Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Unplugged (reposted)

(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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday #6

This week, our study of Proverbs 31 brings us to:

ז 16 She considers a field, then buys it,
        and from her earnings she plants a vineyard.
ח 17 She gathers her strength around her
        and throws herself into her work.
ט 18 She sees that her business affairs go well;
        her lamp stays lit at night.

Can you see the industriousness of this woman?  She scouts out a good piece of property and buys it.  She has money, which she uses to plant a vineyard.  Oh, but look, she does even more:

י 19 She puts her hands to the staff with the flax;
        her fingers hold the spinning rod.
כ 20 She reaches out to embrace the poor
        and opens her arms to the needy.
ל 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
        since all of them are doubly clothed.
מ 22 She makes her own quilts;
        she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
ס 24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
        she supplies the merchants with sashes.
She not only spins yarn, and makes the fabric, but makes clothing and items for her home. and then sells her sewing creations.  What a business woman!  

Also, note in verse twenty, that she helps the poor with her sewing arts.  She's not just thinking of herself and her family, but also of others' needs.

I love that she has home-based ways to make money for her family, don't you?  This passage was my inspiration many years ago for finding ways to make money for the extras my children needed when they were at home.  I had quite an array of home-based businesses during my twenty-seven years as a stay-at-home mom:
  • arts and crafts which I sold at craft fairs 
  • canvas painting on commission
  • secretarial work
  • house cleaning
  • bread baking
  • Mary Kay cosmetics sales (I even earned a free car as a sales director)
Last, but not least, and everyone's favorite - I had a ice cream truck!  This was a good business, too.  You'd be amazed by the mark-up on ice cream, and the low overhead of that business if you work it with wisdom.

I tell this to encourage young women, as well as the more mature, that you can find a way to have home-based businesses.  It can really help the budget and also gives an outlet for creativity.  There are so many resources for home-based businesses via the internet today, such as Etsy, Amazon, E-bay, and Facebook. I'm starting to want to begin another business just thinking about it all!
I love verse eighteen, that says, "her lamp doesn't go out at night".  This woman really is a hard worker, and she doesn't waste a minute of her day.  I'm inspired by her example, aren't you?

 I'm sharing this post with:

Let's Get Social Sunday

A Wise Woman Builds

Thought Provoking Thursday
Hearts for Home
Favorite Things 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday #5 - Jerusalem

Psalm 137:5-6 

If I forget you, Yerushalayim,
may my right hand wither away!
May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth
if I fail to remember you,
if I fail to count Yerushalayim
the greatest of all my joys.
(from the Complete Jewish Bible)

Being in Jerusalem was an answered prayer, and a dream come true.

My trip to Israel went well, and I arrived home very late Saturday night.  I will post pics and stories within the next few days.  I praise and thank Hashem that I did get to visit the kotel.  As promised, I took all my dear Gail-Friends names to the wall, and prayed for you and your families.

Please pray for my mama. The dementia is progressing, and she has been having very bad days over the last few months.  Yesterday was heart-breaking for me.  Also pray for me, as I have been ill since returning from the trip. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday #4

This post is very, very special.  The L-rd willing, I am in Israel this week.  I wrote this post prior to leaving for my trip, since I am not sure if I will have access to the internet at that time.

The thing I'm most excited about is visiting and praying at the kotel - the only remaining wall of the Temple in Jerusalem.  When I visited there in 1996, I did not get to go to the wall because of a last-minute change of plans that day.  The tunnels under the Temple were newly opened and we had the opportunity to go through them.  Our tour guide made that choice, and I was terribly disappointed, although the tunnels were a wonderful experience, too. 

I had a friend who visited Israel in 1994, and she placed my name in the wall at that time.  I was very impressed with this, and it meant a great deal to me.  I had no interest in going to Israel at that time, but G-d had great plans for me related to Israel and Judaism. 

Every one of your names, my dear Gail-Friends, will be placed in the wall during my visit, L-rd willing. My prayer is that you will know and do His will in your lives.

I covet your prayers for us during this week.

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem