Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook December 29, 2010

Outside my window... its a dreary morning that is belying its age.  It seems earlier than it is.  A bit of snow lingers in the shadows, but I expect it to disappear quickly when the rain comes later today.
I am thinking... no wait.  I'm not.  Tabula rasa this morning, LOL.  Need coffee.
I am thankful for... a nice warm house! 
From the learning rooms... crickets...  Taking a break right now and its been highly beneficial.  I sorta wish we'd taken off the week of Hanukkah instead of this week, but the Papa is off from his classes right now, so we've had some nice family time.
From the kitchen... GOOT (thank you Jacque Dixon!) - a homeopathic recipe to cure what ails you.  It seems to be helping the sniffles pretty well around here.
I am wearing... lots of layers to keep from shivering.
I am creating... tallit bags (for the prayer shawls) for two of my favorite Godly men.  For having no pattern or instructions, I guess they came out pretty well!
I am going.... to have to get out to the store today.  I usually prefer procrastinating on that one.
I am currently reading... lesson preparations for my first go at teaching Shabbat school.  Need to do more on this!  This is so much deeper than the old bible stories that I taught back in the day.  Types and shadows, prophecies, and wide age range of children.  This should be good!
I am take life just as it comes, and quit worrying about who's going to be mad. That's a hard one.
I am hearing....the EdenPure heater and my girls "coloring" on older DD's new cellphone app.
On my mind... guilt, sort of.  That's not the right word, but I am not sure what is. Frustration maybe?  Conviction? Celebrated more of Christmas than I wanted to, and considering ways to weed more out for next year.  Its a balance and a weaning/detox process.  For us and for our families.  We don't want to offend.  We still love our Lord, and honor his birth.  But I want to honor Him in the ways he has set up so that we can worship in spirit AND truth.
There's a great video that the above mentioned Jacque posted this week that really reflected my heart on this.  I'd love it if you could take a few minutes to watch this.  You can also watch on YouTube.  Its a nine-parter there, but might allow your computer to handle the files better.
My heart is just to share this message from G-d and welcome his people back to his ways.  Let's feast together!
Noticing that... my toddler is getting exponentially smarter and figuring things out way more quickly than I anticipated.  Isn't that their usual mode of operation though?
Around the house... we are trying to assimilate gifts into the household.  We received some really nice toys for the kids - things that are making their brains work.  We were very blessed!  Thank you to all the gift givers!
One of my favorite things... sleepy faced children.  They are starting to emerge.
A few plans for the rest of the week... birthday celebrations for #2 DS.  Sell some Girl Scout cookies. New Years party, and we can't wait to get back to our congregational family for Shabbat.
A picture to share...  the Band. :) Markers and scribble pads open an infinity of creativity, no?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Back on the Proverbial Horse

Well, after getting knocked off my blogging gumption, I have been struggling to ride again.
Here's where I'm at right now.  Its the middle of the night, but technically Christmas Eve.  I am exhausted.  I have had a houseful of giddy children all day, baking, packing, wrapping.  Trying to get the kids involved and making multiple trips to re-involve them, at least in their own packing.
All the trappings that I want to avoid and feel like I can't.  Baking to save money over the pre-made stuff.  Packing to go visit family that I miss.  Wrapping to oblige the gift exchange, but also to show my love for my family members.  I miss them.  I love them.  I can't wait to see them.
It occured to me that I don't have to do this.  We could do what other families do and head to the beach.  Maybe one year we will.  I always feel like this is the only time of year the family gets together.
But its not.  They get together other times too.  And we could go see them then.
I want to share - so much - the biblical holidays with our family.  There is so much richness and so much depth and holiness and righteousness.  Nothing could be more wholesome than that which our Father has set up for us.
Our families are all believers, but I fear that some might be complacent.  Hopefully not.  I hope they will not be lukewarm.  I believe there is potential for better, deeper and more rich relationships with our Creator.
And so in the middle of the last load of laundry, with a sink full of dishes still to be washed in the morning, I settle in to await what another Christmas will bring.  We go to be with those we love.  I want to maintain these precious bonds so that one day maybe we can Feast together!
For the first time Christmas will feel pagan to me, and no longer sacred.  In my heart, I celebrate His incarnation, His conception. 
I'll just take it as it comes, and see where it goes.
We'll hand out Hanukkah cards, which will definitely be noticed, and include an invitation to celebrate part of Papa's calendar next year.  We'll see where that goes!
I hope that if you are celebrating, that you are enjoying the warmth of your families as well.  Chag sameach.
Have a blessed Christmas Shabbat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blessings and Curses of Yeast

