Wednesday, October 31, 2012

God Told Me

I worry when someone begins a sentence with, "G~d told me..." Little red flags start flapping in the breeze.
Now, don't get me wrong. G~d does speak. Volumes. In fact, He took the time to spell out who He is and who He expects us to be in scripture. We have more than we can keep up with.
And yes, He does speak through dreams, visions, insights, inspirations, His creation. 
G~d can use any and every way He wants to communicate with us.
So - the problem is not with Him.
We're the ones who have trouble and get into trouble.
Many times, when someone announces that G~d told them something, they think it's an amazing revelation for ... someone else. They begin with, "G~d told me that you ___________. Then they proceed to tell you what G~d told them about you. It can get pretty uncomfortable and down right creepy at times. 
I'm brought back to the scripture in John 21 -
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Yeshua loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Yeshua at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" 22Yeshua  answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."

So I guess my question is this - are we spending too much time trying to hear from G~d for everyone else and not enough time listening to what He wants to say about our own lives?
If we really heard from G~d, would He tell us, "they are none of your business, you just follow Me"?
Just wondering. Anyone else think about this?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Sukkah in My Backyard

My backyard neighbor is no doubt rolling her eyes. From her perspective, all she sees are four colorful sheets flapping in the breeze. What's wrong with that, you say? Well, they aren't on my clothesline. They're draped around our back porch.
As I look out from my back door, however, I see something much different. I see a table and chairs, a porch swing and festive tinsel sparkling in the sunlight. My back porch has been transformed into a sukkah.
For eight nights here in the US I partake in the festival of Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. It's like a campout.
Since it's just hubby and I, and he works late during this time of year, it's a quiet affair. We eat our dinner in our sukkah. Because we share our backyard with critters - skunks, racoons, possums and such, it's not a good idea to sleep outside. I don't mind a kitty at my feet, but a pole kitty? Nope.
Now if we were in Israel, it would be a whole different story.
I love being there during this time of the year. During the day in the Old City of Jerusalem, kids are making and selling cotton candy, small bands of musicians are singing, people are dancing. Celebration is everywhere.
In cities and towns all over the land, sukkot are shining with twinkle lights, children are singing, people are carrying large pots of food to their neighbor's booths. Its considered a great blessing to share your hospitality with others, especially strangers.
I miss being part of a close knit community. Where I live, everyone keeps to themselves. Everyone is busy. No one would dare to show up unannounced at someone's house, even with a big pot of food. We just don't do that.
All that said, I am enjoying my sukkah. It's cozy and inviting. I love sitting in the glow of a small lamp, listening to the evening quiet, sharing dinner with my husband. It's simple.
My gift to you this Sukkot is a blessing and a song ~

Ba-ruch a-ta Adonai, Eh-lo-hei-nu

Meh-lech ha-olam,

she-heh-kheh-ya-nu v’kee-yeh-mah-nu
v’hee-gee-ah-nu lah-z’mahn ha-zeh.

We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the Universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us and for enabling us to reach this season.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur - A Twenty-six Hour Retreat

Sundown tonight marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. In Israel, everything - and I mean everything shuts down, even Ben Gurion airport. No traffic on the streets, all shops are closed.
I was in the small moshav of Zippori on Yom Kippur.
My friend and I walked the mile up hill to the tiny synagogue for Kol Nidre. We were greeted by solemn people dressed in white. The men sat in the front rows and we women and children sat behind them. The service was  in Hebrew. But I still felt connected. We all were there for one purpose - to acknowledge that we had sinned and needed forgiveness and atonement. After the service we wished each other Tzom Kal, may you have an easy fast. 
G~d calls His people to this day every year.
It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. Leviticus 16:31
It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath." Leviticus 23:32.

