2017 and My One Word

It’s 2017 and I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

With a thankful heart, I’m so excited to welcome this new year with open arms. I’ve missed writing so much and have returned to this blog numerous times the last 6 months and written countless drafts and have published none of them.

Everything happening seems too personal, too sacred, too holy to write about.

But today is the day I feel empowered to start fresh and write about it. I am so thankful.

At the beginning of each year, I choose a word to focus on that year as well as compose a list of New Years resolutions and I largely stick with them. This past year hasn’t been one of those years I stick with it and that’s okay. This morning I read over my one word for 2016 and was brought to tears: Faithful. That was my word. Faithful. At the beginning of last year I had no idea how faithless I would be and how faithful God would prove Himself to be to me. He blows me away with His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. He blows me away with His love, despite my unlovingness. If you ever want to experience what real love is, choose Christ, He will show you real love and then show you that you are the opposite of that and He loves you anyway. Faithful.

This past year I faced fears by quitting a job in February and starting a new one, then I faced fears and in obedience  moved across the country and started seminary. I resisted HIm every step of the way, questioning if it was really His will for me, because I wanted so badly to stay in Knoxville and simultaneously felt it was time to move on. He brought me through times of deep loneliness and times of such great joy. He introduced me to the most handsome man that I am now dating! The Lord in His own Holy way showed me that I must fear Him more than people as I read this book. He showed me what it means to step in faith, even when the stars don’t align. He so faithfully showed me that His word really is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword… the validity and sufficiency of God’s word is something I didn’t know I doubted until I did. He gave me a sure foundation to stand on, and proved Himself so unbelievably faithful.

After much prayer and consideration, my word for 2017 is…

joy

Photocredit: Google Images

This year, I choose Joy. I choose obedience. I choose Christ. In Christ there is joy! There are many people who think that God is someone with many rules who sits in heaven and hates it when people are happy. However, that’s unbiblical and I disagree… He created His law and commandments for His glory and our JOY!

SO this year… 2017… is a huge year! I choose Joy, seek Joy, Seek Jesus, because in Seeking Him, I know I will find joy! 2 Corinthians 1:20 states that all God’s promises find their “yes” in Him!

While, Instead of having New Year Resolutions or New Year Goals…. I took some inspiration from Ann Voskamp and made New Year Soul-utions. 

2017, I choose to…

Embrace the hard things…
Engage laughter…
Be kind and compassionate
Believe for a daily miracle…
Break bread with friends…
Daily continue new habits…
Do fun things!
Let Go of expectations…
Learn to serve and love…
Live with a thankful heart
Give forgiveness when it’s hard!
Grow a new family…

If you’d like to make soul-utions rather than resolutions, you can find some pretty cool resources on Ann’s website here.

In Daniel 1:8- Daniel Purposed in his heart that he wouldn’t defile himself with the King’s food…. While we are not Daniel, nor are we in captivity… we can purpose in our hearts as well! What do you purpose in your heart to do this year in 2017?

 

 

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His Amazing Grace

I opened my eyes to the sun rise through my blinds and blinked. 8:00am. On my own. Without an alarm. I rolled over to feel my sweet puppy Watson breathing beside me, his breaths steady against me. I smiled and thought about what i’m doing the next few days. I looked around my room, my walls bare, boxes stacked up next to my bed, my pictures put away…

I’m moving to Fort Worth, Texas this week.

I sometimes lay awake at night and wonder if I really am doing this, then wake up in the morning and realize that I am and it’s okay. I’ve said goodbye to countless friends and watched them leave with tears in their eyes and have wondered… where are my tears? I feel emotionless sometimes.

I’ve sat across from friends who want my story of why i’m moving and why I chose this particular seminary… and I think many are waiting on an extraordinary story. One with signs and wonders and huge miracles…  with a clear conviction and direction. I’ve sat across from people who are shocked, because i’ve not mentioned it before, and others who know it’s right.

But instead I sit across from person after person and just explain that I feel peace. That this is something that’s has been on my heart for a couple of years or so and I’ve been too afraid to do it. Because what if…what if I don’t fit in? What if I stick out like a sore thumb? What if they realize that i’m really not seminary material and instead i’m messy and rude and loud and sometimes even obnoxious? What if I get there and accidentally curse in class? What if they see my wicked heart and realize… I don’t belong? 

