Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post Holiday Update

This was the week before the flu hit.

No, I'm not dead, but at times I felt very near it.  I've had a two week bout with the flu and it was rough.  I kept asking my husband if I was going to die.  It sure felt like it:  fever, chills, sweats, nausea like being pregnant, sore throat, head and chest cold, get the idea.  Anyway, I stayed in bed for ten whole days, my dear Gail-Friends.  That's a long time, especially during the holidays. 

Thank G-d for my husband.  He is a wonderful, kind and caring nurse.  And thanks to the kind food gifts of friends and family, we didn't go hungry for sure.  The sad part was not being able to see my children, grandson or my mother during that time.  I missed our synagogue's Hanukkah party and all the fun with the little ones that I enjoy so much.  Didn't get to make all the fun foods I had planned on making.  Didn't get to go to parties and get togethers.

I did go and visit my mother at the nursing home yesterday and take her a gift.  I wore a mask and didn't get anywhere close to her.  We threw kisses at each other and I told her I loved her.  She seemed so happy to see me.  Jem has been taking care of her, too, while I was sick.  I have the best husband in the world.

We did get to spend some time with our grandson before I got sick, so I'm sharing some pics from the day before I hit the bed.  I hope you enjoyed your holiday, and take my advice:  get a flu shot. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Unplugged

(this is a re-post)
I am blessed to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.  I celebrate Christmas very differently than most, and very differently from the way I did it in years past.   I read a quote this week that sums up my outlook on Christmas celebrations.

"Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ."

Years ago, I read the book  Unplug the Christmas Machine that had a profound impact on me.  I was a young mother at the time, and completely worn out by "Christmas".  I ran myself ragged shopping, decorating, entertaining, being entertained...and you know the rest of the story.  After reading the book, I decided to do Christmas differently, and it has evolved over time.  Slowly, I began to do gifts differently.  I shopped, spent, and decorated less, and began to worship more.

Who is Christmas about, after all?  Isn't it about Yeshua?  Weren't the first gifts brought to Him?  I can remember, as a small girl, feeling like something was missing at Christmas.  Yes, I knew and read the story of His birth...but what was I giving Him?  My little girl heart knew He was being ignored... in spite of all the decorations, presents, parties, and hoopla.  Even as a small girl, I sensed He was grieved.

Somewhere along the line, in my desire to love Him and honor Him, I read about the pagan basis for Christmas.   I learned that Yeshua was most likely not born in the winter because the shepherds were tending their flocks in the hills.  I learned that the Bible says not to put a tree in your house and decorate it (Jer.10:1-5).  And don't even get me started on Santa Claus.  I had to ask myself if G-d is pleased by telling children that lie.  I have a grandson now, and I much prefer that he learn about G-d's appointed feasts and festivals than the world's.  I'm thankful that his parents feel the same.

Yeshua celebrated those feasts, including Hanukkah.  He also said, "I have not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it."  I don't think He meant to stop celebrating His feasts, but to realize in celebrating them that He is the fulfillment of them.  They are all tactile, hands-on lessons that teach us about His character and about our relationship to Him.  Yeshua is, after all, the G-d of the Old Testament, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  If he said we would observe His feasts forever, shouldn't we be doing that and follow His example? 

For that reason, I celebrate Hanukkah - with Yeshua as the Light of the World.  I observe Christmas as the fact that  He was born as a man.  I worship Him - not the Christmas tree, or the presents, or the whole machine that Christmas has become.  I'm much happier doing it that way.

For me, Christmas is a time of peace and of drawing close to Him.  I thank Him that He was willing to become a man and to suffer as we do in this earth, to understand our frailty.  I thank Him that He didn't give in to sin so that He could be that perfect offering for sin.  I thank Him for His light that has shone in my heart and taken root there.  I thank Him for the blessing of being in His family and for the gift of His Word to guide my life.  I thank Him for the Ruach Hacodesh living inside me. I am so glad He came.

What's funny about being a Messianic Jewish believer is that sometimes Hanukkah comes before Christmas, and then sometimes it's just the opposite.  So, mostly, we celebrate all month long -  that Yeshua was born and that He was the Light of the World.  We put up blue and white lights and listen to Hanukkah music as well as songs of Christmas that celebrate our Savior's birth.  We make special foods and fellowship with friends.  Yes, I do give gifts, but they are quite minimal.  No more pushing myself to keep up with the Christmas machine.  I play music, and go to free concerts that focus on Yeshua.  I ride around and look at the lights and worship my Savior.  My heart is so full of gratitude and worship.

This video is so wonderful.  I hope you'll watch it, and stand up with me and praise and worship Yeshua - the King of Kings and L-rd of Lords.   Halelu-jah!  (a great Hebrew word that means Praise G-d!).To learn more about Hanukkah, please enjoy: Yeshua is the Light

 I'm sharing with:

Faith Filled Friday

Monday, December 10, 2012

Light the Menorah!

I am so blessed to be able to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. Granted I don't celebrate Christmas like most people do, but it is a joyful time for me as a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah.

As Messianic Jewish believers, we celebrate this holiday in remembrance of a great miracle God performed for the Jews. Each night for eight days, my husband and I place colorful candles in a Hanukkah menorah in remembrance of God’s miracle working power.

 The holiday originated when Judah the Maccabee and his followers reclaimed the temple from Syrian King Antiochus IV. The temple was cleansed and prepared for rededication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means "dedication." When the sacred temple Menorah (candelabra) was relit, there was only enough sacred oil to burn for one day. Yet, the oil miraculously lasted eight days until more purified oil could be found. Hence, the expression: “A Great Miracle Happened There”.