Yom Kippur is like a marriage retreat.
Most are held at a fancy-schmancy hotel, or conference center. In other words, couples get away together. They leave behind the business of their worlds and meet someplace to focus on one another. Time is set aside for one purpose only - to make the marriage better.
As a believer in Yeshua, I don't have to worry about whether my name is written in the book of life. It is. The sacrificial Lamb was provided on my behalf. Once and for all time.
When my husband and I walked down the aisle, our commitment was sealed. We vowed to love only each other.
Here's the connection.
Married couples need to work on their marriage. They can't smugly go through life counting on their vows alone to get them through the daily grind together as a couple. Like the husband who tells his wife on their wedding day, "I'm telling you now that I love you. If I change my mind, I'll let you know." We need to get away from the business of life and focus on one another. Miscommunications need to be addressed. Priorities need fine tuned. It's hard work. It's uncomfortable.
Our relationship with G~d is much like a marriage relationship. It needs fine tuned. It needs maintenance.  We need time to get away and take inventory. Sure, we ask forgiveness when we know we've blown it, but do we soul search? If we're honest, we'll admit that we don't have time to really do a thorough relationship check.
And so, G~d gives His people 26 hours to get away - to retreat with Him. Sure it takes work, especially in countries that not only do not acknowledge the need for G~d, but find it quite a bother when others want a relationship with Him. It takes creativity for mommies who have children with important needs. But, if G~d considers a block of time important, should we not also? Are there ways we can carve out some precious time to get away with Him, to deny ourselves our creature comforts?
Think about it.

For my Jewish brothers and sisters - צוֹם קַל, easy fast.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Did You Bring Your Listen?

I've been helping out my daughter-in-law this past week since the birth of our newest little princess. She came in three weeks early at a whopping 5 lbs 4 oz. She's a tiny little thing.
Dude #1 needed a ride to school and back home. He's in Kindergarten. This is a hard time for him and his brother because the show has shifted to a new star for awhile.
When I picked him up from school, Dude #1's teacher greeted me with the pronouncement that he was not listening in class. Evidently he slid into his own little world of Mario Brothers - his favorite thing in all the world . I asked him why he wasn't listening, and he said it was too hard. Translation - "I just don't want to deal with reality right now. Something new has been added to my world and I want something I know about." Poor kid.
The next morning when I picked him up, I asked him if he brought his listen with him. He said yes. Off to school we went. But alas, again his teacher told me he wasn't listening. She was concerned.
We talked on the short trip home about the benefits of listening - he'd learn enough to make it to 1st grade and then - amazing - on to high school just like his Aunt who watches him on occasion. That seemed to perk his interest. I pontificated more, hoping he was - well, know know - listening. And then he repeated back to me something I said and we went into a moment of wild celebration about how he'd just listened. He was excited.
Next morning. I asked him if he brought his listen with him. He said yes. I'm sure mommy and daddy encouraged him to listen to his teachers too.
Good news! Good report. He listened in class. We spent the 10 minutes it took to go home talking about how proud I was of him and how proud he was too. He asked me if it made my heart happy. I told him it did. Very much.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Taking a Vacation

I'm coming off of a very busy, difficult week. I'm heading into a new week of concern.
Sound like your life?
We all deal with life in some way or another. After all we are breathing.
Too much to do - to think about - to finish...
We're now in the stage of the game where our politicians are promising life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness even if they have to bend the truth a little to get our vote.
We have new diseases so we can have new drugs.
Driving or walking down the street has become a contact sport - winner takes all.
Buying food at the store is Russian roulette - will it be recalled and did I just eat it?

 Tonight - at sundown comes a most amazing gift. Sabbath - Shabbat - rest.
Come Saturday sundown, life will resume to it's breakneck pace for me, but in the meantime, I have an oasis - a spiritual, physical, mental and emotional cruise - vacation, call it what you will, I get time off. Permission from the Creator to take a break.
May I invite you to join me. Right where you are. Think about it. 
Here's a video to jump start the process. 
Come with me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

They Shall Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

I've become a MOPS mentor mom. My job? Same thing I've done all along - listen, serve, love, speak, be silent, guide, follow - the usual - be a mom. I get to give gifts, receive gifts, share my food, eat food, hold babies, laugh and cry.

Once a mom, always a mom. Our job is never done. We double our investment - sometimes triple it. We now worry about more lives and hurts and boo boos. And we get more refrigerator art and weeds to put in cut crystal vases. Our children give us more children. What a deal.

I watch these young mommies and hear the stories of triumph and defeat. I see in there sleep deprived eyes hope and fear - wondering if they are doing it right, worrying that they aren't measuring up, breathing a sigh of relief when another mom shares the same scenario they just dealt with, knowing they aren't alone.
 I remember back - many gray hairs and laugh lines ago, I was in the same place, thinking the same thoughts, having the same cares. I remember wondering what my children would be like when they grew up, wondering if I was causing more damage to their little spirits when I lost it over some really small thing. Figuring that if they turned out well it would be an act of G~d, not my parenting skills.

