Tag Archives: Sukkot

PERFECT FALL DAY

“Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.”~Lev 23:33-34

Today is the 15th of October. If we were living by the Jewish calendar, it is actually the 16th of Tishrei. The second full day of Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles. It was also – in NC – a perfect fall day. It was a mite cool when it started, and the gas logs came on for about an hour. However, by mid-morning the shorts were back on, the windows open. the lab girls pleading for me to throw their ball by getting in the way, and a small harvest waiting to gather. A perfect day to sit in the sukkah and read and relax and sigh in contentment.

HOWEVER – that wasn’t the day that was designed just for me. It wasn’t even the day I planned to do originally. Wasn’t even the day I contemplated as I lazed around in my bed and whispered my first prayer of gratitude. But it was the day the LORD had made – just for me – so I rejoiced and was glad in it.

Then I got busy.

Tore the spinach and flowering vines off the deck. Cut back a tomato plant that thought it owned one whole corner of the deck. Laughed at how big the asparagus had gotten under said tomato plant. Washed and painted the plant stands so they are ready to move inside for winter. Re-potted a couple plants who whose tootsies were way cramped and yearning to be free. Threw the ball to get the lab girls out of the way, and finally – sat on the patio swing and laughed with a friend and her hubby many, many miles away.

Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work, and you shall observe a feast to the LORD for seven days.”~Num 29:12

Whoops! Didn’t quite follow this instruction. I may have done some laborious work, but somehow – I don’t think Our Father is frowning. There is nothing like being able to finally sit down, take a deep breath, and look around at all the things accomplished and feeling oh so thankful that you live exactly where you live and enjoy the work of your hands. I always feel close to Our Father during these times. It is almost as if I can hear Him pronounce those wonderful words to me: “And GOD saw that it was good.”~Gen 1

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain. I get to go into school and get hugged and blessed by 76 youngins and 15+ adults. And – – life will – – more or less – – hit its normal weekday routine. But I will hold close today and the wonder of being outside for most of it. Working with my hands. Depending on Our Father for everything I accomplished and the glory of His creation that surrounded me on all four sides of my patio sukkah.

When the Grands were over this past weekend, we sat on the patio swing while we ate our Eskimo bars, enjoying a break from painting Halloween creations for their home and mine. The youngest one wondered if the wisteria vines would cover the top of the portico by next summer to shade the whole patio. I looked around and smiled. It grew a lot this summer, so I answered – “Maybe” – and just maybe – my sukkah will have a roof next year for Sukkot. Now how cool is that?

It was indeed a perfect fall day.

“I’m ready, GOD, so ready,
ready from head to toe;
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune;
Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp!
Wake up, lute!
Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!!”

“I’m thanking you, GOD, out loud i the streets, singing your praises in town and country. The deeper your love, the higher it goes. Every cloud is a flag ato your faithfulness.

Soar high in the skies, O GOD!
Cover the whole world with your glory.”~Ps 57:7-10 Msg 

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HOLY DAYS 2019

It started last Monday. I take that back – it probably started Sunday the 6th. I spent the day in an unintentional fast and prayer. It was just one of those days when I was busy doing meaningless stuff when I needed to be in prayer. Somehow in the mix of the mess, I just didn’t find the time or the need to eat. So when Monday arrived, my ears were totally opened to listen to one of my favorite preacher/teachers. He often seems to hit that Holy Spirit sweet spot in my soul. So much so, that I generally cry. I generally take notes – lots of them. I generally do a bunch of pondering over the verses that he covers in his talks.  I generally just seek the presence of the LORD.

Monday night, His presence went beyond the message – it carried on into my dreams.

I don’t remember much of the dream except I was singing in a choir. The music was all in different colored folders that had swirls of colors all over them. and I could hardly wait to open them and begin sight singing. The choral director was someone I had sung with before and was – oh so excited – to sing with again. Best yet, we were to told to make new dresses for the upcoming concert. I wanted the blue material, but only a Christmas red and pink were left when it was my turn to chose. Funny thing, I wasn’t really disappointed and couldn’t wait to get started sewing the pattern for the new dress.

Of course, it was then I woke up. So Tuesday, I said my morning prayers as usual. The beginning of Yom Kippur would start at sundown. The day of determination for the new year. The day of Our Father weighs the heart.

My heart has been heavy for the past few months. Worries. Concerns. Friends/relatives fighting diseases. Prodigals wandering far from home. How I needed to make a decision on getting tires for the car or a new back door or a screen door – or…. Yeah – I throw even those tiny things into my prayers. Sure – enough by sundown and the beginning of Yom Kippur, He had answered that tiny prayer about tires in a most unexpected way. He also had opened my eyes and dried my tears in a way I had not expected.

