Living With Intention in 5775: Week 9

Yesterday, at our Shabbat service, the congregational leader spoke about what it is to be a talmid (disciple) of Yeshua. If you would like to hear it, you can listen to the message HERE.

What struck me from the message yesterday was a statement our congregational leader quoted from Dr. David Flusser, a foremost expert of Early Christianity and Judaism of the Second Temple period. He said:

 Any Christian that tells me he is a disciple of Jesus but does not read the four Gospels at least once a month is a liar!

I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a challenge to me! :) So this week, we are going to focus on listening to the words of our Rabbi Yeshua. The goal is to read through and/or listen to the four gospels at least one time this week. And let us not be hearers only, but faithful doers. (James 1:22-25)

I leave you with these words of our Messiah to ponder:

Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:47-49)

 

Shalom and have a blessed week!

S~

A Hanukkah Story & A Haircut

Hanukkah_Nov2012_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_1920

Three years ago, I was pregnant with my third baby. I knew time was drawing near, and I knew based on how close my other two came to their due dates, that this one would probably be coming on or near the first night of Hanukkah. We’d picked his name, Judah, and joked about him being a little Maccabee. The second night of Hanukkah came and still no baby, but that next morning, I woke up and knew it was time. I labored in my tub and while I was going through transition my husband prayed for me and read through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) and the weekly Torah portion called Miketz (From the End). I was able to focus on the words and meditate during the most painful part of my labor. I remember it being the easiest transition to go through of my three children; it was complete shalom.

In all, my labor and delivery time was two and half hours. Can anyone say, “miracle?” :) I pushed and then had to pause; the cord was loosely wrapped around his head. The midwife easily unwrapped the cord and after a total of five minutes of pushing, he emerged into the world. He was my Hanukkah miracle that year.

Since the beginning, I have had a special name for him–Shimshon (Samson, meaning sunshine). I gave him the nickname because he is always so happy, he’s very physically strong, and his hair is the color of sunshine, and it’s never been cut–yet. He is a very special little boy, not unlike his siblings, but he is my first baby born after my husband and I made t’shuva (repentance) and he was circumcised on the eighth day, according to the Torah. He has never known anything other than the Torah life that we live, and I believe this has had an incredible impact on his soul.

Of my three, anyone who knows him can see that he is a born leader. He has incredible self-control, he is a good listener, and he shows real remorse and repentance when he is disobedient. I pray he is just like the brave Judah Maccabee of whom he was named, and that he will possess the positive traits of Samson.

This next week, my littlest, will get his first haircut. It is a Jewish tradition called upsherin or halakeh to leave little boys hair untouched until their third birthday. Right now, he has wispy, curly hair. But next Sunday, he’ll have his hair cut in the Jewish way, leaving only long, golden peyot (side curls) behind. He’ll don his first tallit katan (small four cornered garment) and he’ll begin to wear a kippah. This is a very big event that we have waited for since he was born. We will teach him that when we, as God’s people, wear the tzitziot and kippah we are kiddush Hashem (sanctified to Hashem) and we must act in accordance with His holy Word, because we are commanded to be holy as Hashem is holy. For my family this is taken as an immense privilege as well as responsibility.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe my boy’s birth and his coming haircut is a very tangible lesson for us all, if we choose to see. Hanukkah comes at the darkest time of the year, when the nights are longer than the days. The light of the menorah is a picture of the light that should emanate from our own souls to a dark world. The Messiah is coming with the dawn, but while it is still night we are must shine the light of Messiah that is within us. Just as God’s Son walked by the light of the Word (Psalm 119:105), so too the time has come for us, His children, whether native born or through adoption, to tame our wild hearts, set ourselves apart, put on the commandments, and be submitted to the will of our Heavenly Father and King, Who loves us and desires good things for us.

Be a LIGHT!

Blessings and Shalom,
S~

Hanukkah — My Top Eight Gift Ideas!

Shalom, everyone! Hanukkah is right around the corner–YAY! Some people do gifts every night; some buy toys and games, but Brad and I save common purchases for their birthdays and instead have made a tradition of giving gifts that will enrich their spiritual lives and reinforce their heritage on just one night during this special holiday. What kind of gifts do we get? I decided to share what’s on my list for this year and things that we’ve previously bought and love!

Here’s my top eight list of gift ideas, in no particular order, along with appropriate age range. (Click on the image to purchase!)

