Monday, October 13, 2014

Getting Ready for Writing

It seems to me that whenever I start a project, family matters overcome them. I have a hard time finishing through my writing when I'm continuously with my family. We were in Vermont last week, and I was so consumed with doing activities with everyone that my 31 day writing challenge got away from me.

I suspect I need to create quick rituals for getting ready to write. For instance, right now, I'm taking the cue of my children having TV time to tell me to get my fingers moving across the keyboard. I set a timer, and go.

I guess my question to myself is, "What do I need to get ready to write?" And, "How can I make it fit in to days when the kids are home from school?" Because right now, most of my writing happens when I'm alone.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Getting Ready for a Day Trip

Today, the children and I are exploring while Daddy is at his conference in the hotel. I look out the hotel room window, and we can see Lake Champlaign. We can see the Echo Aquarium we're going to from our window as well!

Now that we're here, if I packed well, I should be able to reasonably easily get us ready for our day. I think the only thing I forgot was plastic spoons for the instant oatmeal. Oh well. I hope we can grab some at the front desk.

I packed small bags for each kid to carry. We have lots of snacks, water bottles, homework and rain coats. And purell. I got them each a surprise bottle of purell to carry.

So we're off to explore!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Getting Ready for Vacation

Vacations, no matter how small, require some getting ready. Today has been my day of getting ready for our three day mini-vacation. The kids and I are joining my husband on his business trip to Vermont (in peak color season, no less!). Pool, activities, we can't wait.

But vacations need preparations. If we want to swim, we need swim things. Clothes, sleepwear, medications, all need to be organized! I can only imagine if I weren't organized, it wouldn't be a very fun vacation.

What is on your list to get ready today?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Getting ready to meet God

Yom Kippur is probably not the most "fun" Jewish holiday out there. Its certainly the Holiest of days. Its certainly somber and hard. No, its not fun.

Taking a day to fast, to avoid eating and drinking, brings people to an extremely vulnerable place. In this vulnerable place, the place where we realize our human dependence on food and drink, we become grouchy and irritable. How can I be expected to meet God in this condition?

Maybe that's the point. We come through the caffine headaches and slight dehydration, low-blood sugar moods and dry throats, and even in that condition, God loves me and wants to meet with me.

So may we be inscribed in the book of life for a good year. I'm thankful for the grace of God through Yeshua our Messiah that I'm not dependent on my own goodness. Even on the holiest of days, I can't get away from myself. Only through Him can we draw near to God,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Getting Ready for Yom Kippur

Today is a busy day for people in the Jewish world. Tonight begins Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In my imagination, getting ready for Yom Kippur brings to mind all sorts of spiritual readiness. There IS plenty of spiritual preparation, but today, I'm going to discuss the other side of the coin. Physical preparation, I suppose we can call it. Here is a general list of what I need to accomplish today.

  1. Stay Hydrated Before the Fast. When you get yourself ready for a fast, first of all, you want to make sure you're hydrated. So I need to drink lots of water today!
  2. Prepare Food for the Children. I have children who will not be fasting during Yom Kippur. This means I should have meals at the ready for them so I don't have to mess with food. I remember one year I failed to prepare for the break-fast before the day of Yom Kippur, so I boiled some pasta. To test its doneness, I tasted it. Oops. That wasn't in the plan. So to avoid licking peanut butter off the knife when I make my kids some sandwiches, I should do so before I start fasting.
  3. Prepare for my part in the break-fast potluck. I'm bringing Challah and orange juice. The challah needs to be done baking before I pick up the kids from school on Friday, for my own sanity!
  4. Jonah DVD. I'm bringing the Jonah DVD for the children all to watch during the sermon.
  5. Activities for my children, especially my 5 year old. It's a long day at synagogue. They'll need something to keep them busy.
  6. Medicines, as needed. If we're not going to be home, I need to have any meds I'll need for the day.

Sometimes I feel that in the doing of things to prepare for a Jewish Holiday, you can miss the point of the day. On the other hand, the physical acts done to prepare can also enhance the spiritual experience of the day. If I'm prepared now for tomorrow, tomorrow should run smoother. May those of us who fast tomorrow have an easy fast!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Getting Ready :: Routines

Routines have in the past been the bane of my existence. I mean, where's the fun in the schedule? I'd rather not be told what to do, even by myself. But life tends to work more smoothly with routines. When I was newly married I discovered Flylady. One of the points she made was that whether we schedule them or not, we all have routines. Those are the things we do consistently. Sleep in late, make dinner late, rush to school at the last minute  - these can be routines as much as good routines of getting the dishes and laundry completed.

The first step in reforming routines is to get ready. It can be as complicated as a spreadsheet, or just a note or two on a piece of paper. I have come to realize that if I do a couple of specific tasks the very first thing when I wake up, specifically preparing my son's formula, my morning runs much smoother.

