Friday, October 24, 2014

His Story: His Calendar

Ahhh. What a fall it has been! The fall Feast Days have finished. Rosh Hashana (Day of Trumpets in the bible), Yom Kippur, and Feast of Booths (Sukkot). It was a busy time full of study and celebration.

It was beautiful. And I'm in awe at how my God is at work {read My Story here}.

This walk has taught us so very much

A little background - These are 3 of the "holidays" God commands His people to keep. They occur in the fall, starting on the first day of the seventh biblical month. It makes this seventh month a Sabbath month, full of times and appointed days to meet with God. My family and I have been doing our best over the last few years to learn about and honor these days.

And truly I have never understood my God more.

I'm not sure why it is but teachings on these days are non-existent in the Christian Church. But each of these set apart times points to Gods plan of redemption. The Spring is all about Yeshua's (Jesus' Hebrew name) first coming and the Fall is all about the second.

I've talked before about about Passover, First Fruits, and the Feast of Weeks---these days are all linked to the death and resurrection of Yeshua and the giving of the Holy Spirit. And by no accident each of these set apart dates coincide (exactly) with their fulfillment in our messiah. Talk about fulfilling prophecy.  We talk of virgin births and casting lots for His clothes when the most amazing fulfillment of any messianic prophecy came by Yeshua dying on Passover, rising from the dead on First Fruits (which is always the Sunday after Passover), and the Spirit of God descending on His people on Pentecost (the Greek name for Shavuot--The feast of weeks). Since the time of Israel living in the desert, they had been counting 50 days from First Fruits to Shavuot. Shavuot is also the day Rabbis say the commands were given to the people at Mount Sinai. The law of God and the Spirit of God given on the same day? It seems so strange to me I've never heard that from a pulpit.

But that's not the end of the Salvation story, is it?
We believe there is more to come, don't we?

We believe our Messiah will return to set up heaven on earth. We believe He'll come riding on the clouds at the trumpet blast. We believe the dead will be resurrected and He will be our judge and our king. He'll wipe every tear and there will peace. He will gather us to Himself.

Knowing what we know about the Spring Feasts and should be no surprise God has already set aside days to point to our returning Savior. The Fall Feasts. The High Holidays. The Day of Trumpets, Yom Kippur--The Day of Atonement, and Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles.

1 Corinthians 15:32 At the trumpet blast the dead will rise and we will be changed...

So the day, Yom Teruah, The Day of the blowing of the Trumpet, (known to many as Rosh Hashanna--the name change to Rosh Hashanna was a whole tradition that got it's start in Babylon...more on that later), this is very same day is when we look forward to Yeshua's return.



10 days after the trumpets and shouting we get to Yom Kippur. This day is the day of Atonement. These 10 days between the 2 feasts have always been a time to wake up to turn to Him, to not let this chance of repentance slip by. It's the day a couple millenia ago and since the time of Moses the priests would send a goat out Israel. It was the "scapegoat" which the sins of the people were placed upon. It was a physical example of the spiritual removal of sins by the grace and mercy of God. And it points forward. This is the day Yeshua will close the Lamb's book of life. His own people's names are written there. Those who chose another way are not. The sins of His people were placed upon Him. He makes the atonement. He is the scapegoat. He is the Bride groom who died to set His bride free.



And that brings us to the most joyful set apart time on His Calendar: Sukkot. Sukkot basically means tent. It's a word for a small dwelling place. The command is to make these small "tabernacles" and "live" in them for a week. It reminds us of God dwelling with His people in the dessert, how He took care of their every need. How He still does. And this day points to the time we'll get to live with Him again. It's the Wedding Feast. It's a week long party celebrating the Bridegroom being with His Bride. Oh what a party it will be. And when we look at dates in scripture we can see Yeshua (Jesus) was born during these fall Feasts. During Sukkot.  God was made flesh and he came to dwell with us.   


So this fall we built a booth. We built to remember. We built to give thanks. We build and celebrate to teach and share His beautiful plan with those around us. 

So wow. I'm so very excited to be learning of these dress rehearsals. These holy days are practice runs until the real things get here. So why would we not hear of these things in our churches? What has been hidden from us all this time? Why make the decision that these things were for another group of people and not for us?

I'm in that book of Life. I'm one of His. These days are to me get ready to meet my King face to face.

Do you want to be ready?

Getting on our Creator's Calendar is a very good place to start.


More on Yom Teruah 
More on Sukkot and here.


{I've been telling bits and pieces of this Story. It's the story of My God and how He's nudged my heart to dive into deeper. There's no real order to the story. I'm just telling it as it comes, as He lays it on my heart. Read the other entries here if you'd like---His Story ~ Rockets, Riots and ReturningHis Story ~ Tisha B' AvHis Story ~ My StoryHis Story ~ Perspective}




Sunday, August 24, 2014

His Story ~ Perspective

Have ever noticed how easily the whole scene changes when your perspective is just a little shifted? Eyes can play tricks on us. So can our minds and hearts. It can be so subtle and many times we don't even know. Our bias, our eyes, tells what we're supposed to see, what we should see. But what if that bias is wrong? What if the eyes are lying?


