Living With Intention in 5775: Week 2

This week we’ll be taking a cue from our Father Abraham.

In Genesis 12, it says:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Like Abraham, our challenge this week is to step out in faith in some way and/or to step out of our comfort zone to do something we wouldn’t normally be inclined to jump up and do. The goal of this challenge is, ultimately, like our Father Abraham, to be a blessing to those around us.

Note: These weekly challenges are not about getting the concepts and executing them perfectly everytime. It is about your intentions.

I shared last week with a group of friends that I think the proper perspective is to recognize when we’ve not lived up to our best intentions, repent and move on to the next opportunity. If we think about it, there is no real failure. Every test from Abba is meant to teach us, about ourselves, about Him, and about how much we need Him to empower us to live godly lives. The key is “selah”–pause and reflect.

I think author Randy Pausch explains challenges very well when comparing them to brick walls:

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

So will you take this week’s challenge? I hope you will.

A good and intentional week to you all!

Shalom and blessings,
S~

Living with Intention in 5775: The Challenge | Week 1

Shalom! I am writing this post on the heels of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. I have to say this year has been the best out of the last four years for spiritual growth and development for me during the High Holy Days.

Baruch Hashem! With His help, I am making more connections in Scripture and finding more meaning and application for my life within the pages of the Bible. For the last three weeks, I feel like I have been on a spiritual high, but I know I cannot stay on the mountaintop forever; it’s time to descend and walk out what I believe Hashem has called me to do.

Today, during oneg at my congregation, I got chatting with a couple friends about “bringing up the level” in my home. What I mean by “bringing up the level” is raising up my physical life and connecting it with spiritual awareness in order to live in a more conscious and intentional way. So I would like to issue a challenge to you, my lovely readers. I would like to challenge you to join me and my friends in living with more intention this year. Every week, my friends and I will discuss what aspect of our everday lives we would like to focus on and then I will bring it to you. I would love it if you would join us!

You may be thinking, but won’t I be a hypocrite if I start acting in a way that seems fake and unnatural?

In answer to that question, I would like to share a story, as Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis relates it, called The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbohm:

[The story] is about a gentleman named Lord George Hell, whose name mirrored his personality. His bad temper was reflected in his eyes, his face, his very demeanor. One day Lord George fell madly in love with a sweet, gentle, lovely maiden but she was so repelled by his appearance that she let him know that she could never entertain the thought of becoming involved with a man whose face was so cruel and angry.

So Lord George came up with a brilliant idea. He would commission a master artist to create a mask for him that would reflect a kind, benevolent, gentle person. Thus disguised, he called on the damsel, who immediately fell in love with him. They were married and lived happily together, until one day an old enemy came to visit and said to the woman, “You think that you are married to a kind, gentle man – I’ll show you who your husband really is!”

And with that he ripped the mask off Lord George’s face. But lo and behold, the face beneath the mask was identical to the mask.

Throughout their marriage Lord George had pretended to be gentle and generous so that his conduct would not belie his mask. This left a deep mark on his character and transformed him into the person he had pretended to be.

**To read the rest of the article that this story comes from, visit: What Really Constitutes ‘Compassion’?

In other words, hypocrisy is permissible and welcome if the purpose of one’s hypocrisy is to break bad habits and develop good character.

Week 1

This week, we will be focusing on positive speech. Do your best to speak positively about and to others, and encourage others you are speaking with by tactfully changing the subject to a more positive subject.

**Side note: This is for your own personal growth, so I’d like to encourage you to take the challenge and wait to see if your new behaviour has an impact on others and whether they ask you about the changes you’ve made. I believe it will be more effective to practice these various exercises, rather than talking about doing them. Wait to share until someone asks.
Also, consider keeping a journal, so that you can right down your struggles as well as your small victories over this next year.

Okay, well, if you decide to join me and my friends, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any ideas for this challenge, post them in the comments, too! They may just show up in the coming weeks or months!

Shalom and Blessings,
Sarah

Covered

Don’t worry,
I’ve got you covered.
I’d gladly lay down my life,
For you I’d pay the price.
You mean more to me
Than my own life.
What does life mean,
If you’re not with me?
How could I cut you down
And not bleed inside?
If you die, I die for you,
If you live, you live in me.
We are two, but one,
Separate and together.

Making Challah: A Prayer on the Eve Rosh Hashanah

round challah
Do you ever pray when you’re making challah (bread)? Four words: fifteen minutes of kneading. It is a great time to think about and pray for others, a time to pray blessings over your friends and family, putting all those blessings and all that love into your bread.

This is my prayer that I pray over my challah today on this, the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

Avinu Malcheinu, Our Father, Our King,
Thank You for being my God.
Thank You for being the source of all life.
Thank You for blessing this last year,
for giving my family grace, love, and shalom.
For filling our home and our hearts with Your Light.
Thank You for my family, for my husband,
He is truly my soul mate, my other whole;
Thank you for my three children,
who bring such beauty and joy into our lives.
Thank you for my parents who taught me to love You
and to trust in You and walk in Your ways.
Thank You for my sisters and brother
who I can always depend on to tell me truth,
and who strive for holiness daily.
Thank You for my friends,
who serve You with all their hearts
and encourage me in my walk with You.
Hashem, bless us all with the light of Your countenance
and help us to continue to grow closer to You in the coming year.

!שנה טובה ומתוקה
Good and Sweet New Year!

Shalom and blessings,
Sarah

Come Out

Little children,
You must listen.
You hide in darkness,
But He is not there.
Come out, come out
Wherever you are.

For your wickedness
He sent you away,
But you may return,
And He will accept you;
If you humble yourselves
And obey.

Know Thyself

“Know thyself, and
To thine own self be true.”
Night’s dreams fly
On butterfly wings.
Morning’s dawn
Is hope renewed.
Possibilities flow,
Spring forth like water
From my soul.
Each new day
Is a day to grow,
To find myself
And more fully be
The real me
Hidden in You.