Every day of that week continued to be blessed including Friday which brought another surprise in the mail and a couple found in a Bible  totally up to three unexpected gifts. I love how My Father knew that I needed a show of His Light-giving miracles this holy week. I love how He inspires people who are anonymous to me – but not to Him – to accomplish His work on earth for the people who love and honor Him. I love how the Jewish High Holy Days are holy for ALL His people. Yeshua celebrated the High Holy Days while He was on earth — after all — He went even though He knew His enemies were looking to destroy Him. I think they are still important to Him. They were the first covenants He made with His first people. Then after His time here was done, He made the gate available for the rest of us and someday – that same gate will open to the second garden He has designed just for us.

“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”~Jn 7:1-5

So tonight, as Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles begins, I am thankful for the harvest of  salad greens, tomatoes and flowers that I have had all summer. Thankful for a summer of life-altering change. Thankful for walks in the rain with the lab girls. Thankful for kitty curled in my lap. Thankful for a Father that hears the smallest whisper thrown into a quickly uttered, frustrated prayer. Thankful for friends who hear God speak to their hearts and put a gift in the mail. Thankful to Elohim Chasdi who dries my tears and carries me when I can’t take another step forward. And while I won’t live in a sukkah this year, I will certainly do a lot of prayers sitting on my patio swing in thankful praise and adoration.

The harvest of thankfulness has begun to a Father who meets all our needs – in all our journeys as we wander through the desert between two gardens.

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.”~Jn 7:6-13

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ALIYAH

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?”

There are nights when after a full day of walking through his life, that the world seems darker than dark. Angry slurs spew back and forth – separating, dividing, tearing at loose bands that once wove and united one to another.

And the age old question rises once again.

The Book of Life is full of similar stories. People united then torn apart by complaining, whining, power, self-interest. They have a beautiful garden, but want what they want when they want it. They watch the leader walk up a mountain and when he is a little late, they make their own leader out of gold. They get freedom, but don’t like walking. They get manna but want meat. They see the Son of God but He doesn’t fit the description in their heads. They have forgotten the song.

When the Jewish people would journey to Jerusalem for a festival, they would sing Psalms and recite the Torah. It was a way to teach the youngsters, but it was also a way to remind themselves of why they needed to do this journey in life. They called the journey “aliyah”. Today, when a person moves to Israel, it is also called “aliyah”.

“My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth…”

Tomorrow, our little school is making a journey to a farm. They will take a hayride, pick out a pumpkin, get some pictures taken, spend time with the animals, and listen to some stories and songs. Since Jesus made aliyahs when He walked this earth, I will be reading a story about the Jewish festival Sukkot – the harvest festival. I had to smile when I saw that our principal paired me with the music teacher. After all, it is fitting that the story and songs will go together on an aliyah.

God is like that. When things are darker than dark, He throws a little light into it. A fire cloud that leads us forward and protects our hearts from the chaos. It is just a matter of faith. A matter of looking up to the hills and remembering to ask the question.

Where does our help come from?

It cometh from the LORD who hath made heaven and earth.

“He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.” ~ Ps 121 A song of ascent. 

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#7daystoelection #7daystopray #7daystolookup

DAYS TO REMEMBER

One of the younger Grands had a “family” b-day today. Her actual b-day is tomorrow when she will – officially – hit the double digits for the first time. Confetti balloons. Slime, slime everywhere. Legos here- there-underfoot. Rose water sprayed and re-sprayed. Robot assembly then robot drawing tablecloth designs. Ribbons on packages – ribbons on ponytails. And – ice cream cake to add even a little more sweetness.

 

Truth be told – these are the days to remember.
 
Remembering is one of the things I love about the Jewish and Christian faith. The Bible is full of stories; timeless stories that tell – the good and the bad – the ugly and the poetic – the historical that reaches into the present and even further into the future.
 
The first day of the Jewish festival Sukkot has just ended. It is a week-long festival (you do gotta love a group that know how to throw a festival that lasts for 7 days – full of joy and food). Days dedicated to remembering – remembering the times spent in the dessert – remembering eating food G-D provided and of living in temporary shelters – remembering their mortal heroes who led them through treacherous times and taught them to pray throughout all their days and years – remembering the Father who is always faithful to answer the tiniest of prayers.
 
“Your WORD is truth.”~Jn 17:17b
 
Abraham, father of the faith, walked out of his tent in the morning – before he opened all the sides of that tent to welcome the world – he bent his knees and welcomed His Father – Abba. Gratitude for waking up – gratitude for the new day – gratitude for the storms that may splash enough water into his boat and scare him beyond what he thought was possible – gratitude for the joy of hearing Abba’s voice – gratitude for a Father that will tell the wind to hush and the seas to be still because HE is always in the boat with with His child. (Matt 7:24-28)
 
Those are days worth remembering.
 
Treasure chest days.
 
Festival days.
 
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
 

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,”~Matt 7:24-28 

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BECAUSE HE LOVES ME

jerusalem blood moon 9 15It has rained for four days, counting today.The clouds continue to roll over the NC skies bringing the steady showers and cooler temperatures. Overall, it was a good weekend to be stuck inside, blowing my nose, coughing up ugly stuff, and whining. Luckily, the hubby was almost as sick as I was, so we managed to commiserate together through most of it without driving each other crazy.
What really was bugging me the most was that I obviously would not get to see the 4th Blood Moon. I didn’t get to see the 1st – the 2nd – – OR the 3rd Blood Moon for the same reason – – – – –  dratted cloudy skies!!! I was totally in mope mode, and I wasn’t about to try to eradicate. I wanted to just blow my nose a little louder, sink a little deeper into the chair and feel sorry for myself.
Sick.
Constant rain.
Cloudy.
Dark…dreay…yukky weekend.
Couldn’t go to church, so I forced myself to dig into a devotional. Didn’t feel like doing my Beth Moore bible study, so I turned to a video on Jewish traditions that  I had put off watching all week. Yesterday was the beginning of Sukkot or Feast of the Tabernacles and, of course, another Blood Moon that would happen on a Jewish holy day.
I love reading about Jewish feasts and fesitvals because they are full of stories about family and friends gathering to eat, share and rejoice in the gifts of Our Father. I have friends that do this every Friday night. Even though they are Jesus followers, they celebrate the same way Rabbi Yeshua did when He walked this earth. I love that idea.
When my children were little, we did this without realizing it was somehow written in our DNA. Friday night was pizza night. Soda pop came out of the closet (a real celebration of the no-sugar rule). Friends would materialize to celebrate the work week’s end. Bed times and chores postponed, so that board games, cards or makeshift theatre productions could be enjoyed before prayers whispered together by sleepy kids and parents.
“Because he loves Me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.”
Yesterday, I found this promise, and an unreasonable hope began to build. I had whispered a frustrated prayer earlier in the morning that I just wanted one glimpse of the Blood Moon. After all – one out of 4 wasn’t asking too much, was it? (I tend to grump at Our Father sometimes) As the day grew darker so had my mood. That is – until my Bible revealed this promise. Amazing how that works. Suddenly, my mood changed.
As silly as it sounds, I found myself going outside in the rain and looking at the clouds. Around 8 P.M., I walked outside once again. I knew approximately where the moon should be. There was, at first, nothing but dark clouds. I kept looking. A cloud ribbon emerged on the horizon and started reflecting a bright white. I told God that really wasn’t what I wanted and went back inside. I told myself I was silly, but inside, the Bible verse echoed. “Because he loves Me…”
“He will call on Me, and I will answer him;”
Off and on, I continued to roam outside. Hope was building to the place where I was almost doubt free at times – and yet – there was nothing. Around 11, a friend wrote me that she was outside enjoying a clear view of the red orb, and I knew that the time was now. I walked outside. There was a brightness where I knew the moon probably was and slowly – the Blood Moon appeared. Anyone who knows me knows that tears and prayers were simultaneously erupting from my soul and spilling out into the physical world around me.
He had heard my silly little prayer. It certainly wasn’t going to change my faith if I didn’t see an eclipse of a super moon, after all it isn’t a strange occurance (although 4 consecutive eclipses happening exactly on 4 high holy days in the Jewish religion is rather rare). However, it changed the depth of my faith in God’s promises.
He listens.
 
He answers.
 
He cares about the tiny things in our ives as well as the big things
There must of been a thin layer of clouds somewhere up there because the Blood Moon was never sharply defined, but it was far more than “the glimpse” thaI I had requested. I sat for 45 minutes or more and watched the sliver of white on the side of the moon grow wider as the eclipse began to end. My sleepy head leaned back on the top of the chair and the different tones of several of my wind chimes lulled me into His peace just a little more.
Because I love Him, He broke the clouds. He revealed my heart’s desire, and gave me —– oh —– so much more than a glimpse………
A promise made long ago, became a tiny miracle just for me.
A blessing to grow my faith.
A blessing I am passing on to you.
“I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” Ps 91 14-16
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Commandment Series: Prohibition of Coverting

ten-commandments-400.hebrew abbrevThis has been a strange year.  A faith journey that has brought me to my knees emotionally, physically and spiritually in so  many ways that I have lost track of all the steps backwards compared to the few steps forward.  Yet – despite it all – I am right where God wants me to be – in a temporary shelter, on my knees, looking up at the stars and in awe.

