Friday, October 22, 2010

Redemptive Space

In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit. Isaiah 27:6

Several weeks ago, while traveling with Devin's parents a group from the Cincinnati area, we had the privileged of meeting a friend, Tina, in the Haifa area. Tina and her husband, Moshe, had formerly lived in a community called Nisanit which was in the northern area of the Gaza Strip. Together they built a home and grew a garden, but the Disengagement Plan forced them to leave in 2003.

They bought a shipping crate and were only able to move was able to fit inside. Much of its content included plants they had uprooted from their garden, which they believed held a great deal of prophetic significance for the last days restoration of Israel.

The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. Isaiah 51:3

After finding a place to settle temporarily, Tina and Moshe adapted the shipping crate into a studio and gallery space to display Tina's photography, and a moving slide show of the assembly, growth and disassembly of their garden in Nisanit. They sealed the original doors, and cut openings for a glass door and windows. They left the original wood floors, but covered the interior walls with gevis (dry wall).

We viewed the slide show while in the crate, and Tina shared her heart for forgiveness, not being resentful about the forced move, and God's heart for restoring lost inheritances. Israeli's who were forced to leave during the Disengagement were left paying two mortgages, one on their old homes in Gaza and another for their new homes where ever they were choosing to settle. Shortly after they moved to the North, Tina received a financial inheritance from a father she had not seen since she was 9 months old!

Having worked in Landscape Architecture up until Aviel's birth, and having a love for regional and indigenous spatial constructs, this little shipping crate paved way for the Lord to minister to my heart in a powerful way. I'm still sorting it out, but once I understand, maybe I'll write a little more!

And so a desert becomes a garden, then a desert again... and a space of mourning and moving becomes a space for creation.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Isaiah 35:1-2

For more about Tina and Moshe's story go here. And I encourage you to watch the slide show of their garden.

Related Posts:
Adventures During Sukkot
For His Name's Sake
Hosea 3

Saturday, October 16, 2010

AAP Birthbonding

While searching for a few things on the American Academy of Pediatrics website, I came across there policy on breastfeeding and newborn care. One section, in particular, caught my interest. It is as follows:

3. Healthy infants should be placed and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after delivery until the first feeding is accomplished.156–158

* The alert, healthy newborn infant is capable of latching on to a breast without specific assistance within the first hour after birth.156 Dry the infant, assign Apgar scores, and perform the initial physical assessment while the infant is with the mother. The mother is an optimal heat source for the infant.159,160 Delay weighing, measuring, bathing, needle-sticks, and eye prophylaxis until after the first feeding is completed. Infants affected by maternal medications may require assistance for effective latch-on.156 Except under unusual circumstances, the newborn infant should remain with the mother throughout the recovery period.161

I thought this was interesting enough to note given the rift between midwifery and medical approaches to childbirth. If you opt for a hospital birth, know that you can confidently request skin-to-skin contact and regular breastfeeding attempts following the birth, and rooming-in during recovery with the AAP on your side!

Find the full policy here under the section titled Recommendations on Breastfeeding for Healthy Term Infants.

AAP's Breastfeeding Initiatives
AAP's Children's Health Topics: Breastfeeding
La Leche League International
WHO Breastfeeding
Birthing Naturally

Related Posts:
Saved in Childbearing?
Something Special (Part 3) Aviel's Birth Story

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shabbat Shalom

Dear Family,

It has been too long since we have last written, but the holiday season here in Israel can be an all consuming season. With Rosh Ha Shanna, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot coming one after the other, it is difficult to keep your days straight sometimes. We had a wonderful holiday season here. The Mitchell parents were here for much of it and it was fun to celebrate for the first time with Aviel. We have some very good news to share with all of you who have been praying for us over the years. Callie received her Israeli ID card and here temporary residency this past week! It is a long process that culminates in an interview that we have to go through separately. We were asked the same questions and then our answers were compared to prove that we really are a couple. The questions themselves were not difficult, but the atmosphere in the office was oppressive and unnerving. Thank the Lord for His grace! We got through it and now Callie is officially a resident of Israel. We are still waiting for a small thing to finish for Aviel and then our family's status here will finally be settled. Please pray that the Lord would give us the strength and patience to push through this last obstacle. It has been a long and difficult road, but all of your prayers have been wonderful support for us.