We've heard of the Proverbs 31 woman - A Woman of Valor, Eshet Chayil, and how her name may have been Martha Stewart - not really. In verse 28, it says, " Her children arise and call her blessed..."
I've experienced that. All those tears and prayers and arguing and exasperation and worry - they all pay off.
Hubby and I have been dealing with a very painful, hard situation lately. Our adult children watched it unfold, have heard our lament, listened to our frustration, anger and angst. They've prayed and given advice and encouragement. But through it all we know that they are also watching us to see how we're walking through it. Watching to see if all those years of training and lectures, confrontations and teaching are worth their weight in real life. After all, they'll be in the same position with their own children time and again. Does it work? 
I got a phone call from my son this morning asking how things were going. We talked. He ended the conversation by telling me he was extremely proud of his father and I for how we were standing in the midst of the adversity. Later in the day my daughter called to ask. She listened with care and concern, spoke a strong, needed word concerning my well being as the outcome unfolds.  
I am a mommy and always will be. I am a blessed mommy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Teach Me to Pray, to Praise

Teach me G~d to pray


to praise

The splendor of ripe fruit

   the wonder of a wrinkled leaf

the freedom to see
to feel
to breath

   to know hope
      and even to know grief.

Teach my lips blessing
   and praise

when You renew Your time
   each night
   each dawn

so that my days will not repeat my yesterdays
to save my life from mere routine
   of all days gone.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What Do I Do With This Papaya?

You know those big ugly papayas that you see in the market? The ones that could feed a missionary family on furlough?
Well, every once in awhile one calls my name.
Such was the case last week at Sprouts. There they were, "pick me, pick me." I found the smallest - least ugly one and took it home.
Now what was I going to do with it. Hubby doesn't like them.
I finally opened it up, but it wasn't the sweetest one in the bin.
I've had papaya in Hawaii that tasted like candy. This was not one of them.
And then the freezer bug bit me again.
"Ah yes! I can freeze anything." Well, almost.
My father was fond of telling anyone who would listen, "if you find me missing one day, just check the freezer." My mom froze everything.
   Oh no!! I'm turning into my mother!!
I cubed the papaya and threw it in my Magic Bullet. Had to do it in batches. I'm sure if I'd thought it through, I would have used my blender, but I was in the moment and it was closer.
Anyway, I added about two tablespoons of lemon juice to the whole party.
Now, what to put the puree in. I found a mini muffin tin and filled it, but now I still had some left.
Did I mention that this was a spur-of-the-moment thing?
I froze the muffin tin, put the leftover puree in the fridge and  the next day I went to the 99 cent store, and for 99 cents (well, now it's like 99.99 cents) I got two plastic ice cube trays and filled one of those.
Now I had one more tray looking at me and wanting to join in the fun. (For my writing buddies, yes I know I have two -ing- words in one sentence!)
I'd made a meal that needed canned tomatoes and opened my Trader Joe's tomatoes with green chilies. Whoa Nelly, they packed a punch. I used about a tablespoon of that and found another can of plain ol diced tomatoes for the recipe.
They sat lonely and forlorn in the fridge. Why not freeze it in the ice cube tray? And I did.

Now when I want to make a smoothie, I can pull out a few cubes and add it to my blender or Magic Bullet.
And when I'm making soup or sauce, I can pull out a cube and add that to the pot.
Gosh, I'm so clever!

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Vacation Every Week

 Today is Friday. For me, it means at the end of the day, after all my preparation is done, and I light the candles, I can rest. I'll have 24 hours to rest. Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. It's like a vacation every week. No cooking, no cleaning, no worrying. Ahhhhh.
Here's my plan of attack to achieve my goal:

I have my steak in a marinade of olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire and balsamic vinegar. 
I'm making some compound butter - butter, chopped fresh rosemary and basil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Then I'll roll it and wrap it in plastic wrap for an afternoon of lounging in the refrigerator. If you're rabbinic kosher, you can use Smart Balance or any margarine.
Tonight, I'll saute the steak in butter, (yes, I know, this meal is not for those who want to eat healthy) add oven roasted new potatoes and broccoliflower (a cross of broccoli and cauliflower) to the meal.
I have turkey lunchmeat sandwiches and chips for lunch tomorrow and I'll dump 2 cups of yellow and green split peas with 7 1/2 cups of water plus seasonings into my crockpot on low or 8 hours, Saturday morning for a supper of pea soup.
Makes my mouth water thinking about it.