1. Elisha Davidson and the Letters of Fire by M.R. Attar (age 7 and up)

ELDAVLF-2- “In the Old City of Jerusalem, a secret school exists which trains students in an all-powerful otherworldly wisdom. Young Elisha Davidson isn’t considered one of their most promising students, but after he accidentally discovers a strange ‘stone’ buried behind the walls of his own home, he ends up unleashing mysterious letters of fire that plunge him into a labyrinth of ancient scripture, legend and mysticism. Now Elisha is not only light-years ahead of his classmates, he’s reached a more advanced level than his school’s most venerated ‘master’. What happens when Elisha suddenly holds the keys to unimaginable ancient powers?

Elisha Davidson and the Letters of Fire isn’t based on fantasy. It draws only on non-fiction manuscripts, dating as far back as 5,775 years ago, and exposes the most extraordinary and cryptic teachings of the human race.”

You can hear a radio interview with the author HERE!

imgres2. My First Parsha Reader (age 3-8) – “Immensely enjoyed by preschoolers, as well as by beginning readers. Easy Sentences. Full page illustrations. Enjoyable to tell, enjoyable to listen to, enjoyable to read. It is also being successfully used in the field of special education.”

We use this series for homeschooling to get the basic themes and stories from each week’s parsha. My oldest is learning to read and does his out loud reading. And then we go through the comprehension questions at the end of each section.

3. Tribes of Israel Game (age 5 and up) -

s852117324463583283_p4_i2_w640Remember playing the “Monotonous” game as a kid–well, at least, that’s what my family called it! This is a much better version, and just as fun! You and your family will enjoy “settling the land” of Israel and learning about the Scriptures in a fun and memorable way.

“Choose your game piece (Tree of Life, Torah Scroll, Haggadah, Shofar, Matzah, Menorah, Ten Commandments or Grapes) and begin buying properties in each of the twelve Tribes of Israel. Hours of fun for up to 8 players. All cards are laminated for long lasting fun for your entire family.  Playing pieces are sturdy pewter.”

513iT9nx50L4. Apples to Apples Junior: Jewish Edition (age 8-14) -“The Apples to Apples Junior Jewish Edition brings the award-winning card and party game, Apples to Apples, to the Jewish family. Players from ages nine and up will delight in the crazy comparisons while expanding their knowledge of Jewish themes and thinking skills. It’s as easy as comparing “apples to apples”. Just open the box, deal the cards, and you’re ready for instant family fun. Select the card from your hand that you think is most like the card played by the judge. If the judge picks your card, you win that round. And, everyone gets a chance to be the judge. Each round is filled with surprising comparisons from a wide range of people, places, things and events. Fast moving and refreshing, the game is easy to learn and fun to play. It’s the perfect game for kids, families and friends.”

jpeg5. Artscroll Children’s Siddur by Shmuel Blitz (age 6 and up) -

“This Siddur was compiled by Shmuel Blitz, in consultation with master teachers. It has the basic prayers with which children begin their lives. The translations and instructions are on their level. And they’ll be fascinated by all the “Did you Knows” and “Closer Looks”. (So will you!) This siddur also features Tova Katz’s illustrations. They are lovely and enticing. They’ll keep children coming back to this Siddur again and again.”

This siddur has strong binding and a stain-proof cover for durability.

Hebrew_Complete6. Little Pim: Hebrew (age 6 months and up) – If you’re wanting to start your family on the path to learning Hebrew, this is a great first series to get for you and your children.

“Your child will love exploring the Hebrew language alongside Little Pim, the playful cartoon panda bear who serves as the series’ “teacher.” Little Pim will take your child on a journey as they watch real children enjoy everyday activities, such as playing, eating, waking and napping.” **They now offer versions for smartphones and tablet devices!**

51HdAk2wsUL7. Shalom Sesame (age 3-6) – This series is a family favorite. We like to play this in the car on road trips.

“This new series from the creators of Sesame Street introduces Jewish holidays, traditions, and cultures to viewers of all ages. It features the loveable, well-known cast from Sesame Street, new friends from Israel, and celebrities. Join Grover as he explores Israel, its people and places, and learns new things. Get ready to laugh and sing with this next generation of the popular classic, Shalom Sesame!”

1208648. Sheldon Low’s “It’s all Challah to Me!” and “Look at Me!” with Rick Recht (all ages) – These two albums are so fun! The songs are catchy and feature both Hebrew and English, making it fun to learn Hebrew blessings, prayers, words and phrases that your whole family will remember. Great for car rides or sitting at home–but I guarantee you’ll want to get up and dance with the upbeat tunes!

