Celebrating Our Messiah’s Resurrection

This week our family has been celebrating Passover, and it’s been a lovely week!

It started out with us hosting our first community Passover Seder on the first evening of Passover. Next, we celebrated our oldest’s 7th birthday, and we will celebrating Yeshua’s resurrection on Sunday.

With the festive nature and significance of the holidays of this week I felt inspired to write a little more about Passover. I want to introduce you to the little-known holiday of Yom HaBikkurim, discuss the roots of Easter, and then go over the whole thing from a Messianic perspective.

I’m not going to write an exhaustive essay on these topics.  But my hope is that you’ll come out on the other side with a better understanding than you started out with. 🙂

Passover – A Quick Overview

As an overview, the Passover holiday is comprised of three parts:

1.) The first night (often 2 nights)- which is what is typically referred to as Passover, when we celebrate with a seder dinner.
2.) The week of unleavened bread- when God tells us to eat only unleavened bread in remembrance (Leviticus 23:4-8)
3.) Yom HaBikkurim, which is the Feast of Early Firstfruits. (Here is a great article about the timing of Yom Habikkurim and the counting of the omer.)

Yom HaBikkurim – The Feast of Early Firstfruits

The Feast of Firstfruits is a very interesting holiday because it spans 50 days! The first day is the Feast of Early Firstfruits, Yom HaBikkurim, which is when the first fruits of the barley harvest were brought to the Lord. This day begins the counting of the omer, a counting of 49 days, after which another holiday, the Feast of Latter Firstfruits, or Shavuot, is celebrated. The latter firstfruits is when the first fruits of the wheat harvest was brought to the Lord.

Like all of the other holy days that the Lord has designed for us to celebrate and meet with Him, these two holidays have much more than an agricultural meaning. Historically, it is believed that the first Yom HaBikkurim was the day that God delivered His people from the Egyptians at the Red Sea, finalizing their freedom. It is also believed that the first Shavuot was the day that God gave the Torah on Mount Sinai.

But where I believe this gets really interesting is when we look at the Messianic fulfillments of these two holidays. Yom HaBikkurim is the day that our Messiah rose from the dead after His crucifixion.  Just as we will someday rise from death, He has risen, as the firstfruits:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23

And Shavuot is also known as Penticost, meaning fifty. As we know, this is the day that Yeshua sent His Spirit to the Jewish believers gathered in Jerusalem. (Acts 2)

Our Celebration of His Resurrection

Just as we honor the Lord’s death on Passover, we have found much meaning celebrating the resurrection of our Master on Yom HaBikkurim. There is a deep authenticity to the keeping of a holy day that was set apart by the Lord Himself. Knowing that God established these days so far in advance, with the plan of their ultimate fulfillment in Yeshua’s coming, is such an amazing realization!

While we can’t bring the first fruits of the barley harvest to the temple to offer to the Lord, we can offer Him the first fruits of our lives.  We can continue to meditate on the freedom that He gives us through Yeshua’s death that is ultimately known through His resurrection.  And we can celebrate that just as our Master was risen from death, we have achieved victory over death through His sacrifice!

What About Easter?

Now I am going to shift gears a bit.  I want to talk about the holiday that is usually used to celebrate the Messiah’s resurrection: Easter.

There is a lot of information out there discussing the history of Easter. And a lot of it is just plain terrifying! I don’t know about you, but when we began down the road of Messianic observance, we were mortified at the things we read and quickly put a stop to all of our celebrations that had questionable history. (Another blog coming later about this.) After several years of learning, we were finally introduced to some thorough, unbiased scholarship in this area. The FFOZ teaching, What About Paganism, was an eye-opening look into the actual history of these holidays. I would encourage anyone who is questioning the roots of these celebrations to check out this resource and get the whole scoop.

Here are a couple of things we’ve learned:

Myth: Easter is named after Ishtar, the goddess of fertility.
Fact: Easter is named after Ēastrethe month in the Old English calendar on which it fell. (Just as most of our months are still named after ancient gods.)

Myth: The Eucharist is pagan in origin, derived from the worship of Mithra.
Fact: The Eucharist comes from the Passover Seder, and has become separated from its Jewish roots over time.

Also, in most cultures and languages around the world, the celebration of Yeshua’s death and resurrection is still known as Passover – Pasqua, Paska, Pascha, Pascua – all derived from the Hebrew word Pesach, meaning Passover.