My son encouraged me to start a blog back in 2011.  A blog that I largely ignored until November of last year, when I started writing an Advent series about things I had been reading. It was a year when my “vessel” was weakened and holes had appeared in the “shelter” around me.  Retired. Moved to a new state. Marital discord. Arguments.  Tears.  Separation.  New job.  Church-less.  Loneliness. Fear. When I lay down at night, I felt the stress cracks in my vessel and saw the darkness through the gaping holes of my ceiling. The evil one whispered to my fears and smiled.

In that day ‘I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be . . . ’ ” — Amos 9:11

What I didn’t realize was…only broken things can be filled – – – only destroyed shelters can be strongly re-built. It was the beginning of  a search for the new me that was starting this new life.  After all, it is only holes in the ceiling that allow the light of the stars and the moon rays to light the way through the night.  And yet – amid all of the surface issues – the inner core of the vessel was being shaped. A shape that I didn’t recognize and had never seen.  Yet, as I buried my tears and uneasiness into the WORD, the shape crystallized and was made whole.

A book here.  A book there. Lots of reading on-line.  Listening to many different rabbinical and christian perspectives.  Sharing thoughts with other like-minded sukkahstudents of the Christus. A step forward and twenty back.  The vessel began to be made new while a new foundation was laid for my shelter. This summer, illness tried to crack the vessel once more with fears and doubts.  Yet, the vessel didn’t crack. Instead, the search expanded and walls began to be erected.  Faith, although not as big as a mustard seed, began to grow larger. Not a genetically modified seed, but a  spiritually enhance seed created by the Trinity. Found a church based on the WORD.  Started a new series on the commandments. The vessel began to shine. Reassured continually by Jehovah-Raah, that the shelter was being erected on a sturdy foundation.  Sukkot for the christian child in a far away country was being completed.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Ex 20:17

Coveting is what, I think, humans do best.  We look at a new house and wish it10 commandment was ours.  Look at the old boyfriend/girlfriend and daydream how perfect it could have been.  Look at the co-worker, have a few drinks and think those thoughts no one wants to admit to thinking.  Tractor. Car. Talents. Abilities. Jobs. Bank accounts. It all describes us at our worst, and God saw it and loved us anyway.  That’s why He set the laws in stone and then sent His son, Jesus to show us how it could be done.  In John 7:2-24, even Jesus’s disciples coveted.  During Sukkot of that year, they tried to talk Jesus into doing what they wanted.  “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” Jn 7:4.   They coveted acknowledgement for having the greatest rabbi.  They wanted status that they thought was due to them.

The 10 commandments are there for us.  Jesus abided by these laws, and all the other 603 commandments recognized in Jewish wisdom. He did not always abide by the religious laws, but He upheld His Father’s laws.  His words echoed them over and over. Somehow – I think that if Rabbi Yeshua thought they were important enough to follow, then I probably would be wise to follow them as well.

Commandment Series: Prohibition of Harming a Person through Speech

ten-commandments-400.hebrew abbrevI lost a friend Sunday night.  Three days after receiving his second kidney transplant and telling his wife: “I love you”, he was called Home.  I know there was plenty of rejoicing in Heaven yesterday…just as I know there will be lots of sadness expressed in my hometown over the next few days.  Losing a teacher/preacher man is like that.  It is just plain hard to say good-bye to one of the “good” guys – even when we know from Jewish tradition that good never ends – and all of Heaven is rejoicing and throwing a fantastic “Welcome Home” party in his honor.

I’ve  led a blessed life that has allowed me to encounter a few teacher/preacher men and women. People who managed to stand on their faith everyday, no matter the circumstances swirling around them – no matter the confrontations that they had to endure because of their testimony.  Reaching out and  being able to teach others about the Love that surrounds us all – even when facing everyday challenges – is what sets a teacher/preacher apart from many others.  They daily walk in the Light as He is in the Light, and they reflect His Love to all that are blessed enough to join them on that walk.