Because then when things go askew(there's always something), you have some space to handle it.
If you have to run find the hair dryer to dry off homework that accidentally was spilled on, at least other parts off the morning ran automatically with routines.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 Day Challenge 2014::31 Days of Getting Ready

Welcome to my 31 days Challenge. Thank you for reading along. I'm going to focus this month on getting ready. So many parts of life can be made easier when we take a little time to get ready for the next thing. I don't mean that we need to keep our noses in the future, rather, we have to have an eye on the future to anticipate the next need. I know that dinner happens nightly. I shouldn't be surprised that I have to prepare it for my family (it's part of my job). Life works more smoothly when it's planned.

Join me as I touch on different ways we can be ready for some of the things that life throws our way.

Monday, September 29, 2014

31 Days Challenge October 2014

Last year I participated in the Nester's 31 day challenge. The challenge is, for the month of October, to write daily. I did a pretty decent job last year, writing almost daily. I found myself thinking ahead to this challenge in the middle of summer this year. Although I have barely written since the end of June, I chose a topic midsummer, and was eager to start brainstorming. I find that this type of writing gets the juices flowing for me, and gives me more purpose. So. I'll be here a great deal in the days to come. 

Let's Get Ready!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Stream of Consciousness:: "Hello Again!"

So here I am. Its been a while. Summer comes, and I am inundated with children and activities. I throw myself so completely into life around my children that I think I forget that I like to write. I have trouble getting into the moment without quiet. This is odd, because I used to think I liked activity to get me writing. What I like is activity around me that lets me work. That doesn't happen when my kids need me. 

I enjoy writing. Before, in High School and in College, I used to write because I had to. I don't mind writing because I have to. But after all the papers and stuff, you get older and "over it" in some ways. I want to know that i'm making a difference, I want to not be writing more than just a little journal on line. So why, then, do I write?

writing. for why. for why not.
for because
for to get words on paper
for to not be forgotten.
for to say what needs to be said.
what needs to be said? why do I write?
I write because life is beautiful, and God is good despite everything.
I write because I'm hungry
I write not to rant
I write sometimes to rant
I write because the page always listens, whether handwritten or typed.
The page always hears you whether your tears are wrong or not. 
especially when you know your tears are wrong.

I worry. I worry when I write that I'm being read. I worry if no one reads, then what kind of writer am I?But if I worry if I'm being read, then what kind of writer am I?

Sometimes I feel like there's different versions of me. And I suppose there are. I'm still me, but I adapt to suit situations. There are months when I'll sew like a fiend, finishing off project after project. Then, there'll be times when I haven't touched the sewing machine for months. The same holds true for baking, playing instruments, and writing. I think in the summer, my time gets away from me. I focus on my children, spending the days with them adventuring. It's hard for me to be introspective enough to write. So I do other projects that can be done easily while I'm surrounded by people. I found myself doing a great deal of sewing this summer.

Life giving? Yes, this is indeed life giving. My heart feels good having written.

Hello again dear readers. Happy September

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When You Rise Up

My Early Morning Dilemma

One of my favorite things about being a mother is the early-morning snuggle time. I love laying in bed as my children all tumble on me. We kiss, hug, and tickle. In my opinion, there is no better way to start the day! The trouble I found as my children grew is how to incorporate a morning time to connect with God. After snuggle time ended, we transitioned into getting dressed and breakfast. The morning is over before you know it. But getting up early, before the children at that point in my life was impractical. I was often up with them in the night and needed to sleep. How then, could I find a quiet time?

The idea came to me as I was laying in bed, children cuddled in close. I whispered the Modeh Ani to God. It occurred to me that the morning blessing can be prayed as I proceed though the course of my morning.

Join me at the Messianic Times for the rest of the article!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thunder Storms the Night Before

I've heard a story about the ancient Israelites that when God gave the Torah on Mount Sinai, when He spoke, all that the Children of Israel heard was thunder. When I am in the midst of a good thunder storm, I think of this story, and wonder what God has to say to the world today.

It's not so scary when you think of thunder like that. And surgery isn't so scary either.

My children and I discussed the heart today, and I realized that to understand a broken heart, it's good to understand a working heart. We found this video on You Tube that explains how a working heart works. (Here is the link that explainsTetralogy of Fallot and here is the link for the melody valve.) Tomorrow we must be at the hospital bright and early!

Good night, and thanks for all the prayers and love. We feel very supported!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

On Heart Surgery

This is going to be quite a week for us. Once again, we are headed to the hospital with Daniel for a procedure.

Daniel was born with a number of disorders. He had surgery on his esophagus immediately after birth, lived in NBSCU (NewBorn Special Care Unit) for 5 weeks, and had open heart surgery at the age of three months. After his heart surgery, the cardiologists told us that eventually, maybe when he was as old as 5, maybe older, he would need future surgery.