Anyone who knows me fairly well, and anything about what has happened in our life in the last year knows I've developed a habit of making challah every Friday.  I love the depth of the symbolism that is entangled within those braids, and the reminders of Yeshua's love for us and how we are grafted in to the Olive Tree.  I love the smells of the baking bread, and the special blessings that we come together as a family to speak to welcome the Shabbat G-d has given us. 
I've learned LOTS about breadmaking in the process, and it has been quite enjoyable and usually, very tasty. 
Recently, I had the disappointing experience of buying a "bad" jar of yeast.  I had been experimenting with gluten free breads, but even the gluten containing recipes were NOT raising.  Everything came out pretty flat.  My DH was kind enough to exchange it for a fresh jar, and the next batch of challah to be made happened to be for our Hanukkah party.  I decided to make a double batch, four loaves, instead of the usual two, so that everyone who wanted some could be sure to get some for the enjoyment of the festivities.  (I almost never have any leftovers to take back home with me.)
The good yeast made all the difference and when I went to check on the raising process, my loaves were already ready to be baked and were twice their usual size.
A friend who is a big fan of the challah remarked on them, saying G-d is so good, he multiplies!  Yes he does!  He blessed when the people needed to be feasting.
If you know much about the process of yeast breads, you know that a lukewarm liquid, usually water or milk, is the best environment to get that yeast good and frothy so it will raise into beautiful breads.  And it struck me the other day, that just as the yeast is likened to sin permeating our lives, many believers are readily provided today with that lukewarm, milky environment.  Revelation 3 rebukes the believers at Laodicea for being neither hot nor cold.  They have become complacent, saying "I don't need anything" just as many believers in today's church are so comfortable warming the pew and drinking the milk.  Many have even given up warming the pew.  Generations are leaving the church en masse.

I was watching a recording of a television show recently where a rabbi and an author were discussing the biblical holidays .  They discussed how Yeshua fulfilled them, and specifically touched on the Feast of Weeks being the only holiday with presentation of leavened, or yeast-containing, bread.  There are typically two loaves of challah, and two candles, on every Shabbat, to signify keeping and remembering the Sabbath.  (There are many other meanings as well.)  The author though, was remarking about the representation of Jew and Gentile, in the loaves, at the end of the Feast of Weeks, together for the first time after Yeshua's crucifixion.  Pentecost had not yet gotten the leaven out.  They were not to be burned before the Lord because they contained leaven.  G-d poured out his Spirit on those first Jewish believers on the day of Pentecost, as a down payment of what was to come.  There is a Great pouring out of his Spirit yet to come. 
The next holy day to come is the Feast of Trumpets (aka Rosh HaShannah) and  the literal Hebrew meaning is Memorial of Blasting.  This is not celebratory!  It is a wake up call to G-d's people, a warning of judgment.  In these last days, judgment will begin in the household of G-d.  He is getting ready to come for his bride.
Will she be clean and sparkling white?  Will she be pure and spotless?  Or will she be asleep?  Will she be returning, purifying herself, repentant?  Zechariah 12:10 tells us that there is a day yet coming when G-d will pour out on the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and supplication.  They will look on the one they have pierced and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child (that's what he was!) and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.  The Day of Atonement will cleanse us and make the bride ready for our Groom.
I've heard the biblical holidays and the bride of Messiah referred to as an engagement.  The holy days that G-d set up for us are the 'dates' that he has scheduled with his fiancee.  Yet, the organized church has decided since the third century that her ideas are better and has set up different holidays.  She is not showing up to the dates that her future husband has scheduled for her.  How much she is missing out on!  How much of that future marriage relationship is she not building!  How sad for that Groom that has literally given his All, that his bride doesn't even come to the Feasts prepared for her.  He waits patiently for the Remnant of the Bride that is starting to come to the table.
SO yeast.  I've also been experiencing the curse of yeast on a more personal bodily level, after an IV antibiotic treatment well over a year ago.  It caused systemic, internal organ yeast overgrowth.  It was sneaky, just like sin is. It caused me to have very foggy thinking, just like sin does.  It took a long time to diagnose because it mimicked another health problem.  It was deceptive, just like sin is.  The manifestations were varied and unpleasant, just like the consequences of sin.  The cure was bitter, and difficult to take, just like the atonement for sin was a bitter, cruel death.
So yes, as believers we want to avoid sin.  But the shofars are sounding from the watchmen on the wall. Sh'ma!  Hear and obey! Fan into flame the fire placed within you, the gift that he gave you.  Get out of the lukewarm liquid that is causing the yeast to grow.  Move on to purity, to passion, and prepare for the coming Messiah.  Come to the table prepared for you.  Dance with the lover of your soul.    He's already got it scheduled on his calendar. 
Go check yours.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Confirmations in Black & White, Salt & Pepper, and the Stars

