Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful Thursday - Gratitude Attitude

A song from the 1950’s is one of my favorites: “Count your blessings, name them one by one - Count your blessings see what G-d has done”.  You can listen to it HERE.

That song helped me get through some tough times in my life by always focusing on the good. That song, in addition to three gratitude mentors, helped to shape my present-day attitude of gratitude.

First, my grannie, Fannie Griner, comes to mind. Grannie reared 11 children on a farm during the Depression. Although poor by most standards, she always expressed a thankful heart, and shared what she had with others.

One of my fondest memories as a child was visiting her. At night, I’d crawl into her big, old, creaky iron bed with the cloud-like feather mattress. As Grannie sank wearily down on her side of the bed, she’d breathe out a whispered, “Praise the L-rd.” She closed out every day that way, no matter how difficult that day had been.

Grannie also taught me to count my blessings. Each night, we’d make a list of all we were thankful for, and I’d drift off to sleep feeling so content. I think her influence helped me to always feel like I am rich, no matter what my bank account says.
Daddy, on vacation in the Smoky Mountains
Second, my father, John Wesley Griner, greatly influenced my attitude of gratitude.

Daddy taught me to be thankful for little things, like the shoes on my feet. He told me how shoes were the usual gift he and his ten brothers and sisters received for Christmas. Those shoes had to last all year, and if they pinched later on, they went barefooted. He grew up in the Depression, so having enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over his head were not taken for granted.

Daddy worked outside in road construction all of his life, but always thanked G-d, whether it was rainy or sunny, and never complained about it.

One of Daddy’s favorite sayings was, “These are the best years of your life”. Funny, he told me that as a child, a teenager, and as a grown woman with children of my own. He was right in every instance.

My father worked extremely hard his whole life, but when he passed away at 75, his last words were “I’ve had a good life.” I feel the same way, even though I’ve faced some daunting challenges along the way. Daddie’s counsel and example made it easier.

Carmita, in Jerusalem on the Mt of Olives

Third, my elderly Jamaican neighbor, Carmita Poulson, was perhaps my greatest influence in learning to be thankful. As a young woman, burdened with all kinds of problems, Carmita taught me to be thankful in prayer. Once a week, we’d get together to pray, and Carmita would start out praising the Lord and go on for 30 minutes, thanking G-d for everything under the sun. At first, I grew impatient, thinking my problems were more important than praising G-d. But, I learned from her example.

At 80, she was healthy and strong, loving and giving, and excited to be alive every day. I can still remember her radiant, smiling face and tearful voice as she said, “Thank you Lord, that I can see, and hear, and walk, and talk, and think, and that I have strength to work for You!” Carmita’s influence of gratitude lives on in me, as I now pray that same prayer every day myself.

As I grow older, I am more and more thankful for Grannie, Daddy, and Carmita as mentors, and for their lives that exemplified gratitude. I pray I will set the same example for those who know me.

Do you have gratitude mentors?  I'd love to hear about them.

Always be joyful. Pray regularly. In everything give thanks, for this is what G-d wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

  I'm linking up today with:

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 
Meet-Up Monday

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 
  Wake Up Wednesday
Jenny Marie's Wordless Wednesday 

Favorite Things 
Hearts for Home 

Friendship Friday 

Freedom Friday

Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Moments

Exciting News: 

My story, Grannie's Dishes, has been published in the book Christmas Moments. I'm very honored to be among the company of many authors I admire, especially the compiler, Yvonne Lehman. 
The following description of the book is from the Grace Publishing website:

Christmas Moments

50 Inspirational Stories of the True Meaning of Christmas

"Life is made up of moments strung together like a garland draped around a Christmas tree. Certain of those moments are so meaningful they become memories that last a lifetime. For some, those memories center on Christmas.

In this book you’ll find Christmas stories from 34 authors. They range from serious to funny, sad to joyful, entertaining to insightful. All are encouraging and inspiring. Each points to the same thing: The reason for the Christmas season is celebration of Jesus’ birth! The most important part of Christmas is Christ.
So while Christmas day comes but once and year, and years give us Christmas memories that last a lifetime, the Spirit of Christmas is eternal. And the way we keep Christmas sends a message to the world about what we believe."
I hope you will buy this book because all author royalties from the sale of Christmas Moments will be donated to Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.

You can purchase the book at this link, or through the Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites.

My story in this book was about the early part of my journey to make Christmas about Yeshua (Jesus).  You can read how I celebrate the holiday now that I am a Messianic believer HERE.

  I'm linking up today with:

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 
Meet-Up Monday

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 
  Wake Up Wednesday
Jenny Marie's Wordless Wednesday 

Favorite Things 
Hearts for Home 

Friendship Friday 

Freedom Friday

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Simchat Torah 5775

Simchat Torah - Rejoicing in the Torah

Each year, following Sukkot, we always celebrate Simchat Torah.  While it is not one of Adonai's commanded feasts, it is a Jewish tradition.  Simchat Torah means "Rejoicing in the Torah" and that is what we do.  We dance around the synagogue while carrying the Torah scroll.  We also remember that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Living Word, and that He showed us how to live according to the Torah.

We stay up all night long to learn more about G-d's blessed Holy Word that He has lovingly preserved for us.  We study, then eat, then dance...and repeat...until the sun comes up.  Then, we go home and sleep all day - because it is Shabbat! (actually, some don't make it through till dawn, and I'm one of them.  I'm such a sleepyhead)

Here are a few photos from our happy time together. 

Raising the Torah scroll up in the air while dancing is not an easy task, because it is pretty heavy.

The blessing of the children under the tallit.

Next week is Thanksgiving week, and I'll be preparing for my family celebration.  I hope you'll stop by because I'm back in my routine now, and will resume Wisdom Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and will write more about my Israel trip.  

As I begin to make my gratitude list, my sweet Gail-Friends readers are one of my most precious gifts that will be remembered.  Blessings to you all, and I pray you have a safe and happy holiday.  

Sukkot 5775

The lulav

We are coming in to what Americans call the holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.  As Messianic believers, we have G-d's holidays all year long.  His holidays are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, Passover, and Shavuot.  You can learn more about these by clicking on the subjects on the left side of my blog.   

Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles is one of the feasts and festivals Adonai has commanded us to observe in Leviticus 23:33 - 44.  During Sukkot, we dwell in the sukkah, which is three sided structure made of branches. The sukkah roof is made of loosely laid branches, so that we can see the stars at night, just as the children of Israel did when they fled Egypt. 

Each year, we build a sukkah at the synagogue to demonstrate how it is done, and we encourage each family to build their own at home.  We usually build the sukkah outside, but we decided to do it inside, since we were doing it at night, following the Shabbat service.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my good camera, and was so busy, I only took a few pictures.  There were several other children there, but I don't know where they'd gone during the picture taking.  Two of our boys, Luke and Joseph, are excellent sukkah builders, but they're not in the picture. (sad face)

Yes, the two boys in the photo are twins - Jacob and Brace, with their sister Alexa, and our sweet Naomi. The children had fun building and decorating the sukkah.

After we built the sukkah, we danced, sang and worshiped the L-rd, and then waved the lulav (see below).  This ceremony is to remind us that Adonai is always surrounding us, and that He always provides our needs. 

 After Shabbat, we took the sukkah down and then rebuilt it in our backyard so that we could sit in it during the days of Sukkot.  We have a large patch of bamboo in our yard, so we always have plenty to build our sukkah, and to give away to other families.  The photo below shows the bamboo with some pale pink bougainvillea that has grown up in it.

Our doxie is blind, but she has to help, too. Sukkot is a happy time for us, and we enjoy spending time in the sukkah, especially at sundown.  Sometimes we eat our evening meal there, or bring the firepit close by and enjoy being outside under the stars. It is a good time to be still and turn away from the world to focus on Adonai.

You can learn more about this joyous time HERE, and see some of our past celebrations.  

