Tag Archives: Jewish traditions

42 SEGMENTS

Most mornings find me walking with the dogs and Hubby busy doing something important – like earning money for us to spend on the fixer-upper or bartering for mushrooms from a local grower in our neighborhood. Each of us on our own separate journey and yet – a joint journey as well.

“I remember how eager you were to please Me
as a young bride long ago,
how you loved Me and followed Me
even through the barren wilderness.
In those days Israel was holy to the LORD,
the first of His children.”~Jer 2:2-3

Jewish traditions have the people studying the Torah and holy books every week of the year. They do it in order; each week dedicated to teaching and reminding them of the depths of the journeys – massei – that they have taken together as a people both in the past to the present day. The studies are taught the same week year after year.

The interesting thing for me is that rabbinical wisdom says these 40 years are the blueprint of each individual’s spiritual journey as well. Our own personal journey in the desert – the dry place far from the Source of Life. The blistering of feet on hot sand of choices. The parched throat from lack of not drinking from the streams of living water. A place where the physical challenges the spiritual – pushing the individual/tribe forward to fall – to find its knees of – teshuva/repentance – to stand once more in the shadow of the cross.

Jewish wisdom says that there are 42 segments of the tribal desert journey – good and bad – as there are 42 segments in our personal desert journey – good and bad – but all leading to a reunification between the Father and His prodigal children.

“But he who looks into the perfect Torah of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” ~Jm1:25

I really need to study this desert journey of the Jewish people instead of just giving it that cursory nod that I have in the past. Looking at the different segments of their journey and comparing it to my own faltering – stopping dead in the desert – throwing down the tablets of law – finding the stream of living water – energized enough to start the journey once more.

Most of the time when I am walking the dogs, I keep my eyes focused on the next hill, cars that are coming a little too fast down the our road, or how close I am to that promise land in the middle where I can sit on the swing on our neighbors’ porch and see the neighborhood world from a different vantage point.

Jewish wisdom also says that as the journey progresses, the less we see overt miracles. Hence the name – a journey by faith not by sight. As long as I don’t lose faith in that Land of Milk and Home/the Promised Land or the One who is preparing my room, I know that no matter how challenging or scary the journey is – how much my knees or feet hurt – how thick the dust storm is that clouds my sight, I will make it. The Living Waters supply the Word that keeps me from thirsting for I know ‘…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Rm 8:28

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me”~Jn 14:1

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ASCENSION DAY

I got to mow the grass today.

I know. That doesn’t sound like much of an adventure, but it was. As the little Grands would say – “Seriously, Grandma, it was”. I’ve been waiting and watching, watching and waiting to mow this grass. Green. Lush. New. Barefoot ready grass.

Somewhere around Easter, Hubby smoothed the ground around his second retaining wall. NC red clay is really not conducive for growing much – even when it has been recently ground and aerated. When happy, hubby-grinder-man does his thing on leftover tree stumps, red clay doesn’t stand a chance. Add some rich, dark topsoil – – tiny seeds – – a cover of hay – – a friendly neighbor’s prodding to add some good fertilizer – – water – – another covering of prayer – – and wallah – – grass that begs for bare feet.

Seeds broken. Fruit emerging. New life.

When I finally sat down to rest and looked at the small patch of green and a 3/4 deck covered in stain, I remembered. Today is the 40th day since Easter. Today is Ascension Day.

For weeks, the risen Christ walked 40 more days upon this earth. Where He was and what He did during these 40 days has always intrigued me. I like to think He visited His mother – a lot visited- since I figured her pain was almost as great as His as she watched Him suffer such a death. Or maybe – He spent time talking with all those who rose from their graves on the day the veil was split in the temple. (Matt 27:52-53) Or maybe – He traveled the world to bring the Good News to all gentiles who lived far outside of Israel.

We do know that St. John wrote, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” Jn 20:30 We do know that He visited with his closest friends and family 10-12 times (depending on how you count some of them) . We do know that when He ascended to the Father on the 40th day, He went to prepare a place for us.

A New Jerusalem.

A New Home.

In ancient Jewish wedding ceremonies, the bridegroom and the bride would meet and be joined together – married. Then the bride and her groom would return to their respective homes. The bride would use this time to prepare herself for being with the love of her life. She would gather the things needed to bring joy to herself and her husband in their new family. While the groom would also use this time to prepare himself for being with the love of his life. A time to build a home and filled with the things needed to welcome his love into her new family with him.

Ascension Day is so much more than just our Risen LORD returning to His father. It is the day when the bridegroom returned home to prepare a place. It was the signal for the bride to begin her preparations. It was the day when the grass began to grow barefoot green all around the world. Almost like a new garden emerging.

That lush, green grass is still growing – – spreading and multiplying around the world. And as I walked around the sprinkler tonight, I felt its joy through my toes and looked up at the sky. Perhaps tonight – – perhaps tomorrow – – perhaps a decade from now. Whatever. The Bridegroom is there – – looking – – and waiting – – just like I have done all my life. And when the Father’s time is accomplished – – when the time of waiting is over – – when the rooms are finished – – it will be a time of such joy never known since the gates were slammed shut in that perfect Garden.

In the meantime, the grass continues to grow. I talked to Littlest and laughed. I cried a little over the oldest Grands getting ready to graduate from high school (how is that possible?). I replayed a video of my younger son walking down a street in Spain. Hugged on my daughter and the little Grands as they spread freckles on our deck and themselves. Sat in my war room for a short moment of prayer. And sighed over the growing laundry pile that will have to wait for a dryer part to arrive (thank you, G-d, for our quirky neighborhood that has a wonderful fix-it man right next door).

This bride is waiting tonight – counting the stars – and enjoying the wait…kinda…I still get rather impatient. Yet when all is said and done, I really do want my lodgings to be face-to-face perfect and full of unspeakable joy. Seriously, Father, seriously.

“There are many lodgings in my Father’s house, and if not, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you.”~Jn 14:2  

SLIVER OF A NEW MOON

That ol’ adage: “Time flies when you’re having fun,” is way too true.
 
Way back when the yard of life seemed to stretch forever, in the sliver of a new moon, I met a girl who worked just down the hall from me in a small, inner city school on the East side of Columbus. I met her when a energetic student ran past my 6th grade classroom and down the hall shouting “Miss WWWW-OOO-LL-FFFFFFFFF!! ” in the best wolf imitation I have ever heard – then or since.
 
Miss Wolf stuck her head out the door of her room and said somewhat quietly, “Robert, lunch is over so get yourself in here and let’s not disturb the other classes.” While Miss Wilson, who mothered all us rookie teachers, looked out of her room that was right next to Miss Wolf’s. With words much more direct and to the point, “Mr. Dixon…”her voice full of the ringing tones of an angry, powerful archangel, stopping everyone in the hallway – including a very remorseful 4th grader who dropped his head as he tried to avoid the crooked, protruding finger Miss Wilson was waggling in his direction.
 
I loved that yard of my life.

 

It is when I caught the first glimpse of a new friend. A friend who carried my secrets. A friend who had lived more in a life time than I could imagine, with struggles that made mine seem petty. A friend who taught me more than I could ever teach her. A friend who testified to the love of Christ when I was failing abysmally. A friend named Wolf.

 
“How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.” ~Ps 104:24
 
Jewish tradition teaches that as we grow into our bodies and lives, we take the life rolling around us for granted. When we were a child, a lady bug could capture our attention. A new friend was a treasure. A shiny stone sparkling in the sun – a gift. But as we age, we forget to see or acknowledge those blessings. Thus, once a month, Jewish tradition encourages the people to remember, when the moon is just a sliver in the sky, the miracles that happen all around us – if we will just open our eyes.
 
“May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—”~Ps 104:31
 
I opened my eyes one fall day in 1975 to find a friend, and wonder of wonder, during the sliver of a new moon of the first month of a new year, we had a great few days that went all too fast. I will take her to the airport tomorrow and wait until Abba brings our journeys to another juncture. While our yard is much shorter these days, it is still filled with so many treasures around us that it doesn’t matter when or where that juncture occurs for we know that it will be perfect in His timing.
 
“Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.”~Ps 104: 35b

WHOA!

Jan 28 2016aWHOA!!

HALT!!

STOP ALREADY!!

I am tired and weepy. Hubby is tired and grumpy which makes me more tired and weepy. We are – in no particular order – tired of lugging, juggling, adjusting – tired of being too hot, too cold or too out of sorts to care – tired of stepping over, around, under all things in our way – tired of not eating well and having to eat “out” – tired of delays because the first snow storm of the season just blew through and blew our time-tables to smithereens – tired of clinging furbabies who are way too uncomfortable to have any sense of home in this melee – – – just plain, no-other-way-to-say-it – – – – – – TIRED.

Praise the LORD, we still have a comfortable bed so we can start the new day – – – – – semi-tired.

