Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Long to Date?

Devin and I dated only three months before becoming engaged. It was quick, but it seems longer when you consider:

  • Devin and I first met in May of 2007 at the Shuk in Jerusalem. Our first meeting did not establish anything even close to a real friendship, but I loved his hazel eyes.

  • We began emailing early July after my dad was abruptly fired from managing the Cincinnati Reds. He wrote first. I responded sort of flippantly, but then after feeling convicted at TheCall (7/7/7), wrote again. I knew he had sincere concern for me, and I wanted to honor him.

  • Devin arrived in the US in August and we started spending time together. I needed to move, so he was my moving man. For some reason I just couldn't get all of my furniture arranged properly, so he had to keep coming over to help me. ;)

  • Then we officially started dating in September after a fun-filled family camping trip. On the drive home he informed me, of his *surprise* interst in me, thus beginning our time of 'offically' dating.

  • Devin romantically proposed on December 11, 2007 in Yemin Moshe, overlooking Mt. Zion. He came prepared with a bottle of champagne to celebrate the "Yes!"

And all of this happened with an ocean and a continent and a half between us through out most of the time we were getting to know each other. I truly believe our relationship is healthier for having made it a point to quickly seek the Lord and discern if we were fit for marriage. Through out the time we were dating, I never felt any insecurity about his intentions and I trusted the Lord in him with my whole heart.

Before we met, we had both come to a point of understanding that most of the learning you do about your spouse comes after marriage, so we were willing to let the important matters (Godly character, willingness to share a calling, desires for family, shared belief in important biblical convictions... ) rise to the surface, then welcomed the idea of getting to know the rest over time. This really helped move things along quickly.

I cannot fail to add; however, the depth of community involvement we've had. I met Devin through his parents, Doug and Kathleen, who had mentored me for about a year before we first met in Israel. My parents were able to get to know Devin's heart, first through his Shabbat Letters, then in person several months later. I had their immediate approval. I'll also note that we were engaged for exactly one year and two days (we don't necessarily encourage a long engagement!). The time frame was mostly because of Devin's IDF service and my school schedule. Since our engagement was a little longer, we had ample time to grow together, experiencing joys and trials (some very surprising trials!) as a couple, and complete pre-marital counseling.

Dating for less time can absolutely be a viable and even more healthy route for some couples. Keeping it short does not necessarily equate to "rushing it," assuming the correct systems are set in place. Several key factors allowed this to work for us. Firstly, we were very much ready to be married and ready to pursue it right; next, we had the proper community (including our parents, mentors, and friends) encouraging us forward in a state of peace that we were (and are) a good match; and most importantly, we both had confirmation from the Lord.

For anyone hoping for a speedy dating season, I'd encourage you to dive deep into Yeshua's bridegroom love. Intimately know His passionate heart that burns with a jealous flame for you! Developing a strong relationship with the Lord is the best thing anyone can do to help move into a spirit-led dating relationship headed towards marriage. Be sure to grow under the authority of a pastor/messianic rabbi and mentors, and in the midst of a body of believers. Ask the Lord to refine your perspective on what you should be looking for, daily dwell in His presence so you can grow in your character and gifts, and include others in the workings of your relationship early on!

Be encouraged that it doesn't have to take forever! :)

good resource:
From "Hi" to "I Do" in Less Than a Year

related posts:
Get Married
Shabbat Shalom - June 20, 2008

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

12 year old's Pro-Life Speech

I highly recommend everyone taking a minute (or 5) to watch this youtube video of a 12 year old girl, "Lia," delivering an award winning pro-life speech. Lia presented this speech at her school where she was declared the "obvious winner" of the competition, but then disqualified due to the pro-life stance of her topic. The judges were in a state of disagreement over her speech, causing one to eventually step down. Lia was then, again, renamed winner! She plans to compete in a regional competition soon. We need to keep her in our prayers!

Read an article that includes the youtube video here.

Or watch below (unless you're reading this via my facebook RSS feed).

World Net Daily
Boundless Line Blog - Suzanne Hadley

Related Posts:
Earth Worship and Child Sacrifice

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Frozen Flowers

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (NIV)

Creation testifies to me. Some of my deepest understanding of God's heart have come from being still and observing His created world around me. Maybe this is why I took an initial interest in sustainability early in my design education. It seemed like a holy mission to preserve all of God's natural outlets for revealing mysteries about who He is, and His will for us; although, after eight years of studying, my perspective has changed slightly.