If you are questioning the roots of Easter I highly recommend you check out the resource above.  But suffice to say that we have come to the conclusion that celebrating Easter is not participating in some ancient pagan ritual.  Like anything else in life, you can choose to do it in a way that brings honor and glory to the Lord, or you can choose to do it in a way that pleases the flesh and ignores God.

Reconciling Easter as a Messianic Believer

In the Messianic community the misinformation I referenced briefly above has caused a lot  of paranoia about paganism.  Many people refuse to get together with the rest of their families who celebrate certain holidays because they believe it’s sinful.  Many spread false information and fear among believers.  And while I believe that the majority of people who do this do it out of genuine desire to honor God, it grieves me.  It grieves me because it is so alienating. It causes dissension and animosity between believers and does nothing to build the kingdom of God. So much of this information is also based on poor scholarship, which sends the message to the rest of the Christian world that we are “fringe” and uneducated. It can also cause deep, lasting hurt in families.

The Weightier Matters of Torah

This year we will be attending an Easter morning service for the first time since we’ve been married. Why? Because we now live close to Mark’s parents and we know that it would honor them (and bless us as well) to celebrate with them. This year, Easter is also the same day as Yom HaBikkurim, which means our family will already be celebrating the Resurrection that day.

Yeshua tells us that we should be holding to the weightier matters of Torah – justice, mercy, and faithfulness:

Woe to you! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Matthew 23:23

He also tells us that love is the highest commandment of all:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12

Rabbi Shaul (Paul) reiterates this sentiment:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:10

And so does John in his first epistle:

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.
1 John 3:23-24

I want to encourage you to let love reign in your celebrations of our Lord this season.  Whether you celebrate Yom HaBikkurim or Easter, do so in a way that brings honor to Yeshua and His power over death.   May your love for others take precedence over the particulars of your observance.

And may we all strive to outdo one another in showing honor!

~Judy

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

Today is one of my favorite days of the year- Passover!

This year will hold a special place in my memory, as we hosted our first community Seder last night.  We turned our dining and family rooms into a banquet hall and fit 34 people in our home to celebrate God’s deliverance!

Messianic Seder tables

This is one of the holiest days on God’s calendar, and it holds even more significance for us as believers. Passover was the first holiday (other than the Sabbath) created by the Lord, set apart as a holy day to remember his deliverance of his people from slavery. Most of us know that Yeshua was crucified on Passover as well, fulfilling an even deeper aspect of the holiday.

As we went through the Seder last night, we talked about the meaning of each of the elements, and it always amazes me how God set up these symbols to all have dual meaning- both for the Exodus and for Yeshua’s death and resurrection. The most memorable part of the evening for me was when Mark taught about the afikomen. He was brought to tears, recalling our Messiah’s brutal, sacrificial death.

Our Master, Yeshua, told us what the significance of the afikomen is.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer… And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:14-15, 19

We believe the three matzot represent the unity of the Godhead – the Father, the Son (Messiah) and the Holy Spirit. The middle matzah represents our Messiah, Yeshua. There are may ways the afikomen points to our Master:

  • The first significance is in it’s name. Afikomen means “The One Who Comes Again”. Yeshua rose again from the dead to complete His mission of redemption and, of course, He will come again to establish His kingdom.
  • It is made without leaven which is a symbol of sin. Likewise, Yeshua was sinless.
  • The matzah is striped from hot, swift baking. Likewise, His body was striped by means of the Roman whip.
  • The matzah is pierced to prevent rising. Similarly, His body was pierced by the Roman nails in His hands and feet and the Roman spear thrust in his side.
  • As the afikomen is wrapped in white cloth, so was His body prepared in white cloth for burial in a tomb.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” … And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,  “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Luke 22:14-16, 20

Another key part of the Seder is the 4 cups of wine/juice that are drank in certain parts of the evening.  Each cup has a specific meaning.  The cup after the meal – the one that Yeshua took and said “Do this in remembrance of me” – is the third cup – the Cup of Redemption.  How appropriate is it that we are told to remember Yeshua’s sacrifice at the Cup of Redemption!  Not only do we celebrate the redemption of the Jewish people from slavery, but we celebrate our redemption from slavery to sin, bought by our Messiah’s precious blood!