Seriously, how did the pioneers ever find the gumption to keep on movin’ on? I truly think I would have looked at my hubby, rolled my eyes,and hiked my proverbial skirts up, gathered my dog, horse, goats or whatever and immediately started back to civilization. And how in the world Moshe ever kept the Israelites traveling in a desert for 40 years is beyond me. I probably would have been like most of the Jews of that day (in case you don’t know, according to Jewish tradition only one third of the Jewish nation left Egypt) and remained in slavery.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.”~Ps 127:1-2

Which just goes to show you – we miss the best part of our life journeys when we stay in our comfort zone. My hubby and I have become creatures of habit. Like our furbabies, we like the routines we have established for ourselves in these “golden” years. It has been easy. It has been too easy in too many ways. Just like the Jewish fore-bearers of our faith, we have chosen to became slaves to “things” and a way of life. Who says history doesn’t repeat itself or that the WORD is full of boring myths of little consequence?

“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.”~1 Kg 8:56

That is probably what I love most about Our Father. He never wants us to stagnate. I have this crazy notion that “heaven” is not going to be just lying around and playing our perfectly tuned little harps ad nauseam. Just like I know He is still creating and teaching and parenting and loving and nudging us every day in this world.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not tired. I am. Then I come home and talk to the guys who are working on our house. Several of them are dealing with sick family members, broken vehicles, bills piling up, trying to find time to do their taxes so they can get a refund, working a hard job or two (ones I obviously don’t want or can do as well as they can) with their own versions of achy muscles and joints They are tired, too. They’re just on a different journey than me.

Almost a year ago, I began starting my day with a Jewish prayer in the morning. I’ve added Rabbi Yeshua’s 1st and 2nd commandments to that. Lately, He has been pointing out that I am not any where near perfect at observing those commandments in my life – especially loving my “neighbor”. This month in particular, He is working on me about this, so I’m trying harder. Asking for forgiveness more, Praying more when I’m out of my “comfort zone”. Trying to gather more wisdom for the journey that lies ahead. Somehow, G-d never wastes a chance to grant us more wisdom.

We have come a long way since we found this house in December. We are still tired and often grumpy and occasionally weepy. (Sometimes it is harder “to love jan 28 2016dyour neighbor” when they sleep in the same bed – sigh) But then there is a little night light that helps you navigate, with gritty, puffy eyes, to that space where there is something special (a stove and refrigerator sitting in your kitchen)- something created (a painted wall or tiled floor)- with a lot of planning (a bathroom sink and light) – with a little help from some friends – a clear space in the mess – and you smile. G-d has kept His promise once again.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”~Heb 12:12-13

So as I rub my eyes and yawn my way through the same prayer with which I began my day, I know that those prayers will probably be interrupted by a snore before my head really sinks deeply into my pillow. I hope that your night will bring you a gentle rest as well. For the one who watches over all of us remains awake, watchful, loving and waiting.

Yeshua said to him, “Foxes have lairs and birds of the sky have shelters, but The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”~Matt 8:20

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Whoa

DAYS OF AWE

Yom kippurThe Days of Awe are almost over.
10 holy days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Days spent in self-examination of the past year’s thoughts, actions, emotions.
Days of repentence.
I love Jewish traditions and wisdom. Many of you know that. I write about it often. This year’s Days of Awe have pulled at me. Maybe it is because I am beginning to understand Jewish tradition a little more. Maybe because I finally am feeling more like “me”. Maybe because I am listening a little harder for my Father’s voice.
“I must proclaim the Kingdom of God to other cities also; it is for this I am sent.” Lk 4:43b
Tomorrow at sunset Yom Kippur begins for the Jewish nation. Accoring to Jewish tradition, it is the day when Our Father God seals into His books that which He has written for the course of the year to come. It is also believed that the sincerity of one’s introspection and repentence can change what God seals in His books on Yom Kippur. No wonder it is called Days of Awe.
“Therefore faith is from the hearing ear, and the hearing ear is from the word of God.” Rm 10:17
 
I watched several videos and read some articles this week about the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur. The stories that had confused and baffled me with their wandering timelines and curious discourses shook with a slight breeze of clarity that sharpened and then quickly clouded over again. I sat in wonder, and wondered if I would be able to see through the clouds again. I beheld a nebulous concept for a half a second, and the Days of Awe straightened the rock upon which I stand..
“For by faith we understand that the worlds were fashioned by the word of God, and these things that are seen came into being out of those things which are unseen.” Heb 11:3
 