The spring of my second year at UNC-G was one of the deepest times of learning and revelation in my life. We had been experiencing ice storms in North Carolina that year from late November well into the spring. One of the storms occurred after the flowers bloomed.

I love flowers. Especially wild flowers. One icy spring day, as I was walking around my campus, I couldn't help but to notice that I was surrounded by frozen treasures. Tiny white flowers were everywhere. Each one encapsulated by an exterior shell of ice. I picked a few and admired how pristine they were inside of this crystal coating. Still perfectly beautiful in color and form, the tiny flowers were captivating, but one thing was missing: the sweetness of their fragrance.

The Spirit of God grabbed my attention and began to speak.

"Your spirit is like this precious flower," He said, "perfect and beautiful in visibility. The ice is is like your flesh, binding you in so that you can't live in your true purpose. Your flesh must die, just as the ice must melt, for you to be free and release a sweet fragrance unto Me." (see 2 Cor 2:14-16,Eph 5:2, Lev 8:28)

The flesh and the spirit are antagonistic. Either the Spirit is putting the flesh to death, or the flesh is grieving the Spirit.(see Rom 8:5) With enough time, the ice would strangle the life out of those tiny flowers, but a warmth from the sun causes ice to melt. Likewise, being in the presence of the Lord will cause our flesh to melt, releasing a sweet fragrance of holiness to Him.

related posts:
Earth Worship and Child Sacrifice

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Dear Family,

These last two weeks have been some of the most interesting weeks I can remember. Here in the States, we see all the things that are happening in the government and the economy. It is very clear that the new administration in Washington is seeking to make it's mark as soon as possible. The amount of things that have been done so early in the administration is staggering. Most of the people I talk to can't believe that things are happening so quickly. On the other hand, in Israel, we see things taking shape very slowly and in a way that was not expected at all. Netanyahu has finally been asked to form the new government in Israel, but he will by no means have the firm control on the government that everyone was expecting. Things are in such a precarious place that we could very well see elections again in a few months time. We need to be in serious prayer for both of these situations, because one will absolutely affect the other. So much of what happens here in the States depends on if we continue to bless and support Israel. Please pray that the present administration would continue the support that the United States always has had for Israel.

Callie and I are preparing for the move back to Israel. We are sending a shipment of our things over to Israel and we are praying that the shipping goes smoothly. We were blessed by a wonderful foundation that has agreed to cover half the cost of our shipment. Praise God! Please pray that the Lord would continue to provide what we need to settle down there. We are both very excited to start "nesting" in our apartment there, but we want to finish everything the Lord wants for us to finish here. Please pray that the Lord would give us the grace we need in these next few weeks.

I have been struck by the panic that as swept over this country in the last month or so. Everyone from the economists to the politicians are forecasting doom and people seem to be reacting just the way we do when we hear these things.....with fear. More and more, we are looking to these very people who are forecasting doom to save us from what is ahead. The Body seems to have fallen in to this pattern as well and I find myself asking why? Have we forgotten so quickly who has saved us from the filthy place of sin we used to live in? Have we begun to do exactly the same thing the children of Israel did after they came out of Egypt? We are starting to grumble at our trouble, and we are listening to those who would lead us to other gods who, they say, will save us. Instead of praying, and asking the Lord what we should be doing with our money, we are turning on the news to see what they say we should do with it. Instead of saying to the Lord, we will serve you with all of our hearts, no matter what happens, we are saying to Him that we will serve as long as we still have our jobs. We say in our hearts that if He truly loves us, He will let us keep our jobs and the comfort we have.

I am NOT saying this to belittle the hardships that people are in now, but I am asking where our faith has gone. We serve a God that will never allow us to go hungry. If we seek His kingdom first, He WILL add all other things to us. He is a promise keeping God and we MUST start believing it. This is when the rubber meets the road. Do we really believe, or do we just say we believe when we are comfortable? God never promised us a life of comfort, but He does promise that we will have everything we need. This is the time, for our faith to shine through. The world must see that there is a God who watches over the ones who love and serve Him. They must see the peace on our faces that comes from Yeshua Himself. No politician or economist can do for us what He alone can do. Now is the time to believe this and live it.
Bless you all on this Shabbat.