But all those what if’s don’t matter anymore, because The Lord is my Shepherd and He has guided me to Knoxville and away from Knoxville. He has lead me through dark valleys. The what if’s don’t matter anymore because the applications for seminary asked me all the questions that I was afraid they would and I answered so brutally honestly that..when I got my acceptance letter, I was shocked.

I’ve been silent about it because He’s been stirring something deep within me that feels too personal and too holy to talk about. He’s been shaping and changing and molding me in ways I didn’t realize I needed. He’s transformed me and continues to do so.

Moving away isn’t a big spiritual struggle like I imagined it would be. I thought attending to seminary would be a gigantic emotionally spiritual experience, but it’s just the next step that He’s lead me to and I feel peace.

Whether this is right or wrong, i’m unsure. But I know He will lead me into green pastures and lead me by still waters and I know He’s restored my soul. His rod and His staff they comfort me even in the presence of evil, because I know His discipline will help me stick by Him.

He is my comfort. My peace. And I don’t have an amazing story, I have His Amazing Grace and for me, today, that’s more than enough.

I Dream So Many Dreams…

Two weeks ago I stood speaking in front of a college Deaf Education class i’d been invited, welcoming questions from student after student. This isn’t the first time i’ve done this. I heard many of the same questions as I’d had before…

How did you pick up sign language so quickly?
Do you feel more comfortable in the Deaf or hearing world?
How much do you hear?
What hearing aid do you wear? And why?
Do you feel like your mainstream education helped or hurt your future?
What would you do if you could do it again? 

I smiled, with my answers ready. They were drawn from my experience, my opinions, and my life, they didn’t require much thought. But the next question caught me off guard.

So, What is your dream? 

“My dream? Like… For my future?” The class laughed at my question and quieted to hear my answer. I was so stunned by the question, I started to feel the silence rather than hear it. The crimson that rarely came started in my neck worked its way up to my ears and into my smile. I looked around.

“I don’t have one.” I said while humorously changing the topic evoking laughs from my audience.

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This exchange has been on my mind since. I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it. It plays in my mind and I think of all the things I could have said. But more than that, it brings me back to another quite equally haunting memory that I have of sitting in my former counselor’s office approximately 3 years ago and being asked to draw my future out on the dry erase board behind me.

I drew a stick person- me. And a school, graduation, then a job… and house.

Sara, he said, What about the people in your life? What about a spouse and children? 

“I don’t see that in my future, I don’t dream for that,” I replied.

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But none of that is true. None of it. And Yet, both exchanges haunt me. I’ve come to realize that speaking my dreams out loud- allowing myself to dream- scares me. Scares me so much so that I go to tell people that I have no dreams and I want no family, but today with this blogpost I wish to take those answers back. I’m taking them back. No. I’m not letting fear steal my future. I’m not letting Satan steal my dreams. What if the dreams I have are God’s dream? Better yet… what if, by speaking my dreams out loud (or writing them), God enables the people in my life to help them take shape and give them life?

Deuteronomy 30: 19 states that He has set before the Israelites death and life, blessings and curses and it is up to them to decide to choose life. Through speaking my dreams- my hopes- I think that is, in essence, speaking life rather than death over my future. And do I want life. I choose it.

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So what is my dream? What are my dreams? I don’t just have one- and they’re scary to voice because… I feel like they conflict with each other. What if none of them come to be and what if all of them come to be?  Both prospects are equally terrifying… and today that’s okay.

My dreams…

I want to attend seminary and spend too much money learning how to share the gospel. I want to make friends and enemies and pray for all of them. I want to hurt and wonder how i’ll make it the next year and then get to next year and be amazed at His glory. I want to learn and counsel women to be more godly, and counsel women who want nothing to do with God. I want to make friends and live life with them and step into their spaces and see who they are. I want to be there when they have children and get married and get cancer. I want to be there and show up in the most crucial times.

I want to meet someone and love him. Really love him. I want to love him enough to suffer with him for the rest of my life and let myself be held and protected by him. I want the anger and frustration of him not doing what I want him to do and the tears when he expresses his frustration of what i’m not doing with me! I want the excitement when I know he’s coming home. I want to roll my eyes at stupid jokes and get annoyed when he wants to watch sports. I want to pull out the scriptures with him and blush when he reads what we know as Proverbs 31 to me… Eshet Chayil- The woman of Valor! I want to give him high fives… even though sometimes they will land on his face (I’m just kidding…) I want to be silly and play hooky from work and eat pancakes in bed and giggle. I want to spend hours laboring in the kitchen for Shabbat dinners with candles on the table. I want to see tears in his eyes when I give him gifts and love when I give forgiveness. I want us to be angry and passionate. I want to slam doors and open hearts and be a mess and then be put back together in Him- the ultimate Him (Yeshua). I want it all.

I want to bear his children and give them his name. I want to pray for each child as it grows in me and be angry that he didn’t bring chocolate home. I want to feel his frustration and work it out with words and love. My dream is to be kind to him, because love is kind. I want to sing psalms by his bedside… and jokingly curse him in labor with laugher that bubbles up. I want a quiver full of arrows. I want the dirty house and the messy windows. I want the small fingerprints and the sleepless nights, the kind of sleepless night when something so little poops so much you both wonder how it’s possible- and then laugh together. I want the angry tears when he tells me I need to do more and be more and the love when I realize he’s right. I want to see his children grow and learn and fall and be clumsy. I want to pull back a head full of tiny curls and wonder what I was thinking when I wanted children and then laugh. I want the smiles and the frustration. The tears and the laughter. I want family.

I want to move across the country and live on a farm. I want to own sheep. Because they’re cute and because i know nothing about them- and i’m silly. I want to milk cows in the morning and feed them in the afternoon  and wonder why my trees are dying in the backyard. I want sore hands and a warm heart and a tired body. I want Watson to be a farm dog. For at least a little while. I want to smile as I wake up before the sun and smile when I go to bed long after it’s sunk. I want to stay up too late writing poetry and get up too early to cook. I want to be tired and refreshed. Work hard and relax. I want to own a house. A house that I can invite guests to and serve as a haven for young mothers with no husbands. I want to be plan B when plan A doesn’t work and plan C is abortion. I want to cook breakfast for young mothers and give them advice on how to raise children- even though I don’t know what i’m doing with my own. I want to clasp their hands in mine and wipe their tears and then go in the other room and ask the Lord what He was thinking when He asked me to do this… because i’m so inadequate.

My dream is to spend time in the middle east and hand out clothes to those who don’t have clothes and wrap women in Hijab who are lacking and wanting. I want to see the hands of refugees and wipe their faces. I want to wash feet and clothes down by the river. I want to respect and love and serve. I want to hurt. I want to be comfortable and uncomfortable and so comfortable that it makes me uncomfortable. I want to share Jesus with everyone who will listen and love those who spit in my face- like Amy Carmichael. I want to do more than hand out bibles, I want to BE Him and live Him. I want to cook meals and clean houses. I want to teach children- deaf children. Learn new sign languages. Learn new things.

I want to cry for want of home and smile for want of home. I want to be dirty, but have no shower. And be clean and give my shower. And finally go Home.

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Some of these things many never come true. Some of these things may turn into someone else’s dream. All of these things are unrealistic and romanticized and ridiculously realistic all at the same time. I cannot do all of these things, but I can dream them. I can dream them and when someone asks me what my dreams are I can choose one dream and divulge. All of these dreams are mine, but not all of these dreams are God’s. The most common phrase in my list of dreams is “I want”… My hope and prayer is that these “wants” become fewer and fewer and His Want becomes more and more…

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease” 

 

Jamaican Deaf Village: Our Retaining Wall

I wrote this blog on Monday for a church blog/update. I thought I would share it here as well!  

“You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12.

I read that our first morning here as I sat on the bench under a tree, looking out to the trees and hills that suround us here in Jamaican Deaf Village.

I’m unsure if I can even find adequate words to express our second day here. It feels like we just got here and simultaneously like we’ve been here forever. We had so much fun and God is doing what He does… changing hearts and lives, even in the midst of our cement pouring, sweat soaking, wall painting, joy giving labor. Even in the midst our jokes about poop (poop is a very popular topic among this group) and our laughter as each person in the group explores a world where language is expressed from the heart to the hands instead of from the mouth and received to the eyes rather     than the ears.

Today was really special with the majority of our morning spent with the children at a local Children’s home. We arrived early this morning and poured out of the van, so excited to see children. I could sense some fit right in with children while others, like me, walked around feeling a little lost. There’s something powerful about being out of your comfort zone, since it always gives The Lord room to do His work. Before I knew it, an entire morning had passed and four small children had fallen asleep in my arms one by one. I didn’t want to leave. The children were so beautiful and looked up at us with eyes peeled wide and arms up high, “hold me”. They screamed it with their body language. They expressed “play with me”, and “be with me” and “I need your touch” even when they didn’t know what they were expressing.We played, we laughed, we swang on the swings and songs were sung. All together with each other, as little hands laid deep in ours we shared smiles with each other.

The children’s home got four new babies today. Four. Can you even imagine? I cannot. I cannot imagine the day where four new babies show up on my doorstep. I cannot imagine. There are no words.

I was sitting on the couch with a sweet babe on my lap bottle feeding when someone tapped my shoulder inform me it was time to leave. It’s time to leave? Already? Do we have to? I looked down at deep brown eyes and small hands clenched tight. We each passed sweet souls to another and gathered ourselves up in the van to head back to JDV for lunch.

Once we arrived in time for lunch, we ate a deliciously massive meal, changed into work clothes and got to work outside. We spent time building the retaining wall along the cement lot. We worked together as a team, not just as a team of people who came to Jamaica from America, but as a team of His people- Jamaicans with Americans. Americans with Jamaicans. Together as a team we sweated, we laughed, we mixed cement, poured it, painted walls, made inside jokes, helped build a strong, strong wall. Retaining wall, a wall of protection. Like He is for each of us. Our wall of protection. Psalm 16:6 “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” I’m so thankful for His protection, even if it takes work to let me decrease and Him increase- Much like the building of this wall. I feel smaller as the wall grows larger. Today I got to see people shine. Other people on the team and Im learning, or trying to learn to take a step back and watch what others do and how He is using them.

I am so thankful for today and the people. I’m so thankful for the work. I’m so thankful to be here.

Eyes Wide Open: The Art of Quitting

Watson and I went on our nightly walk as the sky grew darker and darker. He stopped, sniffed, and leaped for the bug in front of him as it lighted up, his little furry paws frantically dug in the grass, looking for where the light went. He looked up at the sky, up at me, and his eyes settled on the tree line ahead. He froze.

Firefly. Lightning bug. Beauty.

I continued watching him, wondering what he was looking at and thinking he was so adorable and serious simultaneously. I, too, looked up at the treeline and stood there stunned and amazed.

Hundreds of fireflies lit up the dark night sky as they called to each other in silence through the trees. I opened my eyes wider, not wanting to miss anything, awed and starstruck. Too many to count, there for a second and gone again. Even tracking the movement of just one was difficult.

Watson became like a tiny little bucking bull again, chasing a firefly in the night. His front paws flailing in the air. I smiled. I looked away from the trees again to see his adorableness and reflected on the last few years of my life, analyzing my wide eyes and zeal to not miss a single firefly to how i’ve lived in recent years.

And it truly hit me. Really. For the last few years I’ve lived life with eyes closed tight, peeking through eyes half open to live this life. I’ve lived in a fog. I’ve missed opportunities and lived in fear. I’ve not lived big and loved big. I’ve lived safe. Safe.

In most recent years i’ve done what I’m supposed to do and tried to follow Jesus, but I cannot reconcile this safe life lived and eyes closed tight with a life that follows Christ. They don’t match.

“I love Jesus but I’m afraid to move…. ”

“I love Jesus, but I’m afraid to love.”

“I love Jesus, but I can’t be truthful about myself to you.”

“I love Jesus, but I cannot let myself be loved by you”.

“I love Jesus… but… but… but… ”

The “buts” of life crowd my memory. The internship that I could have gone out of state for. The program I could have quit to join another program. The job I was too afraid to take. The opportunity I passed up because of my laziness. The years I missed out not following Him. The train wreck of a life not willing. My life. My train wrecked life.

Regrets filled me as I looked up at the night sky with watson by my side. We looked at the sky, the trees, the fireflies. I even dared to look at the grassy field near the treeline and I imagined. I imagined green grass that I couldn’t see in the dark nights. I imagined what it looks like during the day, the dragonflies, the bunnies in their holes, the bats in the trees, the birds building nests. I imagined what my life would be if I had lived life in the daytime with eyes wide open. With heart wide open. With arms wide open. If I hadn’t thought about my discomfort and instead, thought about others. If I hadn’t stayed in this little hole I’ve build myself, but instead climbed out, taken risks, lived large, loved big…

And through my regrets and missed opportunities realized, here’s what I knew:

Life is too short for regrets. Life is too short for the ifs. Life is too short for the what nots and should nots and safe living. Life is too short. The days of life are long and years are very short. Year after year passes by in a blink. Seize the opportunities. GROW.

When you realize that, the regrets leave you. The missed opportunities and the safe living all becomes a part of who you are and the path He has called you to. All of those things become amazing for His glory. All the glory to Him when I realized I didn’t do those internships and didn’t take those jobs and didn’t live where I thought I should.. and life is still amazing.

Life is still amazing because it’s been given.

So friends, Let’s quit. Let’s quit our navel gazing and quit our regrets. Let’s rejoice over quitting those things and quit lamenting over quit dreams. Let’s start living with eyes wide open and seeing people as they are. Let’s start calling out the beauty in life around us. Let’s start giving thanks to Him for every moment of every day- because even He can use what seems bad to us and make it good. He’s the best at that. He truly does miracles.

He makes my sadness turn to joy and my grief turn to dancing. Though my sorrow lasts for a night, his joy finds me every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

This is a gift.

Life is a gift

Live this life with eyes wide open, even if you have to painfully pry them open with toothpicks.

See the goodness in life like…

  • Fireflies in tress like stars in the sky
  • Smiles from a thankful friend
  • Bare feet running up the stairs
  • A blog post written
  • St Jude doctors and their wisdom
  • A friend’s sweet text “how are you?”
  • Job well done.
  • The ending of a headache
  • Freedom to be honest in Christ
  • New friendship, new bonding, new smiles.

What’s in your life? What are your gifts? What do you see with eyes peeled open? How do you see the world?

Help me change today.

Eliminating My Cannots

I stood in front of the bar looking down at it with my trainer by my side. 

Sara, 8 deadlifts. Consecutively. Then we’re finished. 

I didn’t think I could do them. I knew I could do 8 deadlifts. That wasn’t the problem. But consecutively? Without stopping? Without resting? I didn’t think I could.

You just did 4 without stopping, how is 4 more any different?

I don’t know. I don’t know how 4 more is any different but it feels different. Doing four seems like a reasonable chunk. I can do four. I know I can do four. But eight? Eight feels impossible. In my mind I wanted to break them into 4 then 4. That makes 8.

I’m good at math right? No. Not really.

no-excuses

Credit google for this photo… And yes, I did those deadlifts anyway

One of my largest adversaries in life is myself. When I look back at the things that in life that I started and never finished, I’m almost definitely ashamed. I have started so many things. I have not finished many though. One of my biggest limits in life isn’t my hearing loss, communication barriers, people’s lack of ASL, my balance, my food allergies… My biggest limit in life is my mind. Because If I believe I can do something, then I can, but If I think I can’t, then I won’t.

This transfers to the smallest things- Balancing in yoga, deadlifting at the gym, making new friends, creating a life outside of work, doing a triathlon, seeking the Lord’s will, following Him.

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When I was 15 years old and struggling to communicate and feel a part of the hearing world, I knew that I could learn sign language. I believed that I could. Learning another language, grammar, syntax, culture… that was never a question for me of “Can I”. I knew I could, I believed I could so I did.

But last year when I graduated with my masters degree after a traumatic experience with an internship and looked for jobs everywhere… I would read description of work qualifications again and again. I would think I can’t do that. I wasn’t trained to do that. I can’t talk on the phone… pick up clients… i’m terrible with people… I am irresponsible… what if I fail?.. I will fail… And I’d apply for the job anyway, with little confidence.

Only when I believe those things about myself is when they become true. Without believing those things, I am great with people, I am bubbly, I am beautiful, I can find avenues to advocate for myself so the phone can be adapted in a way for me to make calls. I become responsible. I honor the Lord by loving myself.

It’s what I believe about myself that becomes true.

I once heard in a sermon and read in an article much like this one about something called The Confidence Gap. This is a gap between men and women in confidence. For example, when job searching, looking at job qualifications, men will maybe meet one or two qualifications and apply for the job, and talk their way through an interview after some research, thinking they can learn the rest on the job. While women may see they do not meet one or two of the qualifications and not apply at all.

There’s a huge confidence gap between the sexes. I, for one, agree with this psychology. Mainly because I live it.

I live it. Every day. Everywhere I go. I feel like there’s something telling me i’m not qualified. I’m not good enough. I can’t possibly lift that much weight for that many reps… I’m a little person. I can’t possibly apply for that job, look at the bad experience I had such and such a time- it will surely be like that. I can’t possibly do missions.. i have no experience. I can’t possibly… I can’t… I cantCAN.

Cant

Today is the first day where I am going to eliminate “cannot”, “will not”, “Can’t” from my vocabulary. I’m tired of not being good enough. I’m tired of listening to the voice in me that slowly crushes my will to do the things and be the person I’m called to be. I’m not listening anymore. Listening to that kind of negativity from myself is exhausting.

I can. I CAN. I AM beautiful. I AM smart. I AM athletic, and strong, and energetic. I am good with people. I am compassionate and loving. I am silly. I am goofy.

I am HIS. He made me. Why would I believe I’m less? I am a daughter of a King, the same King who gave me a brain to use, and muscles to move, and a life to live.

I refuse to waste my life on my cannots.  

Museum Time- Adventure of the Week!

After the triathlon on April 19, I felt I needed to move around. I was afraid that if I stayed seated and rested that I would be miserable on the plane back home later that evening. So I made myself keep moving! I was in search for a smoothie place on my gps and ran across the little letters that floated across Washington Ave: Jewish Museum of Florida. I had made my decision about what would occupy my afternoon. I’m going to warn you, I took at least 30 pictures with my cell phone, but the pictures are such poor quality that you may not benefit from them. I hope you do, because this was really exciting for me.

After a 15-20 minute walk I found myself standing in front of an Old Jewish Synagogue that had been renovated into a Museum about Florida’s Jewish population.

JMF Front

Here’s a mini version found inside the museum.

JMF model

As I walked into the Museum the small-framed older Jewish woman met me with a very thick accent. When i only responded with nods and gestures and asked her to repeat herself, she asked me what language I spoke- as if she had a myriad of languages in her head to choose from to communicate with me. When I mentioned that I spoke sign language and English- she realized I just can’t hear! She was so gracious to me enough to show me the way around the museum before I started. There was a small event going on inside the museum while I was there- a lady giving her testimony about Judaism and the faith of her fathers, however I could not understand all of it since everyone seemed to have thick accents.

In the beginning of the self-guided tour, I learned that Florida has a long history of Jewish Immigration that dates back to even the 1800’s but had a very strong influx of Jewish populations in the 1940’s due to Hitler’s reign, oppression, hate, and slaughter. Below is a map depicting the population of Jewish immigration from states into florida. Jewish peoples have moved from other states, countries, and provinces to settle in Florida. (I was too tired from the triathlon to retain a TON of information… so my answer about “Why” has been forgotten)

Map of Immigration

I walked around the museum and looked at several holy and sacred objects that I recognized from my studies of the Torah the last couple of months. It was very, very educational and exciting to me to see something that I had read about in person- Even if it was in a museum. I would much rather have seen everything be used in real life rather than sitting in a museum, but these objects had been passed down from generations for several years, sometimes hundreds of years.

PrayerbookA Prayer Book

Sacred itemsSacred Scrolls

The scrolls I zoned in on is what they call a “Pocket version” of the Torah! Kind of like you see those guys on the streets handing out the green new testament tiny pocket bibles… These are tiny pocket Torah scrolls.

Tefillin

Above is something called the Tefillin or phylacteries worn by observant and devout Jewish men during weekday morning prayers. There are tiny scrolls in the small leather boxes that contain the Shema within it along with other prayers from  Deuteronomy. They are attached to the forehead and the arm by leather straps you see there. These particular Tefillin belonged to a man named Joseph Hillel Sutton who was born in Palestine and immigrated to the US, arriving in Miami Beach 1925. He was one of the Observant Jews who returned to Israel in 1950 where he stayed until the day he died. I summarized the information from a small (but blurry) picture I took of the description next to the Tefillin explaining in depth.  

photo 2I cannot remember what kind of hat this was…(a special kippah?)