Israel is in desperate need of prayer at the moment. It is rare that we are able to write anything else, because of how quickly everything happens here. The "peace process" has been on the rocks for a couple weeks now and seems to be on the edge of collapse. For those of us who are praying, we can see the huge trap this whole thing has been from the beginning. The US Administration has pressing as hard as it can to push through an agreement. There have even been declarations that the boarders of the "two states" will be set in three months time. With the talks now stalled, and looking like they will stop completely, the Obama Administration has returned to the thing that can be tried when all else fails......bribery. These "incentives" (weapon sales, promise of UN vetoes in Israel's favor, a presence in the Jordan Valley after the agreement, a promise no other freeze will be asked for) are being offered to Israel IF we extend the freeze on settlement building. We can also easily see the veiled threat behind these incentives. If Israel doesn't extend the freeze, the US won't do these things for Israel. The Prime Minister is weighing these things right now and "testing the waters within his coalition. We need to pray that he will be able to stand firmly on the word of the Lord concerning this Land. It doesn't matter what is offered, if Netanyahu moves according to the Word, he will lead this nation into blessing. Please pray that he would hear the voice of the Lord and act in obedience to it.

Both of us breathed a huge sigh of relief this week after Callie received her residency here. The Lord has been with us through the whole thing, but it has been a long, tough road. Our status as a family in this country hung on this one meeting with the Ministry of Interior. It is a process that has fairly clear steps to take, but things usually never work out smoothly when it comes to Israeli bureaucracy. Sometimes it seems like there is no reason for the things you go through here and it is hard not to develop a bitter attitude in the process. It also challenges how we tend to think how our prayers should be answered. With so many people praying for our situation, it would be easy to expect that the Lord would cause everything to go smoothly for us. However, the Lord never promised us that when we prayed, things would get easier for us. He promised that He would answer us when and in what way He knows to be best. We all have expectations about how the Lord should answer our prayers. We also have a tendency to get into a little bartering arrangement with the Lord, trying to convince Him that our good conduct should warrant a quick answer and an easing of our tough situation. Many times, we go through things so that we can
learn how to depend on the Lord. If every prayer instantly made our life "easier" we wouldn't need to have persevering faith. If we could enter into a bartering relationship with Him, the Lord would be no different than the ancient pagan deities. He hears our prayers because of the love relationship He has with us. It is because He loves us that He allows us to go through difficult things, so that we can come out stronger on the other side. He never leaves us, and He there to gently talk us through it. The Lord can absolutely answer our prayers in an instant, but it is a mistake to think that this is the way it "should" happen. It is shocking how often our thoughts can stray to how God "should" do things. Thank the Lord that He has patience with us! The Lord has graciously brought us through this tough time, and we thank Him that He has answered all the prayers. Blessings to you!

In Yeshua,

Devin, Callie and Aviel

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Saved in Childbearing?

Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. 1 Tim 2:15 KJV

Saved in childbearing?

That statement sparks a number of different questions. I've heard many feminist driven arguments against this verse, and I've heard broad theological explanations about it related to the Messiah coming through a woman giving birth; but it wasn't until I actually experienced childbirth and motherhood that I understood the personal implications involved.

Sometimes the word, saved, is translated as preserved. In the Greek, it has the added meaning of delievered or healed.

Healed in childbearing.

Now there's a concept worth meditating on, and more rightly so, a promise from scripture to believe.

I can honestly say it was healing for me, and in ways I have yet to understand. Whether it was seeing the strength and compassion of my husband standing over me in servant-leadership through the pregnancy, the empowered feeling that I could do anything after natural childbirth, the way Aviel's red hair has ministered to my heart, trusting that God hears my voice through learning to be responsive to Aviel's cry, or many other revelations the Lord has provided, I am not the same as I was a year and a half ago.

Though I could write volumes on each of the examples above, it is not my own experience that I want to highlight today, but that of a friend in North Carolina. After a traumatic first birth, Ashley had a incredible VBAC with a particularly sweet story of redemption. In her own words:

...And as her head started to crown, I remember Todd saying, "I thought this would be weird. but it's not. This is awesome! Keep going baby!" He was so excited to see his baby girl enter the world. And all I could think was, sweet Jesus get her out! The pain. Lord Jesus, the pain. But a few pushes later when that sweet Liliana Joy slipped from my womb and up into my arms...the pain melted away. literally. I didn't care. I was staring into the face of someone I had loved for months - or maybe even always.

She cried and I cried.