‘On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.’” — Leviticus 23:40

sukkotTomorrow at sundown, the Jewish festival of Sukkot begins.  It will also be the second blood  moon that has fallen on a Jewish holiday this year.  It is a time of great joy.  A time to live in a temporary shelter so that they remember what it was like on the journey to the Promise Land and seek to create the  trust that should live within them for Jehovah-Jireh. The New Year has just begun (Yom Kippur/Rosh Hashanah), and now it is time for each person to dedicate themselves and their lives to the One True God.  They gather four species of plants that Sages say represent the body, wave them in all four directions of the world, and stand on their faith, letting David’s ancient words sing for all the world to hear.  For a short moment in time, they become teacher/preachers and people are blessed by their words and actions.

“With every bone in my body, I will praise Him,”  Ps 36:1

Words can be curses or blessings.  The 9th commandment points this out ratherlie succinctly.  Most of us learned it: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Ex 20:13.  Needless to say, most of us think of that this means just don’t lie about something someone else has done or not done.  However, Jewish tradition applies this commandment to all sins that are done in the form of speech.  Making fun of someone?  Gossiping?  Swearing falsely about anything?  Leading someone away from the Light with your words?  It is a basic reminder that we are to use our words as a blessing instead of a curse. A reminder to be a teacher/preacher with everything we say.  heaven-of-angels

My friend was one of those people.  His words were a blessing and a gift to our world.  We will miss you, my friend, but I also know that your journey with the angels has just begun.

 

 

 

 

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.

Remain Calm

Yesterday, when I was putting thoughts to paper, I used a quote from one of my favorite movies.  In fact, I used this movie in the classroom every year.  The boys would groan (at first); the girls would fall in love with Jack; and Disney would profit because most of them ran out to buy the movie so they could watch it again.  Tonight was a Newsies type of night.

Davie:  “Alright — everyone remain calm.”  

I watch the news, and I can hear Davie’s words in my head.  I wish I could follow his advice, but my heart hurts.  My friend sends me an e-mail that he got from one of his friends in Iraq asking for prayer.  The UN has fled the area.  ISIS is just outside the gates, but the Christian Relief group is staying – trying to comfort the fearful and encourage their faith in this desperate time.   Jews in France being attacked, threatened and a few…killed.  People of all faiths in Ukraine are fleeing.  Jews in Israel being told the missiles are pointing toward Tel Aviv once again.  I guess that means the cease fire will be over tomorrow.  Evil is a foot – big time.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deut 31:6

We tend to shy away from that ancient term:  evil.  Even the church doesn’t mention it much anymore.  You can feel the uneasiness swirl around you if you happen to say it aloud.   evil.  The Bible mentions it often, but these days…it offends us.  It isn’t logical the knowledgeable argue.  Bad things happen, but that is because of up-bringing, societal pressures, environment, abuse……  You’ve heard them all, I’m sure.  An educated laugh and the joke is on us.   Like the sheep we are, we have fallen into line silently behind them.  Avoiding the messiness of debate that might hurt someone’s feelings; enjoying the quiet of our neighborhood where sirens don’t pierce our evening meal; the easy routines not being interrupted by a terrible sword slicing them to shreds; reading, T.V. shows, a night at the bar, playing our games on the computer, tomorrow’s lesson plans, cuddling our children, facebooking, twittering…

“For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”  Jude 1:4 

Did you ever notice and wonder about the little things?  ISIS is spelled the same name as the Egyptian goddess from Roman times.  Russia is no longer a sleeping bear.  China is being awfully quiet.  The second blood moon is coming soon (Oct 8th) on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (the harvest festival…hmmmm…). Prayer is making a resurgence into our vocabulary.  Miracle stories are being recounted over and over by the people under attack.

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Lk 18:7-8 

Tonight as I kneel by my bed, I think my prayers will be tossing and turning like the waves of that Galilean sea that our LORD walked across so long ago.  I will pray for my husband, my children and grandchildren; my extended family of relatives and students; those grieving; a baby being born; a brave soul enduring yet another surgery in the battle with a super bug infection; my troubled nation, my brothers and sisters in Christ/the Jewish nation at large, and finally, I will ruminate on that last sentence in Luke:  “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”  Then I will lie down and sleep because: “I know that my redeemer liveth.”  Job 19:25

Hopefully, when Christ does return, He will find faith upon the earth.  It is my prayer that He will find it in me and others who are stumbling along this same path.  My life has been blessed with music from the day I was conceived and could listen to my mom and dad sing to me (mom used to say they sang to me even before I was born).  It is where I turn when my mind is troubled, and I need comfort.  Newsies or The Messiah or lullabies sung by the angels around me; I am singing my prayers tonight for His mercy and grace, and hope that your songs will add harmony to mine.