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.

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52 Weeks of Adventure: week 5 He is Faithful.

The most difficult thing about writing these weekly adventures is not what you think it would be. The challenge isn’t in finding the adventure or putting words to the adventure. Instead, the challenge lies in choosing just ONE adventure to write about. You see, in a given week there are approximately 50,000,000 adventures in my life alone. Now, there are probably about 10 that I notice if i’m looking and if I’m not looking, there is probably only one that will be fully appreciated.

So I sit here reflecting on this past week, trying to decide what to write about. I could write about the day I lost my keys, the cookies I baked from scratch using a recipe I didn’t really follow, the lingerie party that we threw for my friend, or the day I went to the DMV and officially became tennessean… There are a million other adventures that I can’t write about to their personal or confidential nature… But this week was just especially lovely and full of adventure.

I’m going to go with the trauma adventure of my missing keys today and maybe later I will add more stories… more adventures… more fun! Tuesday of last week I woke up on time and early late and scattered. I usually do feel this way when I wake up, but that day was especially atrocious. I woke up and looked at Watson and could tell our hair resembled each other. Wild and frazzled. We both looked exhausted. It was a Tuesday that felt like Monday and I had a boatload of work to do to wrap up some things at work

Watson and I made our way downstairs and groggily went on our walk. He pounced and pulled between grass, pavement, and bushes. We spent some time with the neighborhood dogs and then finally, we went inside where we made coffee and tried to wake up from our slumber. As I got dressed and ready for work I started gathering my things from the edges of the earth that is my apartment and got ready to leave. After picking up everything that was at the top of the stairs, I put Watson in his room and headed down to my car only to realize… Where are my keys?

My brain didn’t think too much of it when they didn’t show up and thought maybe they were just around. However, an hour later I was still searching and still not at work. Hour turned to hours. My search continued. I searched inside. I searched in the couch and kitchen and refrigerator because I know sometimes I lose my mind and put things in places that don’t make sense. I searched through clothes and pockets and Watson’s toys. I searched through drawers and bags and backpacks and crevices. I searched and searched like one of those sporadic cartoon characters throwing everything every which way.

Next, Watson and I walked around the parameter of the apartments. We stopped by the poop buckets and looked through them (gross!). My  search turned to frantic texts. My panic wasn’t just that I was without my car and house keys but also without work keys and my USB that has personal information.

Worry turned to frantic searching that graduated into panic all the while, my phone rang my mom called. A girl is never too old to talk to her mom when she loses something. Even if her mom is 12 hours away. After explaining the Missing Key Saga and everywhere I had looked and the importance of finding keys that were not my own (i.e. work keys). “Sara, pray about it,” she suggested, “Last week I was missing a parking ticket and after praying He provided when we really needed it…” And I listened.

Making my way to my apartment, Watson and I walked up the stairs, he jumped on the couch and I got on my face with tears in the carpet and my nose breathing in particles of dust, I prayed. Lord, I don’t know if You hear us or answer prayers anymore but I’m praying… Not knowing where those words came from, not knowing where the doubt suddenly appeared from I paused, stunned. I shut my eyes as the carpet got more and more damp. I tried again. Lord, thank you that it isn’t raining today like it was yesterday. Please calm my nerves. Please provide the keys so I can give back what isn’t mine to who it belongs to and get to work. If You hear me, if You’re there, If you still answer prayers… doubts filled. tears flooded.

My keys going missing was something that really wasn’t a big deal and really shouldn’t have been so emotional, but for me it was a deep spiritual realization and an adventure of doubt I didn’t recognize within me until I offered up fervent prayers of desperation. I laid with my face on the carpet stupefied at my doubt. Both knowing and not knowing the root of where this had come from and why it was just surfacing. Both brokenhearted, confused, and elated because I could deal with it. Finally.