Passover & Communion

Growing up in the church, communion was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have memorized the verses our pastor read every time:

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-25

But in doing this every month, it was never explained to me that what Christians do as Communion was in fact instituted by the Messiah as a part of Passover!  While Communion does have beautiful meaning and symbolism, the depth of Passover far exceeds it.  God created this day to be a sacred celebration for His people, and we – as Gentiles grafted into His people – are encouraged and welcome to partake in it and receive the blessings that it entails.

This season, I encourage you to look into Passover yourself.  Learn about the dual symbolism that the Lord gave us to remember Him by, and let Him speak to you through it!

Many Blessings this Passover Season,
– Judy

Living a Quiet Life

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 ESV

I have been fairly quiet lately- both here as well as on Facebook, where I used to be fairly active. I still really enjoy writing, and see blogging as a long-term thing in my life, but over the past couple of months I have really felt little desire to write in my free time. Tonight, as I enjoy some much-needed alone time, I am thinking about this. And the verse above popped into my mind. “Aspire to live quietly.” That is what I’ve been feeling so much lately!

Rabbi Shaul (or Paul, as most refer to him), is sharing with the believing community in Thessalonica. He’s celebrating their love for each other, and encouraging them to lead a quiet life, mind their own business, and to work with their hands. In doing this, he says, they will walk properly- be a good witness- to the world around them.

Over the years, I have gone through phases of growth in the way I relate to others. I used to be very quiet, unsure of myself, and unwilling to speak up in most situations- afraid of saying the wrong thing or freezing up. Like many people, confrontation makes me rather uncomfortable. But somewhere along the way, I was able to finally break out of this. I met people who were introverted and yet outspoken, and it was inspiring! These women were strong and knew who they were. I wanted that for myself. I wanted to feel strong, to be able to stand up for what I believed in. And so I started doing just that. It was uncomfortable at first, but the more I did it, the easier it became! It felt so good to finally feel like I knew who I was and was able to express that without fear.

But as I’ve grown, I’ve realized something. While being able to stand up for yourself is crucial, it is equally important to know when to speak up, and when to let things roll off your back. It’s also so very important to always speak with grace. As Rabbi Shaul says to the believers in Colossi:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

Anyway, I guess I’m just trying to say that to me, this is a lot of what “Live a quiet life” and “Mind your own affairs” means. It doesn’t mean we should be doormats, never speaking up about right and wrong, but it does mean that we should use wisdom in deciding when to speak and always speak with grace.

It also means for me, that I just don’t say as much in general. I’ve taken stock and simplified my life, and if something (for example, a thread on Facebook) doesn’t directly edify my life and my family, I will think twice before joining in.

The last thing the rabbi encourages is to “work with your hands.” In addition to being a rabbi, Shaul/Paul was also a tentmaker. He knew what it was like to work with your hands. I found it intriguing that he included this in his letter. What is it about working with your hands that ties into your speech and relationships?

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I personally enjoy working with my hands, especially when it doesn’t include doing dishes! I like creating things, making beauty, and using my skills to bless others. At this stage of life, my hands are usually busy maintaining our home. Is there a purpose to this beyond just daily life?

According to Rabbi Shaul, working with your hands is part of the bigger picture of being a godly witness to the world around you. When I think about why, this is what comes to my mind:

1. It keeps you from being idle. Scripture is full of references regarding the danger of idle hands.
2. It allows you to create. I believe the Lord made us hardwired with a need to create, after all, we are made in His image.
3. It can often provide us with a way to bless others. If you don’t know what to use your hands to make, look to the needy world around you. Put together bags for the homeless. Knit blankets for the elderly forgotten in a nursing home. Make a care package for an inmate. What a witness we can be, simply by working with our hands. And if you’re at the place in life where keeping your home is all your hands can handle, that’s okay too! Your home is your highest calling.

Anyway, my time here is running out, but I wanted to be an encouragement tonight and share these thoughts with you all. I pray that it blesses you!

~Judy

Working on Being a Servant Mother

Over the past several years of parenting, no one has had a greater influence on my parenting heart than Sally Clarkson. Though I’ve never met her, I feel a kinship with her. Though she is a generation older than me, her past struggles are the ones I work through every day. I know, so mushy! But it’s totally true. I can’t tell you how many times her writing has brought me to tears because it’s like she’s reading my innermost thoughts- those ones I’d never voice on my own.