Yeshua observed Hanukkah, as recorded in John 10: 22-23: “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the Temple, in Solomon’s porch.” He was there, in His Father’s House, to observe the Feast of Hanukkah. It is also significant that in John 8:12 Yeshua declared, “I am the Light of the World”. This statement would have great impact during the Feast of Dedication. The Jews knew exactly what He was saying. He was declaring Himself to be G-d.

This week, my husband, Rabbi Jem and I along with the members of our congregation, celebrate Hanukkah together with singing, dancing, food, drink, and much talking together. We remember that our God is a miracle working God. Not just in the Bible, but in our own lives today. It is traditional to sing the song Rock of Ages. Most Christians don’t know this Jewish song which commemorates Hanukkah. As we sing it, we also remember that Yeshua is our Rock of Ages who saves us from sin’s power:

Rock of Ages let our song
Praise thy saving power
Thou amidst the raging foes
Was our sheltering tower.
Furious, they assailed us,
But thine armour veiled us.
And thy word broke their sword
When our own strength failed us

The light (Yeshua) has come into the world, and that flame never dies in the hearts of believers. That holy oil continues to burn and give hope to those of us who have accepted Yeshua into our hearts. I can testify that a great miracle happened in my life when Yeshua came in. In spite of trouble or hardship or conflict, my hope never dies. That oil just keeps on burning, just as it did at the first Hanukkah.

As we remember the traditions of this Feast of Dedication, we have also added a new one: to take this time to rededicate our lives to let the “Light” shine through us. We possess the message so needed by the world.

During our service, we will also sing the song "Yeshua is the Light" by Zemer Levav. I hope you will take the time to listen and to remember that His Light can overcome any darkness in your life.

I am linking up with:  Faith Filled Friday

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Trip to Israel - Part 1

What a blessing this trip was, and I will always be grateful to have visited that Holy Land.  G-d truly led me to it, and I'll tell you why:  I never had a desire to go to Israel.  I didn't want to go  because of all the unrest and terrorist bombings since the 60's.  I wanted to travel, yes, but Israel was not on my list of countries to visit.

In 1994, a friend visited Israel, and put my name on a prayer in the Temple Wall.  She prayed for me and other friends to be able to go there one day.  When she told me that, I was impressed, but still didn't have a desire to go.  I also could not imagine, even in my wildest dreams, that I would make the trip.

In the fall of 1995, I attended a ladies Sunday School class, where we had a visiting teacher who encouraged us to go with her on a ladies-only trip to Israel.  She told us to put our names on a list to sign up.  I didn't sign up, and she asked me why.  I said, "I'd like to travel, but Israel has never been somewhere I want to go. Plus I don't have the money." 

Recently divorced, I struggled to make ends meet for my teenage daughter and myself, so travel was  out of the question.  I laughed when she said, "Put your name on the list, Gail, and if the L-rd wants you to go, He will give you the money."  I was intrigued, so I put my name down, but didn't expect G-d to give me $3000.00

To my surprise, about six months later, I received a tax refund for a little over $3000.00.  Believe me, I was shocked.  Immediately, I thought of the trip, but didn't sign up.  I had a multitude of bills to pay, and with a teenage daughter, lots of other expenses seemed to take priority.    I spent the money almost as fast as I received it.  Soon afterward, I felt convicted about using my Israel money for bills.  I prayed, "Father, you know my situation and the bills I needed to pay.  I should have trusted you for the money for the bills , so please forgive me.  If you want me to go to Israel, please give me another $3,000.00."

Would you believe, He did?  Within a month, my rental house tenant moved out, and I put the house on the market for sale.  That house sold in one week.  This was incredible because I had tried to sell it a couple of years earlier with no success.  I remember crying to G-d, saying, "Father, you know I need to sell this house.  Why aren't meeting my need?"  Well, He definitely knew best.  This time, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to go to Israel, and paid for the trip immediately.

I went to Israel in the fall of 1996, and the things I saw and experienced there changed my life.  I will continue this story.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gratitude - Day 13 - Prayer

This photo was taken at my favorite prayer place. 

Prayer is such a blessing, and I am grateful for my Father's loving, listening ear.  The G-d of the Universe told us to pray about everything.  In Proverb 3:26, He says:  In all your ways acknowledge Me, and I will direct Your path.  I love that verse, and this one:  And this is the confidence we have in Him:  if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us; and if He hears us, we know we have the petition we desire of Him.  What wonderful promises.

As a young believer, I read the biography of George Mueller, and my confidence in the effectiveness of prayer was birthed.  I began to keep journals of my prayer requests with dates the prayer was asked, and the date it was answered.  What a faith builder.  I learned that G-d hears and answers.  I read something recently that applies to the lessons I've learned through this exercise:

When the idea isn't right, G-d says NO
When the time isn't right, G-d says SLOW
When you are not ready, G-d says GROW
When everything is right, G-d says GO

I've learned to trust G-d's timing.  He knows best.  Another saying I keep in my prayer journals is this:

G-d gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him.

There have been times I didn't understand why G-d delayed in answering my prayers.  Time taught me to trust His timing.  A good example is a house I tried to sell back in the 80's.  I needed the money, prayed about it it, and tried and tried to sell that house to no avail.  I finally rented it to a wonderful family who loved living there, and were great renters for seven years.  In the 80's, I thought I needed the money, but when the house finally sold, I needed the money even more.  As a matter of fact, I prayed this prayer:  Father, if you want me to take a trip to Israel, please let the rental house sell."  When I put the house on the market a second time, it sold in one week.

That reminds me of another thing I'm thankful for:  my trip to Israel.  I'll be posting about that tomorrow.

I'm linking up today with:

Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
Teach Me Tuesday
A Wise Woman Builds