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).