Monday, December 21, 2009

Pictures from Israel

Tevet 4, 5770

After 36 hours of travel, here we are sitting in the tour bus outside of the Tel Aviv airport. Logic dictates we should have been exhausted. However, the power of adrenaline was in full effect as there was no way we were going to shut our eyes and miss any of this trip.

We drove a little under an hour to the Jerusalem Plaza Hotel, just a 5-minute walk from downtown Jerusalem.

After exploring the hotel and meeting our group, we did crash for the evening since our first full day of touring started the next morning with a 6:45 a.m. breakfast buffet. Meditteranean word...YUM!

First stop on Day 1: Mount of Olives

Here are some views from the top of the Mountain. The gold dome is the Dome of the Rock at the top of the Temple Mount. (we went there too - I'll post pics another day)

We were told that tours do not typically start with a walking tour of Jerusalem because it physically wears the guests out. Therefore, it is usually saved for day 4 or 5. I, however, couldn't have asked for a better way to start the tour. The view from the top of this mountain is burned into my heart. For it was here that I fell in love with Israel.

More pics to come!!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Hanukah Mishap

Kislev 28, 5770
Happy 4th day of Hanukah

It's always a challenge trying to find age-appropriate ways to ignite a passion in our small children for the feasts and Holidays that remind us of God. It's a further challenge to remember that we (as Messianic believers) do not do these activities out of religion causing them to be practiced begrudgingly, but we do it out of excitement and love for Yeshua our Messiah. For the feasts and holidays emulate His life and His second coming.

So again, back to the challenge of expressing that to small children who don't want to hear Momma preach!

This year, we took the approach of keeping it simple and making it fun.

As part of our fun, (and I must admit, I snagged this idea from another Mom) I wrapped Hanukah/Christmas books and put them in a basket.

Each night, after speaking the blessings and lighting the candles, the kids get to pick a "present". They unwrap the book and we sit and read followed by a kid-inspired family night.

And, here is where the mishap takes place.

Last night, we deemed it movie night. In our haste, we ran from lighting the candles and reading to the TV room to watch our movie. Well, guess what Mommy forgot to do.

Yep, I forgot to blow out the candles. Here are some better pics since the above pic doesn't do the mess justice.

When we discovered it, the candles were clear pools of wax down in the cups of the candlesticks with barely glowing wicks in the middle.
So, guess what I'll be doing today in order to light the candles tonight! I'm hoping a hair dryer on low heat and a butter knife will do the trick. But....I'm open to suggestions.

On another note....this is the season of miracles. Wether you celebrate Hanukah, Christmas or both, we are all celebrating miracles.

It is my prayer that we will invite the Lord to work His miracles in our lives. It is my challenge to give the Lord free reign in my life to work the miracles He wants to give and not the ones I expect. Surprise us, oh Lord, that we would be blessed in ways our minds cannot forsee.

Have a wonderful week.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Poor Neglected Blog, I'm Back....Again!

Kislev 20, 5770

Hello again Bloggy friends. I’m so sorry for being gone for so long. I’ve missed reading everyone’s blogs and will spend some time catching up this week.

The reason I haven’t posted in so long?? I’m glad you asked. :-)

We have just returned from Israel!!

We went as part of Sid Roth’s (from the show It’s Supernatural) tour group to the Holy Land.

Sid is a Messianic believer and a dual citizen of Israel and the United States. For me, there was no better way to experience Israel for the first time than through the eyes of another Messianic believer. It was a life changing experience and one I intend to share over the next few weeks.

For now, here are a few photos.

My husband (who is holding the camera, hence his weird facial expression!) took this picture of us sitting on the bus. We are in the Tel Aviv airport parking lot and had been traveling for 36 hours w/no sleep.

Our first day of touring and our first panoramic glimpse of Jerusalem. We were standing on the Mount of Olives looking towards the old city.

David's tower at night.

Due to some impending writing assignments, I will have to cut back posting to every Monday. But, I’ll be here on Mondays sharing what the Lord has put on my heart and more photos of the trip.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to catch up. By the Way, this Friday is the first day of Hanukkah so……Happy Hanukkah!!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

While Away the Toys will Play

"For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." Psalm 84:10

I interrupt the regularly scheduled Jewish Project for a story of another kind.

Each October, my family treks down to Orlando to spend time in the most Magical Place on Earth: Disney World.

This is a big to-do in our house and we start gearing up for it months in advance. Having made this trip for many years, we have come to expect a certain level of Disney magic that makes all vacations perfect and grand. However, this trip was much different. We had to fight for each moment of happiness.

For example, here’s what happened this past Saturday.

Obstacle number 1)….we spent the day at Hollywood Studios. Most of the attractions at this theme park are shows, so we had to schedule our day in regards to show times. This set us up for a very long day with two preschoolers…..but we were aware of this and had a pre-established grace flowing.

Obstacle 2) My husband and I had made reservations to have lunch at Mama Melrose’s inside the park. A restaurant I love. However, since we switched to a gluten-free diet this past summer, we had to order gluten-free food, which this restaurant does have available. And so my family dined on Tapioca rolls and gluten-free flatbread pizzas. Really….do I have to explain? Yep. I wanted a do-over.