If you are a believer in Yeshua, you have been grafted in to Israel, and you get to enjoy His holidays, too.  I think you're missing a great many blessings if you don't.  So observe and remember -- and enjoy!

My next post will be about our Simchat Torah celebration. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Israel Trip - Masada

I am smiling, but the story of this place is a very sad one.

Masada is AMAZING. The model above shows what the fortress looked like when built by Herod the Great.  He built this retreat between 37 and 31 BCE on the top of a mountain that looks over the Dead Sea.  The view from the site is incredible.  

We rode a cable car up and back, and I can't imagine how people endured the climb before this modern transportation was installed.  Climbing would be hard enough, but to bring up tools, supplies, and who knows what else, is mind-boggling.

Photo from Wikipedia

Herod was a Jew, but turned his back on ADONAI and on his own people.  He embraced the Roman empire in order to achieve his lofty goals, and taxed the Jews unmercifully to finance his lavish building projects.** He built this fortress as a protected retreat / hide-out for himself.  The compound included a surrounding casement, cisterns for water, storehouses, palaces, a Roman-style heated bath house, and military barracks.

About 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. Jerusalem had fallen and the Temple was destroyed, around 70 CE.  Other Jewish zealots and their families joined them, and held the fortress until 73 CE.

Then, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with an army of thousands, and established camps at the base of the mountain.  They constructed a ramp that reached the doors of the fortress and, in the spring of 74 CE, broke in with a battering ram.

Once it became apparent that they would be defeated, Elazar ben Yair - the Zealots’ leader - decided that death by suicide would be better than death at the hands of the Romans.  The following is from his final speech to the people:
"Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to G-d Himself, Who alone is the true and just L-rd of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice ...We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that G-d has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom."  (from Josephus Flavius The Jewish War)
The final ten Jews etched their names on stones, as noted below.

The event at Masada symbolizes the determination of the Jews to be free in their own homeland, and this site is the second most popular place to visit in Israel.  Jerusalem is, of course, number one.

Masada was discovered in 1842, but excavations didn't begin until  the 1960's.  In the photos below, the black line shows the amount of dirt and debris that covered the floor of the fortress.

These photos are of Herod's private bath with a sunken tub, and walls covered in different colors of marble.  It must have been beautiful.

These two photos show the heated bath area.  The floor was raised, with heated water underneath.  The second photo shows it even had a window to see the beautiful view.

And here is the spectacular view from the top of Masada.

Shelby loved seeing Masada, and it was so good to see her smile.  She was a real trooper on this trip.  She amazed me with her determination to see everything, even though she didn't always feel well.  

I was so glad we got a group photo while there. Well, actually several had wandered off, but this is most of us. The young man on the far left wasn't even part of our group.  I think he just figured we were a fun bunch and joined in.  We all called it a wonderful day.

Stop by again next week.  I still have so much more to share.

** To see another of Herod's amazing building projects, Caesarea Maritime, click HERE.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thankful Thursday - Family

Left to Right - Betty, me, and Amanda

I took a little vacation after my 31 day series on the Holy Land, and wanted to start back up with all the blessings of the past month.  

My birthday is in October, as is my grandson's, and Betty's.  When Amanda got married, I didn't know that G-d was going to bless me with a wonderful friend.  Betty is just one of the most wonderful women I've ever known, and I am so thankful for her.  We all met at my house, and celebrated the three birthdays together.  

My grandson wanted a pie instead of a cake, so that's what we did.  Betty made a pumpkin birthday pie!  Here are a few pics of our party. (Oh, and the first thing Jonathan does when he comes to our house is take off his shoes, socks, and shirt.)

His favorite gift was the Hulk Hands, and of course the grandfathers had to try them out, too.

Then we all played on his brand-new WII and enjoyed a very  happy day.

I'll be doing more postings about my Israel trip, and our visit to Masada is next.  I'll also be sharing our Sukkot celebration and Simchat Torah service.

Shalom, Good Shabbos, and see you next week, Gail-Friends.