In Yeshua,

Devin and Callie

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We Are Now Bloggers!

The *NEW* Mitchell family is proud to introduce our blog, Etz HaZayit - Hebrew for The Olive Tree. We chose this title because the olive tree represents the Kingdom of God as seen in Romans 11:11-24:

I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith Do not be conceited, but fear;for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? NASB

In this passage, we see the Jews as the natural olive branches, and that being in the tree is part of their natural created order. We also see the way for Gentiles to come into this established order and join with God's plan. Since one of us is Jewish (Devin), and the other Gentile (Callie), unified in the Messiah, this passage is an explanation for the vision we share as believing husband and wife. We believe the fullness of God's Kingdom will be seen as Jews and Gentiles unite in the one olive tree. This revolutionary unity through Yeshua, allows the Gentiles to become fellow heirs in the promises to Israel. Never replacing Israel, but rather sharing in their inheritance. This is further explained in Ephesians 2:11-22:

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. NIV

We hope you will be blessed and edified by our blog ministry. We plan to post Devin's weekly Shabbat Letters, Callie's "prophetic apologetic" writings, prayer requests, family photos and much more. Please stop by regularly and leave comments!

Love and Blessings,

Devin and Callie

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Earth Worship and Child Sacrifice

While honeymooning in Mexico, Devin and I made a trip to Tulum to visit the Mayan ruins. As a student of architecture with an interest in old world archeology, I was incredibly excited to see the ancient remains of such a grand and intelligent civilization. We went into the ruins prayerfully as we both had some expectation of encountering the Lord while we were there, but with wisdom as we knew we were entering onto pagan temple grounds.

As we walked through the site, we saw great architectural achievements that would awe and inspire even the greatest sustainable designers of our day. We saw forms built to capture the winter equinox sun, and we saw a wind tunnel that, to this day, gives warning of a hurricane twenty-four hours in advance through a loud whistle. The achievements of the Mayas have sparked interest, curiosity, and even extra-terrestrial fanaticism. Our tour guide addressed the rising interest in the Mayas and then reminded us of the civilization's dark side: the practice child sacrifices.

After the tour, before taking a nice swim in the Caribbean Sea, we continued to explore the site, walking through tiny corridors and admiring intricate stone carvings, but as we ventured, both of us felt an increasing sorrow growing in our hearts. Finally, we paused and realized the Lord was revealing His broken heart for a lost civilization who He loved. They worshiped the creation rather than the creator , and their god demanded the innocent blood shed of their children.

We were standing at a high enough elevation to take in the whole site as this revelation came to mind, but it didn't stop with the Lord's brokenness for the Mayas. We recognized an interesting coincidence. Present day, we are falling deceived by a movement that esteems the environment and dismisses the value of human life. It is manifesting as great civilizations of our day are embracing "green" movements, while limiting families to one child in the false name of overpopulation. Environmental organizations are fighting for the rights of rocks, while denying the rights of the unborn lives who would grow into creative men and women if uninterrupted. Some even believe voluntary human extinction to be the solution to protecting the earth's biosphere. The same demonic principality that had dominion over the Mayas is moving with great speed through out the earth, blinding the eyes of the nations, America included.

The deception of this movement comes in the form of care for the environment, but to the detriment of human life. Individual ideologies, and social policies result in encouraging behavior that is counter to the Word of God. Limiting families to one child, or intentionally not having children for the sake of the earth is an act of rebellion against God's command on man kind. In Genesis 1:28 we are called to both "be fruitful and multiply," and to rule over the earth... not the other way around. This is a command that He never revoked as mandate for obedient living. Child sacrifice is condemned in the bible as a detestable practice that was part of ritual Baal and Molech worship. (See Lev 18:21 , Is 57:5 , Eze 16:20-22 , Eze 23:36-38 ) Through contemporary terminology we justify earth worship as "environmentalism." Through post modern reasoning we justify the current practice of child sacrifice—abortion—in the name of 'tolerance,' 'compassion,' 'choice,' and even 'privacy.'

