Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lessons in Line Drying

My parents both love to iron clothes. Especially my dad. He loves ironing so much that when I was in middle school, I always went gym class with perfect creases in my t-shirt sleeves. On my dad's first visit to Israel, he couldn't believe we didn't have an iron. Then we washed and line dried a load of clothes for him.

"Man. I know why you don't have an iron!" He chuckled as he pulled his super stiff shirt off the line.

And its true! Line drying keeps your clothes wrinkle free. That's one of the great benefits of this highly ecological practice, but sometimes maybe our clothes are too wrinkle free. Items come off the line as if they were soaked in buckets and buckets of starch. Besides that, towels are not downy soft, and though whites may get whiter, colors can fade and blacks turn an icky browngreenygray. Ewww.

Line drying is not part of my life as a green living novelty. I don't do it for the nostalgia, or to be green-chic. Line drying is part Israeli culture. Its what we do in the everyday experience of this place. All of our buildings either have clothes lines directly outside of the windows or on the merepesset (sukkah balcony). We have a dryer (thanks Mom!), but we still line dry most of our clothes and linens because of the astronomical cost of electricity. It is simply part of life here.

In my ventures to become an efficient Titus 2 woman, one who is busy at home, it occurred to me that if I'm going to be line drying clothes as part of my normal household responsibility, then I should become an expert line dryer.

No more stiff towels and sheets.

No more clean clothes hanging in the rain.

No more sun bleached line through the middle of my favorite dress.

I'm experimenting, researching, and taking notes; and here's a few things I'm learning:

1. Check the weather! In the summer this is not such a problem because of the dry season, but in the winter rainy season... I need to know when its going to pour and plan my laundry efforts around the forecast.

2. Hang colors and darks, inside out, in the morning or evening to avoid the midday sun. This helps with the bleaching problem. This also means that I need to know how long all of my wash cycles are, so I can plan out my mornings!

3. Shirts should go upside down to avoid marks from the clothes pins. Nothing worse than getting all dressed up and realizing your shoulders have little clothes pin imprints.

4. Denim drys better waste up.

5. Socks dry better ankles down.

6. Don't wash more clothes than I have clothes pins for! Thank goodness for indoor drying wracks when I forget and fill up the washer to maximum capacity!

I'm still working on fabric softening, but I'll let you know when I find a fix!

My clothes lines... They are accessible through our bedroom windows.

A Women After God's Own Heart

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sukkot Adventures

Sukkot was such joyful time for us this year! After spending nearly nine months out of the country, we were so blessed to be home to celebrate the fall Holy Days!

Last year's post about Sukkot explains a little about rich meaning behind this feast, and shows Sukkot from all over the city. Make sure to check out that post if you'd like to know more.

However, I will share a few things I learned through my thesis research about the meaning behind the words used to describe Sukkot in the bible. Often times this holy day will be described with words such as "tabernacle" and "dwell." I did an exegetical study and found that tabernacle means "temporary dwelling" and actual word used for dwell is "to abide with," as in "to keep covenant." The root for both is sometimes used for "to marry" or "to lie with intimately." Yeshua dwelled temporarily on this earth, and He dwells in our hearts today. We are His living tabernacles - His temporary abode until He returns to the earth. He is a fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham, and He is our bridegroom. Knowing this makes the physical embodiment of the Sukkah such a special place!

This year, we did a lot more celebrating with friends who we greatly missed while we were away. We had several barbecues in family homes, and at way more food than is probably healthy! We also took a little stroll to see the Sukkot around town.

We started in City Center...

Most restaurants in City Center have Sukkah set up outside so guests can keep the Mitzvah (command or good deed) to eat in a Sukkah.

This was a cute little Sukkah in front of an ice cream shop.

This is a big sukkah near the court house. It might be the equivalent to the "town square Christmas Tree" in America. They had a stage set up for concerts and fun! Lets go inside...

The festive interior with traditional decorations and tables.

Then we headed to the Old City and passed through this Sukkah on the stairs.

There was a little party happening here. Big Sukkah... loud music and singing.

Aviel fell asleep on the walk!

We saw this little Sukkah on the Southern Wall Excavation Site.

This is a Yeshiva called Aish HaTorah (The Fire of Torah). Its right across from the Wailing Wall. The Office I worked for designed a garden, yet to be constructed, in the front. See the Sukkot on the roof?

The buildings adjecent to Aish, with some nice bamboo (Aviel says "baboom").

The Temple Mount Rabbis were in this Sukkah blessing passers-through.

Here's how festivities looked at the wall.

And we saw this little one on the way out.

International Babywearing Week (yes, there is such a thing!) fell at the same time as Sukkot this year. I had to mention it because you all know how much I love babywearing. Here's Devin wearing Aviel in our Babyhawk Mei Tai on our walk home. Yemin Moshe, the oldest neighborhood outside the Old City walls in the background.

A few days later, we headed back into City Center for the big parade! We arrived at our destination before the parade passed by, so we took some time to play in a swimming fountain in Yemin Moshe.

Aviel is checking it out

This was sort of a spontaneous visit, so we didn't arrive with his swim trunks. Since it seemed like too much fun to pass up, we decided to go diaper swimming. I'm giving a few instructions before we get in.

The fountain was full of orthodox kids. This was sweet little boy, checking out the Lion with Aviel.

It started to get chilly but when I asked him if he wanted to get out, he said "No way!"

So we played a little longer, even with some shivers! "Brrrrrrrr!"