I really liked reading one article that talked about angels. On Yom Kippur, Jewish tradition calls for all people to become like angels whose main purpose is to serve God in all that they do.. Primarily, rabbis teach that to be like an angel, one should, above all else, stand upon their faith in all that they do. Angels are characteristically pictured wearing white, so they encourage their congregants to also wear white. Finally, since angels don’t need to eat or drink, they should fast. Actually, there is a whole list of things to do to become more angelic, but I think you get the point.
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:” Deut 28:1-2
Tomorrow the sun will come up, and the world will twirl just a little bit more in its orbit. People will get up, stretch and never think about God. I will go to Bible study, pick up my miniature Captain America at pre-school, and then head off for a couple hours of tutoring where I am commonly referred to as, “Miss Grammie”. Yet – somewhere deep inside me – the Jewish day of fasting and repentance will begin to radiate, and I will see a seal being placed upon my book of life.
It is Yom Kippur.
Pope Francis arrives tomorrow.
yeshua high priestDecisions will be made tomorrow.
And if you believe, as Rabbi Yeshua believed, God will seal a new book of life.
A traditional Jewish greeting for this day is, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” Seems like tomorrow holds a promise. A promise written in a book. A promise given by the ultimate Promise Keeper who set his covenant in the sky for all to see. Baruch Hashem Adonai.SOT-timeline22

Attitude of Graditude #23

Gratitude #23: Jewish Wisdom and Traditions. My two year journey of reading and learning about Jewish wisdom and traditions continues to amaze me. Whether I am reading a book, listening to a lecture or reading a devotional, I continue to learn more about the WORD (primarily the OT, but often insights into why Rabbe Yeshua) than I ever thought I would.

Today’s lesson is a good example. When I read Genesis, I get all caught up in the musical poetry of the creation of all things. I envision each thing as it is made and see it bloom and burst forth into reality as I know it. Night. Day. Land. Oceans. Plants. Animals. Humans. Then I read Chapter 2, not truly absorbing the words written. “… Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being…”.

Jewish Sages study each and every word, letter and mark of their Torah. They debate and pray and debate again. They debate the oral traditions passed down from other sages. It is what they do as they try to understand the WORD and the essence of Hashem Elohim. In their tradition, they believe that even though the 300px-Hands_of_God_and_AdamFather had created plants on the third day, nothing (according to v.5) had grown yet. Now how come I never really noticed that discrepancy before? Plants were created, but they had not burst forth upon the surface? According to Jewish sages, the seeds remained underground waiting for prayer to bring forth the water. The first communication between a Father and His new born child brought water to the face of the earth. In that way, humans learned that prayer (communication) with God was an essential part of depending and trusting Him in all things.

Some gratitudes are harder to grasp than others and yet, it is in the struggling where we tend to learn the most. I’m still struggling with this one tonight, trying to absorb it and put it into words at the same time. But I know – as I continue to pray and re-read these words – that Hashem will hear and open my eyes a little wider, clean my dirty contacts and help me percieve the wisdom carried in His WORD. For that, and Jewish wisdom, I am thankful.

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Writer’s Block

writingWriter’s blocks are debilitating, demoralizing and just down-right depressing. Words get written, erased, re-written and erased again.  Sometimes the words don’t come at all, and the computer screen or paper remains blindingly white.  So after a week of Bronchitis – another week of “catch-up” (on all those things I ignored while I was curled in a ball coughing) and finally, a week of trying to get back on a  “normal” schedule, I decided the best thing to write about was the hidden gifts in all of this.

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.”  Prov 3:13 

Writing has been my outlet since I was little.  When I was little and upset with my mom and dad, I would write letters and stick them where I knew they would find them (a bathroom magazine/book rack was a favorite spot).  Being the intelligent, loving parents they were, they never openly acknowledged the venting of their youngest child in a head-on confrontation, but they always found indirect ways to let me know that they had, indeed, found these rambling, often emotional, poorly written outbursts.  All the same, they gave credence to these fledgling expressions.  Sometimes it was in the topics that we discussed around the supper table.  Sometimes it was in the songs that writing nikethey sang to me as we said our prayers at night.  And sometimes, it was just that extra special hug or time spent doing things together that let me know they heard.  Needless to say, writing became one of the primary ways for me to communicate with them when topics were too scary to approach in conversation.  That’s why the past couple of weeks have been hard.  Not writing is almost as bad as a tummy ache…maybe worse.  But not being able to write however reminds me that these dry spells can be a gift in disguise.  While gifts may be wrapped in our physical DNA and propensity of traits (mom and dad were both writers of poetry, song lyrics, speeches and long, long letters), it is Our Father’s blessing that enhances those gifts and weaves them into a tight package that blesses those around us.