 

Living With Intention in 5775: Week 8

Guest Post

Thank you, Laurie L., for another great write up this week! :) Happy Week 8, everyone!


 

Well, can you believe we are already 8 weeks into our challenges?! Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe in Hebraic thought, the number 8 means new beginnings! Before diving into the new challenge, I took a look at what we’ve been working on these past 7 weeks and I don’t know about you, but I am filled with overwhelming joy at the topics we have tackled, embraced, wrestled with, and have begun to take more notice of in our daily journey! Here’s a quick recap:

Week 1
This very first week we worked on “bringing up the level” in our homes and focused on positive speech.
Week 2
Like Abraham, our challenge this week was 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 was, ultimately, like our Father Abraham, to be a blessing to those around us.
Week 3
To learn to quit with the “fear” thought process–no matter what comes our way and stop those thoughts of fear immediately–and instead think on truth and pray with ometz lev (strength of heart) just like our father Abraham.
Week 4
So this week, our goal was to focus on walking in G-d’s commandments with the intent to elevate our souls and also the world around us. In the most practical of ways, this would be best exhibited in loving and serving others.
Week 5
This week’s challenge involved being more intentional in focusing on Bible study–maybe try for at least 30-min. to one hour per day.
Week 6
This week, we focused on self-control.
Week 7
We learned to judge favorably.

WOW! I can’t imagine what else Hashem will provide for our hearts and lives over these next weeks in 5775, are you as excited as I am?! What an incredible and humbling journey it has been thus far.

Alright, a few weeks ago I came across some scripture in Colossians while I was reading up on something else, and the verses I will share with you just jumped out like they were brand new, had never been there before–which I know they were–but it was SO GOOD to see these words!

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that G-d will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Messiah, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:2-6

Do you ever find yourself in a situation when you are speaking with a friend or someone you are just getting to know, and they ask you about your faith or about specific things that you do or don’t do that totally are related to your obedience and faith? Are you always ready with correct responses in these situations? I know I’m not–at least not ALL the time. Usually, I either get so excited to share my journey and what Hashem has been teaching me that I start talking a mile a minute with no room for breathing, and then I stop to see my friend across from me with an overwhelmed look and a sympathetic smile. Or there are other times I just don’t say enough and leave the conversation feeling like there was this emptiness and I should have said something else because my answer just seemed so vague because perhaps I didn’t want to offend them and I didn’t want to deal with more questions. I need some work, and perhaps I’m not alone in this area?

So, when I read this letter to the Colossians that they should be devoting themselves to prayer, with thanksgiving, praying that G-d would make it clear for others in the way they ought to speak; and that we should conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders and make the most of the opportunities we are given! Ah, and our speech should always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that we will know how to respond to each person–I said, “Thank you for this!”

May I challenge you this week to join me in the journey of applying these wise guidelines to our lives, so that when we are out and about and asked and questioned about our lives and faith that we may be found ready!

but sanctify Messiah as L-rd in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (1 Peter 3:15)

I will bless Ad-nai at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in Ad-nai; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify Ad-nai with me, and let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:1-3)

Father, let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, Ad-nai our Rock and Redeemer. Blessings and shalom to you this week!

~Laurie L.

Living with Intention in 5775: Week 7

This is a guest post that Laurie L. graciously wrote to share with all the readers participating in the challenge for Living with Intention in 5775! Thank you, Laurie, for sharing your thoughts on what this week’s challenge is about!


    I’ve been working on not being so quick to judge lately.  So many times I feel like I’m walking around like a judge in a big black robe, a powdered white wig, and slamming down my huge gavel just passing judgement everywhere and anywhere.  Somehow I “know it all” and I look around at all these people just living these crazy, busy, selfish, self-centered lives. What are they doing, can’t they get it together?!  Oh, these good old thoughts that pop into my mind from time to time.  And I can very easily run with them and judge away, condemning people and their words, actions, reactions, their clothes, their lifestyles, oh man the list goes on if I don’t put on the brakes and change my thought process…

A book I’ve mentioned before, “Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus” by Lois Tverberg has a chapter I refer back to on just this topic.  It is called “Taking My Thumb Off of the Scale” where she shares many insights from the Rabbis, the Scriptures, and a few nuggets of her own.  Any quotes I share either from Rabbis or Scripture are from what she has shared within this chapter.  I learned that judging favorably has been emphasized by the rabbis as being just as important as visiting the sick, praying, or teaching the Scriptures to your children. (page 107)  I don’t know about you but at this point, I was all ears!  Help me make a change!  

     Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachia said, “Judge each person with the scales weighed in their favor.”

     Rabbi Yeshua said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.(Luke 6:38-38)

    According to Tverberg, gossip also relies heavily on judgement and the rabbis say people who gossip are like flies that always land on an open sore, they ignore people’s good traits and only focus on their faults. (page 110)  

     Baal Shem Tov said, “A man prone to suspect evil is mostly looking in his neighbor for what he sees in himself.”

     Rabbi Yeshua warns us about our anger and our words when he said, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, `You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, `You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:22)

     Hillel said, “Judge not your fellow man until you yourself come into his place.”

     I realize that sometimes I’m going through my day and someone on the road can really irritate me when they cut me off.  Because of working with children for so many years I’ve learned to fuss and vent using silly words when I’m angry and upset.  So I’m not quick to flash hand signs at them or yell profanity, but I might call them a banana peel, a weirdo, or just raise my voice in the car and say, “Dude what is your problem?!  Do you not see there are children in this car with me?  Don’t make me get out and go ninja on you!”  But instead of that or even mentally growling, fuming, and thinking I really know what their obvious “selfish problem” is, I could instead stop, breathe, and judge them favorably.  Perhaps there is an emergency and they need to get to help, or someone in their car is feeling very ill and they need to hurry to pull over or get to a restroom, or maybe they are from out of town and needed to hurry and had to cut lanes to get over to the proper exit.  I could learn to instead go on and on with possible positive scenarios instead of negative ones, couldn’t I?  

Paul reminds us, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12)

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”(Matthew 7:1-5)      “One who judges his neighbor favorably will be judged favorably by G-d.”  Talmud, Shabbat 127a

     So dear sisters, during week 7 I challenge you to join me in rewiring our thoughts and reactions to the people we encounter in our daily lives and to learn to judge favorably.  Be forewarned that judging favorably is not always necessary.  If someone’s motives are purely evil we shouldn’t  judge favorably in these cases.  All in all I’m thankful that Hashem is the Judge of all, and I know that He can and will help me to learn to leave everything to Him.  I have enough of a plank in my own eye that I need to work on, so thanks for praying for me and working with me in this challenge and all the others we have begun and have yet to journey on together!

Shalom and blessings,

Laurie

The Creation Gospel

Okay, so I have been on a little bit of a “binge” this week. While I’ve been doing my work around the house, I’ve been listening to Dr. Hollisa Alewine. If you’ve never heard Doctor Hollisa speak, or have never heard of or studied The Creation Gospel, I highly recommend it. Her teaching style is simplistic for beginner Bible students, but also deep and vast for the seasoned scholar. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you’re going to learn something beautiful and profound about the Word and about our Creator.

I think my favorite aspect of the way she teaches the Scripture, is how she uses Scripture to interpret Scripture. She uses the rule of first mention, and shows how everything can be traced back to the Creation week. Things that seem mysterious and foreboding are suddenly not so daunting and esoteric. She focuses on the Light side of the Word, and encourages students of the Scriptures to do the same. I guarantee you will never read Scripture the same way again. You’ll begin to see the beautiful patterns and pictures that are repeated throughout Tanakh and the First Century writings.

Here’s a quick look at how she teaches:

If you liked what you heard, you can listen to her lessons online HERE beginning with Season 1 Episode 6.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Shabbat of fellowship and feeding on the Word and an overall relaxing weekend!

Shalom and blessings,
S~

Believers

I LOVE this song. I hope you will, too. :)

Lyrics

This cold cry for inspiration is constant
to get a glimpse of your glory for a moment
to be grateful, and to be faithful

we will do then we will listen
we will commit before we reason
in this fertile field where faith is nourished
where sons of believers flourish

believers, sons of believers
brothers and sisters
and who do we lean, our father in heaven
our strength and our reason

to believe is to sow, the seeds to grow
within your soul, within the world you know
and whose world is it
from nothingness you come for a visit
the most complete and most perfect form of existence
no room for resistance

[chorus]

I don’t feel you all the time
and you’re not always on my mind
but I’ve got you from time to time
and I know the Divine, yes i know the Divine
it all began at mount Sinai

[chorus]

My emunah  planted inherently
so shepherd me, have faith in me and see what i can be

[chorus]

Speechless

Words so often are lacking,
Leaving scars and bruises,
Bringing out the worst.

Good deeds speak louder,
Fill bellies, and quench thirst.