So as the new year kicks off, I’m rereading my favorite book by Sally, “The Mission Of Motherhood.” And since it blesses me so much every time I read it, I want to share a little bit of it with you. If this blesses you, please, please go get her book. It won’t let you down!

Chapter 4 – The Servant Mother | Mothering With The Heart Of Jesus

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

When I first opened this chapter, I realized that I’d never thought about this verse in the context of mothering before. But if it applies to friends, how much more should it apply to our children?! We are to disciple our children, right?  Yeshua served His disciples.  He gave of His life in a literal way. We will most likely not have to do this, but were can give our lives in service every day. Every time you have to set aside that cup of coffee you just poured, or trade a moms night out for a child-date, you are sacrificing of your own life. You are demonstrating the greatest kind of love.

A few powerful thoughts from Sally:

“Choosing to be a servant mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering – and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of time at that moment.” (page 66)

“I made a decision in my heart years ago, as I began to understand this principle, that God did not want me to resent my children for taking up my time. Neither did he want me to make them feel guilty for the sacrifices on had made on their behalf. I was called to give up my rights simply out of my love for Jesus. If I had struggles and complaints over the years for these issues in my own life, they have been between me and the Lord, not between me and my children.” (page 69)

“My children didn’t need me to be on top of all my chores or even to be perfect in taking care of all their need. What they need was for me to be content and patient with life. They needed me, as a mature Christian, to walk by faith that God was in control, allowing His Spirit to give me peace and joy in the midst of life’s inevitable ups and downs.” (page 72)

This is one of those areas that I’m constantly trying to find balance on. I have a habit of not taking time for myself to be refreshed- giving until I crack. So I’ve been working on finding time for myself again- daily quiet time, reading encouraging blogs while I put Avigail to bed, cups of tea throughout the day, etc. I’m working on going for quality over quantity in those set aside times. And it’s working pretty well. Most days. But what about those days when I feel like I’m losing my mind? Those days that I melt down to a teary, depressed mess?

I think this chapter comes at a perfect time for me. It gives balance on the other side of the equation. Yes, time for refreshing is critical. But when that time is found interrupted by the myriad needs of my little ones, the messes, dirty diapers, and arguments, what happens then? I don’t have the right to throw a pity party or become resentful of my responsibilities. I just don’t. Because, ultimately, I’m serving my Lord.

So, this week I’m trying to remember this elemental fact: I am serving the Lord by serving my children. My attitude to them is ultimately to God. And I want to be the kind of mother who really does demonstrate the servant heart of our Master to my children.

~Judy

I’m working on compiling a list of practical ideas for serving my kids! Will you take a moment and comment with something you do for your children to serve them?

The Great Priority Challenge

Priorities.

Seems like a common thread running through so many of my thoughts over the past several months. So often I come to the end of the day or week and find myself unsettled about the way my priorities have been stacked those past days. I realize that the bulk of my time had been spent doing things with no eternal value- surfing Facebook, Pinterest, or a favorite forum, researching random things online, you know the drill. These “smart” phones aren’t really so smart for us when its all said and done, are they? Then there’s the things that do have value but become entirely too important. Planning homeschool curriculum, learning how to make new, healthy meals, organizing family photos. Valuable, but in balance.

Anyway, since the new year began, I’ve been working on reassessing my day-to-day life – trying to make my actions line up with my priorities. This is my first blog in a month, and I’ve been mostly quiet on Facebook as well. It’s not been easy, and it’s still a work in progress. But I’m figuring some important things out. We’ve established a good school routine that is working well for everyone so far. I’m trying to nurture my kids more and fight with them less. I’m really enjoying my relationship with my husband again and feel like I have more ability to meet his needs than I used to. I’m keeping up on housework (mostly). And I’m figuring out how to fit “me time” into my life again. I feel good. I feel capable- not perfect- but capable.

And here’s the thing. God has given me this life. He didn’t give me your life or you mine. He knows us inside and out. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. And He promises that He has given us all we need for the life that He has given to us. But we still have to do our part. We have to be proactive about keeping ourselves in check. We have to foster our relationship with Him so that we are living in the fullness of His Spirit. And we have to keep trying- keep making baby steps, and trust Him to help us up when we fall. Because we will fall. I will fall. I will react again out of anger instead of responding in love. And I will do it again. Because that is the nature of being human.

So I want to encourage you today. I want to challenge you to take a look at your priorities, and then take a look at your life. Do they complement each other? Is there something taking up too much of your life that shouldn’t be? Can you let something go in order to experience more of the life that God has for you- the life you ultimately want?

May the strength of the Lord be with you. This journey we’re on is hard, but eternally rewarding!

~Judy

Wrapping up 2012

What a year 2012 has been! We began the year in our home in Washington, enjoying the snowy winter (including a 10-inch snowfall and power loss!). In March, life changed dramatically when Mark lost his job and we felt God tell us it was time to move to Idaho. What a huge and fast change for our family! In 3 weeks time we had completely relocated. Our summer was a fun time of bike riding, pool play, shaved ice, and exploring our new town. Things were starting to settle down a bit, and then came our crazy, busy fall, complete with the discovery that were would be having a fifth child! Now we are wrapping up the end of the year, and getting ready to begin hosting a Messianic home fellowship in less than a week. What a wild year our family has had!

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These questions were posted by one of my mentors, Sally Clarkson, this morning on her blog, http://itakejoy.com. I thought they were a good, concise list of things to meditate on as we wrap up this year and move into the next.

The first question addresses stress. What source of stress in my life can I eliminate as I go into the next year? I think for me, my biggest source of stress is sleep deprivation. I am always tired. And for the most part, I bring it on myself by staying up to late. Ugh. This is something Mark and I have been struggling with for a long time, and I feel like I will never know my full potential until I master my sleep habits. It’s a major goal for this year!

The second one is hard to answer. I don’t feel like I do much to please others. I have one volunteer position that I’ve had for a long time now, and I’ve thought about taking it off my plate, as the commitment causes some stress to myself and the kids. But honestly, it’s one of the only things that I do outside of my family and friends, so I feel like it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective. I have to figure a few things out in that arena.

The next question is a good one to think about. My biggest goal for my children this year is to help them learn to resolve conflicts between each other without my constant mediating. My older two are just starting to understand this concept, but they often default to coming to me first. I’m looking forward to helping them work on their communication skills and empathy with each other.

The word that comes to mind with question four is Grace. I want my children to understand that while we try to do what is right, we serve a God who freely gives grace to His children. And I know I definitely need to work on giving more grace to my kids as well!

And now, I must get back to my little crew. 🙂 Happy New Year to you and yours, and may your 2013 be blessed!

~Judy

New Year, New Beginning: The Next Season of Growth and Change For Us…

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As we get ready to embark on a new year, we are also gearing up for a new adventure in the Rich family! For the past few months, Mark and I have been praying about forming a congregation here in the Boise area. We have become aware of a deep need for Biblically-solid Messianic teaching here and have felt led to take a step forward to try to fill that void.

We have been so blessed by the past 8 years we’ve spent at Beit Tikvah. While things aren’t perfect there, we have learned a lot about leadership, balance, and priorities. It has given us a great foundation that we hope to carry with us as we move into this next season in our lives.

We will begin opening our home for worship and Bible study this upcoming Saturday at 2pm. If you’d like more information about what we believe and our style of practice, you can check out our website at: http://houseofhopefellowship.com.

Mark and I would love your prayers during this time! We need a lot of wisdom and seek to honor the Lord with our actions and attitudes in all things. Thank you and much love to you all!

~Judy

Our Pregnancy Update

Last time I shared here about my pregnancy, I talked about how much of a roller-coaster ride I have been on over the past couple of months. Well, I’m happy to report today that things are finally settling down some! 

My strange bleeding issues were identified by a great OB as a non-threatening quirk of my placenta, and have since completely resolved. I can’t tell you what a relief that was!  My energy level is slowly rising back up, and the nausea is pretty much gone. (Yay, I can make dinner again!)

