Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday #10 - Happy Homekeeping

Our study of Proverbs 31 today brings us to:

צ 27 She watches how things go in her house,

The first part of this verse wraps up what has been said in the verses before.  It is saying not to neglect your home.
I haven't always been a good housekeeper.  As a matter of fact, my house was a mess until I learned to be a Proverbs 31 woman.  Years ago when I started to apply this scripture, I cross-stitched this verse as a reminder to put it into practice:  

It hangs over my stove now, and has hung on the wall of my kitchen in every home since the 1970's.  Each time I see it I'm reminded of my priorities.  

Because it is from the Holy Scriptures, it reminds me that this is what ADONAI wants me to do as a home-keeper.

The sign reminds me to keep my home clean and neat, and to take care of what G-d has given me.  I don't want to become so busy with outside pursuits that I neglect my home duties of cleaning, laundry, and preparing healthy meals. 

I'm also reminded to make our home a place of peace above everything else.  I want to keep a sweet spirit there at all times, and to keep a welcoming atmosphere prepared for anyone who visits.  If things become cluttered, I feel stressed, so I like to keep things picked up and clean. By doing this, I'm not afraid of drop-in visitors, and can open my door without worry. 

When my children were growing up, I also had two other sayings framed on my wall that kept me focused on my priorities.  The first is:

My house is clean enough to be healthy
And dirty enough to be happy

I don't want to be so focused on cleaning that I become obsessed with it.  There is a balance, and I have found it, through trial and error.   

The second saying is: 

Cleaning and dusting can wait till tomorrow
Cause children grow up, 
we learn to our sorrow

While cleaning is important, my family members come before that.  If something comes up that involves one of them, the cleaning can wait.

I believe a woman's home is a reflection of her heart.  When I walk into someone's home, I can tell a great deal by the atmosphere there, including the decorations as well as her demeanor.  I should qualify this with the statement that children's toys in the living room are not considered clutter and messiness in my book.  And, of course, we all have times that things aren't as clean and nice as we'd like.  Something is wrong, though, if your life is like that all the time....if you live in a mess day in and day out, or if you can't invite people in because you'd be embarassed because your house looks like a dump all the time.  

Proverbs 31 can move you out of a stressful life of mess.  Ask him to help you apply this passage to your life.  It worked for me, and I know it will work for you.

You don't have the finest furniture or most expensive decorations to have a pretty and welcoming home.  I think almost everything in my home has been bought at a yard sale or a thrift shop, but it is pretty to me and I think it reflects a heart that loves Hashem and people.  

There is a second part of this verse (about idleness), and we will talk about that next week.  
 I saw a funny thing on Facebook today:  
I love looking at snow
on Facebook
from Florida

Most of the country is dealing with cold, snowy weather.  Even north Florida is expecting snow today.  So, stay warm and safe, and don't hate me because I live in sunny central Florida.  :)

 I'm sharing this post with:

Spiritual Sundays

Let's Get Social Sunday

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 

Hearts for Home
Favorite Things 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Trip to Israel - 2013

Shelby and me in Israel - a dream come true.

I promised back in December to post photos from my recent trip to Israel.  Well, here you go.  

This was my second trip to Israel, and Shelby's first.  Shelby is a member of our congregation, and she and her husband blessed me with the gift of this trip.  Ever since my first trip in 1996, I've prayed to return to the Holy Land, and am so thankful that His answer was "yes". 

After twelve hours of travel, our plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, then we traveled by bus to a hotel on the Mediterranean Sea, where we spent our first night.  

I was very excited to be in Israel during the week of Hanukkah, and what a delight to see this menorrah set up in the lobby!  In Israel, G-d's Feasts and Festivals are honored, and I really like that!

The menorah has oil in small cups, which are lit for eight nights during the holiday, and the card has the prayers for lighting the menorah.  Since it is traditional to eat donuts during Hanukkah, these treats were available for free to guests.  