Until you get alone with Him in the quiet do you ever start to deal with what’s inside you and who He is… And that day, the adventure began. It began on my face with my nose on the tear-soaked carpet crying out for Him- instead praying to find my keys, I prayed for Him to take my doubt and give me reassurance that He is faithful. Just like I’ve always known Him to be. Regardless of whether my keys were found or not, I wanted to know His character more and be firm and steadfast in it. He is my identity.

To prepare for not having my keys ever again, I called a AAA who sent a locksmith to make a key for my car. As he took the lock off my door, my prayers turned silent in my heart as he stepped up in his truck to go back to his office and make a key… his car sputtered and died.

His car died. The battery died and I stood there laughing. The inappropriateness and rightness of the situation was too much to handle. His faithfulness was in it somewhere, His glory in my laughter. I felt like Sara who laughed at the Lord when He told Abraham he would be a father to many nations. I looked to the Locksmith, “We could call AAA. I have a membership”.

“Ma’am,” he said, “I am AAA. You called us already.”

My laughter turned to snorts.

Eventually he got his truck jumped, he got my key made and arrived back to my car to program it, all the while engaging me in conversations of star wars and star trek and music. Three things I know nothing about… but eventually he handed my new key over to me at 7:30pm and drove away as I stood there in the cold thanking Him, the Lord, for a glorious day and a key to get to work tomorrow.

My roommate arrived home that night and we told each other of our  trauma filled adventurous and eventful day and as she cleaned her purse out I saw her still. She looked up at me and out of her purse in her hand came my keys… and there was nothing to do but laugh and cry and be so thankful that my keys were okay after all, because He provides. Jehovah Jireh. He tests. He loves. He proves faithful. He always knows our hearts and reveals our hearts to us when we don’t know our hearts. He gives us room for doubt and repentance. He’s a good, good Father.

It wasn’t until later that week when I came home from work around 1am that I realized the depths of awesomness I had in a roommate… even after her profusely apologizing to me when I really didn’t care that she took my keys. I was so happy to have them back. I came home to things she left out for me and made for me… she made a HUGE card with scripture on it, an incredibly nice tea maker, a mug, and on the card were hilarious hashtags like #TeamSara #L’Chaim #yehsua #otherjewishthings #Imstillreallysorry #Nevertakeyourkeysagain…. And the week ended with a huge smile on my lips, tears on my cheeks and a new understanding of Him, grace, forgiveness, mercy… and His Faithfulness.

His faithfulness continues through all generations. (Ps 100:5). 

Sometimes adventures can be painful realizations of ourselves and of Him, but that doesn’t make them any less adventurous. I am so thankful for this week!

 

 

 

 

Let Something Happen To Me

Last night I spent time organizing all of my important papers. Since I moved into my most recent apartment in September, important papers have been piled instead of filed. So it was time to organize and reassess what to keep and what to throw.DSCN0379

I came across a letter a dear friend, Christi, wrote to me several years ago. It’s undated, but I would date it back to 2010- maybe even 2011. A lot of significant things happened during that time in my walk with Him. In the letter she shared with me a prayer that she read earlier that week. The author is unknown but I want to share it with you all today.

 

Oh God,
Let something happen to me,
Something more than interesting
Or entertaining
Or thoughtful. 

O God,DSCN0383
let something essential happen to me,
Something awesome,
Something real,
Speak to my condition, Lord,
and change me inside somewhere
Where it matters,
a change that will burn and tremble and heal
and explode me into tears.
Or laughter.
or love that throbs or screams
or keeps a terrible cleansing silence
and dares the dangerous deeds.
Let something happen in me
Which is my real self, O God.

52 Weeks of Adventures: Week 1

Hi Everyone!

I am starting a series that I hope to do every week for 52 weeks (one year). This is an adventure series inspired by Lily, as I’ve watched her for the past 52 weeks take adventures and record them in her blog! She was inspired by  a fellow blogger named Brenda who had taken her own 52 weeks of adventures too!

In turn, I hope to inspire you to look at life a little differently along with me! My goal in this is much the same as both of them- to make the mundane adventurous and see the fun in everyday life. My biggest goal in this is remaining Thankful for the everyday that He gives and remaining faithful toward one goal. I may not get all 52 weeks in, but since my word of the year is Faithful, I am going to try- even if I fail His grace covers me. Faithful and Grace go hand in hand, but that’s a discussion for another day!

So without further ado, i will start…. with Week 1!

Week 1: 

Week One’s Adventure goes back to November 2014. In November 2014 I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Ann, a farmer’s wife, who has lived a really hard life when her sister died at a very young age, crafted a book about thankfulness. Eucharist. Her words flow like poetry as she explains, page after page, line after line, that Eucharist – thankfulness- happens in the mundane and in the simplicities and especially in the hardships of life. And that’s what makes life fully lived: thankfulness to Him who gives gifts for us to unwrap. Journals

She beautifully demonstrates her point by describing the Lord’s Supper. The night Jesus was arrested and beaten, He sat around with His friends, including His betrayer. He took bread in His hands, He gave thanks, and broke it. He gave thanks. He Thanked God for His body being broken hours before His body was broken. He took the wine and gave thanks by blessing it and drank it. He gave thanks before His blood was poured, for His blood being poured. In the hard. With the sweat and the prayers and the tears that came later. Can we, too?  In our hard? Can we see His gifts? Can we give thanks even through sweat and tears and blood? Through loss?

IMG_4510Ann started to count her gifts one by one, and through the numbering and the counting, her perspective on life gradually shifted as she saw every moment as a gift… and her world went from stressed and hard and frustrating to… thankful in and through the stressed and the hard. Through the book she dares each one of us to “Live fully right where you are” by numbering gifts He gives, we unwrap, and express thanks for.

I started noticing, numbering, opening, unwrapping, and giving thanks for gifts He gives on November 3, 2014. This week on January 8, 2016, I reached 1,000 gifts. The adventure in this week is not that I made an achievement by counting 1,000 gifts, that I became more thankful, or opened 1,000 gifts to give thanks for. No.

The adventure in this life is that He’s given me 1,000 gifts and in that, there’s 1,000 more to open, no matter my circumstance. In each gift there’s grace. In each grace, there’s thankfulness. And each thankful moment is every moment. Grace after grace. Gift after gift. One thankful heart after each thankful moment. 

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What an adventure. I can’t get over it. I can’t fathom.

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Some gifts He’s given are simple and light and adventurous:

  • Golden hue of Fall leaves in the sunrise
  • Erratic fingers across the keyboard
  • Yarn sliding through my fingers
  • A roommate that makes me laugh
  • A kitchen clean
  • The dew on summer grass
  • Dancing in the kitchen…
  • Frisky puppy playing with new toys
  • Smiling eyes
  • The bursts of blueberries in my mouth
  • The laughter of students learning
  • Challah made with small smooth hands
  • Wet puppy kisses.

Sometimes His gifts are in and through painIMG_4516

  • For heartbreak
  • Friends who “Store treasures in Heaven”
  • Repentance for my wicked heart
  • Loneliness that lets me lean on Him
  • Peace in my restlessness
  • Admitting my lack of faith
  • Broken and pleading prayers
  • A faint smile through pain-soaked tears
  • Saying goodbye to a friend
  • The art of letting go and open hands
  • He sympathizes in our time of weakness

There are so many gifts… countless.

Will you use the adventure of life to see them? Will you be thankful with me? Even if it’s something silly like wet puppy kisses, wild hair in the mornings, or red berries on green bushes… Eucharisteo and thankfulness is an adventure because a thankful heart is what He wants and commands (1 Thess 5:18). IMG_4519

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” 

 

Coming Home: A Personal, Spiritual Experience.

What I am going to share below was a very, very intimate and personal spiritual experience that I had 2 weeks ago. I haven’t been writing in the blog because I’ve wanted to blog about this, but it is so personal that i’ve struggled to even talk about it. I don’t think this post did my experience justice. And just because I had this experience does NOT mean you will too. I could have misheard things (I am severely hard of hearing) and could be misrepresenting the messianic experience. The blog below is not meant to offend or take away from the faith or be disrespectful to anyone of the jewish faith, jewish heritage, or messianic faith. This experience, to me, felt like “coming home”. It’s the only way i’ve been able to describe it to my closest friends… and I haven’t been able to write about it yet, but I don’t want to forget it… so please enjoy this very rough attempt…

About two weeks ago on Shabbat (Saturday), I decided to visit a Messianic Synagogue here in Knoxville. Since i’ve been reading Torah and then studying the old testament books, I have learned a lot about Judaism and Jewish culture on my own. The Old testament moves me. The law brings me to tears. The tender way that Hashem (G-d) leads His people to Himself through the law… and then explains that it’s not even about what you do so much as to what lies in your heart- why you do it… It’s overwhelming.

There are people throughout history that get this. One of my favorite is King Josiah. He became King when He was 8 years old and followed the Lord as David did. 2 Kings 22 explains that Hilkiah, the High Priest, found the Book of the Law of Moses in the temple and brought it to King Josiah. When the Book was read in front of the king, King Josiah tore his clothes.

Every time I read that verse, it shames me and shakes me. I look around at our evangelical nice, comfortable lives in our nice, comfortable pews and I want to weep. I want to weep because we hear, study, read, and talk about the law and the Word weekly and sometimes even at home too… and we’re not torn. We’re not grieving. Our hearts aren’t moved. We just… sit and do our duty for the week and go home.

I want to be moved like the people in the Bible. I want to be moved like the jews in the Old testament…. or even the jews now! I want to stand for hours and hear the Law and love it. I want to be like David said “Oh Lord, I meditate on your precepts! I think about your Law! Your law is better than life!…” I want to embrace it and love it and cherish it and worship Him with my obedience of it.

So when I entered the synagogue on Shabbat, it felt like coming home.

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I entered and sat in the very back pew behind some women. I assumed that men and women would sit separately and worship separately so when a man and his wife sat by me, I was taken back. As the music started and people filled the sanctuary, they took out their Tallits and draped them around their shoulders. Old men sat on a bench behind me against the wall with their canes and their Kippahs. Old jewish souls with smiles like fire.

We stood together. We blessed the music and worship. The sound of Hebrew and English mingled together and the captions on the screen read all- Hebrew- English.  Voices of languages lifted together. I wanted to sign the words.

This is what heaven will be like. 

Then the music started and the music switched from English to Hebrew and back to English. My eyes watered, my lip quivered. The lady beside me took my hands in hers and her eyes said  “Come, worship with me”. With tears flowing down my face as I followed her flowing, beautiful skirt in the sunshine, she led me to the alter before Him and as we arrived there I looked around to see other women getting out of their seats and joining us. Their faces shined. They linked their hands together and as a team of women, we danced.

We danced for Him. We sang His name, I looked around at smiles and teary eyes as I followed the moves He had put on the woman’s heart. We followed her as she followed Him. This wasn’t wild or chaotic. It was soft and gentle and calm. It was heart-dancing.

And His name rang out from our hearts, to our limbs as we reached to the sky, “YESHUA! ELOHIM! ADONAI! The music roared, and together we lifted our hands to the heavens to Him and turned in circles on our toes to please the King. We landed on our feet and bowed deeply from the waist up, from our hearts. Bowed knees. Bowed hearts, Bowed faces. Tears.

I looked around at the congregation and men blew their shofars. They blew their shofars and clapped for Him. Elohim. Men blowing Shofar, women dancing, tears flowing. Hearts bowing.

Yeshua! Yeshua! Yeshua!

We sang the Shema!

They sang it. In Hebrew. We faced Jerusalem, they pointed the edge of their tallits to Jerusalem and they sang, Hebrew words, Shema together.

We faced the screen for us English speakers and said it in English.

Hear, Oh Yisrael! The L-rd is Our G-d! The L-rd is ONE!… And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might. And these words I shall command you today shall be in your heart. 

My heart jumped. Because they’re on my heart! They’re written on my heart… a heart that deserves hell- and the law is written there- the mercy.

And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

my lip quivered. I looked at the couple in front of me, clasping their hands together, their tallits around each of their shoulders, the man with is Kippah, the woman with her tears…

… and you shall write them on the door post of your house and on your gates… 

A tear slipped down my face as I remember the mezuzah that I had blessed with a kiss on my hand while on the way in– His law written on the door posts. My heart bowed low…. Oh Lord, even the dogs eat crumbs from the master’s table..(Matthew 15:27). 

It felt like coming home. 

The dancing to El Shaddai, the singing of His name… TO His name, the blessing of His word, the following HIs law… Then the singing of Yeshua (Jesus)… The realization that He is my new law because He has been written on my heart. He has been bound between the frontlets of my eyes inside of my brain. He has seared me. I am marked by a changed life and I have been crucified with Him. He has wrecked me. For me, He is my Tefillin. He is my everything!

Yeshua, Yeshua, Yeshua! 

I wanted to shout it. His name echoed from the mouths of old Jewish believers and into the heart of a gentile girl.

I will never get over this.

They read the law from the Torah. The men went and got these HUGE torah scrolls after we said the blessing of the Torah… And they got it, they blessed it again and the walked it around the room while each person kissed their hand and touched the Torah with a blessing.

Lord, thank you for communicating the Word to us, Was the only blessing I could think to say.

They unrolled this huge Torah and I went up close to look as we were invited. The Torah Reader had a Yad (Torah Pointer) in his hand because the Torah cannot be touched.  And the men gathered around and the women gathered around and they hugged toward the Torah to just look at is as the hand-written hebrew words were read out loud from large sheepskin scrolls.

I get chills every time I think about hearing His word in Hebrew from hand-written sheepskin scrolls.

i hurried to stand in my place in the back and not be up front with the crowd during Torah reading. It was too sacred to be near. So I stood from the back and observed- an observer watching the most sacred snow globe in the world.

We read the Torah, then we had a preacher come preach from both the New Testament and the Old Testament- Torah. Because Rabbi was in Israel. Can  you believe it? We were here in the states and Rabbi was in Israel. So we had a preacher. A humble preacher come to preach His word on Shabbat.

I don’t remember much of what he said but I do remember that he preached from Ezekiel 37 and he preached from the new testament and talked about how we have hope even in dark times… Because of Yeshua.

Then we did communion. We did communion with Matza passed around and grape juice poured. We shared the same Matza, We shared the same juice.This is My body. This is My blood. Do this to remember. 

Oh, Yeshua. I will forget and then I will fight to remember. Help me remember.

Yeshua. Jesus.

I can’t get over His name. I want to say it a million times. I want to love it even when I don’t love it. Even in my wickedness.

I yearn to look into the eyes of Yeshua and scream YESHUA! Messiah! I long to take the hem of his robe and hold it to my face.

Messiah.

I can’t ever forget.

H.A.L.T…. what?

HALT

That’s the word I read on the board a few months ago as I entered the room for group discussion at church. Halt what? I didn’t know.  As I looked in each face, trying to track who was talking and gleaning from each conversation and each person that shared I finally gathered the meaning. H.A.L.T. is an acronym for something.

Hungry
Angry
Lonely
Tired

The premise of today’s discussion was to HALT before you do anything irrational or make any hasty decision or act or even say something. HALT and ask yourself
“Am I Hungry?”
“Am I Angry?”
“Am I Lonely?”
“Am I Tired?”

