Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Favorite Word - Sh'ma

"Sh'ma" is my favorite word. It is Hebrew for the word "Hear" and the first word of a very important Jewish prayer. This prayer is both a daily prayer, and one we say weekly in our liturgy on Shabbat (the Sabbath). The prayer is found in Devarim (Deuteronomy) Chapter 6. You can read the entire passage here:

Yeshua (Jesus our Messiah) referred to the Sh'ma in Mark 12:28 - 34. Also, in Luke 10:25 - 37, He expounded on it and explained how love of G-d is exhibited in caring for our neighbors. Following G-d's commandments is loving to God, to ourselves and our neighbors. His laws are loving and protective of us and society.

The Sh'ma is a call to obedience. Hashem is not telling us just to listen, but to "hear". In the Holy Scriptures, to hear is to obey. Yeshua said "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15).

photo from Wikipedia
The Sh'ma is printed and rolled up inside a mezuzah, then placed on the doorpost of our home. As we leave the house and come back in, we touch the mezuzah and then kiss our fingertips. This is a reminder that G-d's Words are like honey to our lips. They are so, so sweet.

Recently, Rabbi Jem and I went to the homes of several of our congregation to affix the mezuzah, and bless their homes.  One little boy touched the mezuzah, kissed his fingertips, and said, "It really is sweet!"  We wholeheartedly agreed.  

What is your favorite word? I'd love to hear about it and why it is so special to you.

I'm linking up to Cindy's blog today:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Count Your Blessings

A song from the 1950’s is one of my favorites: “Count your blessings, name them one by one - Count your blessings see what G-d has done”. That song helped me get through some tough times in my life by always focusing on the good. That song, in addition to three gratitude mentors, helped to shape my attitude of gratitude.

First, my grannie, Fannie Griner, comes to mind. Grannie reared 11 children on a farm during the Depression. Although poor by most standards, she always expressed a thankful heart, and shared what she had with others. One of my fondest memories as a child was visiting her. At night, I’d crawl into her big, old, creaky iron bed with the cloud-like feather mattress. As Grannie sank wearily down on her side of the bed, she’d breathe out a whispered, “Praise the L-rd.” She closed out every day that way, no matter how difficult that day had been.

Grannie also taught me to count my blessings. Each night, we’d make a list of all we were thankful for, and I’d drift off to sleep feeling so content. I think her influence helped me to always feel like I am rich, no matter what my bank account says.

Second, my father, John Wesley Griner, greatly influenced my attitude of gratitude.
Daddy taught me to be thankful for little things, like the shoes on my feet. He told me how shoes were the usual gift he and his ten brothers and sisters received for Christmas. Those shoes had to last all year, and if they pinched later on, they went barefooted. He grew up in the Depression, so having enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over his head were not taken for granted.

Daddy worked outside in road construction all of his life, but always thanked G-d, whether it was rainy or sunny, and never complained about it. One of Daddy’s favorite sayings was, “These are the best years of your life”. Funny, he told me that as a child, a teenager, and as a grown woman with children of my own. He was right in every instance. My father worked extremely hard his whole life, but when he passed away at 75, his last words were “I’ve had a good life.” I feel the same way, even though I’ve faced some daunting challenges along the way. Daddie’s counsel and example made it easier.

Carmita, in Jerusalem on the Mt of Olives

Third, my elderly Jamaican neighbor, Carmita Poulson, was perhaps my greatest influence in learning to be thankful. As a young woman, burdened with all kinds of problems, Carmita taught me to be thankful in prayer. Once a week, we’d get together to pray, and Carmita would start out praising the Lord and go on for 30 minutes, thanking G-d for everything under the sun. At first, I grew impatient, thinking my problems were more important than praising G-d. But, I learned from her example.

At 80, she was healthy and strong, loving and giving, and excited to be alive every day. I can still remember her radiant, smiling face and tearful voice as she said, “Thank you Lord, that I can see, and hear, and walk, and talk, and think, and that I have strength to work for You!” Carmita’s influence of gratitude lives on in me, as I now pray that same prayer every day myself.

As I grow older, I am more and more thankful for Grannie, Daddy, and Carmita as mentors, and for their lives that exemplified gratitude. I pray I will set the same example for those who know me.

Do you have gratitude mentors?  I'd love to hear about them.

Always be joyful. Pray regularly. In everything give thanks, for this is what G-d wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

I am linking up for Gratituesday - Hope you'll stop by the blog below
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Favorite Bible Verse

I'm linking up to Cindy's challenge to share my favorite Bible verse.  That is such a difficult challenge.  There are many verses of Scripture  I could list.  God' s Word is my lifeline, my strength, my food.  It quenches my thirst, comforts me, guides me, counsels me, and daily
intrigues me anew.