We arrived at the hotel late in the afternoon, so there wasn't time for seeing much of the surrounding area.  Our tour guide introduced herself, went over our agenda for the week ahead, then hosted our group (fifteen of us) to a sea-side restaurant nearby. 
We visited a wonderful restaurant with the most beautiful buffet of food I've ever seen.  Israel is famous for her olives.  These are some of the many types grown there in the area. 
 Aren't these breads beautiful?  I love the way they are displayed.
There were so many vegetable dishes and salads.  All were prepared in unique spices which I really enjoyed.
 Israel is also known for the beautiful fruit grown there.  In addition to these, were dried and fresh figs, pomegranates, persimmons, grapes, and more:  the candy provided by Adonai, right? 
 I fell in love with the painting on the ceiling of the restaurant, and would love something like it for my bedroom.  I could lie in bed and imagine myself at the beach. 
Israel is famous for citrus, and these artificial tress and oranges set a delightful atmosphere for dining, as we looked out over the Mediterranean Sea.  On the wall in the back is a greatly enlarged black and white photograph of an orange grove, with the oranges in bright color.  

My next post will be about our first full day in The Wonderful Land; but before we take off for Cesarea Maritime, I'll have to show you some other wonderful things I saw in the hotel the next morning.


 I'm sharing this post with:
Spiritual Sundays

Let's Get Social Sunday

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 

Hearts for Home
Favorite Things 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday #9 - Wise Words


This week in our study of Proverbs 31, we look at this verse:

פ 26 When she opens her mouth, she speaks wisely;
        on her tongue is loving instruction.

Oh, what an admonition.  This is the desire of my heart - to speak word of wisdom in a loving and kind way.   

Words are all around us - on television, in music, books and magazines, on billboards, signs and bumper stickers, and now the internet.  Some words are good, some are mediocre, and some are destructive.

There is a computer term called GIGO, which means "garbage in - garbage out".  In other words, what comes out of the computer program is only as good as what is put in by the programmer.  The same is true of our minds and words.  If we put garbage in our minds, garbage will come out of our mouths.  

Daily input of G-d's Word / Wisdom will produce words of wisdom and kindness.   This is greatly needed in our world today.  There is so much mean, tough talk.  So much cursing and profanity.  

I learned to cuss growing up at home.  My father used every cuss word you've ever heard.  So cussing became a part of my mind, even though I didn't cuss at home in front of my parents.  Later, when I left home, I cussed.  

When I started going to church, in my twenties, and was around Christian people, I learned a new way of talking.  It felt like a whole new world.  It was.  A world where people spoke with kindness, love and caring. Speaking with love is important and needed, but there is more to this verse.  

Speaking with wisdom is mentioned first, and is the most important thing, because if all I do is speak with love and kindness, and don't speak wisdom, I have failed you and G-d.

This verse explains my point:

Grace and truth have met together;
justice and peace have kissed each other.
(Psalm 85:10) 

G-d is both grace and truth because they work together.  One without the other is not a representation of Him. I pray to daily speak truth with love.

Our world needs love, yes, but truth is needed, too.  I remember giving a speech about abortion in college a few years ago.  After the class, several young students came up to me with tears in their eyes, saying they'd never heard the truth about abortion.  What an opportunity to share G-d's wisdom and mercy.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday # 8 - Strong Women

Continuing our study of Proverbs 31 today:
       ע 25 (She is) Clothed with strength and dignity,
        she can laugh at the days to come. **

Have you ever thought of yourself as clothed in strength and dignity? I think this is a picture of a true lady.  Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth come to mind as secular examples.  Catherine Marshall and Anne Ortlund are authors who exemplify these qualities in the writing world.

Sometimes I think being a lady is a lost art.  I'm thankful for a grandmother, as well as a mother, my aunts and many other G-dly women who have taught me the fine points of lady-likeness:

To speak with grace and kindness
To dress, walk, stand and sit modestly
To be polite and have good manners
To ignore coarse comments and jokes, smile...and change the subject
To act with poise and politeness in all situations
To avoid gossip
To talk with others with interest (not to be self-centered)
To say "please" and "thank you"
To notice the needs of others and respond  
To respect others, and expect the same

My sweet husband says one of the first things he noticed about me (at age sixteen) was that I was a lady.  I like that, because it was then, and still is my desire.  Am I perfect in every way?  No, but the Father is not finished with me yet.