I thought it was a good idea to ask yourself those things before you act or make a decision that may not be the best life choice.

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THAT guy probably made some bad life choices and picked up some baggage along the way because he forgot to HALT. Make sure you don’t become him, make sure you don’t make so many bad choices that you have to haul your baggage around and look Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired all the time.

Though this HALT method of thinking is meant for people who struggle with addictions, I think it works for all people, struggling or not.

Tempted to yell at the person in the next car? HALT… Angry?
Feel compelled to call an former lover? HALT… Lonely?
A buddy asks you to go get smashed or hammered? HALT… Tired or Angry..maybe Lonely?
Want to eat everything in the fridge? HALT… Hungry/lonely?
Don’t want to study for a test tomorrow? HALT…

You get the point, right? It makes so much sense while i’m typing it but in the moment… when I want to go hang with friends instead of study or eat instead of read or pray, or sleep instead of exercise… I forget to think of HALT and sometimes end up making bad decisions.

It’s hard for me to think of it in a Christian light. It’s hard for me to grasp the concept of what HALT really means while following Christ, especially considering that the majority of the time, I don’t feel like following him… because i’m Angry or Lonely or Tired… Sometimes i’m even Hungry for His word and I lose track of HIM being what i’m really hungry for… and I go chase things other than Him.

Philippians 4:8-9 “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

This is the Bible’s way of saying “remember to H.A.L.T.”.

I was in this meeting maybe 2 months ago.. maybe longer. The meaning of HALT has never left me and I hadn’t written it down or anything. It just really struck me in my heart. I hope I always remember it.

I hope you always remember it too.

Retreats and expectations

I haven’t been keeping up writing very well recently. I’ve been so busy with schoolwork, trying to get papers in, and study for tests and so many other things. School has been intense this semester, but I think I enjoy the challenge… sometimes!

This weekend I won’t be writing at all, because i’m going on a church retreat. I’ve not been on a actual “Retreat” in forever. So i’m a little nervous about it. What will it be like? Will I like the people? Will I be open to the messages that we’re learning? I certainly don’t want to feel like this halfway through the weekend:

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I was talking to a lady from church while in the food store last week (yes, we ran into each other.. an interesting place to converse).. And she was saying that she was praying and expecting certain things from the retreat. She was hoping to get more clarity about a situation in her life and wanting guidance and another perspective. Since she said that, I’ve been thinking about expectations. Expectations in general, for school, for work, for home-life, for what it will be like when I finally get a fur-kid… all of that stuff. And then of course expectations about something like a retreat.

Are expectations healthy? Do they set us up for disappointment and disillusionment when they don’t follow through? Or are they positive and do they give us goals to work toward and an end result in sight?

I’ve toggled back and forth between the two opinions about expectations the last few days and sill haven’t decided. I’ve tried to think of some expectations or some goals that I have for this retreat, but I honestly just want to hear from God. Despite wanting to hear from God, I also feel unprepared to hear from Him. This week was so busy that I scarcely read my Bible or prayed. I did in moments early in the morning, but when it’s so early, a few minutes later I forget what i’ve read. I’ve prayed on the way to and from different places. I had to make a 4 hour drive this week (to and from somewhere 2 hours each way) and I felt like I got in some good prayer/praise time.

But is that enough? Is it enough for my heart and mind and spirit to be open to whatever God has to say? I don’t know.

I love how when I have doubts or I feel unprepared for something, I worry as if God isn’t big enough to surpass my failures and my faults. He can reach through to anything. However I do know that it’s up to me to be receptive. I know this from tons of experiences of sitting in church with a hard heart, rolling my eyes at the sermons because I don’t want to hear what’s being said… which happens more often than i want to happen. My humanity gets the best of me sometimes. God can surpass those this weekend right? He’s bigger than my humanity, and stubbornness and sin.

He’s bigger than any of my crap.

 

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