Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hanukkah and Yeshua

Last night, at sundown, we lit the first light on our Hanukkah menorah.  If my plans go through, and Hashem wills it to be so, I will celebrate Hanukkah in Israel this year.  I love this holiday, and look forward to celebrating Yeshua as the Light of the World.

(You can learn more about the history of the holiday here on my blog.  You can learn more about how we celebrate during this season by clicking on the label Hanukkah on the left of my blog.)

As Messianic Jews, we see and celebrate Yeshua in all of the Feasts and Festivals becuase they are pictures of Him.  We celebrate and we remember, because remembering is important.  I challenge you to do a search in your Bible for that word.  G-d tells us over and over again to remember.  He also says there is a penalty / consequence when we don't remember.

Most believers in Yeshua don't remember Hanukkah, and they are missing out on a great blessing.  Yeshua, himself, remembered and observed the holiday, as recorded in John 10.  He also declared himself to be "the Light of the world" in John 9:5.  Don't you think it is appropriate to celebrate as He did? 

Recently, I did a study about Yeshua as related to the Feasts and Festivals, and discovered it is possible, and most probable, that He was conceived during Hanukkah. The history recorded in Luke 1, tell of Yeshua's conception, and also the conception and birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth, who was Mary's cousin.

Writings by rabbis during that time show that a division of Abijah served as priest during that time period, and Zacharias was in that division.  The Abijah division served during the second half of the fourth month on the Jewish calendar.  Elizabeth conceived in late June.

Luke 1:24-26 tells us that Mary conceived Yeshua in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, which would have been Kislev, or December on the Jewish calendar.  So, if Yeshua was born nine months later, he would have been born during the High Holy Days, most likely during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

So, we will light the candles during Hanukkah in remembrance of the Light that lasted eight days, and of Yeshua who is that Light of the world.  All through the month of December, we celebrate His coming and remember that we are to let His light shine through our words and actions.

*** L-rd willing, I leave for Israel tomorrow, so please pray for me, and my friend Shelby as we make aliyah. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday #3

This week, we continue our study of Proverbs 31 with these verses:
ד 13 She procures a supply of wool and flax
        and works with willing hands.
ה 14 She is like those merchant vessels,
        bringing her food from far away.
ו 15 It’s still dark when she rises to give food to her household
        and orders to the young women serving her.

I have to laugh at the part about the servant girl.  We wish, right?  But their is still much to glean from these verses.

Verse thirteen teaches us that the virtuous woman is not lazy.  She works with willing hands.  I like that picture of a woman who desires something and works for it.  Sadly, we live in a day of hand-outs (entitlements).  Free phones, free food, free housing, free you name it.  This goes against the teaching of Torah.  The New Testament also teaches this with, "If a man will not work, don't let him eat."

The Torah teaches helping the poor, don't get me wrong.  It teaches us "to glean the fields and leave the corners for the poor."  It doesn't teach us to pick it up and hand deliver it to the poor.  They have to get off their couches and pick it up themselves.  In the process, they recognize the fact that they could have their own field if they work for it.  

The welfare state in America is wrong because it destroys initiative and character.  It causes dependency on others, and thus destroys self-esteem.  I believe it is a kind of slavary. 

Let's look at verse fourteen.  This verse teaches that a virtuous woman goes to great lengths to have a home that reflects Adonai.  She doesn't do the minimum.  She does the maximum.  She doesn't sweep the dirt under the rug, she vacuums and cleans in, around, and under the rug.  She takes pride in her home, because she know it is a reflection of her self, her husband, and of Adonai. 

Verse fifteen says she rises early.  No sleeping in for the accomplished woman.  This brings back such memories.  When I first learned about the Virtuous Woman, I was excited about everything but this verse.  I was quite the night owl back then.  I loved to stay up late after the children went to bed at around 9:00 pm, and of course I was dead tired in the morning.  With G-d's help, I started new patterns.  I went to bed by 11:00 pm, and got up an hour before my children, so that I could have quiet time with G-d to start my day.  I still had the same amount of time for myself, but it was re-arranged in a better way.  I also grew to love seeing the sun rise, and the quiet of early morning.  

Note that the Virtuous Woman prepares breakfast (verse fifteen).  G-d knows what is best for our lives, even about our bodies.  He knows that a good breakfast helps us throughout the whole day.  This is another area I had to change in my life.  I was more of a pop-tart/donut/cereal kind of girl, and led my children along that same path.  One reason I didn't cook was that I was too dead-tired to cook breakfast.

After taking this verse to heart, I changed to a protein-based breakfast, which helped all of us.  This was thirty years ago, and all nutritionists will advise adults and children to start the day with a protein-based breakfast.  They say a good breakfast revs your metabolism and also boosts brain function.  See how wise the Scriptures are?  

I hope you won't be intimidated by these insights on this passage.  I've been working to be a virtuous woman for about forty years now, and I'm certainly not perfect.  I am, however, a better woman, wife, mother, homemaker, and neighbor than when I started because of the mentor I found in this passage.

I'd love to hear how using this passage as a model has affected your life. 