So the future is here. Daniel needs surgery this summer to replace his valve.

The heart condition he was born with is called Tetralogy of Fallot. Cincinnati Children's Hospital has a nice explanation of the heart defect here.

Yale New Haven children's hospital has an incredible pediatric cardiology department. They have actually been on the cutting edge of new ideas and procedures. Instead of replacing the valve with open heart surgery, the doctors are reasonably certain it can be done via catheter. The valve is called a melody valve, click here for more info. There's a really nice animation which is essentially the explanation the doctor gave me during the pre-op appointment.

Recovery should be super quick. One night overnight in the hospital, then only a week or so of recovery. Open heart surgery generally would require a week or so in the hospital, and longer recovery.

Prayers are welcome. Prayer has kept Daniel through all his medical struggles since birth. Thanks for reading. I'll try to keep things up to date as the week goes by. Our appointment is for early morning July 3. Daniel should be home July 4. Then, he'll have the summer to be a kid.

May it be so!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Real Life Shabbat - Picnic on the Green

What constitutes a perfect Shabbat? 

There are many opinions as to what elements are important for an Erev Shabbat dinner. Different forms of Judaism call for different levels of ritual and routine for the dinner. Having a set table, complete with candle-lighting and prayers is beautiful, and is my goal for a normal week. Some Friday nights call for something a little different, and I'm not opposed to messing with routine a smidgen.

Last Friday, we took our Shabbat dinner and picnicked. There have been dinnertime concerts on our Green all week, and we love sitting outside, eating, and listening to good music.

What was in my dinner bag? 

  • Fresh challah that I cut before bringing. It was still warm.
  • Pieces of butter that I'd frozen in an ice cube tray. I put them in a thermos to keep cool. They were still frozen when we tried using them!!
  • Baked sweet potatoes (my 8-year old daughter ate 3!)
  • Tomato/cucumber salad
  • Bucket of Fried Chicken from KFC. 
I used paper plates and plastic silverware. We thanked God for our food, and enjoyed the evening.

What makes the perfect Shabbat evening? Rest. And a Picnic Shabbat dinner can certainly be restful and peaceful!

Shabbat Shalom, friends!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Shema - a Guide to Teach our Children

I'm writing over at the Messianic Times today. 

I watch my five year old and my husband. My husband is getting ready for work, and my little one is miming every action his father does. Dishes in the dishwasher, lunchbox out, brush teeth, tie shoes, Rueben is doing it three steps behind. As irritating as it can be when you step on your child because he is underfoot, imitation is one of the most powerful forms of learning. Children learn a great deal by watching and copying. When we do something over and over again, we create muscle memory. Then the muscle memory kicks in, and the action happens automatically, without actively thinking about it.

Read the rest here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Real life shabbat: If You Want to do it the Easy Way

I wrote this in around 2006 when I had a 2-year old and a newborn. Have you ever seen The Fresh Beat Band? My kids loved watching this show. To solve a problem, Twist would always concoct some crazy scheme to make things happen, often involving something flying or rolling. Then, one of the other kids would state the obvious solution, and Twist says, "If you want to do it the easy way!" 

That's how I feel about Erev Shabbat dinner. All too often, we concoct solutions to make things perfect, but it detracts from what is important. Look for the obvious, simplified solutions..."If you want to do it the easy way!"

I have to say that I totally understand the trials of getting  Shabbat on the table on a consistant basis. For my family, Shabbat started happening consistantly after Daniel was born. But I don't think it was so much of having a child, but rather where I was in my walk.

There are a couple of important things that I started to remember that helped me start begin consistant with Erev Shabbat. Think: Baby Steps!

1. It does not have to be perfect. The point of an Erev Shabbat dinner is to remember and observe, not to be perfect. Our children will remember the candles and the family...what they're eating won't matter so much.

2. Plan, plan, plan. Throw something simple into the crock-pot for dinner. Make a meal on Thursday night to reheat. Cut up all of the veggies on Wednesday or Thursday. Buy your challah...or better yet, just get rolls.

When I first was determined to celebrate Erev Shabbat consistantly, I gave myself allowances: I didn't have to have chicken soup, homemade challah, and a 3 course meal. I just had to have dinner, bread, grape juice, and candles. I'm sure there was at least one week that I've made boxed maccaroni and cheese (yeah...nutrition's 
worst nightmare) with rolls from the bakery at the grocery store and frozen veggies. But we had a Shabbat dinner, and I know that the purpose was met.

Now, 2-1/2 years later, there are still days that the dinner is unplanned, but I find it easier to get to making the homemade challah in the bread machine...even on those challenging days. Daniel knows what time it is when I get the candle sticks out. In fact, I can't get them out too far in advance, or he'll sit in his chair at the table waiting for Shabbat to start. Maybe in a few months, he'll want to help me make the challah. I don't know. But I know that I'm building memories for my children. We're also setting the stage for moments our children can learn about Torah, HaShem, and Y'shua. If they are comfortable talking to us at the age of 2, and things are consistent, they will know that we're here when they are saying the blessings for us as they approach their Bar Mitzvah.