Permit me to invite you to a few minutes of Sabbath rest. This could be yours every week.

Music provided by Ted Pearce - Psalm 23

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Teach Your Children Well

There are some days when I come home from a shopping trip, walk in my living room and kiss the floor. I made it back in one piece! Ever have one of those days?
Then again, maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. You live in a town with one stop sign and parents still teach their children respect.
The other day I was in Walmart, pushing my cart down one of the main aisles when I was almost broadsided. I slammed on my breaks. She stopped, then waited for me to continue on, but the look I got clearly stated that I was in her way.
I made a comment to Hubby - something along the lines of, "I hope she doesn't drive like that."
I cringe when I see a car coming towards me from from a side street. Same scenario. The way they approach the stop sign tells me they think they can make their turn in front of me.
And then there's the far right lane that merges into one lane  after a traffic light. The route we take to my daughter's house has several of these. The lane was created for people to make right hand turns, but most people zip into them to make a mad dash in front of us silly people who wait in line. (If you haven't already, check out my last blog - The Tel Aviv Bank Dance).
I've almost matched paint on more than one occasion when they cut me off.
All of this rant to make my point.
If adults don't take responsibility for teaching the young ones respect, then it will only get worse.
Children are watching us. They're in the cars of people willing to endanger the lives of themselves and those around them.
Children are watching their parents spend their free time texting while driving, or walking down the street, or eating.
Children are learning entitlement and disrespect as they watch The Disney Channel.
It's time we as adults take some time to train the next generation basic social skills and respect. It's our responsibility.
We owe it to our children, and it will keep us all alive.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Tel Aviv Bank Dance

  Another day in Tel Aviv.
Because of my change of address, I needed to make a trip to the bank. I had all these shekels to deposit and then I needed to pay my rent for the new place. But, because I didn't have an account at the bank, I was only allowed to take out small increments at a time. I had to make four daily trips to accomplish my task.
So let me give you a taste of banking in Israel.
Lesson #1 - no one stands in line. And when they do, it's optional.
My first experience with this adventure occured when I was on my Israel tour. All the nice, polite, American tourist women stood in line for the bathroom. (Why is it that men never have lines!? That was retorical mind you.) And then... an Israeli woman sauntered by us all, to the front of the line and accepts her four squares of purple toilet paper from the attendent.
 Yup, you read that right - and heads on in for her business. The attendant gave her a grin as we all go ballistic that someone had the nerve to take cutsies!
Well folks, that's life in the Middle East. We're not in Kansas anymore.
I walk into the bank - after having the security guard pass his "magic wand" over my body and peek into my purse.
There is a row of chairs, maybe 5 or 6 of them. I'm not sure how this works. People are all bunched up around the chairs, sitting and standing, and I notice in front is a teller line with (and this is universal I think) two tellers available. Everyone stares at me as I walk in. So I stand there with everyone else and wait. I have no idea who the last person in "line" is until someone comes in after me. He directs a question at us and the guy I'm standing near answers. Oh! now I get it. He is asking who the last person in "line" is. They all look at me and I guess my expression gives me away. They figure I haven't a clue that I was asked a question and Mr. Nextinline points to me and says, "he", which means she in Hebrew. After awhile I catch on and find that the proper response is, "ani", or me. That will come in handy for the next three days I do the bank dance.
Okay, so once that is established, we wait, and wait. No one is there for one step banking and each transaction takes a long time. I found that if I wait long enough, I too will get to sit in a coveted chair.
Every once in awhile, I got a free show, too. Sometimes, someone would be in a hurry, wait for an opening and pounce. When a person would leave the teller, they'd dash up to take their turn, to the disgruntlement of the person who should have been next. An argument breaks out - lots of yelling. This reminds everyone that they need to be more cautious and then afterwards, Mr or Ms Nextinline hovers - oh, around breathing down the neck distance from the person with the teller. Although I gave people their space, I found standing behind the transactor gave me a fair advantage in getting my banking done within an hour.
Lession #2 - never feed an ATM when your card has been flagged as stolen.
I'll explain that one next time!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What to Do With All Those Red Peppers!


August is that magical time of year when gardens overflow with bounty.
You wake up, open your front door to greet the morning and there on your door step is a brown paper grocery bag full of zucchini, with a sign - Please care for me.
You find zucchini boats hiding under their canopy of leaves.