“All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”  1 Chron 28:19

This time the gift was one of receiving.  I listened to lots of people talking via blogs, sermons, TED talks, books- even TV shows as I coughed my way back to health (thanks to the blessings science and the discovery of antibiotics). But mostly –  I spent a lot of time in quiet reflection.  It came at the perfect time (which is exactly the way God works in this crazy world), and while I didn’t realize it at the time (since I was coughing way too much for any kind of logical thought), I needed to be slowed down and reminded about the Author of our gifts.  Eventually, it also surfaced to the forefront of my spinning brain that Jewish month of Elul would start soon and in fact – starts yesterday (the 27th of August).  In Jewish tradition, this is the month of reflection – a looking back – a taking stock of the good and bad things/choices that have transpired over the past year.  The shofar echoes across the land as a physical reminder leading His people into the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.

“Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly.”  Deut 16:18  

mouth gateIn Hebrew this last verse is written in the singular tense.  Rabbis believe this is because it is not just written for the nation, but in fact, is written for the individual as well.  It is a reminder that as we reflect upon this past year, we should “appoint a judge” to evaluate our performance and also set “officials” over the gates that need protecting.  Common gates such as our thought processes, mouths, eyes, ears, etc. must be protected so that the next year will be much better than the previous year.  In other words, Our Father is encouraging us to “judge” ourselves and guard the gates to His temple that resides within each and everyone of us.

“I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” Ps 132:3-5  

As usual, David – the shepherd, the warrior, the king, the husband, the father, the sinner, the passionate, creative poet – says it best, and I wonder if he wrote it during the month of Elul because it is so reflective.  What better goal could I set for the coming holy days than this?  I [will] find a place for the LORD,  a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob…  

Writing-writing-31277215-579-612Nothing is more important than this – NOTHING.

The Main Thing

Peter Lord said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

I like this quote. Did you have to read it more than once? I did. Repetition of words make a sentence unusual and those are the things that often catch my attention. I’ve run into this quote before in some of my friends’ statuses and/or devotional blogs that I read. However today when this quote popped up, I decided to do a little research – who was Peter Lord? I guess I wasn’t surprised to learn that he was a minister, and that he will be in NC in November as a speaker for a conference. Then Steven Covey’s name started cropping up with this quote. So I’m not sure who originated the quote. Maybe they both heard or read it and were just quoting it in their writings as well.

“THE MAIN THING…” Time goes pretty fast these days. Hump day is already here and I haven’t accomplished half of the things I planned on finishing. Social media play time probably doesn’t help when I end up putting jigsaw puzzles together instead of actually doing something that sends me in the direction of my goals. “…IS TO KEEP THE MAIN THING…” Our society has gotten into the habit of throwing quotes into our discussion like chocolate chips in a cookie. As if that somehow legitimizes an opinion or validates a point..even when we have no idea where that quote originated or who that person really is that said it. It is on a cute picture that we like. It says what we are thinking. It expresses an emotion. But – is that enough? “…THE MAIN THING.”

“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25

I throw Bible verses into my statuses all the time because I believe that it does validate a thought, feeling or emotion that I may be trying to convey. To those people who do not believe in the WORD, it doesn’t mean much. To me, it holds value beyond words even when little discrepancies crop up. Translating anything from one language to another causes problems. Which is an excuse that many people use to discard the words and intent of the Bible. What they don’t understand is that – even little discrepancies can help us grow in our faith because God uses those same discrepancies to His glory.

“Then Eleazar the priest said to the soldiers who HAD GONE into battle, “This is what is required by the law that the LORD gave Moses: Gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, lead and anything else that can withstand fire must be put through the fire, and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing. And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water.” — Num 31:21–23

The original word in Hebrew actually says:: “…the soldiers who WERE GOING into battle.” When you read the verse it seems like the Hebrew must have been wrong. Check point for the nay-sayers. However, Jewish Sages say that the Hebrew word was totally correct because God had already told about the soldiers returning from battle in an earlier verse. This verse was instead talking about the spiritual battle they were entering. God was talking about every day life. Every day. all our choices – our actions – our words – must go through the the test – the “fire” of life according to His standards and then be purified by water. Sounds almost Messianic, doesn’t it? Daily, when we choose a course or say a word, we should always be thinking if it falls within His standards and then re-thinking it so that it is purified by the WORD (water).

“.In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jn 1:1

The more I read Jewish wisdom and traditions, the more I am convinced that every word and story of the OT which points to the NT which points to the “main thing”…SALVATION.. Salvation of our Father’s creation is the “main thing”. He repeats it over and over and over again. Now – if only we can “…keep the main thing the main thing.”

main-thing