The first step to being consistant in celebrating Erev Shabbat is your desire to do so. The next step is to strip things to the bare bones. We have little what you can do. Keep it simple: candles, grape juice (ok, or wine), Challah, and Dinner. The rest will come.

Let me challenge you to start thinking about Shabbat today. When you do your shopping, plan a simple and quick meal,(who wouldn't like burgers on the grill?) and pick up a challah and rolls. Set the table, and light the candles. I've taken to putting out a tablecloth. The first night I did that, my husband had taken off his shoes before dinner, came in, and went to put his shoes back on. The extra minute I took to put the cloth on the table set the tone for a special evening.

Shabbat Shalom, Friends!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Real Life Shabbat

Many years ago, when my oldest was two and I had a newborn, I attempted to create a network of Messianic Mothers. I put it on Yahoo groups, and garnered a small -tiny- following. I called it, "Messi-Moms". I wanted so badly to have a fellowship of other young, Messianic Jewish women. My Messianic Synagogue is small - less that 100 people on any given Shabbat. Only a few of the them were mothers. I was starving for others walking a similar walk of faith in a similar life stage. With a newborn and a 2-year old with medical needs, I quickly lost track of my writing, and let the Yahoo group dwindle.

I still wish to connect with other Messianic Jewish women. It can be hard, and somewhat isolating, to live a Messianic Jewish life. Those who understand Jewish practice generally don't understand faith in Yeshua. Those who understand our faith in Yeshua don't generally understand Jewish practice. I understand a need to have a broad friendship base, but it is really comforting to fellowship with others when you share common struggles.

Having said all this, I'm starting a series called Real Life Shabbat. I suspect we all have ideals on what our Shabbats should look like. I know I do. Then, when we examine reality we wonder why it doesn't quite look like our ideals.

So as we enter into Shabbat this evening, embrace the real life that is and turn your hearts to God.

Shabbat Shalom!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Footsteps leading to other projects...

The sun is warm and shiny more than not these days. If it's not, it's raining. Pollen levels are high, and it is a busy season at my house! Between the pull to be outside, family special events and the desire to sew up a storm, I find it hard to get to the computer. I'm still here.

I want to share an incredible discovery I made this week. My Daniel has a feeding tube, and in some searches I found this website, Feeding Tube Awareness. I'm sorry I didn't find it earlier!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday:: Friends

I'm joining Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday.  Her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

The word today is friend. GO.
I watched a gaggle of third grade girls yesterday on a field trip to the aquarium yesterday. Their friendships are still built on simple things, like pouring over a book, or watching the world fly past on the bus ride. But yet, I can see how their friendships have evolved since pre=k. Their friendships are now based on more than just running around the playground. I see that they have built alliances based on trust and common interests. I see girls with fat books in their hands for the long bus ride clamor to ride next to each other. I see girls braiding hair with each other. It begins. Finding someone to share your passions and not get made fun of. Being yourself without letting tears betray how sensitive you are. Exploring the world and doing so with someone next to you that's safe to be yourself with.

I don't think that ever stops, does it? The way we feel in third grade about friends? I still want to make those friends. Perhaps the desperate need for it is less because I've gone through those challenges and learning experiences. Family surrounds me, by choice, and I choose to lean there, alongside my friends that support me like family.


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate you reading, and I appreciate loving comments.

Five Minute Friday

Friday, April 18, 2014

Five Minute Friday :: glue

I'm joining Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday.  Her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

The word today is glue. GO.
What's that saying about mean words? They bounce off of me and stick to you like glue? I can't remember the saying, but it's the first thing that comes to mind as I see the word glue. It's amazing the things that stick with us forever. I mean, mommies kisses will stay. The usher from church when you are a baby still giving out candy stays. Little things stay, too. The things I remember from childhood can be incredible random. I'll have occasion to ask my mom about something, and she won't remember, because it was something that impressed me, not her.

I wonder what my children will remember. They're getting to the age I remember as a child. Fifth grade. I remember that year. Third grade, I remember it, but not quite as much. Kindergarten, I have vague impressionistic pictures of in my brain. And they're part of me, stuck like glue. What will my fifth-grader, third-grader and kindergartner remember from childhood? I hope they'll remember the kite-flying and museum-going we've done. I hope they remember that we adapt as we need to. I hope they remember to stick to each other like glue. Yeah. That.


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate you reading, and I appreciate loving comments. Have a Happy Passover and Happy Resurrection celebration (aka Easter)!

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Perfect (for us) Passover Seder

It seems to me that there is never a perfect Passover, no matter how hard you try. I wonder if God does that on purpose, then we can look for His grace. With my husband being out of town, we decided to have our Seder on Wednesday instead of a first night Seder on Monday. Well, my new curve-ball this week was my dear tired husband came down with a fever on the day we were doing our Seder.

We kept things super small. Looking at the Seder plate, I figured it looked an awful lot like a snacky dinner (crackers, cheese, fruit and veggies!), so that's what we did. We reclined in our recliners and sofa, and had a perfect for us Seder. This ended up being quite a lovely Seder!

How do you keep going despite the curve-balls thrown you? Happy Passover!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Path to Passover:: Passover!!!

Dear ones, sometimes life throws you curve balls. This Passover season I have a couple. And despite my good intentions, I'm not perfectly ready for Passover...and we're a couple of days in! But it is Passover, and Matzah is king! Have a great holiday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shabbat Thought :: Parasha Achrei Mot

Each week in the Synagogue, a different portion of scripture is studied.  The Torah (Old Testament) is broken into portions which are read over the course of a year.  At the end of the year, it starts over again so the Bible is read annually. 

This week's Parasha is Achrei Mot from Leviticus 16:1-18:30.

This week's parasha is a tough one. Once you get through a bunch of passages about blood, there is the touchy passage about sexual relations. There is one sentence (Lev. 18:22 - homosexuality) that is a hot topic these days. I'm tempted to ignore it, or just gloss over this week's portion, focus on something else. But this is what's coming out of me this morning.

First of all, the latter half (Lev. 18:1-23) of the Parasha is focused on sexuality. There is a list of "shall nots" from prohibiting sexual relationships among family, to not offering up your children to Molech, to same-sex relationships. 

Thus, having read this, I would have to determine that God told the Israelites that same-sex relationships are not okay. Actually, the word used is abomination. It's a hard thing to grapple with for me. I try really hard to align myself with God's Word. I understand that marriage was ideally intended for a man and a woman, joined together, they create a whole.

And then, though, there are people. People struggling to make it in the world. People struggling to love and be loved. People who find representations of God in people. And these same-sex people get married. Legally. There are people who I connect with on many levels, people who have children that love my children, there are people who believe that this sort of love works.

Even though I may not agree, I take a step back and wonder. How do we deal with each other in this? Love must conquer. We must lean on God and pray for understanding. So as for me, I struggle and believe that God tells us many seemingly contradictory things. The Bible tells us not to have same-sex sex. But the Bible tells us to love one another, too. 

How do I deal with this issue? I love the way Jen Hatmaker does. She keeps her beliefs close to her, and errs on the side of love. When I meet homosexual couples, I enjoy their company. I don't judge. I teach my children my beliefs and why. In my post on love for Valentine's Day, I wrote, 
I still am not sure I understand how to love people while believing that what they are doing is wrong, without compromising truth. But this passage encourages me, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12 TLV) I don't have to know! I know that love is the greatest. I need to follow the example Yeshua put before us, and love others. Meanwhile, I'll trust God for the rest.

I think we see these things dimly, and one day our God will explain it all to us, and we will understand. 

But now these three remain— faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.(1 Corinthians 13:13 TLV)

Shabbat Shalom dear ones! May you be blessed abundantly with God's peace!

Five Minute Friday :: paint

I'm joining Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday.  Her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

The word today is paint. GO.
Five minute writing always makes me word associate. Paint makes me think of painting a rainbow, which makes me think of reading rainbow. But rainbow isn't the word. Paint is.

I was given a great deal of freedom when I read a blog, and this mother didn't let her children paint all the time. Painting can be messy, and in need of a great deal of preparation. And it was okay for me not to always let my kids paint.

But I need to digress again. Painting walls is different. I have this love/hate relationship with painting. I can do it, and make it look good, but there's so much preparation and messiness that goes along with it. It also takes up a good portion of the day to paint a room. I seem to get stuck half-way through painting projects, with a half-painted wall somewhere. And then, the wall stays that way for years due to my lack of momentum.

I'd rather paint a picture with music or words than get out the messy stuff that changes color.


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate you reading, and I appreciate loving comments.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Path to Passover :: Interview with Miri

Welcome to my second interview in my Passover series! Today's interview is with Miri from (check it out!). I've never met her in person, but I have followed her blog for a while. I love the projects she displays. It makes me wish sometimes that I lived in LA to see in person some of the beautiful things she makes. Enjoy the interview!

Please introduce yourself, including the Congregation you attend as well as the role(s) you play. No role is too small :)
My name is Miri, and my blog is I attend Ruach LA. Because I was married only last June, my husband and I have taken a much needed break from any kind of leadership or service position, and we are really enjoying just being attendees.

How would you describe your level of Jewish observance? 
My Jewish observance is really what I can handle without pulling my hair out. I used to be very Conservadox, especially when it came to abstaining from certain things on Shabbat. This last year when I got married, I did everything myself: The bridesmaids dresses, the decor, the food, the cakes. I basically killed myself slowly for 6 months, then after the wedding work became very demanding, and I was pulling down at least 60 hours a week. Shabbat became more of a break from the trauma. Throughout all this, I've always kept a kosher kitchen with separate dishes and hechsher-only foods. Now that my husband and I are working for ourselves, we are working to get back to a better Shabbat observance.

How long have you been celebrating Passover? Did you grow up celebrating it?
I did not grow up celebrating Passover as my parents became Christians when I was young. We also lived in a very remote place. A couple years ago I was at my mom's local grocery store looking for Matzah Meal and it was no no where to be found. The Messianic Movement introduced me to seders, and you can imagine for a while that looked like big congregational seders. When I became a little older, I started existing in both Messianic and non-Messianic communities, so I've been invited to many a home seder on both sides. I've actually never hosted an actual seder at my house.

What do you do to get ready for Passover? Please give me a brief description of your preparations. When do you start? How do you plan?
About 3 weeks before Passover I begin baking like a mad woman. This year we got a Costco membership, and bought the big bag of flour. I made a ton of bread and desserts, and most of them were distributed. I usually go overboard, as I did this year, and all that flour is almost gone. Once I've gone through eating the chametz, I go through all my cabinets in the kitchen, take everything out, toss anything containing the five grains, separate any kitniyot, wash all the dishes, deep clean the oven, refrigerator, stove and the inside of all the cabinets. Cover all the counter tops with tin foil, replace my cooking dishes with Passover dishes, replace plates and utensils is disposables and we're ready to go!

What do you and don't you eat during Passover? Do you follow a particular tradition?
I follow and Ashkenazi observance regarding Passover restrictions when it comes to food (I don't worry about toothpaste or shampoos). And, admittedly, sometimes in the middle of the Passover week I'll decide I'm actually Sephardic.

Describe your seder. What is your favorite part?
As I mentioned previously, I've never hosted a seder, but I do usually host something called Slumdog Pesach. It's a completely kosher for Passover Indian Buffet dinner party on the Saturday during Passover (as long as it's not the 1st or 2nd day). 

Do you have tips on getting through eight days without bread?
Quinoa, merengue, potatos, potato starch, tapioca flour. Or just decide you're Sephardic and there are plenty of options.

If someone were to come up to you never having kept Passover before, what advice would you give?
Take it slow. Don't plan a seder yourself, go to someone else's house. Give everything a deep a thorough cleaning, and get rid of the five grains. Don't worry about hechshers or corn and all that. As with anything done well, take you time and add restrictions each year.

How does Passover fit in your spiritual journey?
Cleaning the house is a very cathartic experience for me. In fact, one year I had just moved to a new place before Passover, and volunteered to clean someone else's house so I could exercise that discipline. Preparing for freedom requires a lot of work, self-examination. Cleaning does that for me.

Thanks for dropping by! If you enjoyed this post, please share it with someone you know!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday :: Writer

I'm joining Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday.  Her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

The word today is writer. GO.
Part of being a writer is to believe. I can write, I know that I do. I know that I am skilled at writing well-constructed, reasonably grammatically-correct sentences. I've been trained in such things. Give me a topic, and I can likely write something up for you. But to do real writing, to be a real writer, what does that mean? I feel like I'm pretending sometimes. 

I talk about writing, I write a little, and I wonder why I bother. I did this week. Then, I read about five posts that had similar messages: write your story. That was all in one day, mind you...and the day after that. 

To write sometimes feels different than being a "writer". Such a word holds connotations like "important" and "artist," someone who knows what she is doing. I went to the Yale Art Gallery yesterday, and looked at Van Gogh's painting, The Night Cafe. Did you know that the table in the center of the painting isn't square? I mean, it's not a great table if you were going to use it as a blueprint to build one. And yet, his art is famous and beautiful!

I suspect being a writer is a little like that.


Thanks for stopping by! While you're here, will you check out my Shabbat Devotional and my Passover series? I appreciate you reading, and I appreciate loving comments.

Five Minute Friday

Shabbat Thought :: Parasha Metzora

Each week in the Synagogue, a different portion of scripture is studied.  The Torah (Old Testament) is broken into portions which are read over the course of a year.  At the end of the year, it starts over again so the Bible is read annually. In the midst of Passover craziness, Shabbat is consistent.

This week's Parasha is Metzora from Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33.

Have you ever taught a child how to use the bathroom? Once you've gotten to a certain age, your rituals are pretty well set that you probably don't even notice they exist. But when you potty train, it's all brand new! If you tell a three or four year old, "go to the bathroom", there's a good chance that he or she will miss part of the ritual. At this stage of life, you have to spell it out: 
1. Pull down your pants. 
2. Use the toilet. 
3. Take toilet paper. Mold into a shape. 
4. Wipe. 
5. Pull up your pants. 
6. Flush. 
7. Wash and dry your hands. 
8. Turn off the lights and leave the door open.
Every. Single. Time. When you forget to remind them, inevitably, they miss something. Now. My children are a little older and the routine is coming together quite nicely. But I still have to remind my kids of part of the routine. "Did you wash your hands? Turn off the lights?"

That's how I feel when I read today's Parasha. It feels like more in the list of rules. I suppose it really is. Last week the priests were told how to identify skin disease. This week, they're told how to handle cleansing. ::yawn:: We don't live in that world, and we don't really have leprosy to deal with. It's hard to find a connection.

Can you imagine, though, having to deal with such things without directions? It's like me telling a two-year old to use the bathroom. Can you imagine the mess? (I can. I've cleaned that sort of thing up before, you?) So even though I can't really connect to this Parasha, I see the point. Once again, I'm thankful for how much God cared to show His people Israel His way to do things.

Did you get a chance to read how Michelle Schiffman prepares for Passover? Check it out here. Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Path to Passover :: Interview with Michelle Schiffman

This is my first interview in what I hope will be a short series to see how some women across the Messianic Jewish movement prepare for Passover. I first met Rebbetzen Michelle Schiffman when my daughter was still nursing. It must have been nigh on 6 or 7 years ago! (It's amazing how time flies when you compare years to a child's growth.) I learned quite a bit from what she has to say, and I am encouraged by her words. I hope you'll be encouraged as well.


Please introduce yourself, including the Congregation you attend as well as the role(s) you play. No role is too small :)
My name is Rebbetzen Michelle Schiffman. My husband and I are part of the rabbinic staff at Aydat Ha Derekh messianic synagogue in Fort Myers, Fla.  I focus on meeting  visitors and answering their questions. I also keep track of the schedule for the Talmud class we are currently holding  at the shul, and the Chavurah my husband and I host at our house once a month

How would you describe your level of Jewish observance? 
I consider myself Conservadox in general. I keep a kosher home but come from a Conservative Jewish background so I live my life with that perspective.

How long have you been celebrating Passover? Did you grow up celebrating it?
Even though my mom was Jewish I did not observe Passover until about 20 years ago. I remember going to seders but not cleaning the house of chametz, no.

What do you do to get ready for Passover? Please give me a brief description of your preparations. When do you start? How do you plan?
I start getting ready for Passover about two weeks ahead by changing my shopping list. I find that if I begin to leave items like bread, pasta, rice, etc., off the list it helps me when it comes to cleaning the house, and I also begin to plan what I will be buying for the holidays. We live in a one-story house with a tile floor so a basic mopping and vacuuming takes care of most cleaning on that end.  Our oven is a self-cleaning one so we clean it about a day before the holiday begins. Our toaster oven is covered and put aside in another area. When it comes to the non-Passover food , we do one of three things; give it to a friend in need, donate it to a local food bank, or put it in a separate part of the closet or our second freezer.  All of our dishes, pots, etc., are dishwasher safe so we clean them accordingly.

What do you and don't you eat during Passover? Do you follow a particular tradition?
Our tradition is to follow the Ashkenazi guidelines; no beans, no rice, no pasta, and no corn. We eat more fruit, vegetable, meat, and if we want to bake anything we use matza meal, or farfel.

Describe your seder. What is your favorite part?
We have a very relaxed seder with family and some close friends.  We use the Artscroll Family Haggadah, and everyone does the four questions together. One of the things that makes our seder special is that everyone brings something for dinner. It helps keep the atmosphere relaxed and makes everyone feel included. My favorite part of the evening is when we open the door for Elijah. It reminds me that we are always to keep our door open for guests.

Do you have tips on getting through eight days without bread?
I plan ahead as much as I can. There are certain things that are automatically part of our Passover. For example; matza pizza, matza lasagna, extra amounts of charoset. and we do buy kosher for Passover chicken wings. Many things that are available in the store are kosher for Passover. All it takes is looking. Also, there are tons of recipes online for Passover, including ones for vegans, gluten-free etc.

If someone were to come up to you never having kept Passover before, what advice would you give?
For those who have never kept Passover I suggest keeping things simple. Take out the obvious items; bread, yeast, baking soda, the typical types of flour, or flour based items. Cereal is out because it always has some flour product in it. Avoid spending money on kosher for Passover ketchup, coke, or cereal. It is much easier and less expensive to just take them out of the diet for a week. More fresh fruit, vegetables, and non-breaded meat fit in well with the holiday diet. Don't overdo it. Make friends with someone who has observed Passover before and get some tips from them. Go to a seder. Fellowship, enjoy and ask questions. Above all enjoy the holiday!

How does Passover fit in your spiritual journey?
For me Passover reminds me that G-d is always with me no matter what is going on. It is also a time when I take a look at myself and my relationship with others. It is very easy to get busy doing  ‘everything right” for the holiday and not see the needs of those around us. Here is the thing, what good does it do if our house is perfect but we have ignored those around us? Maybe there are new people who are going to be alone during this time, or don't have money for food, etc.  Caring for others should always come before anything else.  It’s a great time for removing the things that draw us aside from G-d and replacing them with ‘new growth”. Kind of a spiritual spring planting.

Thanks for dropping by! If you enjoyed this post, please share it with someone you know!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Path to Passover :: Doing it all

Today I pulled out my notebook of Passovers past. I've been sticking my to-do lists in this binder since about 2005. As I page through, I see my journey as I have learned how to get my home ready for Passover.

One of the things that I learned a few years ago not to go overboard. It stressed me out trying to spring clean my house. I finally found a teaching that said you don't have to clean the entire house, just the areas food generally goes. I breathed a huge sigh of relief after that. I don't have to clean the whole house, just mostly the kitchen. I can do that. I started small. Now, if it works for you to deep clean the entire house, go for it, I am amazed and awed by those who do.

But I cannot do it all. So I tackle some, and I do what I can do. As hard as I try, there is still a crumb somewhere. I'm pretty sure I won't ever be able to do a perfect job of cleaning. That is where grace steps in. And I'm really thankful for that!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Shabbat Thought :: Parasha Tazria

Each week in the Synagogue, a different portion of scripture is studied.  The Torah (Old Testament) is broken into portions which are read over the course of a year.  At the end of the year, it starts over again so the Bible is read annually. 

This week's Parasha is Tazria from Leviticus 12:1-13:59.

In a world without doctors, it seems the priests got to play the part in determining what was clean or unclean. As I read this Parasha, I keep noticing how yucky (yes. that's the technical term) it must have been those 5000 years ago. Blood to sacrifice, splattered everywhere, blood after childbirth, leprosy, disease, killing animals for dinner...the world then was full of lots of ick. Or perhaps our world now is just concerned about being clean.

I can get away without touching blood in the course of my daily life, and so can most of us, most days. But when you read this scripture, I think that it must have really been a bloody mess!

No matter how you look at it, the rules of Torah were, and pretty much are, a good thing. Caring about what was clean or unclean was likely a gift that God gave the Jewish people for their survival. In a world where disease was often attributed to evil spirits of one sort or another, this text seems to point to disease as something more along the lines of what we consider it to be in this day and age. 

Separating out contagious diseases, aside from protecting the people, allowed Yeshua to show His might. Why would someone touch a leper? Someone with the power of God would not need to worry, because God can overcome all and make all clean.

Also, sometimes verses just make me laugh. Leviticus 13:40-41, "Now if a man loses the hair of his head, he is bald; he is clean. If his head becomes bald at the front and sides, he is bald on the forehead; he is clean." The passage then talks about types of balding that are unclean. But for some reason, I found that bit funny!

Leviticus is full of lists of rules that are easy to skim through. I guess I can connect to this type of passage more than I thought I could. 

What are your Shabbat Thoughts?

Five Minute Friday :: Mighty

I'm joining Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday.  Her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.
The word today is mighty. GO.

Word association activities come to mind today. Mighty Mouse. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. A Mighty Fortress is our God. God is Almighty.

Then I look at the word, "mighty" and think I just wrote that so many times that it looks wrong, but there's no squiggly red line underneath, so it must be fine. Might looks like it's part of mighty. It is. In one definition. Might, power, strength. With all her might, she held back tears as the boys in her classroom teased her. But then I might or might not. Now my love of words and their meanings comes to the surface. How is the word mighty related to the word might? How is a word that means strength and power connected to a word that means pretty much the opposite? 


Egads. My five minutes is up. I'm going to have to go look in my dictionary, because now I'm curious.

Ok. According to my Concise Oxford Dictionary of Engish Etymology (which I got in High School, and is falling apart), Might means, "quality of being able, power, strength....hence Mighty." It then refers us back to "may" as in "Mother may I? Yes you may." or "Might I have a bit of earth?"

Flipping to "may" reveals that, although the use is obsolete, the conjugation of "may" is indeed related to "mighty."  "may (past tense) might - be strong; be able; be allowed....The primary sense was 'have power'...hence maybe". 

When we say I might, then, we use the word that does indeed mean power. When you look at the history of the word, you essentially are saying that you have the power or ability to do something. "I might write a blog post" should be more certain that we intend that statement to be. Modern English has transformed a word that implies power into a word that implies weakness!

Fascinating.  What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate you reading, and I appreciate loving comments. Oh! And if you have a chance, will you swing by this week's Shabbat devotional?

Five Minute Friday