As social persuasions are perversely inverting God's commands for righteousness, it is a critical time for us to follow the instructions of Romans 12:2.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV

Daily walking in intimacy with Him will equip us to know His heart and discern truth from lies. This should be paired with instructions from James 1:22-25.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. NIV

We can take action by fasting and praying for our nation, voting in policy makers that will uphold biblical standards of righteousness, and actually doing what the word says: marry, then be fruitful and multiply!

Related Posts:
Deceived by Social Justice? - Part 1
Deceived by Social Justice? - Part 2
Bush's Pro-Life Legacy

Monday, February 16, 2009

Our Messianic Wedding

On December 13, 2008, we worshiped the Lord as we were married in Wilmington, North Carolina. Thank you to all who were able to attend!

If you'd like to see photos, our photographer, Amanda Dengler, has images on her blog and on her proofs page. Please stop by and check them out!

A guest filmed a video of the Seven Circles, one of our favorite parts of the ceremony. Our friends Faith and Simon Dwight, Christina Rinaldi, and our brother-in-law Daniel Weeks were so gracious to perform all of our music. The song in this clip is You Won't Relent by Misty Edwards. Please click below to watch!

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NKJV

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Start Your Family

A few weeks ago Devin and I received Steve and Candice Watters' new book Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies in our mail. After a few emails with Candice, sharing with her how much their ministry has impacted my life, she so kindly sent us the new book in exchange for a review. ;) Devin and I read the book together and we loved it!

We both have a strong desire to have children, but after all the work required to plan a wedding and transition into a new season of life, my pre-engagment excitement about having a baby dwindled as I simply did not want to transition yet again. All change, even good change is stressful and most of you know I've had a lot going on in the last two years of my life! This book refreshingly reminded me of my desire for children, excitement about motherhood, and the purpose of our new marriage.

Passionate, but not preachy, the Watters' illustrate how their shared heart to see the next generation come forth is not just a personal conviction, but in fact God's heart and plan for His creation, even a means of fulfilling the great commission. Scripture, statistics and scientific facts come to the defense of their thesis, but not once in an overwhelming, dry, or legalistic manner. Rather, all the information is eloquently woven together in love and vulnerability through sharing their own story of having and raising babies.

Together Steve and Candice take on current cultural standards and weigh them against the word of God. Whether it is a matter of fear, ambition, or lack of desire, they challenge readers to evaluate before the Lord the source of our reasons for waiting to have children, with the reminder that a woman's fertility declines much more dramatically with age than many of us realize. Together they explain how the ways we have conformed to the world have put children on the back burner for most young couples. Today we trade having babies for dream careers and dual incomes; the richness of family homes for pottery barn style; and the rootedness of growing mulit-generational family trees for soul-mate inspired companionship marriages. Candice and Steve present a biblical call to once again view having children as part of being married, noting that though the bible condones singleness for the sake of ministry, not once does it condone voluntary childlessness as an obedient lifestyle option for married couples.

In perfect Watters fashion, this book is a call to intentionality, but even greater than that, it is a call to holiness. They don't paint a one-sided happy picture about all the joys of having a family without emphasizing the great sacrifice required to raise godly offspring for the Lord (Malachi 2:15), but with encouragement that this lifestyle of sacrifice produces selflessness and strength of character.

A friend asked me the other day if it made me feel pressured to have a baby right now. To answer correctly, no, it doesn't make me feel pressured (not in the "I'm a sinner if I'm not pregnant tomorrow" way), but it does challenge me to be a good steward of my fertile years, which affects how I think about timing and hierarchy of goals. Although there is a ton of practical wisdom in this book, its also seasoned with Candice and Steve's reality of God's sovereignty through the miraculous birth of their fourth child. Its the way they combine wisdom and facts with knowledge of God's heart and character that makes this book so spectacular. It will both challenge how you think, and confirm things you believe deep down. ;)

Good Resources:
Find Start Your Family on Amazon
For more thoughts, check out Start Your Family Website and blog.
Don't forget about Candice's first book Get Married
Candice'sWomen Praying Boldly social network and blog.
Vist Boundless Webzine where I was first introduced to Candice and Steve Watters' story.

Related Posts:
Get Married