For those of you who know me on Facebook, you already know that I had a bit of a “falling out” with my midwife. And I couldn’t be more at peace about that!  In fact, I believe God is leading us toward unassisted birth, and we are prayerfully moving in that direction. This is something we take very seriously and are doing with eyes wide open. I’m ordering a fetoscope (a special stethoscope for hearing the unborn baby’s heartbeat) and will be watching my weight, fundal height, and blood pressure. Don’t worry, if things don’t seem right, I’ll take myself in to an OB! 🙂

And on an exciting note, we had an ultrasound last Saturday – we’re having another boy!!! I’m very excited (as is Mark) – we both thought another boy would be the perfect addition to our family, and apparently that is what God had in mind too!

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Anyway, on that happy note, I’m going to end this little update and wish you and yours a happy holiday season! May your special days be blessed and full of love!

Hanukkah – Why do we celebrate?

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We celebrate Hanukkah. And we’ve received our share of questions as to why we choose to celebrate this holiday. Unlike most of the holidays we celebrate, Hanukkah was not designed by God himself. It is usually seen as only a Jewish holiday, as it revolves around a critical piece of Jewish history.

So, let me share a few reasons why we find value in celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah:

1. Jesus did. First and foremost, we are disciples of Yeshua. We seek to imitate Him with our lives. He found Hanukkah important enough to not just celebrate, but to travel to Jerusalem in order to spend time at the temple during the 8-day holiday. (See John 10:22-30)

2. Without Hanukkah, Jesus wouldn’t have come and we would not have salvation! Scripture is clear that the Messiah would be Jewish and come to the Jewish people. Without the brave Maccabees fighting for the freedom to practice their faith, the Jewish people would’ve become completely assimilated into Greek culture or been annihilated. Yeshua wouldn’t have had a people to come to! We owe our salvation, in part, to these amazing heros.

3. Hanukkah has the powerful themes of dedication, light, and miracles. During these eight days, we meditate on how we are to be dedicating our lives to God, how He calls us to be a light to the world, and how He is a God who works miracles! These are wonderful, faith-building lessons for us and our children to learn.

For more information on celebrating Hanukkah with your family, the website http://www.biblicalholidays.com is a great resource, and for more detailed information, I highly recommend the resources from First Fruits of Zion, found online at: http://ffoz.com.

Journeys of Thankfulness

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Every feel like your life is one giant roller coaster?  I do. Lately it totally feels like I’ve been on a roller coaster ride, and not one of those new smooth ones – one of the old-style wooden ones that constantly shakes, even when you’ve slowed down a bit! And I’m not a fan of roller coasters either. I don’t like feeling out of control, I don’t like that feeling of shaking up my insides. I usually only ride them to appease the people I’m with. And when I’m done, I don’t feel that, “Wow, I did it!” feeling – I just feel sick and unsettled.

Such has been my life. On the outside, I’m doing my best to keep it together, to maintain some sense of normal – mostly for the sake of my kids. But on the inside I feel like one more twist on the rails and I’m going to lose my lunch.

(For some context, here’s the update on me/baby: Since my last entry here, I have continued to have unexplainable bleeding issues, to the point that my midwife has referred me to an OB. Hopefully I’ll be seeing him asap and getting some answers.)

This week was the beautiful holiday of Thanksgiving – a day we set aside to focus on something that we should be doing daily – giving thanks. And I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t feeling it this year! I don’t think I realized just how much I was struggling until Thanksgiving came and I actually sat down to think about it. I’m struggling with a lot of feelings that, as a follower of God, I should be overcoming. Fear, anxiety, inadequacy, incompetancy, and of course, sheer exhaustion.

I’ve been trying to talk to God about it too, but even that has been so hard, because I just feel so lost. In the stress of everything, I’ve neglected my quiet time, which makes me feel so far away from God.

But I think He designed this morning’s Shabbat service just for me. 🙂 Our friend, Ken, spoke on how we don’t have to work to get to God’s presence, or try to find it somehow in our own power, but He is always there – right there with us. And then Rabbi Hylan spoke on thankfulness when it’s hard, when your feelings aren’t with you. It was exactly, precisely what I needed to hear this morning! It was so encouraging, so full of hope. And so honoring – that God used these men in this worship service in another state to minister to my exact needs. I was brought to tears more than once.

And now? I guess I try to take some joy in the roller coaster for as long as it lasts. Soak up the smiles in my kids’ faces, the new words my daughter is learning, hearing my son sing worship music at the top of his lungs in his adorable toddler voice, and cherish every moment.

And I think it’s okay to pray for the ride to be over soon too! ;-D