Obstacle 3) The night before was our son’s birthday and all his unwrapped but unopened gifts were back in our cabin. Let’s see…you’re six and you can either walk around in a park all day or go back and play with your brand new toys. Uh-huh.

Obstacle 4) Finally, after a long day in the park, we took Disney transportation back to the “hub” of our resort – Fort Wilderness. Since it was late, we decided to get take out from the restaurant that was there. We ordered and waited….and waited…..and waited…..and waited. They forgot our food. But, we finally got it and off we went to catch the bus that would take us to the “sleeve” of where our cabin was located.

And, Obstacle 5) We boarded the bus that said “Settlement Orange”….the bus we needed. However, as we boarded the bus, the driver changed the sign to Wilderness Lodge. Yeah….we got on the wrong bus! But, in true Disney fashion, the driver was extremely nice and took a detour to take us home.

So, here we are. Off the bus and walking down the road towards our cabin, so very ready to sit down and relax. As we walked up our steps, we noticed that we forgot to put out the “do not disturb” sign.

Opening the door to our cabin we found this:

And this

(If you look close, Ferb is holding the TV remote and the TV which was right in front of him was turned on to the Disney channel)

And this

(This was Squeaker's bottom bunk where she found her brand new Simba plush toy nice and tucked in.)

And this

(Bug's upper bunk where Phineas is hanging out with Piglet)

And this

(Now this picture was taken in the bathroom and the elephant towels were hanging above the toilet. The irony of the scene was lost on the kids however, I'm very much aware that elephants are heffalumps in Disney's Pooh bear series and Pooh is very afraid of Heffalumps.)

And this

(Teddy sitting on the table coloring)

We laughed so hard we cried. All day long we fought for happiness, intent that we would not let little distractions or setbacks destroy our family vacation. In the end, we discovered the Lord had a surprise for us. A personalized comedy show right in our own room.

After finding puppy playing in the trash, we grabbed the camera and went on a treasure hunt to find out what the rest of the toys were doing while we were gone. Each “scene” was met with uproarious laughter that healed a portion of our day.

In the end, my husband and I had tears in our eyes as the scripture listed above came to life in both our hearts.

Why? Because a woman, who does not hold a glamorous job by any means, performed her work as if she was holding the “door open in the house of the Lord”.

The next day, we were checking out of the resort and uncharisterically decided to hang out in the cabin for the last few hours instead of going to another park. Because of this, we were in the cabin when the cleaning lady came to call.

So grateful to meet her, we took the time to thank her for the wonderful scenes she had left in our room and how much joy it brought us.

You will never guess her response….

She explained to us that she likes to create one scene per day in all the rooms she cleans. However, since we had the “do not disturb” on the day before, she didn’t get to make one for us and therefore decided to make up for lost time. Then, she reached in her bag and pulled out two more gifts. She handed our princess a tube of princess bubbles, and our little prince a toy airplane.

She did not expect to meet us. She did not expect gratitude. And yet, in a random moment of her tedious day, she was prepared to be a gift-giver.

Isn’t that all The Lord asks of us?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Mezuzah and the Lightning

The Jewish Project

Tishrei 26, 5770

(On Monday, my post reflected the story of how the Lord instructed us to mark our house with a Mezuzah. Here is our testimony of what happened afterwards.)

It was raining.

Upstairs, we could hear the thud of footsteps as the kids ran back and forth playing tag. We sat at the table talking and picking at the crumbs left on our dinner plates.

Outside, the storm raged. Staring through the back window, I remember being amazed by the amount of lightning this particular storm had when a bolt hit the top of our house. The noise was so loud that my simultaneous scream could not be heard. The kids flew down the steps and were standing next to us before I stopped screaming. Half the house was dark while the other half was life as usual.

Checking the breaker box, my husband found half the circuits flipped. He turned them back on and the house hummed.

In the after math, our cable modem was fried and our security system panel sputtered and spat until it choked and died. The only electronic item not on a surge protector was a lone DVD player and it also met its maker, but other than that, the house was intact. We could find no other damage.

The storms continued throughout the week and two days after the lightning strike, I found a wet spot on the upstairs ceiling. Certain this was from the strike; I called the insurance company and filed a claim. But, that evening, we determined the wet spot was due to the horizontal rain earlier that day that had blown into the roof vent. And so, I closed the claim.

Five days after the lightning strike, the rain paused long enough for us to do some yard work. Within minutes of each other, I found a shingle in the back yard while my husband found one in the front. The next morning, I reopened the claim.

Seven days after the strike, a roofer came to give us an estimate. After climbing on the roof and inspecting the damage, he knocked on my door and said, “Ma’am, are you sure you don’t have any damage inside?”

“No.” I said.

“Well ma’am, are you sure there isn’t water upstairs or ceiling falling down up there?”

Again I replied “No” all the while thinking I would know if my roof was caving in so why do you keep asking.