I'm sharing this post with:

Let's Get Social Sunday

A Wise Woman Builds

Thought Provoking Thursday
Hearts for Home
Favorite Things
Faith Filled Friday
Friendship Friday

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hanukkah Recipe

This is an easy-peasy recipe for your Hanukkah celebration, and it will really wow your guests. 

2 containers of whipped cream cheese
1 cup ground pecans or almonds
fresh asparagus (lightly steamed)
red peppers in a can or bottle (or if the olives are stuffed with red peppers, you can use those)

Mix the cream cheese with half of the nuts, and spread on a plate in a circle shape.
Sprinkle remaining nuts on top of the cheese
Place the lightly steamed asparagus in the shape of a menorah as pictured
Cut the peppers in strips and place around the tips of the asparagus as pictured
Surround the circle with olives.

Serve your choice of crackers or toasted pita pieces for dipping. 

Enjoy, and Happy Hanukkah to you all.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday #2

I found an interesting note in a Hebrew commentary this week related to a verse touched on in  last week's Wisdom Wednesday.  Verse 10 says:
א 10 Who can find an accomplished woman?
        Her value is far beyond that of pearls.

"The Hebrew word for accomplished (I use virtuous here on my blog) means valor, but much more than that; it includes the possession of whatever attributes are needed to carry out the task at hand." **

Doesn't that give you comfort?  It assures me that Hashem will show me what to do in this age and time.  How to deal with the crazy, busy, internet, electronically driven culture of today.  He will show me, and you, what to do if we seek His face.  He is not taken by surprise by today's culture.  His wisdom applies to all generations and all situations.

"The passage also begins an alphabetical acrostic as a further allusion to her all-encompassing virtues.  This passage has been interpreted as a metaphor for the Shechinah (Divine Presence), the Sabbath, the Torah, and the soul." **

You will note, when I quote the verses, there is a Hebrew letter at the beginning of the verse.  This is the alphabetical acrostic spoken of in the quote above.  My husband explained it this way, "She is a woman who possesses everything of G-dly character - from a to z (or aleph to tav in the Hebrew alefbet).

I want you to think about how blessed we are to have access to the Word of G-d in this day and time.  No other generation has been blessed as we are.  I can pull up a passage of Scripture and read it within seconds here on my computer.  I can listen to it on an MP3 or cd player.   People in years past had to go to a synagogue to hear it.  They did not have Torah scrolls in their homes.   The Bible was not even printed until the invention of the printing press in the 1600's.  A Bible in the home was not common place until the 1800's.  Those were large books, unlike the small sizes we can carry around today.

Realize what a special time we live in.  We are without excuse, beloved.  If we do not seek G-d's truth in this day, we can blame no one for our ignorance of the Scriptures.  I beseech you, again, to seek His wisdom - not a church's, a preacher's, a religion's or a denomination's.

Get a copy of the Scripture written from the Hebrew, so that you are not reading a watered-down, perverted version that will lead you astray.  The Complete Jewish Bible is available on Bible .  When I started doing this, I was shocked at the differences I found from the version I was reading.

Read the New Testament through the lens of the Torah so that you can see this truth:  G-d did not establish a new religion.  Yeshua was a Jew and He followed and obeyed the Torah.  He preached teshuva (repent and turn to Torah).  He didn't change the Sabbath.  He observed the Feasts and Festivals.  Once you study Torah, and apply it to your life, you will see big changes in your self, your home and your family.  His ways are Life!  When we follow His ways, we will be prepared for anything.

** quotations are from the Stone Edition of the Tanach

I'm sharing this post with:
Spiritual Sundays

Let's Get Social Sunday

A Wise Woman Builds

Thought Provoking Thursday
Hearts for Home
Favorite Things
Faith Filled Friday
Friendship Friday

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday

Proverbs 31 is the focus again today, with emphasis on these verses:
א 10 Who can find a capable wife?
        Her value is far beyond that of pearls.
ב 11 Her husband trusts her from his heart,
        and she will prove a great asset to him.

As I said in last week's post, I aspire to be a Proverbs 31 woman.  She is my model of a good homemaker, wife, mother, and neighbor.

Verse ten calls her "a capable wife"  in the Complete Jewish Bible.  I grew up calling her the "virtuous" woman.   Either way, she's the kind of woman Lemuel's (aka Solomon) mother advises him to marry.

Even when this advice was penned, a woman of this type was rare.  She is said to be very valuable.  Her value is above that of pearls.  I love that, don't you?  Today, pearls can be bought in any department or jewelry store.  Some of the real thing, but many are simulated (or farm manufactured).  During the time of this writing, however, the pearl was very, very rare as well as very valuable. 

If you are following Hashem, seeking His righteousness, and obeying Him, you are indeed rare.  You are valuable.  When you look in the mirror, you are looking at a rare treasure.  That is very self-esteem building, right? 

I met a young woman recently who is a woman like the one described in Proverbs 31.  She is a G-dly young woman.  She doesn't follow the ways of the world in her thoughts, attitudes or actions.  Just being in her presence is refreshing.  The way she dresses, and the way she carries herself tells me she is special.  Her beauty is refreshing because it comes from within. 

