Thursday, November 24, 2011

Every Day is Precious

My Mama holding a plaque I made for her a while back.
It says "the heart that gives gathers".
  She has always been a very giving person.

(This is a repeat of my post from last Thanksgiving with an update on my Mama at the end)

As I've spent many hours by Mama's bedside over the last month, I've remembered all the things I'm thankful for about her, especially this week, as Thanksgiving approaches. 

My mother is known far and wide as a wonderful cook.  Holidays in the past always brought out her famous Southern pecan pie, which I remember well. (I stopped eating sugar over five years ago, but I can still remember how good it was.)

On Thanksgiving and Christmas, she always cooked a turkey with dressing and giblet gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top (Daddy's favorite), turnip greens and roots (my favorite), potato salad (her granddaughter Melissa's favorite), and broccoli casserole (her granddaughter Amanda's favorite). 

I never understood what a sacrifice it was to make meals like that until I had to start doing it myself.  As Mama grew older, she let us bring some of the special dishes, and then finally gave up cooking all together. 

I'll never forget the year I had to make the holiday dinner all by myself.  I spent hours shopping, then peeling, chopping, stirring, and fussing over all of those favorite dishes.  Wow - it was WORK, and my feet and legs were killing me!!!  I realized then what a labor of love those many years of holiday dinners were. 

This year, Mama will spend Thanksgiving in the nursing home, and it breaks my heart to think about it.  Their food is good, but it's nothing like my Mama's.  We'll eat it together, but it sure won't be the same.  So, if you still have your Mama cooking for you, don't take it for granted.  Thank her for all the hours she has spent in the past to make your holidays special.  It's a gift of love and something to be very thankful for.

Update:  Mama  is now in a nursing home near our home.  She has dementia.  I cooked the meal today using all of her old recipes, and we brought Mama here for dinner.  She ate two plates of food and two pieces of pie.  (I think she's forgotten about watching her girlish figure as she is fond of saying)  We enjoyed my daughter Amanda, her husband William and my grandson Jonathan being with us for the day.
It was a joy to be together because Every Day Is Precious!  I have a plaque on my home with this saying, and I believe it with all my heart.

I'm sharing this over at Spiritual Sundays

Monday, November 7, 2011

Simchat Torah

The Torah - source Wikipedia

The last festival of the fall season is Simchat Torah.  Although it is not listed as one of the seven feasts and festivals in Leviticus, a tradition has developed over many years to observe the holiday seven days after
Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).  On Simchat Torah, the Rabbi and congregation (who are able) spend all night long studying and celebrating Torah.*

The Torah begins with the letter Bet and ends with the letter Lammed. Put the two letters together and you have LEV- לב, which means "heart." The Torah is an expression of G-d's heart and a demonstration of His great love towards all of creation. By studying it we can look into and understand the “heart” of G-d. Our Messiah Yeshua studied Torah and said: 

"Do not think I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets.  I have not come to abolish, but to complete.  Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a tittle will pass from the Torah - not until everything that must happen has happened. (Matthew 5:17-18)

Fifteen years ago, I took these words to heart and began to study the Torah.  I wanted wisdom more than anything on this earth.  My study led me to Messianic Judaism, and to my own personal rabbi to whom I've been married for almost six years now.  I can testify that studying Torah has changed my life for the better.  I understand G-d more than I did 10 years ago.  My life is full of peace.  I never imagined I would continue to learn more every year as I study Torah through, but it always happens.  His Word is alive and gives life!  Halelu et Adonai!
Simchat Torah fell on Shabbat this year, so after oneg, the event began with parading the Torah scroll.  The looks on the faces of those carrying the scroll are priceless.  (see below)  We realize that carrying Torah is a very tangible expression of the fact that we "carry" Torah with us wherever we go.  As the Torah is paraded, people follow along behind, dancing and praising G-d.  It is a joyous time.  While they follow along, they keep their eyes on the Torah at all times...another tangible lesson about how important it is to never turn our backs on G-d's Word.  

Rabbi Jem and I were very excited that 19 people decided to spend all night studying the Torah this year.  He had a quiz prepared to find out how much everyone knew about the Torah, and several studies.  These alternated with eating, drinking, and dancing.   Yes, we love to dance.  Several of the men did the bottle dance from Fiddler on The Roof.  So much fun to watch those guys try to out do each other.  (I'm so sorry I didn't get pictures of this.) 

Of the 19 people who stayed, 14 made it through until daybreak.  After the all-night Torah study, the Rabbi led the remaining faithful to the local diner for breakfast.  Sad to say, I was not one of the remaining faithful (although I did join them for breakfast).  I had to leave about 11:00.  A night owl, I am not.  Maybe next year if I take a good long nap that day.  Those who stayed were jubilant and very glad they stayed because they learned so much and had a great time together.  They all agreed they would do it again next year. 
That's me joyfully carrying Torah! 

Harry carrying Torah
Big Jim dancing with joy! 

Will lifting up Torah with joy!

What joy we realize as we meditate on the fact that G-d has preserved His Holy Word over thousands of years.  Yes, He left an instruction book, penned with His own hand.  In future posts, I will tell about the joys and blessings of studying Torah.  

* The Torah consists of the first five books of the Old Testament:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  These are the books given to Moses.  These words have been carefully preserved, revered, and cherished by the Jewish people for thousands of years.

I'm linking up with Spiritual Sundays 

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Also linking up to Brag on G-d Fridays