A few years ago I attempted to change perspectives, to look at things differently, to look at my faith differently. It was a nudge here and a new insight there. And then I felt whole philosophies of mine shift and then crumble. I suppose they weren't really my philosophies. It was someone else's eyes who had colored my view.

















 But suddenly I was aware I needed new lenses, a different glass, a new way to see. The old way was strange to me now, it just didn't make sense. The mirror was distorted, I saw all the flaws, the gaping holes. I had been given a better lense to see that was really there. And what I found, what I am finding, is breath taking.







I see a story so cohesive and so beautiful. The fun-house mirror version only paled in comparrison. I see a bride-groom redeeming His bride. I see Holy appointments and set apart dates to meet with His set apart people. I see poem and prose there only for my good, for all of our good. I see Him the same from the very beginning of time until this very moment and then all the way until forever. I see places where I struggled healed. I see understanding happening for the first time in myself, in my babes.

Always first the eyes...I read that somewhere. The gaze is what defines the life behind the eyes.

Is our life and faith colored by what we think it is? Who is really responsable for the perspective we hold. Go back to the beginning. Get all the light into focus. Make sure we are wearing the correct lenses. Begin again.

Never again do I want to grope through life.





{I've been telling bits and pieces of this Story. It's the story of My God and how He's nudged my heart to dive into deeper. There's no real order to the story. I'm just telling it as it comes, as He lays it on my heart. Read the other entries here if you'd like---His Story ~ Rockets, Riots and Returning His Story ~ Tisha B' Av;  His Story ~ My Story}.


glasses photo credit: gitikasaksena.com
Sunflower photo credit: unknown

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Change...















Five minute Friday...where some sweet writers write with a prompt for the love of it. Then we link up over at Kate's site and visit other FMFers, to say hello, to make a new friend.


Today it's


 













I never used to think I had a story. I wasn't one of those Christians who was the end of it all and had God's grace come and scoop me up and change my whole life. I just grew up going to church and having my mom tell me God loved me. I'm not complaining. I am so very thankful for my mother making sure I knew who God is. But, it was status quo. I was a Christian. I taught my kids to love God. I struggled. I wondered when I'd get my spiritual life right. I hardly ever really found time to read the bible. I was overwhelmed, over worked, under appreciated. I didn't even know how my life could change. God's grace did reach down and scoop me up but it wasn't as obvious as some of those great testimony stories you sometimes hear. Many people wouldn't even know. But I know. I know God spoke into my life and I almost chose not to listen. But His persistent grace (so often in the form of great discomfort and overwhelming pain that I knew something had to give) made me change. I have the story now. I changed from an over emotional angry person who couldn't handle my hormones or my life to a woman who knows Who is in control. I changed from a person whose heart was so broken and who grieved over what wasn't to a person who treasures what IS. He changed me from living status quo to living as His Beloved. But the change wasn't passive. It only came when I learned that following Him could never be a cognitive exercise. I changed. I changed what I did. And what I didn't do. I made a choice: the choice to follow Him, to change my misconceptions, comforts and traditions. He changed my heart so I could want to.

So I have a story now...I'm new. I'm different. I'm changed. 

Stop.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Birthdays, Justice, and How to LIVE

I turned 35 last week. And that's the first time I've seen that in print.  Age is strange. It's a label and an expectation. 35 years. Three and a half decades...I've learned some things. I've had some successes, some failures. I've grown. Birthdays have a way of making us think, looking back and planning ahead.

 Just this week I've learned a few amazing things, things I had forgotten or maybe I didn't really know.

Last weekend was a teary one for me. I spent time praying and crying for all the hurt that I've seen cross the screen over the last few weeks. Rockets and bombs still falling, the utter devastation and practical genocide of Iraqi Christians, the Revelations-type violence being perpetrated against people for their belief in Jesus . It's horrifying.

 I also cried for a friend, a sweet lovely woman who is an amazing example of steadfastness, a woman I met through a friend of a friend on Facebook. A women who, through social media, I've studied God's word with, learned with. A woman who was taken off of life support last Saturday evening and without a miracle the doctors expected her to die. I sat and I waited for news. I cried for her family, 2 young teens and her husband, the legacy she was leaving...Unwavering Faith. I cry and I wonder so often 'why do I get a birthday, a house where I tuck in my kids, to be here'. We were sharing the news online and then a mutual friend stopped us. She stopped the laments and the tears. She reminded us just what our lovely girl would have been doing right now, what our Father wants us doing right now. Links of this sweet women's writing were posted. Reminders of her Love for her God, of her unshakable belief popped up all over Facebook. We agreed to smile and pray and PRAISE our God for ALL of His ways.

It was a kind of revolution. The mood online and in real life had changed. The sharing and the outlooks became very different.

All because we stopped complaining and started praising.

And then the news that came was the she was breathing on her own. For on hour, then for two, then the whole night. We were ready to say goodbye and here she was (of course she was) breathing without the help of a vent. We continued to praise and sing and encourage in our hearts.

By Monday morning, she was still breathing. She had even been awake a few times.

And also on Monday morning, some sisters in this little Facebook group kept the trend going. We posted praise. We remembered our brothers and sisters suffering and dying for our God. And we didn't lament, but we encouraged. We remembered the way to Live. We again understood that the way to honor these people...persecuted believers and a sister so faithful dying of cancer, people who are using their last breaths to honor their God....was to honor the name of our God.

In all things and at all times we can LIVE what others are dying for.

art: katiebright.blogspot.com


Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.

Yes...The tears may come. We may mourn the losses but really we will count it all as JOY. If our God is for us then we can be against us?! Can anything separate us from His love??

Nothing can.

So as absolutely nauseating as it is to see those images and here the stories, we can still live. And living is the very best way to fight evil. Live well. Live Justice. Right where you are, in your home, at work. Show mercy in honor of those who've been shown none. Smile. Forgive. Walk with your God. Live for Him. Love for Him. Show the evil that it doesn't scare us. And we know how the story ends. 

Love wins.

So with birthdays and new seasons, and while tucking in my kids instead of worry or grief that I still get to, I'm praising. Praising for the chance to and asking that my time, my chances not be wasted.

And as I'm writing, my sweet friend is home with hospice and her family. I'm smiling as I think of her having a chance to see what we all said of her, what she inspired even on her hospital bed.

She inspired LIFE.


{Update: Just after I posted this, I got news of this sweet woman's death. She died at home with her family there. So still praising and praying for peace for her family, comfort for her husband and that her children will never forget their mother's unshakable faith}.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tell...


Another week, another five minute friday (on a Saturday)...writing for the love of it. Writing without edits or worries. We write. We link up. We encourage.

This week it's




Tell them now while you can.

Tell him how he's filled your heart, how he is made for courage and strength.

Tell her how she can be mighty and beautiful and do great things in her Father's kingdom.

Tell them who they are.

Tell them Whose they are.

Tell of all the wonders their Creator has done on their behalf.

Tell them of all the ways you love them.

Tell them of all the ways they are loved by Him.

Tell them why...

why you delight in them

why you look forward to each and every day with them

why even when days are so very hard you'd do it all again and again and again.

Don't wait for another time or another day. Not was of us is promised more time. Tell them when you have their ear. Tell them before the world's voice grows too loud. Tell them in the still hours before they drift to sleep. Tell them in the new sunlight of each day.

Tell them the Truth. Tell them each and every day. Lies will try to speak to them. Your Truth must be louder and more persistent. Don't worry about perfect words or perfect timing.

Tell them.





{This prompt was inspired by the news of Robbin William's death. It was a death self inflicted by a man drowned in sadness. The response to his suicide was such an explosion of love and admiration of him and his work on social media. The question became "what if he new of all this before. What if his fans told him sooner". We should allow it to be a lesson to tell those we love what we need to, what they need us to, while they are still with us.}

Come on over to Kate's place and join us...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

His Story ~ My Story

So I began sharing this story a couple weeks ago. It's the one that is asking to be told. It's been my jouney. It's changed my whole world. It's the story of me, of all of us, the story of now and of the future.

It's the story of who we are and Whose we are.

It's His Story.


Today I want to share the part of the story that tell where I am and how I got here.

How my faith and my family's faith has grown and changed.

How I humbly see that so many of us {myself very much included} have been so very wrong for so very long.

How the steps to unlearn and relearn have helped our roots grow deeper (and stronger).


I'll continue this story. His Story. This part is my tiny sliver of that story. My beginning, my now.


I think it was 2008. I was googling "written teen testimony". My stepson needed to write his before his baptism and confirmation. And like in many things in life, I went to see if a google search could give me ideas I could share with him.

A link to a page led me on an adventure. I stumbled on a page basically questioning things of the Faith. I saw things in print that had been on my mind. I didn't know other people, people who grew up in church, who knew God all their lives, could have questions the way I secretly did. But there it was: a pastors page, questioning traditions of men, asking if they really were what the bible really said.

I dove in and read my bible like never before.

But I can go back further than that.

I was little. I was in the back seat of our station wagon and my mom prayed with me. Asked the Holy Spirit to be with me, to teach me. There is no time in my life that I don't remember knowing God. I owe my mother for that. And I am so very thankful.

I had basic churched-kid church life. I attended different protestant churches, went to Sunday school and youth retreats. One of my first crushes was a boy from church. I did have some not so basic experiences too. My family was actually kicked out of one church just before it morphed into a cult. (Seriously). I encountered some truly God-loving people in my young walk. I had leukemia and depression and through both those storms I met people at perfect times who spoke God's truth into my life.

I was a teen who pushed all the limits. I never questioned God or what He wanted from me. I knew very well what His expectations were. I did my own thing though. I'd cut school and then debate the bible with people. I refused to go to church with my mom as a teen. It wasn't church in general. It was this specific church. I didn't like it. I had a bad feeling.

