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.