MezuzahMezuzah.

Do you see it? the Mezuzah? It took me a while to figure it out when I was looking at it since i was so taken away by the Tefillin, but you can see it behind the Tefillin- the long green stick looking thing. That’s called a Mezuzah. This fulfills the Commandments The Holy One gave through Moses to “write them (the scriptures) upon the doorpost of your house and upon your gates.” It’s usually affixed to the door jam, tilted inward and contains the beginning of the Shema “Hear, O Israel, The Lord if G-D, the Lord is One!”. This particular Mezuzah came from an original doorjam from a synagogue (Congregation Beth Jacob) where it served for 50 years (1938-1988- if I can read the blurry writing correctly!)

Shabbat CandlesShabbat Candles!

Challahhow could I leave out Challah? You may see me write a blogpost soon.. Since I plan on making some either this week or next week Shabbat!

Prayer

Above is a prayer… it starts out much like the prayers we said during Seder at the beginning of this month to kick of Pesach (Passover, in English) “Blessed art thou O Lord Our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by thy commandments…” I have a feeling that’s just another way to spell Tephillin/Tefillin, that we learned about above!

My favorite article that I saw in this part of the museum was a Hebrew Pocket watch pictured below:

Hebrew Pocket Watch

This pocket watch has Hebrew Numerals in it and was owned by George Dzialynski from 1857-1937. The neatest thing about the pocket watch is it’s hours in Hebrew going clockwise and bas-relief (sculpture or carving) of Moses and the Ten Commandments in reverse.

After being in this part of the very small museum, I felt more alive! I felt almost in awe and wonder because the Torah that I had just studied in my reading… is being practiced by people all over the world!

Below is a Stained Glass work of Art as a tribute to the fallen Jews of the Holocaust:

Holocaust Staind Glass ArtStained Glass Description

I don’t know if you can read that, but it”s pretty incredible. This is the most beautiful work of art that I saw there- And the most tragic.

I walked through the room and saw some pretty hilarious things too that depicted Jewish Pride…
Jewish PrideKiss me, I’m Jewish.

Unfortunately I didn’t see anyone wearing this pin. If I had, I’m pretty sure I maybe would have kissed someone! haha! When I saw that I couldn’t quit laughing!

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In the next room, I saw several Menorah encased. I wondered what they were on display for so I wandered over to take a gander. There I saw at least 4 Menorah that had placed in a local Menorah-making contest. My favorite one had made 3rd place and it was absolutely stunning. It took my breath away.

This menorah is made completely out of old, tough, long construction nails. And it’s beautiful. I really wish I could have gotten a better picture of it, but there’s nothing like seeing a Menorah made completely out of nails and feeling there’s a deeper meaning behind it.

Menorah Nails

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I finally made it to the next room where congregations used to meet, I assume.

Old SynagogueBeautiful.

I turned my body around and behind me there was an entire room dedicated to the seriousness of Shabbat- and keeping the Sabbath Holy. For people who are jewish, Shabbat starts on Friday at Sundown and ends Saturday at sundown. That means cooking all the meals for Friday night and into saturday so there is complete rest. According to many of the plaques that I read, for modern Jews it means to take a break from technology, cell phones, Facebook, and spend face-to-face time with family. Some families opt to go to the park and chat. Others opt to stay home and eat sweet Challah. It was a very beautiful description of Shabbat. There were TONS of artworks all around to display the importance of Shabbat in their lives, but I felt disrespectful taking pictures of all of them. For that reason, I only captured one and a blurry photograph of a family celebrating Chanukah. I was told I could take as many pictures as I wanted, but with all the beautiful artworks about how much they long to rest on Shabbat and honor the Holy One of Israel, it felt intrusive.

Revisiting the Sabbath

Hannukah

For those of you who do NOT enjoy history or historical things, you probably hated this blog post. That’s okay with me. I LOVED my time in the Museum. I wish I could have been more alert and awake to remember more from it. Unfortunately, I was pretty exhausted from my Triathlon just a few hours before so I did not feel fully coherent.

I want to give full credit to every ounce of information and every single photo and piece to the Jewish Museum of Florida located in Miami, FL. Thank you for your time and the opportunity you allowed me to visit, even while hosting an event! 

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