Then, the roofer literally scratched his head and said, “Well, I don’t understand it, but you shouldn’t have a ceiling inside and in fact, I’m not sure why your house didn’t burn down.”

The next day, the roofer came with his team and fixed the roof. Once again, he rang the doorbell. This time he had two pieces of plywood in his hand.

“Ma’am” he said, “This is where the lightning entered the house.”

“This is where it exited.”

“I still don’t understand why you have a house.” Then this roofer, who is not a Christian, said this, “The only way I can explain it is G-d”

To which I replied, “Yes sir, G-d’s favor, prayer and His blood. Our house is marked for Him”

The logistics of the hit: there were two large holes in the top of the roof. The house did not catch fire. Not only that, but it rained for six days after the holes were there. No rain came through our roof (except for the roof vent which caused no damage). The roofer even crawled into the attic space and inspected the insulation. Nothing was wet.

On a major road near our home, on the same night our house was hit by lightning, two businesses were also hit. Both of them burned to the ground.

G-d instructed me to mark our house with His word. He led me to the discovery of the Mezuzah. We obeyed and He honored His covenant with us.

Until next time…Shalom!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Upon the Doorpost

If this is your first time visiting, please click the link above to find out about the project. And, welcome!

Tishrei 24, 5770

“…And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Deut 6:9

I did not understand.

The burden you placed upon my heart was heavy, but my head knowledge was not yet such so that I knew how to obey.

Mark your house with my word…

The command was simple enough and yet the execution lacked the holiness that you so deserve, my Lord. I considered taping index cards with scripture inside my closet and beneath the beds. But, tape fails and the cards fall leaving your word discarded in forgotten corners covered in layers of unseen dust. There were other ideas as well. I could take a pen and write on the house, but ink fades and the words melt into a background of familiarity; once again forgotten.

No, your word deserved more. My Lord, how do I obey?

I called upon your name, Adonai El Elyon – The Lord Most High. I reach my hands to heaven, knowing my answer is on your tongue. Blessed Lord, look down upon me and know my heart is to respect the living, written word which you have bestowed upon us. How would you like me to fulfill your command?

The Mezuzah

The answer came not once but three times. Reading a website of a favorite minister, I found a Mezuzah in his store. Intrigued I researched it and discovered it to be an ancient Jewish tradition of marking ones house with the word of G-d.

The answer came again just a few weeks later while reading a fiction book by one of my favorite authors. One of the characters was a Jewish man whose occupation was to transcribe the scrolls for the inside of the Mezuzah.

The answer came a third time when a friend started a random discussion with me on how she was looking for a Mezuzah for her home.

I sought you and you answered. Not once, but many times. I have obeyed. I’ve marked my doorpost with the word of the Lord. I see it when I enter, and I see it when I leave. Your word is forever before my eyes and upon my heart.

This is my “letter” to the Lord regarding marking our house with His word. In future posts, I’ll write more letters on how marking our house with His word has made a significant difference in our home. As always, feel free to leave comments or questions.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Lighting the Candles Part 3

The Jewish Project

Tishrei 21, 5770

On Monday, I discussed what we set on our table to prepare for Shabbat:

And, on Wednesday, I detailed our ceremony.

But, today, I’d like to share with you why we as a family light the candles. Many traditional Jewish families follow a legalistic approach to Shabbat that does not allow them to do any kind of work during this 24-hour period. Included in this is no TV, no driving, no working in the house, having all meals prepared ahead of time and some even fast for the Sabbath.

However, like I said earlier, we are a Messianic household. We believe Yeshua(Jesus) came and redeemed us from the curse of the law. He is our light and we follow Him. Therefore, we keep Shabbat as we feel Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) leads us too.

We gather together and Light the candles, showing through action that Yeshua is the light that we follow in the darkness of the world. We speak the blessing over our house and family and rededicate ourselves to Him. We partake of Holy Communion, meditate on His word and pray together as a family.

And then, for the next 24 hours we celebrate.

In our household, Shabbat is family day and whatever we do during those 24 hours, we do it as a family. Some of our favorite activities are:

· Popcorn and movie night
· Game night
· Going out for a treat after dinner AND the kid’s get the treat whether they eat dinner or not (this is their favorite)
· Zoo day

Or, we just do regularly scheduled activities together. We take this time to reset as a family, reconnect with each other and build memories. It’s my favorite time of week and it sets the pace for the week to come.

So, this is a peek into our Shabbat. Like I said, it only scratches the surface of what Shabbat really is, but I think it’s a great start.

Until Monday, I leave you with this scripture.

“And G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” Gen 2:3


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lighting the Candles Part 2

The Jewish Project

Tishrei 19, 5770

Side Note: Sukkot started on Oct 3 and I do plan to post on this Feast of the Lord but it will probably be next week.

I must say that the more I research and learn about His feasts and Jewish customs, the more I realize 1) how much I do not know and 2) how awesome it is to discover the mysteries that I’d missed all these years in the Bible.

So, again, I must reiterate that my family has only scratched the surface when it comes to studying out Shabbat. But, I promise to post what I discover!

I left off Monday’s post with the items that are on the table for our “lighting of the candles”. Another item we use is prayer shawls.

Recently, my grandmother hand crocheted a prayer shawl for myself and my daughter.

Although these shawls do not look like a typical ornate prayer shawl worn by Jewish women during blessing/prayer ceremonies, it is very special to me and an heirloom that I can pass down. (Thank you Grandma!)

Here is our daughter wearing the prayer shawl.

And, wearing the shawls, it is now time to start the ceremony. I, as the eldest woman in the house, light the candles. I wave my hands over the flame three times to welcome in the Sabbath. Then, placing my hands over my eyes so that I’m not looking directly at the candles, I say the blessing.

First in Hebrew as follows:

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
Asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve-tsivanu lehiyot or
Le-goyim v’natan-lanu et Yeshua Meshicheinu or ha-olam

And then I repeat it again in English:

Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe,
Who sanctified us with his commandments, and commanded us to be a light
to the nations and who gave to us Jesus our Messiah the light of the world.

After saying the blessing, Daddy prays over each child for the coming week. We then have a devotional regarding communion followed by the partaking of the elements.

We conclude the ceremony with the kids giving any prayer requests they may have, and then corporately offering the requests to the Lord in prayer.
In the future, I would like to add reading the weekly Torah portion to our ceremony as I just learned that technically you are supposed to that.
For Friday’s post, I’ll sum up our family’s “lighting of the candles” and share how we celebrate Shabbat.

Remember to leave a comment with any questions so we can chat about it.

Until Friday, Shalom!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lighting the Candles

The Jewish Project

Tishrei 17, 5770

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Ex 20:8

“Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy G-d hath commanded thee.” Deut 5:12

Every Friday at Sundown is the start of Shabbat. In many Jewish and Christian homes, Shabbat is welcomed in through the ceremonial lighting of the candles.

As I thought about how to arrange this post, I realized that it had the potential of being very long. So, I’ve decided to break it up over the next three posts.

Knowing this ceremony differs from family to family, I can only base this off how Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) has guided our family in this ceremony. And, as our family grows in the study of our Hebraic roots, I’m sure the depth of which we light the candles will as well. But, here it is for now.

The lighting of the candles is supposed to take place prior to sundown and, traditionally, no later than 18 minutes before sundown. I would love to know the premise behind the 18 minute rule but have yet to find that answer. I will continue to research that.

So, the first thing I do is prepare the table.

The two candles in the front represent the two ways the Lord told the Israelites to keep the Sabbath in the Torah. It is based on Ex 20:8 and Deut 5:12 (listed above). In Ex, the Hebrew word for “remember” is Zakhor and in Deut, the Hebrew word for “sanctify” is Shamor (which actually translates “keep” or “guard”).

Therefore, the two candles are to Zakhor and Shamor Shabbat or remember and sanctify the Sabbath.

Many families also light an additional candle for each child in the home. The two candles in the back represent our two children.

As a side note, when we started lighting the candles earlier this summer, I went on a mad search to find just the right Shabbat candle holders. I was unsuccessful to say the least. I did find a set online that I loved; however I was informed by the seller that they were on back order. And at this point, they must be on back order for all of eternity since I have yet to hear back from them.

But, I started going through an old box in our garage and discovered a hidden treasure of crystal items that were given to us as presents at our wedding. We had packed them away because in our first house, there was no where to put them. After that, the box was forgotten about. Well, in the midst of this treasure was a pair of crystal Star of David candle holders.

Let’s just say, I wore a smile on my face and heart for the remainder of that day.

As a Messianic family (believing that Yeshua or Jesus is the Messiah) we also take communion as part of our candle ceremony and of course the last item on the table is the word of G-d…..

More to come on Wednesday. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment with any questions. The more questions I have, the more I know what to research.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Jewish Calendar

The Jewish Project

Tishrei 14, 5770

Today’s post is in response to two bloggy friends who raised a question regarding the Jewish calendar. I had originally intended to answer the question and continue on with what I had planned for my post however, once I began researching the calendar, I was blown away by its Biblical complexity. Therefore, I decided to dedicate today’s post to the Jewish calendar.

As a point of reference, I’ll start with our calendar. We use the internationally accepted civil Gregorian calendar, established on February 24, 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. It is an arithmetical solar calendar and uses the Anno Domini counting system for our year. As in, October 2, 2009 years since the birth of Christ.

The Jewish Calendar is a lunisolar calendar. It’s based on 12 Lunar months, each consisting of 29 or 30 days and each beginning with a New Moon.

Because of the time differences between a lunar and solar calendar, the Gregorian calendar is ahead of the Jewish calendar by 11 days. Therefore, when enough years go by that the accumulated days are approx 30, an intercalated month is added to the Jewish calendar. (this information is for the highly scholastic individuals. I, for one, have already forgotten it now that’s it been typed on paper.) J

Here’s the fascinating part (to me anyway). G-d dictated this calendar to Moses. It may have changed some over the millennia or perhaps not. I suppose only G-d has that answer. But, by any means, it is G-d’s calendar and is perfect in its formation. The lunar calendar is devised in such a way that the lunar events are used to determine feast cycles, agricultural cycles as they pertain to dry/rainy, harvest/sewing times. It is also used to determine which Torah portions are read publicly, which is fascinating when you begin to study the correlation between Torah readings and world events that take place at the same time. And, it also determines Shabbat days, seasons and years.

The first month of the calendar is found in Exodus 12:2, 13:4 and Deut 16:1. Depending on your translation it is called Nisan, Nissan, Abib or Aviv. It all translates Spring. (Side note – it was very neat to discover my name in Hebrew is Aviv.)

The weekly cycle is a mirroring of the seven day creation story in the Book of Genesis (specifically Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 23, 31 and 2:2), with a day gauged from sunset to sunset. It translates as follows:

Yom Rishon – first day – Sunday
Yom Sheni – second day – Monday
Yom Shlish – third day – Tuesday
Yom Revi – fourth day – Wednesday
Yom Chamishi – fifth day – Thursday
Yom Shishi – sixth day – Friday
Yom Shabbat – seventh day – Saturday

This was great information for me since now I can answer the question “Why do Jews celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday?” (Remember, I’m starting from s-c-r-a-t-c-h)

And, the answer to the question posed by my bloggy friends. The Jewish calendar uses the Anno Mundi numbering system. Latin for “the year of the world”, this numbering system dates the years from the epoch of one year prior to creation as determined by Rabbinical reckoning.

If I may borrow a quote….how they determined the year of creation is a topic that’s above my pay grade.

The dichotomy between the Anno Mundi and Anno Domini numbering systems brings up many questions that I could ramble on about, but it is late and this post is long, so I will stop.

In light of learning (the very basics) about the calendar, at sunset today Shabbat will begin. My family will be lighting the candles and celebrating with a family night. How that goes should make for an interesting post.

And, I have discovered that Sukkot is the feast of Tabernacles which begins Tishrei 15 or Oct 3rd. I still have not figured out how our family will be celebrating, but I will definitely keep you posted.

Until Monday…Shalom!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stumbling Block

The Jewish Project

Today is Tishri 12, 5770 according to the Jewish calendar.

As my bloggy friend Barbara pointed out, last Sunday was Yom Kippur, a day of celebration at the end of the ten days of Awe which start with the Jewish New Year, Rosh ha-Shanah.

I must admit, the only thing my family did that day was attend church which was awesome since Marilyn Hickey was the guest speaker…but I digress.

I did, however, observe the ten days of Awe for myself. Since I haven’t learned all the in’s and out’s of these days, mine was rather simplistic in nature. I used each day as a time of reflection, self-examination, much repentance and prayer. I will admit, by the eighth day I was convinced I wouldn’t survive anymore self-examination! But, it was worth it and Yom Kippur was a very special day for me personally. Next year, my goal is to make it a family event!

Okay, on to today’s topic.

The first stumbling block

As Jewishness is passed down through the mother, I was so proud at the start of this project to announce to my children that they are Jewish and we as a family (with Daddy in agreement) are going to return to our roots.

What is the scripture? Pride cometh before a fall?

Off to the library we went in search of Jewish children’s books. I found a wonderful book called What makes me a Jew? By Adam Woog

With anticipation I checked it out and took it home ignoring the fact that my son kept trying to put it back on the library shelf. The next morning, we sat down to read the first chapter. My son (who adores reading) hemmed and hawed over the whole thing. “Mom, please don’t make us read this book.” “Can we read Clifford instead?”

Trying to keep the event a happy one, we stopped for the day.

The next day, we sat down AGAIN to read the book. Bug, AGAIN, griped and complained until we turned the page and found a picture of a group of school children standing over the Torah, reading it with a Yud.

Ecstatic, Bug yells out, “Mom, those kids are reading toilet paper!”

And, now it’s cool to be a Jew. You get to read toilet paper.

Hysterically laughing and greatly humbled, we returned the book to the library and I’m currently looking for different avenues to try with the kids.

Any suggestions?

In the mean time, I have some studying to do as next week is Sukkot.


Monday, September 28, 2009

The Jewish Project

Dark hair. Dark eyes. Large rounded head, big bushy eyebrows and an angular nose.

These are my features.

Not embarrassing features in anyway. In fact, I love them. But, growing up, they were just enough to keep me from fitting the mold of the “soft, delicate, small-featured, bright-eyed” American girl.

The problem – my features weren’t blatant enough to explain my ethnicity either so I wasn’t able to celebrate my differences, only endure the status of outcast.

Let me guess, you did a double take on the pictures and asked “ethnic”? Yes, we are.

My family is from the farm country outside Belgrade in the old Republic of Yugoslavia. I grew up understanding we are Slovenian, however by location of our village we are technically Serbian. But, all that aside, we are also Jewish. Sephardim Baltic Jews to be exact.

The two villages my family members come from began immigrating to the States in the early 1900’s around the time of WWI. They settled in Illinois. The relocation continued for 30 years, but after Hitler’s regime was in full swing, not too much else could be found about my family.

And, although I could write volumes about the above paragraph, I must digress back to my original point.

I was not raised Jewish. In fact, my Slovenian family was strict Roman Catholic. As far as I can tell through research, many Jews in the Balkans converted to Catholicism in order to make a living, raise a family, and avoid anti-Semitic behavior.

This leads me to The Jewish Project.

Now that I’m older, have a family of my own and have learned to tame my eyebrows, I’m ready to celebrate my differences. I come from an extremely rich heritage, and want to be able to pass it onto my children.

So, here’s the project. I’m going to learn and blog about what it means to be Jewish. And, I mean everything: the language, the feasts of the Lord, the history, the future according to the word of God, and even a trip to Israel.

I invite you to join me on this adventure and remember, I know nothing!!! I’m starting from scratch here, so please throw grace my way if I mess up.

Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

She Did It!

If you missed my post about my grandmother going on her first mission’s trip, please click here to read it.

Last week, my wonderful 79-year old Grandma went on her first mission’s trip to Nicaragua.

Her fear - that she would hold back the group or worse, not be a productive member of the group.

Her goal – to be a blessing in any way she could.

Well…God took care of her fears and I believe He took care of her goal as well. Every night, the group led a crusade. Every night, Gram was asked to speak at two separate points in the service. She told stories from her life. Stories that in hindsight bear the fingerprints of the hand of God. Stories most of the women in the villages could relate too.

My Gram also carried two very full suitcases to Nicaragua. She came home with empty ones. Why? In the words of my Grandma, “Because the people in those villages have nothing. They need this more than I do.”

She even gave away the watch she was wearing and the rings on her fingers. These items went to a 12-year old boy who sold makeshift jewelry that his mom made. This was his family’s sole source of income. My Grandmother gave the items to him to sell for food.

To say I’ve always looked up to my Grandma would be an undermining of my true feelings. She is an inspiration to me. I love her dearly.

And, on a lighter note, she did have a little fun on the trip as well. My dear, sweet, daredevil Grandmother went ziplining through the rain forest. And, not just once. In order to go on the zipline, you had to “fly” through 11 stations, so yes, my Gram ziplined 11 times. I wonder what she will do for her 80th birthday.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ingenuity of a 5-Year old

Oh, the last lazy days of summer.

Bug decided to dedicate his last lazy day of summer to working towards the Guiness World Book of Records prize for most hours playing a leapster video game.

Here's the start of the day:

But, too many hours playing causes very tired arms. So, Bug came up with this idea (on his own)

Who would have thought that napkin holders make great video game holders as well.

Now, everyone knows it's hard to read those little screens in the bright sun. Well, Bug came up with an answer to that one too. Late in the afternoon, when the sun shines it's brightest in our den, I found our dear son like this:

The darkness of the box makes for a great theatre feel.

Our son...he is too funny.

Friday, July 31, 2009


On July 1, 2009, my grandmother turned 79-years old.

Today, she leaves for Nicaragua on her very first missions trip.

My Grandma second guessed this trip many times. She thought she was too old to do anyone any good and was afraid she hold the rest of the group back. But, then she heard about the poverty level of the villagers of this country. Her heart was broken. She stepped out in faith and signed up for the trip.

She started packing. She cleaned her closet out of all clothing she no longer wears. She shopped for additional clothing items to augment the ones she pulled from her closet. She purchased used luggage from the Hubbard House thrift store, and packed all the items away.

Today, she'll board a plane with two very full suitcases. Her goal - to come home empty handed, as she intends to give everything away including the clothes she brought for herself on the trip.

My Grandma decided not to let the physical obstacle of her age stand in the way of her ability to be a blessing.

My opinion, she may come back empty-handed, but her heart will be very full!

Have a great trip Grandma. You will be continuously in our prayers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There Shall Be No Wheat in the Kitchen

This summer, I have discovered that my children and I are allergic/intolerant to wheat.

Oddly enough I’m thrilled over this discovery. Why? Because it’s an answer to a question that has gone unanswered for years.

We have known we have allergies. We’ve been to doctors and to an allergist. There’s been skin tests and blood work, but everything comes back inconclusive.

Over the years we have found a few triggers. I am severely intolerant of all artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame. Our daughter is intolerant of dairy and our son can’t eat certain preservatives or artificial colorings. However, none of these were a conclusive answer to our problems since on any given day, between me and the kids we dealt with many symptoms including:

· Chronic fatigue
· Headaches/migraines
· Mental fogginess
· Congestion/nasal issues
· Inability to focus
· Eczema

Our only other option, according to the doctor was a complete elimination diet of all known allergens with a reintroduction of singular food groups to test for reactions. To be honest, the idea of accomplishing this with two small children loomed over me like Mt. Everest would to an amateur mountain climber. And so, I put it off.

However, this summer I was done! I was done fighting the battle of one or all of us not feeling well. But this time, I went to the cross first. I asked my prayer group to join with me to seek the face of God on these issues. In prayer, I heard the same word whispered to me three times….wheat.

Wheat? I really couldn’t believe wheat had anything to do with what we were going through, but I started researching none the less. In my research, I found a book released just this year titled Healthier without Wheat by Dr. Stephen Wangen.

Reading the book was like reading a biography of my medical history. Pretty sure I was on to something, I put myself on an elimination diet to test the theory. Three days into the gluten free diet (I chose to eliminate all gluten instead of just wheat), I started noticing a difference. After two weeks on the diet, all my symptoms were disappearing.

My transformation was so amazing my husband and I decided to include the kids. This took a lot of planning and preparation. I talked at length with the kids regarding the diet changes, and made sure I had plenty of alternative snack ideas on stand-by. And then, we took the plunge and changed their diet.

Our son’s transformation has been amazing. He no longer suffers from headaches or fatigue. He no longer craves wheat (which was a clue to his pediatrician as to the allergy) and he’s trying, and liking most of the time healthier food options. In fact, his quality of life is so improved that he voluntarily does NOT want to eat wheat. That says a lot coming from a 5-year old.

Our daughter, on the other hand, misses wheat. At one point during the first few days of the diet, she grabbed my leg and started crying and begging for some cheddar goldfish. But, she made the transition and is doing much better.

So, needless to say, our summer has consisted of converting our kitchen to a gluten-free zone. It’s been an interesting journey, which means I’ll have plenty of stories and recipes to throw out to bloggy world, but it has been well worth it.

Here’s to a wheat-free future!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hiatus Adieu

I drift from thought to thought as I re-familiarize myself with the silver keys of my laptop whose touch is now more sterile than intimate.

Has the summer been so jammed pack that I have not blogged or written since early June? Where has the time gone?

Perhaps one day I shall find an adage regarding “missing” time in a fortune cookie that will give me the key to the vault where all the wasted minutes are locked away. Then, I shall dive into those minutes and roll around as if bathing myself in unending possibilities of what can be accomplished in an infinite amount of time. But alas, such a Fort Knox of treasured time does not exist, and so I must continue to ponder what can be accomplished in 24 hours, and where did the last 24 hours go?

Which brings me back to summer. What a wonderful and busy time it has been. There have been many adventures, revelations and changes in our household. (Too many to talk about here and so I’ll save them for future blogs.) But now, it draws to a close. School is fast approaching. Extracurricular activities are starting back up, and daily schedules and events beckon to be organized.

The time off this summer has been very refreshing. It was needed and appreciated, but now it is time to bid farewell to my summer hiatus.

So…hello blog, hello work and hello again to the purposes of Adonai. May the work of my hand please you Lord.

On a PS note…the Proverbs 31 SheSpeaks conference is taking place this coming weekend. To everyone attending, I prayerfully hope it is an amazing time and that God is glorified continuously.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


No, I'm not going to be blogging about a frying pan today.

Instead, I'm referring to the Christian hard rock band Skillet. I absolutely love their music. This is funny since I was never into hard rock as a teenager. Come to think about it, I was never into hard rock in my twenties either. So, what about turning 30 made me like rock? I have no idea.

But, I do know why I like Skillet and bands like them. They are not afraid.

They're not afraid to love their God and use the gifts God gave them. And, they do have a gift.

So many times, as Christians, we feel we need to fit a mold. Once a Christian, we must lay down that which is fun and become boring. I mean, isn't that why the world doesn't want to turn to the church?

My response...."Are you kidding me!"

We as the church should be pouring out, creating, and prospering in the gifts and talents God has given us. We should be a light unto the world. If we are made in the likeness and image of the one true God and He is the creator of all things, then we should be creative in all the things that God has given us.

Praise God for people like Skillet who aren't afraid to step out in the giftings God gave them instead of making those giftings fit the mold of man.

So, why am I raging over Skillet today?

Well, for the first time (at the wonderful age of 35) I went to a hard rock concert.

Mental note: cell phones in dark auditoriums on the back row of the balcony don't take very good pics but you get the idea.

Can I just say what an awesome experience this was. And, I wasn't the oldest person there. Just across the aisle from us was a man in his late fifties who was dressed very business like and let me say, he was rocking out with the best of them.

Yes, Skillet brought down the house and I even shed a tear or two. Why? Because they are doing what they love and they are doing it because they love God. It doesn't get more awesome then that.

So, what is your gifting?

BTW, ithirst has released their June edition. To read part 4 of Mary's Journal simply click on short story in the left hand side of the homepage.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wonderful Tacos

I previously posted about the wonderful gift Bug's teachers presented to the mother's of the class via a Mother's Day Tea.

Part of that gift was a class "cookbook".

The teachers asked each student what their favorite meal was and then wrote verbatim the children's version of that recipe.

Our son chose Tacos.

His recipe was so cute, I thought I would share. Here it is:

Wonderful Tacos

First you cook the beans. Open the can and pour it in a black pan. Turn the stove on and walk away. (Wow, I wonder why he thinks you walk away. I never turn the stove on and walk away.....) But, come back to check if it's ready so it won't burn. Don't cook the cheese because it's supposed to be cold. Next, you cook the peppers. Cut them up and put them in the pan. Put the peppers and beans inside a taco shell and put the cheese on. Then get a drink and eat it for dinner. I like tacos. I like every part of them.

Isn't that precious? I love it.

Thank you JrK teachers. This is a forever memory.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I am a self proclaimed scatter-brain. I don't take offense to it. I just know that I get scattered in the moment which causes some "not-so-thought-through" ideas to come to my mind and mouth.

Do you like the teapot?

On our last Disney excursion, we purchased a not-so typical souvenir. This teapot and spoon rest. I'd looked at it longingly for three days until finally, my husband purchased it on the last day of the trip. I love it, and use it constantly for hot tea consumed throughout the day.

Needless to say, I've owned teapots before. I know to well the high-pitched shrill sound that screams "I'm boiling get me off the eye NOW!" Therefore,
I expected no less from this teapot.

Well, see the two steam holes?

It's a little hard to tell in the picture, but one is bigger than the other.

The first day I used the teapot, I placed it on the burner and then promptly forgot I'd turned it on. It's a teapot. It lets you know when it's ready.

Anyway, we live very near to the intracoastal waterway where large cargo ships bring import/export items all day long. On a clear day, you can hear the boat horns from our back porch.

Well, when this little teapot blew, it sounded like a boat horn. A ver loud one. I was in my office when I heard it and kept thinking, "Great day that boat's horn is loud. I wonder what's going on."

I finally walked out of my office with the intention of going on the back porch to listen for the boat when I passed the kitchen and realized it was the teapot!

The teapot sounded like a cargo ship.

After I laughed at myself a good while, I stared at the pot trying to figure out why it would sound like a ship when the irony hit me.

Steam pot Willie.

Get it? I guess you would have to like old school Disney to get the joke. Steam boat Willie was the debut film for Mickey Mouse.

So, now Steam Pot Willie resides in our kitchen and hot tea is all the more fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

End of School

Hi Bloggers.

This is just a note to say this is the last week of school and it is a tad bit hectic in our house. So, I will be back to blogging next week when things are quiter and the lazy days of summer have kicked into gear. Yeah!

However, I must leave you with this picture. It is priceless.

Most kids eat their tater tots. Our son creates canon ball stacks. And let me say, he was quite proud of himself.

Have a great week.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's Day Tea

I can go no further in this post until I say a loud and clear thank you to my son’s teachers for the wonderful event they put on this past Wednesday for all the student’s Moms. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


My son’s class hosted a Mother’s Day tea. We were formally invited two weeks in advance and had to RSVP via our child a week before the event. Bug asked me every day if I was coming to tea, and of course I said “yes”.

The day of the event, when I dropped Bug off at school, he jumped out of the car and picked a flower. Handing the dandelion to me he said, “don’t forget to come to tea.”

Oh my little prince, there is no way I’ll stand you up!

At two o’clock sharp, tea started. Each child escorted their mom to a designated seat. We each had a laminated, custom made (by our child) place mat (picture above) to hold our special snacks and drinks and we were presented with special presents made by our children.

I was shocked at how many gifts the kids made for the moms and therefore I’ll only share my favorite. Each child colored a picture of themselves with their mom and on the back of the picture, wrote what they love about Mommy.

I must digress a moment (as I often do) and give a piece of background information. As a devout follower of Yeshua, I am often led by Him in even the smallest details of life, including which clothes to wear. For Mother’s day tea, I knew I was to wear a pants outfit with a purple shirt. Purple is a color I have just recently started wearing and in fact, I believe this was only the third time I had worn this shirt.

Back to the story…..

Bug drew the following picture. It is him and I walking to church (so was his explanation). You can see that in the picture I am wearing a purple shirt. When Bug presented the picture to me, he was overwhelmed with joy that I was dressed the same as his picture and the smile on his face was priceless. It was a fairytale moment in the heart of a preschooler, and I will cherish the memory forever.

By the way, on the back of the picture, he wrote that he loves me because I put band-aids on his boo – boos, I wash the dirty linens and I keep his favorite piglet clean.

I will definitely have a new perspective when doing laundry!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

To My Husband

Seven years ago, on this day, God gave me the greatest gift I could have ever wanted…my husband.

I haven’t always done things right in my life. I tried it my way and on my terms and what I received was a lot of garbage that took a long time to clean up. But, when I learned to trust God and wait on Him, I discovered that He knows a lot more than I do.

God knows my quirks, my patterns of OCD, my humor, my love language, my strengths and my weaknesses. And, with all that in mind, he created a man who would be my perfect counterpart.

I believe with all my heart that I found the man God originally created to be my husband when he formed me in my mother’s womb.

My husband brings unspeakable joy, wisdom, security and love to my life. He makes me a complete person.

So, today, I celebrate my husband. I love you with all my heart.

Happy Anniversary!