I met my husband. We got engaged. One night we stayed up way late, talking. We prayed together for the first time that night. He gave his life to God. We looked for a church to be married in. We found one and we've attended there ever since. well, until....

So back to reading my bible like never before. I was. And I was seeing something. A theme. A theme I don't remember being taught in church. It was a story. A Marriage. A people. God's people. One people. He loved them. They strayed. He brought them back. One people. He gave them a way to live. The questions led to more questions and it led to answers, not from tradition or creeds but from His word alone.

We read as a family.

When we left behind pre-conceived, we saw the emphasis doing something...It was more than belief. It was about faith but not as we define faith in English or Greek. No. It's not just a cognitive exercise. It's doing and living and looking very different than the world around us. Sure, we always knew we needed to have action in our faith. But why was there a vague notion of what that action is to be...We saw that when we set aside our bias that God's Word is actually quite clear.


And then our homeschool curriculum had us study history from the perspective of God's people. History through Israel's eyes. We saw their walk in relation to the time and place they lived. We celebrated the sabbath and the feasts outlined in the bible. We saw how they all pointed ahead, to what was to come and they helped us remember all He done. That did it. We were hooked. We saw that all those things we thought applied to someone else, people from another time, another place, actually was our story. This was us. We were God's people. Not some new group to replace the old. We were added in, grafted in. One people. We knew that we wanted to be people who followed after God and did what He said. We no longer wanted to follow a man made compilation of traditions. We saw that we have been guilty of what His people have been guilty of since the beginning of time: replacing the commands of God with the traditions of man.



So we stepped out and began making changes. It's a process. It's a beautiful, messy life changing process. The first real change, I think was just in our minds. We saw relevance where we were sure we were told wasn't there. We were confused. Why did God set aside days and call them holy and then somehow they became irrelevant? Who decided Christ followers wouldn't actually do what Christ did? Then we, bit by little bit, began to look at His commands as a whole to see what had we assumed didn't matter any more. We saw some commands that seemed silly to ignore like don't eat pork. (God said so and that's enough but there's also eye opening scientific reasons you can read about here and here) and then some we had to study out to understand the hows and whys behind them, like adding fringes to our garments (to remember), and not wearing wool and linen together (there's some cool emerging science on that one). And there are a few we don't understand exactly why, but that's ok. We don't have to know it all this very moment. We are happy to dig and pray and wait and try to understand.





We are beginning to see our children take seriously the commands of God. My youngest never forgets his tzitzit (fringes). My oldest loved bacon but is happy to not even think of eating it. Why? Simply because God said so. We've practiced doing concrete things that He has asked. So then when the abstract comes: love each other, give when it's hard, forgive-- the obedience has been practiced. It has more weight.

So this is where I am. I am learning more than I ever knew I could. I am carefully reading through all of God's Word. I am understanding things in a way I didn't know they could be understood. And all of this is only by His grace.

And this where my family is. We're learning together. We're attempting to do what He asked. We believe the time is growing short.

If you're interested, I'll share some of what I'm learning as I go. I tell His Story the way He's been telling it to me...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fill...



Five Minute Friday, early on a Saturday morning, but with a new host, Kate. Same deal: Word lovers write with a prompt for the love and the fun. No edits, grammar police or second guessing. Free writing for five minutes...And the heart of the community is that you visit the other lovely writers, to encourage, to make a new friend.








This week is....






Go


Fill instead of empty. Give instead of take. Pour and love and lavish. You'll feel empty. But when you frequent the well of the Water that always quenches you are never ever empty.

Fill the hearts around with peace. Choose to avoid the chaos that expectations bring.

Fill the minds with truth. Remember that the only truth is what is good. Something can be accurate but still not true.

Fill the house with love because they won't really remember exactly what you taught them but they will remember how it felt to be there.

Fill bodies with strength. Actual food and the infinitely more important Bread of Life. Because really what does any of it matter if the Soul isn't nourished often and deeply.

Fill up the world with smiles and words that build others up. There always is a choice how you view a situation, the world.

Fill wherever you go. Leave others with over flowing cups. It's an amazing thing, how the only real way to fill is to empty. Because He pours but He leaves it up to us to fill....

Stop

Join us and visit the new digs over at katemotaung.com. Write. Link. Encourage. 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No such thing as Safe Sex..


I'm sharing this here because it's maybe the most articulate post I've ever read on the subject...and because I wholeheartedly agree. We as a generation of parents need to raise up our kids with higher standards and stop picking and choosing which "truth" we'll live by.



I will not teach my kids about safe sex because there is no such thing | The Matt Walsh Blog

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

His Story ~ Tisha B'Av

I had a different post planned, but last night at sundown began Tisha B'Av or the 9th of Av.

And I just can't get the significance of this day out of my mind.