This blog, however, is not about the dredded zuchinni taking over the world.It's about red peppers.
My neighborhood market has a utility cart tucked between produce and bakery in which "thank you for coming, but it's time to go" fruit and veggies are placed. I pick up some good stuff there between 69 to 99 cents. On a recent visit, I noticed a huge plastic bag full of red peppers. The only bad pepper was near the bottom. For $1.99 this was a bargain.
I invisioned taking them home and popping them in the oven with some olive oil to make roasted red peppers. Then I remembered that it was going to be about a hundred and heck outside and I didn't want to heat up my house. What to do, what to do?
 I froze them instead. Talk about easy!!

Cut up the peppers into the shapes you want. I chose to keep them in large strips, but you can slice them into thinner strips or chunk them.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper and lay them out.
Place them in your freezer for a day.

When they're frozen, label gallon freezer bags, dump them inside and take as much air out of the bags as possible before sealing. Notice the straw sticking out of one of the bags? I seal the bag up to one corner, stick the straw inside and suck the rest of the air out of the bag, then close up the corner.
It's that easy! No blanching necessary.

Now when I want to roast some peppers, or use them for soup or salad, I'll pull some out of the bag, defrost them and voila! they're ready to go.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nature Walks

Today is a good day to take a nature walk.
Lace up your hiking shoes, grab a water bottle and let's go.

 “To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.”
Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree 

 “Listen to the trees as they sway in the wind.

Their leaves are telling secrets. Their bark sings songs of olden days as it grows around the trunks. And their roots give names to all things.

Their language has been lost.

But not the gestures.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration 

Psalm 96:12 ... let the fields exult and all that is in them. Then all the trees in the forest will sing.

“There is always music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.”
― Minnie Aumonier  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Airplanes and Hostels Part 3

I look out on the gentle waves of the Mediterranean Sea and sift sand through my toes. I'm on the other side of the world!
Here I am, sitting in a beach chair, sipping a 7-UP before lunch. Trish and I, along with two other gals I've just met are planning a retreat. This beats a stuffy room any day.
While there, Trish gets a phone call from her landlord. There just "happens" to be an apartment available...for a the same price I was paying for the hostel. Time for a little rejoicing.
It's on the third floor, right across from Trish and her husband. And when I say right across, I mean her front door and my front door were about 12 feet from each other. Turns out it was a win-win for both the landlord and me. The previous renter moved out and it would be vacant until the new renter was to come -  in a month. Now it wouldn't sit empty. He was willing to give it to me for $800. The next renter (a family of 4) would be paying $2400 a month. WHA???? Yep. That's what I said. The reason is because the apartment is a block from the Sea.
But before I can have a full blown happy party, I have to cross another big hurdle. I have to convince the owner of the hostel to refund me the money I gave him for my room, minus the two days I've been there already. Impossible you say.
I was sweating bullets.
Armed with a prayer, some moxie and  a lot of chutzpah, I explain that an apartment had opened across from my dear friend Trish and she would looooovvvvve for me to be close to her. Pretty lame, actually, but because he likes her and she sends all her friends and acquaintances to him (I don't think she actually understood the condition of the place or how creepy it was beyond the lobby), he's willing to refund me all but 3 days.
Between Trish and I, we schlep my two large suitcases and backpack about a mile, and up three flights of stairs to my new digs. This is way beyond what I could have imagined.
Now instead of paying $800 for a small, hot room with one double bed, a dresser with an old TV and no bathroom or kitchen, I'm sitting - trying to catch my breath - admiring my fully furnished livingroom, kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom with 2 air conditioners. All the utilities are included.
So - does G~d give a rip when we call out to Him?
You bet He does.
And this is only the beginning of getting to know His heart better.

I'm sitting in a beach chair watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea. It's Shabbat. I'm in Israel, on the other side of the world. And I hear Him say, "hold on to your hat sister, there's more in store!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Airplanes and Hostels Part 2

New time zone, new language, new culture - this wasn't going to be easy. I eagerly awaited my friend's arrival.