In preparation for our family's first Hanukkah season, I was seeking and studying, looking up recipes, learning about traditional decorations and the like.  This has been a steady occurrence over the last year as each biblical holiday is still new to us.  I learned the story of Judah Macabee and his little band of rebels and the miracle of how they overcame the Greeks, and of the miracle of the oil lasting eight days while the cohen purified the next batch of oil.  I learned about the beauty of dedication and purifying not only the holy temple, but also the temple of our homes, our lives and our bodies.
Of course the story of the dreidl came up, and my son sorely wanted a store-bought dreidl.  He was sick of "doing crafts" and he wanted one like his friends had in Shabbat school.  I searched in every store I was in and because we live in "the rusty buckle of the Bible-belt" I never even saw one.  And time was running out to order one online.  Not to mention the fact that due to several extra expenses in the weeks prior, we really couldn't even afford the shipping.  I needed to find one local, and cheap.  I was stumped.  I actually sat down and prayed, "Lord, we want to honor you and celebrate the holidays that you celebrated.  Help us to have the right focus, and help us to find what we need, for what we can afford, and if you could, a dreidl?"
I considered just making a salt dough dreidl and "suprising" him with it, but I knew he would still be disappointed.  I knew in my spirit that G-d had his own little suprise on its way.  I had his shalom and the assurance that Adonai Yireh would indeed provide.
Later that day a friend called to check in on us as we had been ill for several days.  We chatted about our holiday preparations, and favorite foods, and about being Berean in our decisions.  We both are leaving behind, due to individual convictions, the paganism of the Christmas holiday, and embracing the biblical holidays to the best of our understanding and abilities.  Evaluating decorations, traditions, and the like to see what we like and can embrace as being glorifying to him.  I relayed that, though this year would be sparse, I looked forward to adding to our family's collection of traditions and decorations over the coming years. I have very few friendships of this nature, and these conversations are precious.  We looked forward to an upcoming celebration we would both attend and said goodbye.
The next morning we all struggled to even get going and get breakfast, and slathered on more vaporub.  We finally set down to home school around 11:30.  A few minutes later our doorbell rang.  We were still in our pajamas!  My younger son ran down to see who was at the door and came running back smiling!  "Mom - get down here!"  Our friend walked in and announced that G-d had woken her very early that morning and asked her, "Weren't you trying to simplify?"  She got dressed and went out to her shed and pulled out several boxes.  She packed them and her husband into her car and drove over to our house - about a 30 minute drive.  She came in with arms loaded with hannukiah lights, dreidl-shaped salt and pepper shakers, beautiful latke trays, and DREIDLs!  One for each child!!!  They were so excited, that most of the rest of the school day was abandoned and we started our celebrating a little early.
I went to work that evening, just after our first taste of latkes, and our first Hanukkah blessings.  I was reflecting on the sweetness of our time around our table.  I enjoy praying as I drive, and many times I will just turn off all other sounds and just spend time with Yeshua.  As I prayed, I noticed the stars were extra crystal clear this night because of the cold.  Suddenly from somewhere behind me an incredible meteor shower began, like heavenly fireworks.  It felt to me like G-d was saying, welcome to my Festival of Lights!
And so it was confirmed to me - once again - that we are on the right path.  Seeking G-d in HIS own ways reveals him in ways so much deeper and clearer than our own ways.  After seeking him in the pages of scripture, in the context of his language and culture, and seeing his will in the black and white of scripture, he used his natural world to re-confirm in more black and white. This time it was in salt and pepper in dreidl-shaped shakers, and the sparkling night sky filled with falling stars.
And as the dreidl spins, I am grateful: Nun Gadol Hayeh Shin AND Po!  A great miracle happened there AND here!