Av is the 5th month of the biblical calendar. It's a holiday. But not a particularly happy one. This day and those right around it are even referenced in the bible.
...Should I weep in the fifth month [Av], separating myself, as I have done these so many years? -Zechariah 7:3
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month ...came Nebuzaradan ... and he burnt the house of the L-RD... -II Kings 25:8-9
In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month... came Nebuzaradan ... and he burnt the house of the L-RD... - Jeremiah 52:12-13
This day is a day of sad remembering.

Traditionally it is a day of mourning for the loss of both Israel's first and second Temple. Both. Because they both were destroyed on the same day of the year. About 700 years apart.

It's also kind of mind blowing when one looks at just what else is remembered this day. Scratch that. Not kind of. It's nothing short of amazing.
Through their history, Israel has seen many tragic event fall on or right around this day.

From Wikipedia...

"According to the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6), five specific events occurred on the ninth of Av:
  1. The twelve spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought a positive report, while the others spoke disparagingly about the land. The majority report caused the Children of Israel to cry, panic and despair of ever entering the "Promised Land". For this, they were punished by God that their generation would not enter the land. Because of the Israelites' lack of faith, God decreed that for all generations this date would become one of crying and misfortune for their descendants.
  2. The First Temple built by King Solomon and the Kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE (Anno Mundi [AM] 3175) after a two-year siege and the Judaeans were sent into the Babylonian exile. According to the Talmud in tractate Ta'anit, the destruction of the First Temple began on the Ninth of Av and the Temple continued to burn throughout the Tenth of Av.
  3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans in August 70 CE (AM 3830), scattering the people of Judea and commencing the Jewish exile from the Holy Land.
  4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews, on July 8, 132 CE (Av 9, AM 3892).[6]
  5. Following the Bar Kokhba revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple and the surrounding area, in 133 CE.[7]
Other calamities associated with Tisha B'Av:
  • The episode of the Golden calf (17th of Tammuz) in which the Hebrews, after their exodus from Egypt, reintroduced idolatry as a form of spirituality.[8][9]
  • The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 24, AM 4856), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. 1.2 million Jews were killed by this crusade that started on the 9th of Av.[6][10]
  • The Jews were expelled from England on July 18, 1290 (Av 9, AM 5050).[6]
  • The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306 (Av 10, AM 5066).
  • The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 7, AM 5252).[7]
  • Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914 (Av 9-10, AM 5674), which caused massive upheaval in European Jewry and whose aftermath led to the Holocaust.[6]
  • On August 2, 1941 (Av 9, AM 5701), SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for "The Final Solution". As a result, the Holocaust began during which almost one third of world's Jewish population perished.
  • On July 23, 1942 (Av 9, AM 5702), began the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.   

    I look at that list and I can't believe it. Yet I can. I don't necessarily understand why these things have all happened on this day but to think it's insignificant would be foolish. In my last post on His Story  talked of how we, the church, seem to have forgotten that God said Israel is His people. If we are His people also it only means we become part of them. So this history is our history.

What is it about this sad day? And is there more catastrophe to come? Of course we don't know, but I believe we'd be wise to watch and pray. And trust. Because we know how His Story ends.


Monday, July 28, 2014

His Story ~ Rockets, Riots, and Returning

There is a story in my head. It's trying to be told. It's the story of where I am and how I got here. It's the story of how I learned Who my God really is. THE story. His story.

The story is as old as time. And it is relevant right now. It's a story of love and faith and grace. It's a story of rebellion and consequence. It's a story of returning. I think I'm going to tell this story, how this story relates to me, has been revealed to me. It may take weeks or months. Years maybe. But I'll tell this story here. Because really, there is no other story without this one.

***
Right now as I type there is a twist in the current chapter of the story. There is a conflict that has grown more intense than it has in decades.

It's over Israel. 

This tiny piece of coveted space has been the center of war on and off for thousands of years.

It's a conflict that began with Abraham's sons, Ishmael and Isaac. And it was compounded with Jacob and Esau. {An impressive summary on this can be found here. Actually to understand this issue reading an article like that one is necessary. I highly recommended that you read it}.

A quick bible history lesson (in case you didn't read the link): Abraham was promised blessing and land from God through His son, Isaac. Isaac's son, Jacob (who God called Israel) became the Father of 12 sons: the twelve tribes of Israel. These tribes, after God freed them from Egypt, conquered Canaan which was the land God promised them (roughly where modern day Israel is, although God's borders are much larger than current Israel). Israel (at least the tribe of Judah) has lived in this land (except for 70 years of exile in about 600 BC) up until just after the time of Jesus. Around 70 AD Rome kicked them out and renamed the area Palestine (just a way to add insult to injury since biblical Palestine, Israel's old enemies, didn't even exist anymore). After much persecution and dispersion , Israel was miraculously given back a good majority of the land by the UN in 1947. Israel was reborn along with the Hebrew language. Historically, a country and language dispersed and dead had never before begun again, successfully. God promised and so it was.

Israel's enemies were not happy. 

They have been trying to destroy Israel for thousands of years and it continues today.