In Judaism, we read the Torah through every year.  I never fail to be amazed that I can read a passage over and over again, and still learn something new.  I also read the book of Proverbs monthly, reading the chapter that corresponds to the day.  In example, today I read Proverb 15.  Today the first verse jumped out at me, and spoke, "Share this with her."  I had been talking with someone about how important our tone and facial expressions are when speaking.  G-od's Word is alive!!!

But I digress!  Back to my "favorite" verse:   

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters
He restores my soul.

Does your soul ever need restoring?  Mine does.  The pressures of daily life can wear me out.  I need time in nature (green pastures) and  to sit by the water.  Being still, watching birds and butterflies, listening to the wind in the tress, looking at the river or a pond calms me down and enables me to hear G-d's voice again.  This is one of the places I go to be still and be restored.

This spot is on the Indian River in Brevard County, Florida, near where I live.  When I can't visit there, I sit on my patio and look at the pond my dear, sweet husband made for me.  He knows how I need still waters.

A part of being restored is feeding on the green pastures.  No, not grass, silly!  That's what sheep eat.  My green pastures are G-od's Holy Scriptures.  I read His Word, and meditate on it as I sit still in the wonders of His beautiful creation.   Soon, I hear His tender, sweet voice and my soul leaps with joy.  My fellowship with Him is so sweet, I don't want to leave.  I walk away encouraged, strengthened and at peace.

If you've never tried being still by the water, reading the Scriptures, and  listening to G-d's voice, please try it.  I know you will be blessed and restored.  

I hope you'll visit Cindy's blog and read other's favorite verses.

Shalom Ya'll

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Only in the dark

I want y'all to see a beautiful flower that grows here on Florida’s Space Coast. For years I thought this plant was so ugly. It looks like green snakes growing on the palm trees along the Indian River. The flowers looked like dried up flamingo heads covered with grey hair. Ugly!

Well, one evening just after dark, I discovered that the ugly flamingo head had bloomed and it was spectacular! Some of the blooms are the size of soccer balls. Who knew something that I perceived to be so ugly could be so beautiful?

(See the ugly flamingo head between the blooms? Proper name night-blooming cereus)

G-d spoke softly to me that the cactus is a picture of surrender to Him. Often hard times come into our lives. Hurtful things happen. Pain (both physical and emotional) visits us. We cringe from the ugliness of it. We run away from it. We want it taken away. If we surrender to G-d, something wonderful happens. The thing we thought was ugly becomes beautiful. We learn something about G-d that no one can take away

As an example, years ago I owned a house in another city. I wanted to sell the house and put it on the market. The house would not sell, however. I prayed, I cried, I told G-d I "needed" it to sell. I became angry and told G-d I felt He was doing me wrong. (Yes, G-d can take it when I don’t agree with Him.) It still didn't sell. I surrendered it to Him and accepted whatever the outcome might be. I put the house up for rent, and was blessed with an excellent renter who paid on time and kept the property in good condition.

Several years later, I desperately needed money, and put the house up for sale again. I prayed for it to sell quickly, and thanks be to G-d, it sold in one week.

I learned from this situation that what I thought was "ugly" was really beautiful. The house was preserved for my truly desperate need years later. G-d knew what he was doing. I learned also, that He knows my needs and provides them. I often think my "wants" are needs, but He knows best.

When troubles come into my life, I’m learning to surrender them to G-d. Surrender during dark times, like the cactus flower, seems ugly and frightening. Once I let go though, I discover a beautiful thing – something about G-d that no one can take away from me. I remember, that only in the dark, does the ugly cactus become a beautiful flower.

Shalom Y'all,

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love G-d, to them who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Scent of Lavender

A couple of weeks ago, I entered a drawing at The Centsational Girl's blog, and I won!

Yesterday, I received my prize in the mail. My husband brought the large box from the mailbox and said, "Here's a package for you, sweetheart, and it smells sooooo good!"

With great excitement, I opened the package, and found a fragrant gift wrapped in white tissue paper. Nestled under the wrappings were a beautiful hand-embroidered eye pillow, and two bunches of fresh lavender tied with pink ribbons. Soooo Delightful!

I love lavender, and this gift was heaven "scent"!!! Thank you, Kate!

I hope you all will stop by Kate's blog to see more of her beautiful creations. You can visit her at this link: Centsational Girl