(As I thought about this, I remembered that my husband, Rabbi Jem, said that is what attracted him to me.  He said I had an air about me that was different from the other girls he'd met, and he says he fell in love with me at first sight.  I love hearing him tell that story.) 

Verse eleven says a husband will trust this kind of woman completely.  He has no worries about what she might do.  He knows she will do the right thing in every situation.  He can trust her because of the character traits he sees revealed in the remainder of the chapter. He sees her actions and her reactions.  Those reveal her heart, and she is a great asset to him.

This quote is so true:  What you do speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you're saying.
Another way of saying this is, actions speak louder than words. 

I can say I love my husband, but do my actions prove it?  

I can say I love my home, but do my actions prove it?

This chapter will be very telling and will reveal if we are just talking and not walking.  It will reveal if we are an asset to our husbands.  I hope you'll think about these things and ask yourself these questions.  

Am I a capable / virtuous woman?

Does my husband trust me completely?

Does he consider me a valuable asset / treasure?


I'm sharing this post with:
Spiritual Sundays

Let's Get Social Sunday

A Wise Woman Builds

Thought Provoking Thursday
Hearts for Home
Favorite Things
Faith Filled Friday

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wisdom Wednesdays

Today, will be the first installment in my new series Wisdom Wednesdays.  As promised last week, this post will be about Proverbs 31.

As a young woman, I was introduced to this chapter of Proverbs during a workshop at my church.  I still remember sitting in that room, listening to an older woman teach us younger women how to be good wives, mothers, and homemakers.  Miss Bernice inspired me to make this my model for success.  I am thankful for her teaching, as well as her example.

Now that I am an older woman myself, I aspire to be an example to the younger women my life touches.  I have learned much wisdom since I began my journey and I hope some of what I've learned will be an inspiration to you, dear Gail-Friends.

As an introduction, this chapter was written by Lemuel's (Solomon) mother.  He was the king, and she wrote these words to disciple him.  In verse two, the Hebrew says:

"What is it, my son?  And what is it, O son of my womb?  
And what is it, O son of my vows?"

The implication of her statement is:  

"I raised you, I bore you, and loved you so much
 that all my vows were dedicated to you."  

If you have children, you know the depth of that statement.  This mother has her son's best interest at heart, and we are to do the same with our children.  Like Lemuel's mother, the focus of my life, for the most part, has been on and for my children.

I longed to be a mother from the time I was five years old.  When I married, I prayed for children for four years before I bore my first child.  I had a miscarriage before she was conceived.   Then I prayed another six years for my second, and last, one.  I wanted more children, but it was not to be.   Becoming a mother was a dream come true for me.  Becoming a grandmother was another dream realized.  Both taught me a whole new level of love, and wisdom. 

Since the day I bore my first child, there has not been one day I have not thought about my children.  I was a stay-at-home mom and only worked outside the home part time for twenty-seven years.  I don't regret those years.  My philosophy was, and is now, that there will be plenty of time to develop a career once children are gone from the home.

Lemuel's mother is counseling him according to the Scriptures.  This is what we are to do with our children.  We are to teach them G-d's holy ways, not the ways of the world or some denomination or church.  If their teachings do not line up with Scripture, we are sinning against them and against G-d by remaining in that place. 

Is it your heart's desire to be a good mother, wife, and homemaker?  If so, G-d will hear that vow, and He will help you keep it.  He gave us this chapter, and many others to guide us as women, whether we are single or married. 

My heart is always toward my home, husband and children.  I hope some of the things I've learned along the way will help and inspire you, whether you are single or married.  I hope you'll come back next week to learn more about this chapter, especially the Hebrew perspective and insights I will share. Some of them might surprise you. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Art

This month, I've been following Emily's blog Chatting at the Sky.  Her posts on art and creativity have inspired me to indulge my creative spirit more, so I'd like to show you how my art is expressed.

Of course my blog, Gail-Friends is one way to express my art, through writing, poetry, and photography:
Leading the music and dancing at the synagogue are others ways to worship and express what is in my heart.  I also play the piano and the harp  (but not at the synagogue). 

The picture above also shows another way I can be creative - through cooking.  I love to cook.  Food is art,  and food is love, right?  The pic above shows my homemade kugel, and the one below shows some hamentaschen I made for Purim.  They didn't turn out picture-perfect like I wanted, but they sure tasted good. 

The decorations in my home are reflection of my heart.

The sewing arts are my least favorite, but I do cross-stitch, crochet, and like to make items for the synagogue.  This is the arc cover I made for the High Holy Days:

Drawing, painting, calligraphy and crafts are the most neglected of my creative expressions, and Emily has inspired me to get back to those. 

This pic above is of my mama, and a piece I created for her.  It says, "The heart that gives, gathers".  She is in a nursing home now, and I try to be creative in making her life more pleasant, through music, art, and any other way I can since she is very limited in activity now.

My clothing is an art expression.  I love hats and wear them often.

Our marriage is creative, too.  My husband and I both make an effort every day to show love and appreciation to each other.  Our love and marriage is a work of art.

I've enjoyed Emily's series, and am grateful for her inspiration this month.