Hamas in the "Palestinian" area in the Gaza strip have been firing rockets over the border into Israel. It had been going on for ages but the intensity has picked up. And there was also the kidnapping and murder of three young Jews. The bombing got worse and Israel warned Hamas...they didn't heed the warnings. Israel fired back. Over the last 3 weeks or so it has escalated to war-like conditions.

People have all kinds of opinions. Many Muslims are calling for destruction of Israel. Many Jews for the destruction of Palestine. Many on both sides would just like peace. I'm certain there is more to the story of the current conflict. There is always a money trail and different world powers in play. But really, it's just part of God's story for His people.

So many times hasn't apparent evil only been used to usher in God's plans?

The flood gave us the promise of peace.

A brother in a well and sold as a slave gave all of Israel hope during famine.

A cowardly king gave way to a brave Hero.

The list could go on and on...

He can uses anything to usher in His plans for His people. And He's already told us how this part of the story ends. God promised this land to Israel, and told them it would always, always be theirs {Duet 30:3-5}.

The world is choosing sides. And God was clear: He will bless those who bless Israel.

There have been riots in France and hateful speeches in Germany. Many countries are boycotting Israel. And every single country surrounding Israel wants them gone. The nations are rising up against the Apple of God's eye...again. But they are simply fulfilling the prophetic word of God.

And God told us how it all ends.

So much of the world taking a stance opposite God's chosen people isn't the only notable turn of event in this chapter.

Something else is happening.

We, many of us Christ followers, are a realizing something. God is reminding us that Israel is His. And we are His. And He has only one people. We are slowly beginning to see that 2000 years of Christianity is just as guilty as the Pharisees for replacing the commands of God with the traditions of men. So many of us are returning. We are, step by trembling step, coming back to what following God used to look like. We're following after our Messiah, beginning to walk the way He walked.

We are seeing that His appointed days are in fact appointments to meet with Him and that His commands are there to keep us safe and and they are not burdensome. In fact, doing what He said is how we show our love for Him.

This story has changed my life, my family, our walk with the living God. This story is immense and it's small. It's about all of time and eternity. And it's about my walk with my Father. It's my story. It's our story. It's His Story. So I'll keep writing as the words come to share my part of this with you.

{For more on just what this great love story is all about and who we truly are as followers of Christ, please watch this---> The Lost Sheep}

~If you'd like to hear more of this Story {and can't wait until next time}, or have a question I could humbly try to answer with you, comment here or email me on the side bar of the blog {scroll down to find the contact me form}.~

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Finish...

Five minute Friday, where lot of beautiful people write for 5 minutes with a prompt. We write because we love to, because we have to, because we can't not. We write without edits or rewrites, just letting the words go...


Five Minute Friday


Finish...

Go

I just read through words I haven't seen in a very long time, words that tremble a little at first. They are my words. It can be so strange to see a date from 8 years ago, to recognize a voice, but it not be the one speaking now, to read about a part of life that has finished. New things begun and then even they have changed, evolved, finished. So many times we think we know, that we have it figured out, but then we understand how we never did. That girl from 8 years ago, the one who just started homeschooling, she's me but not anymore. We grow and we change and we learn. If we're doing it right that never changes. We don't stop the growing and learning until it's finished. Until we are finished. And the One who is doing that good work has promised that He won't stop the molding and the fire until we are finished.

Stop

Join the crowd over at Lisa Jo's and read how she is finishing her time as Five Minute Friday host. She's passing it on to her word sister. One will finish. Another will begin.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bloom...

Five Minute Friday

Five minute Friday (early on a Sunday Morning). A whole bunch of word lovers get together and write for five minutes with a prompt. We don't worry or edit. Just write {and encourage}.

This week is

Bloom

Go





All these kids all this week. I've watched many of them grow from babes. They play in the sun. They smile and laugh. A best friend's daughter, seeing glimpses of a woman. Fist fulls of flowers...even if they were just clovers. Seeing tall boys on wheels, small boys with bubbles. Babies with bright eyes and big smiles. A house full more days this week than not. Blooming with life, noise, and a little chaos. Children grow. Friends connect. We laugh and work and rush...and love. Where exactly does the time go? It slips by so quickly. Babies bloom into children and then into these tall creatures on the brink of leaving childhood behind...But right now we play and feed them and send them through the sprinkler. This is just what summer is for.


Stop.

Join us over at Lisa Jo's and write just for the love.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The Second Half

I've heard an interesting fact. About sports. That's not really my thing, but it stuck with me. Coaching football or soccer (and I would assume many other sports) in the first half of the game is different than it is after half-time. The decisions are a little more carefully weighed, even if it's not intentional. The psychology behind it is that there is, relatively speaking, a lot of time left so the part of the brain that makes the decisions takes it's time processing and comparing outcomes of different strategies. In the second half, of course, decisions are still made as carefully as possible. But often in the presence of increased adrenaline, coaching decisions are made quicker and on more gut feeling than statistics. The coaches get to know the players' abilities on that given day, they got to know the opposing team and the weather. The decisions made begin to better reflect the current situation rather than "the plan". The coaches, in a sense, feel and live the game a bit more, rather than coach it on paper.


This sounds a a lot like motherhood.

It's an interesting thing: new motherhood. It's exciting and frightening. There's no other feeling quite like knowing that there is another life inside. A first pregnancy and a first newborn give  way to so many questions and hopes...and fears. The labor, the breast or bottle, not sleeping, baby foods, not sleeping, finger foods, vaccinations, not sleeping, teething, colic, reflux, more not sleeping...it mostly feels like a blur, and for some, the first year of a wee one's life can feel so very exhausting and overwhelming.

It's true though. You know, what all the old ladies in the supermarket say, "it goes too fast"or "treasure this phase, you'll miss it". When those old ladies are commenting over shrieks in the cereal isle, it's tough not to wonder if it's a little senility talking. I remember too well crying on nights my baby just wouldn't sleep. I remember crying on days where he just wouldn't nap. I remember fighting with my husband about who's more sleep deprived. I remember worrying about how much they ate, whether the constant fussiness was colic or a milk allergy, whether I'd ever sleep through the night again. I remember just not knowing if we were doing it right. Doing anything right.

But I do miss it.

And that's not just something moms with older kids say. It did go much too fast. I'd be giddy to go back to a sleepless night and scoop up a bundle of warmth and just rock. To know it doesn't last forever, to have come through it and seen that I won't die from sleep deprivation, to know it matters very little whether my baby had finger foods at 9 months or never (until he used a fork, then it's not really finger foods is it?) helps a mom to see all the beauty in those short years.

My youngest is 9. He has 9 more years to go until 18. My oldest is 11. In that same 9 years he'll be 20. That thought struck me recently. It's a thought that makes me sad and excited. I'd take more babes in a heart beat if that's what God had for me, but since He hasn't so far, this is where I am. And it's pretty cool. I have parented both my boys for roughly a decade. The lessons that I've learned are ones I sometimes wish I could talk back and apply to those years of worry and wondering and reading ever single bit of parenting advice I could find. I've noticed that this second half makes me always acutely aware of the end of the game. Sure I'll always be mom, but someday I'll be mom to people who live in another house married to someone who will someday be called mom. I'm finding myself living more of my life, making decisions on how well I know my child instead of what some renowned author says. I've gotten the feel of the game and the players and I'm making choices based on experience rather what's supposed to happen.

May I share just a few insights I'm gleaned from this game of motherhood?

I've learned that looking my sons in the eye is important well beyond the infant years. Gazing at the face of my kid does much to show him he's loved and valued. Many mom's know that babies need this gaze, that's it's good for their brains. And their eye sight, when they're new, reaches just the right distance from mama's arm to her face when the baby is nursing. But children don't out grow this need. When my son is having a hard time or just telling a story, just me seeing him so often is just what he needs.

I've learned that plans are really just ideas. Be flexible.

I've learned that discipline techniques should probably never be taken out of books. Every single child is different. Many different approaches are effective. Sometimes and for some seasons no approach appears effective. It's never wrong during a meltdown or rebellion to err on the side of listening to your child while you yourself practice patience. Setting limits for your child is good. Showing your child you can apply limits to your own self and your own reactions is exponentially better.

I've learned that space and time and effort is needed if we're going to have access to our children's hearts.

I've learned that they will always have bad days here and there (I know I do). They will always struggle with making good choices to some extent (again, still something I struggle with). They will doubt themselves, be full of themselves, be completely lovable or difficult to love---all depending on the day (or the minute). But when they know your love doesn't change depending on their behavior, they learn their self worth doesn't come from what they do, but from who they are {yours}....

...That last one leads me to maybe the most important lesson I've learned as I entered this second half: I have the ability to show my kids Who God is and who they are in Him. Part of me used to think that kids can just be kids and behavioral choices didn't always have to be linked to their spirituality. But in the past ten years I've come to know that everything we do, all of who we are is related to our relationship with Him. And one of our very first and most important responsibilities in parenting should be related to this because their self worth, their attitudes towards others, their hopes and dreams all can be colored by knowing where they come from and for what they are made. Of course it takes life experience, practice, and patience to begin to walk the way we should, but when a child knows why right is right and wrong is wrong and just what he means to God, it helps His world line up the way it should. It's a walk and a process requiring patience and much repetition, one that needs to begin at conception (or right now, which ever is sooner).

As I am very wary of parenting advice these days I'll be careful what I pass on, but this piece of wisdom has rung in my head everyday for years...

"Love is patient. Parenting is this gentle way of bending over in humility to help the scraped child up, because we intimately know it takes a lifetime to learn how to walk with Him. Patience. Love always begins with patience."  Ann Voskamp

A lifetime. A lifetime to learn how to follow Him. Each step we teach our children to take with Him will lead them further on the only journey that matters. We can show our children each day and little by little the very lavish love of God and His expectations and plans for our lives.