My first full day in Tel Aviv was spent at a soup kitchen. Around 70 down and out people looked to be fed every Thursday. The menu - bean soup, potato salad, rice with peas and carrots, spaghetti and chicken schnitzel. Even though Deb, the fearless leader of production had some of the preparation done before Trish and I arrived, we were put to work peeling and chopping and peeling and chopping. I cried. Onions! Lots of onions.
Deb asked if I would like to do something else. In glee I cried, "yes!" Silly me.
She entrusted to me the job of making chicken schnitzel. No ripping open bags of frozen meat slabs here. This was the real deal. Her real deal. She made the best schnitzel according to everyone there and she felt I was ready to receive the honor of grand poobah schnitzel maker. Frankly I think it was that no one else wanted the job and I was so new and fresh and...naive.
She showed me how she wanted it done. Okay, that didn't look too complicated. Dip a thin chicken cutlet into flour, seasoned  beaten eggs, and then breadcrumbs. She watched me as I did the first one. Not bad but... she showed me how to press the breadcrumbs on the meat. It had to be just right. I guess that's why her schnitzel was considered the best. She'd watch me out of the corner of her eye and run over every once in a while, and in Hebrew remind me how it was done. And then I became proficient. Large industrial pan after pan - I laid those golden gems in rows. I was hot, my arms and back ached. So that's how it feels to run that last Olympic lap for the gold. Deb pronounced them good. They were ready for the fryer and I walked away... to prepare for serving.

By 7pm that evening I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to get back to my hard bed in the funky little hostel and crash. And I did...until around 10 when again my body said, "thanks for the nice nap - I needed that". Awake again. And the city of Tel Aviv pulsated to the beat of loud music, car horns, buses and obstreperous, drunk people.
No, I couldn't live like this for a month. I had to do something. Soon.
The next day, armed with around 4 hours of sleep, I thanked Trish for setting me up with my room in the hostel, but asked her if something else could be arranged. Actually, I begged her.
Her initial response was to remind me that we were in Israel. Accommodations were at a premium and very expensive and she didn't think anything could be done. And besides, it was Friday and business closed down around 3pm to begin preparing for the Sabbath. But she would ask her landlord if there was, by any remote chance, an apartment available for a month in my budget. And all of the collective earthly consciousness, in one accord, laughed!

Next time on Airplanes and Hostels:
Does G~d really give a rip?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Airplanes and Hostels

The picture on their website looked promising, right on the beach. The building itself - clean and inviting. My first hostel experience.
I went to Israel alone this time, staying in Tel Aviv for a month. I'd braved the 18 hour plane trip. 6 hours to New Jersey, a layover and then 12 hours to Israel. Flying was on my bucket list. No, not that bucket list. This one is the kick the bucket list. The one that includes skydiving, bungee jumping, sticking my finger in an electrical socket... you know, that one. I just have trouble breathing germmy air in a metal tube, far away from the ground for many hours. But I did it. I joined in the applause with my plane mates when we approached the Ben Gurion airport runway and my eyes teared up. I was home again.

I found a taxi, danced the language dance, negotiated the fare and began phase two of my adventure. Bless his heart (and I say that in a good way), my taxi driver asked me if I liked Kenny G. I said yes, and he popped in a CD. I guess Americans  like Kenny G. What a relaxing ride. We entered the heart of Tel Aviv and I got excited. I looked forward to hearing the gentle lapping of the Mediterranean Sea from my hostel room window.  He stopped in front of a row of slightly run down buildings. Why was he stopping here? The beach was several blocks away.
 But my driver drug my suitcases from the trunk and plunked them inside the smokey lobby, hopped back in his cab and left. Sure enough, this was indeed were I would be spending my month. Well, my friend who lived in Tel Aviv set this place up for me so it must be okay. Deep breath. Prayer for strength.

My private room was - lets just say adequate. Bed, dresser, old TV, threadbare linens. It had no air conditioning, nor fan, but it did have a rickety door which led to a small balcony. Oh, so that was the balcony in the picture.
By 8pm my body thought it was 6am and yelled at me. "Good grief, woman, I need sleep!"  Yes, it was uncomfortably warm, but I fell asleep. Until 10pm that is. Wide awake now I tossed and turned. Under me, on the street were bars and young people hopping from one establishment to another. Tel Aviv is billed as, "The city that never sleeps". It was true. I pried open the door, found a dusty plastic chair on the balcony and watched the show. By 2am I'd had enough and crawled back into my bed, pushed ear plugs into my ears and fitfully slept until around noon. I felt drugged and disoriented.
I shared a co-ed bathroom with others on my floor and I figured by noon everyone would be out and about. But on my way back to my room after a much needed shower, I met a young man, clad only in a towel making his cheery way into the bathroom. I got back to my room, sat on the bed and cried. Then I prayed. "L~rd. I'm not sure I can take a whole month of this. Help!"

Next time on Airplanes and Hostels:
Finding help in times of need.