And it was labor day, September 6, 2010. it was my 31st birthday. and it was Liliana Joy's birthday. Of all of the days that the Lord could pick to bring forth my second daughter, he chose my birthday.

It was redemption. because for years, September seemed to go all wrong. My parents separated, my dad was a no show or no call on my birthday, a long time boyfriend broke up with me, I found out my Grandad had terminal cancer, my parents divorced, my childhood home sold... For a long time, I found myself cringing when September rolled around. I was just sure that something else was looming in the dark, waiting to crush the hope that was September. And when I got married, Todd started rewriting September. He would do everything he could to make my birthday special.

But it was the Lord himself that redeemed it. It is He that only can redeem anything. And when He took my birthday and made it my daughter's, He gave me a new focus. September is so sweet now. I'll never see the sadness in it. Never. All of the pain of all of those years were worth the sadness - it was in the sadness that hope grew.

And now I look at this blue eyed girl and my heart rejoices. For so long we waited for the Lord to restore something that seemed impossible. But he showed us that it was possible. Somewhere in the quiet of the early morning hours of September 6th, God reached into my heart and reminded me that I was created for this - for this moment. And from my womb, He made new precious life - again.

Healed in childbearing.

May the word of Ashley's testimony inspire others to hope for so much more.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10 NASB

Go here for Ashley's full birth story.

Related Posts:
Something Special Part 3 Aviel's Birth Story
At the Sound of His Voice
Thoughts on When to Start Your Family

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adventures During Sukkot

We just concluded the last feast of the fall High Holy Days, Sukkot, or The Feast of Tabernacles, as listed in Leviticus 23. Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word Sukkah which means tabernacle or booth. During this feast, the Jewish people build Sukkahs, representing the temporary dwellings the lived in during their time in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. For seven days, families eat and sleep in these delightful little booths.

Sukkot is my *personal* favorite of the Chagim (Holy Days), in part because its architectural in nature, as families construct space for celebrations, but also due to its richness of meaning. Sometimes Sukkot is referred to as The Feast of Ingathering. The Lord gathered me into my calling to live in Israel during this particular feast, so it will always serve as an anniversary marker in my life.

Possibly the most important understanding of Sukkot is that it represents the birth and return of the Messiah. Some bible scholars believe that Yeshua was likely born during the feast of Sukkot. They determined this through records kept at the temple indicating when Zecharias (father of John the Baptist) would have been burning incense (see Luke 1:5-25).

In John 1:14, the word dwelling alludes to Sukkot.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

Jesus came to dwell with us temporarily so that we might dwell with him eternally.

Also, according to Zechariah 14:16, many bible scholars believe this feast will be celebrated by all nations during the Millennial Reign.

I didn't even begin to unpack the depth to this Feast. Hopefully some of you will be inspired to prayerfully study more on your own!


This year we opened Sukkot by having a Shabbat dinner with our Friends, the Cohens, in their lovely Sukkah. We went on several walks during the week, documenting Sukkah's for my thesis, and we attended the big parade in City Center.

Here's a few night images of some Sukkahs around our neighborhood:

I love the silhouette of the menorah on the one below.

Then next three are on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem's City Center. Restaurants and Cafe's build them on the sidewalks so customers can keep the tradition of eating in a Sukkah.

Later we ventured to an Ultra Orthodox neighborhood called Mea Shearim, where we recieved an extra special treat. Keep scrolling to see, but first, here are some examples of the orthodox versions of the Sukkah.

On stilts!

Ok... Here's the treat! We found this Sukkah made totally from bamboo and palm branches...

...then we ran into the owner, who invited us in! Its a Mitzvah, or good deed, to invite guests into your Sukkah.

The interior consists of a mattress so the family can sleep in their booth, a table for feasting, and they decorated the walls with images of Rabbis and Torah passages.

He was very pleased to note that their Sukkah was the most Kosher in the neighborhood because he made it completely from bamboo and palm branches, and he didn't use any nails.

Here's the three of us. His wife brought us juice and cake. We spent some time learning about their family with twin girls, and some Jewish traditions surrounding childbirth (He happened to be a Mohel, who is someone trained to perform circumcisions) They wanted us to stay for dinner but we had to get home before the buses stopped for shabbat.

Just before leaving, Devin said traditional prayers and waved the Lulav. We had such a sweet time with this wonderful Orthodox family. Maybe we'll stop by next year!

Related Posts:
Holy Days