 And in this second half I can do this just a little bit better. I've gotten to know the players. I can live and feel the game. I'll grow with them and learn with them, I'll play according to experience instead of formulaic advice and make each play count. Because, relatively speaking, each day brings us closer to the end of the game.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fyi

A couple of  things...

1. I bought an internet domain name. That's very, very advanced for my Internet skills, so it's worth an announcement. It's melindagallone.com, or www.melindagallone.com (see it up there ^^ in the URL bar?!). Pretty exciting, huh? From now on you can find my blog there. This blogger site will point you to my domain so you don't actually have to do anything different. BUT if I ever move off of Blogger you'd need to find me by my name domain. No worries though. I'll announce it if I ever make a change and I'm still pretty far off from designing my own site.

2. Upon looking through my posts I noticed there are several I never published. If you subscribe to my blog, you might get emailed posts that are dated from long ago. Don't panic. I'm just publishing some old work.

3. I'd love to get to know you better, so please feel free to drop a comment anytime.

OK. That's it for now.  Thanks for stopping by :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

About Me



Writing again...seems like it's time for a reintroduction, a bit more than what's to the right in the About Me box.

This is my writing space. Welcome. I write mostly for me. I write to untangle the mess of thoughts. I write because I love words. I write because I have a hard time not writing. I write because I am made in the image of God to create, to tell stories, to speak. It is my very first desire in life to honor my Maker in all things: to know Him and make Him known. Everything else that comes after that is just icing, the means in which I have been given to honor Him.

I've been married for just about 15 years...and that seems crazy to see in print. Since I still feel 12 there is no way I'm old enough to be married for a decade and a half.

 I'm a 30 something homeschooling mom. This takes up a lot of who I am. I teach my own because why wouldn't I?? I want to be the one with the privilege of filling their minds and learning right next to them. I want them to learn my values not a compilation of every teacher and peer they encounter for 12 plus years. I want my kids to be strong and secure in Truth before they have to face the world on their own.

 I have two awesome crazy boys, one who is only 2 1/2 inches shorter than I am, and another who is rapidly gaining on his big bro. I'm a step mama to a 20 year old man-child. I'm parenting in the second half. My tallest son is in double digits and my youngest will be there soon. There is some wisdom to be gained by doing this for over a decade (and having a head start practicing on my stepson). There are things I wished I knew way back when, things I'd do different. Maybe I can share some of them with you and save you a tiny sliver of regret. But there are also things I (by only God's grace) have done well. I'll share those things from time to time, too.

 More about me...I apparently name my years. This year is Tefillah (Hebrew for prayer). I'm a nurse at a big Children's Hospital. I work night shift on the weekends. It's a crazy schedule, but it's good. I like to find small people who need some love and take care of them. Mostly so far it's just baby sitting gigs, but if my Abba wills it, I'm open to a longer term commitment. I love kids. I loooove them. I want to go on rescue missions and break kids out of orphanages around the world and day care centers down the street and bring them home and watch them play in the sunshine. I get a little weepy when I drive down the road and see all the kids behind chain link fences on the black top at the school. It's like someone stole all the small ones and locked them up. Having said all that, I do NOT judge another soul for the educational choices they make for their child. No. Never. I love homeschooling and I think it's great . But I don't think your choice is wrong. It's just yours. I don't just love kids, I love people too. Right where they are. I know we all have our struggles and our stuff and God made us all so gloriously different.

Now for the deeper stuff...I love God. I really, truly, with all I am, LOVE my God. Also, I'm a mess. I'll say with some confidence that I'm less of a mess than I used to be but more of a mess than I will be in the future. God is doing a good work in me. The messy stuff has been real and ugly. My marriage was a struggle for a long time. My emotions made me feel like I was losing my mind and myself and the hearts of my kids. I felt like I was failing at everything I set out to do. I can speak of these things in past tense , not because I'm now perfect (not at all even close), but because of lessons learned. The biggest and most central lesson being in how I follow my God. It's a story I touched here and here. It's my family's journey into understanding God's word from a new perspective: the perspective of His people. We began to follow His word, not just what we heard in church on Sunday mornings but ALL of it, to the best of our ability (and of course we're still learning). After a bit of study, we believe that God's whole Word is true and still applies to His people today. So we jumped in. We began celebrating His feasts Days and keeping His seventh day Sabbath. We learned how all these things point to His saving Grace in Jesus (Y'shua). We began to learn Hebrew. It's a slooow process but it's been so very amazing. It's all been amazing. I used to wonder why it was all so hard, why it seems like I lived on slivers and trickles of God's grace, why all my efforts were never good enough. And then it all changed when we began doing more bible things in bible ways. We didn't quite know exactly how but we made the decision that we'd do what He showed us. That has been the difference. By His grace, our hearts desire is to follow Him and our actions are following that desire. And our lives are different, better. But more importantly, our lives are less about us and more about Him.

I think that about covers it. My goal is to write more but that sometimes takes a backseat to living life. But words will always be a love of mine, so I always return. Thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the comments. (Getting comments is always fun).