I come from a long line of strong women.  Some would call them hard headed or stubborn, too, and I've been called those names myself.  Experience has taught me to harness my strong will and submit it to the Father. 

I used to think I could accomplish anything I put my mind to and even bragged about it.  Then, the Father taught me a new lesson about His strength when I ran into something I absolutely could not accomplish.  The goal was related to a sales business I was in.  I set a goal and could not reach it, no matter how hard I tried.  I prayed, I worked night and day, and yet nothing came together and the goal was not met.  My career in that field was finished.  I remember lying on the floor of my living room, crying out to G-d, feeling  He had forsaken me. 

My Father had not forsaken me.  He was putting a great big STOP sign in my path and telling me to go in a different direction.  That new path led eventually to being in ministry with my rabbi husband, which I could not even imagine at the time.  Because of His strength to overcome my strong will, I was led to so many blessings.

His strength can accomplish so much more than mine.  I've learned through trial and error to trust His strength instead of my own.  Because of this wisdom, I can laugh at the days to come.  

If you've ever been a worrier, you will find that statement laughable.  Worriers live in the future, imagining "what-ifs" about their problems.    I know because I've indulged in worry at certain periods of my life.  I don't want to live that way.  G-d is faithful to lead us and work in our lives, even when bad things happen.  He will show us what to do when we trust Him.  

Who comes to your mind when you think of the term lady?

**Quotations from The Complete Jewish Bible

I'm sharing this post with:
Spiritual Sundays

Let's Get Social Sunday

A Wise Woman Builds

Hearts for Home
Favorite Things 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday #7 - A Good Man

Our study of Proverbs 31 brings us to this verse:

נ 23 Her husband is known at the city gates
        when he sits with the leaders of the land.

How, we may ask, does this apply to a woman today?  We learn from this verse that this woman's husband is respected and he is wise.   He has a good reputation, and associates with other wise men.  

Selecting a husband is so important because G-d wants us to stay married forever.  He will lead a single woman to the man He wants for her...if she will seek His wisdom.  

Because I married at age 17, a week after graduating from high school, and because I did not seek G-d's wisdom, that marriage was not a good one, and ended in divorce.  Unfortunately, I married again, and it ended in divorce also.  Can you imagine how I felt with two divorces behind me?  

G-d hates divorce, and I hate it, too. Unfortunately, I did not know how to recognize a "good" man...a wise man.  I was fond of saying, "Marriage is like having your teeth drilled without Novocaine."  I determined that I was incapable of being married, and resigned myself to life as a single woman.  I never intended to marry again.  

I didn't date.  All I did was work at my job and study the Bible.  I spent hours alone with G-d, seeking His face and wisdom, worshiping Him, and listening to Him.  During that period of time, I was led to Messianic Judaism.  I never, ever dreamed G-d would give me my own, personal rabbi.  When G-d put us together almost eight years ago, it was very clear He desired for us to marry and minister together.  It has been a beautiful and fruitful marriage.  Because of my desire for wisdom, I grew to know and recognize what a "good" man looks and acts like.  

During the years I was growing in His wisdom, I prayed for my two daughters (from my first marriage) to find good, wise men as husbands.  Even though I didn't know how to recognize one myself, G-d honored that prayer.  When I was praying for them, I didn't imagine G-d would bring one for me, too.  Both of my daughters have wonderful husbands, and I am so thankful that G-d put them together.

Whether you are single, divorced, young or old, it is important to seek G-d's face and wisdom about a husband.  He will hear and honor your prayers.  My advice is to read Proverbs daily, and make notes about what a wise man does.  Also make notes about what a foolish man does.  If I had followed this advice, I'd have never married the first two men.  (This advice applies in other areas also, such as friendships and business relationships.)

Remember, it is never too late to become wise.  I am proof of that statement, and G-d can use broken vessels, like me.  He can put the pieces back together and make something beautiful.

  I'm sharing this post with:

Spiritual Sundays

Let's Get Social Sunday

A Wise Woman Builds

 Hearts for Home
Favorite Things