making.  I think this is where peace begins.

Peace is something that grows within.  It’s a reservoir to pull from when life kicks, screams and yells in your direction.  It’s also a quality that permeates your daily grind.  It comes from a deep sense of knowing on the inner spaces of your self that you are loved.  You are perfectly and wonderfully designed.  Peace comes from the knowledge that your imperfections have the potential to bring out the miracles in you.  Peace frees you up to believe in dreams, passions and hopes for yourself and others. Peace lets you choose from what is better to best.

Peace is something we have to fight for these days.  Especially as the season calls Game On.  The season is committed to making your list and budget twice its natural size.  Before you unknowingly commit yourself to the madness, draw from God’s peace.  Find your simplicity.  Find your way of living small.  Find your simple path with the full knowledge of God’s desire to do far more than we can hope or imagine.  That way, we will see more of Him in this season than we could ever have hoped or imagined.

By Sasha Katz

Journey Through October: Conquering Fear

~week one~day two~

The Reason I Didn’t Read

I flinch at the thought of pain. It hurts. A season of pain usually means someone I love will be suffering. Maybe I will be stretched beyond my human capacity. There will be loss. I will have to dig deep into Him to locate answers, find direction. I will need to seek Him for air to breathe. For peace in the night.

I will have to apply the wisdom of the past to know He will deliver. I will have to Walk by Faith and Not Sight. I will have to believe that my greatest hopes for the circumstances will be worked out both in His perfection and creativity. I will have to take a step of faith to know His outcome is better than anything I may conjure up as good in my own heart or mind.

I will do all of these things while my heart is hurting. While I don’t understand. While I dream about better or different days. In between redoing the past and how I could have made things different. Had I been given the chance to replay. Surely things would have turned out better. Or, at least, less painful.

The past already taught me that once pain has come into my soul, it will take some time for the dirt to become fertile again. The barrenness will have to be carved out. Removing what is prohibiting or holding me back from growth. It takes a while for flowers to bloom again. Turning those pages felt like an invitation to relive all of it. All my pain. This is the reason why I didn’t read.

Journey Through October: Conquering Fear

Join me as I journey through October facing fear. I will share with you many short posts recalling my own battles. Sharing bravery. Remembering scripture. Treasuring wisdom.

Dreams are reached through facing fear and persevering through pain.  Pain is by no means desirable. But with God. The very, very dark and desperate becomes bright, full of hope and inevitably beautiful.

~week one~day one~

It was not clear to me when I slammed the first book shut. I had just turned the page and landed on chapter 6 – – From Anxious to Peace: Conquering Fear. Forget Chapter 6, I said to myself. I don’t want to know what I am lacking in the way of peace. I don’t want to open up this topic so God can conveniently use it to refine me, prune me. Nope. Been there, done that. A few hundred times.

I cleverly excused myself to the other book I was reading. The second book needed reading for my Monday bible study anyway. I am a smart girl and I have my priorities straight. I don’t like pain. I will keep the first book shut For A Long Time.

The first book remained closed on my shelf. I continued to read the second book. Some time passed. I reached Part 3 of the second book. The title is God Knows My Fears. Slam. After all, I was a few chapters ahead of my bible study’s reading anyway. No need to get any further ahead.  For now.

It was not yet clear to me why I was slamming books shut on Conquering Fear.  But clarity was on its way.  Truth was reaching for me.  Wisdom was calling.  My answers were on the very next page . . .