Eventually we made it out, changed into warm clothes (which I always keep on hand for Aviel because we go from smoking hot days to really breezing evenings this time of the year!). Then we headed Karen Ha Yesod road for the parade!

The parade opened with soldiers. These are from a border patrol unit.

They had this water proof, bomb proof tank truck.

Intrigued by the giraffe!

Tourist groups from all over the world marched in the parade and handed out goodies from their nation. Here's a group from China.

And Angola

Now we're on the look out for Sabba and Savta (Hebrew for Grandpa and Grandma). We knew this was their group because of the colorful kites!

Here they are! They stopped to say "Hi" and give us a few goodies before continuing on their merry way!

Thank you for celebrating Sukkot with us this year! Maybe next year, you can join us!

Related Posts:

Adventures During Sukkot 2010
I love babywearing

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gilad Shalit and My Last Days Baby

For five years now, the hearts and minds of the Israeli people have been tempered by a solider held as a prisoner in Gaza, Gilad Shalit. This Sukkot, Gilad was finally released to come home! It was a controversial deal, but even so, the nation seems to be celebrating the return of her lost son.

My own thoughts on his return are slightly mixed. On one hand, I am beyond overjoyed he is home. My mother-heart weeps when I consider all this young man has been through. I wonder...

What if this was Aviel?

On the other hand, I have concerns that the demands for his release will jeopardize the safety of the Israeli people and future soldiers.

And again I ponder...

What if this was Aviel?

... a thought that has crossed my mind often in the time I've known of Gilad Shalit, and every time I passed the tent of his parents campsite outside of the Prime Minister's house. You see, Aviel will serve his nation in the Israeli Defense Force. My tiny son will one day be a man, risking his life for his people and his land, Israel.

Knowledge of this reality has greatly influenced my prayers for my son, and the way I approach training him in the way he should go. I want to raise a son who will be of strong character, who will be others-oriented, who will endure to the end. I want to raise Aviel to be a man of honor and integrity, courage, and perseverance. This means that I also have to demonstrate these fruits in my own life. It whips me into spiritual shape, for sure!

When I think about Gilad's Ima (mama in Hebrew), I often wonder what I would do if I were in her position. Fast and pray, and trust! One thing that would give me comfort is to know that I did everything I could to draw my son to his Messiah, Yeshua. In particular, this story has burdened my heart to help my children memorize scripture. If Aviel was in Gilad's shoes, it would bring me great peace to know he had God's word hidden in his heart, where he could draw from object truths at times when his body and will might be weak.

Though this experience is unique for me as as an Israeli Ima, because I believe we are approaching the Messiah's return, the urgency is the same for all babies of Aviel's generation. We are last days Mamas, raising last days babies. I hope to give mine all of the spiritual amo they need to live out of the strength of the Holy Spirit until that day comes.

Welcome home, Gilad. And thank you for inspiring me to want more for my son.

Seeds Family Worship I love these cd's for scripture memorization.
A Women After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. This lady inspires me to pray for my children!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fruit of the Season

Embarking on this years Holy Days, as well as contemplating a few wonderful email conversations with some dearly beloved women in my life, I find myself pondering the concept of seasonal living. The more I learn about the Holy Days, the more I realize that we worship a God of seasons and appointed times. He has a prescribed calendar, written in His word, and He tends to move about with the timing of this calendar. Many of the great acts in the life of Yeshua fell perfectly in line with the Holy Days and the Hebrew calendar. He was crucified at Passover, resurrected on First Fruits, and the gift of the Holy Spirit was given at Shavuot. This timeliness is part of His character.

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. Ecc 3: 11

His word teaches that men and women are both made in His image, an attribute of man that separates us from all other acts of creation. As I experience more of life, and glean insight from others a little further in the journey, what I've observed is that my nature as women is cyclical and seasonal. My productivity and purpose change with age and circumstances. This is one way that my femininity is reflective of the character of God.

As some point during my pregnancy with Aviel, the Lord gave me a picture for this seasonal nature -- that of an evergreen and and oak tree. The evergreen has little variation in appearance and function through out the year, but the the oak tree has a seasons of fruitfulness, transitions, and hibernation. Perhaps the life of a man more closely resembles the imagery of the evergreen, where as the women is the great oak, transitioning between times of fruitfulness and times of rest with the changes present in her life.

This is greatly evidenced in the feminine biology; one where our fertility peaks in our twenties, then declines through our thirties and eventually ceases to exist at the time of menopause. It can also be seen through the demands of a child on our bodies. For a season of nine months, some activities are limited while the body of a women nurtures new life. For a season afterwards, a women's body continues to sustain that beautiful new life through breastfeeding. The need for proximity between a mother and her nursling prevent certain activities for a time. But lest she forget that it is only a short time, and a blessed time at that!

Recently the Lord has expanded this seasonal illustration through our times shopping in the Shuk. One observation I've made is that fresh produce tastes best and is most affordable when its in season. Wouldn't it be to our advantage, both festively and financially, to eat the fruit of the season? Why not live life the same way? Prudent living might be to recognize the season of life and feast on the fruit of that time. Right now, I know that I'm in a season of child bearing and rearing. Aviel will never need me the same way he does now. The fruit of the season is tending to his needs, teaching and instructing, making memories as he grows, and doing so with the energy and resources the Lord has given me for this time. Placing some long term desires on hold while caring for him is an act of feasting on seasonal fruit, while being sure to sow seeds for the harvest of life's next season. I can trust the Lord with the dreams of my heart. My goals, visions, desires do not have to manifest at one time. It may even be more profitable and enjoyable if they blossom at different times. If something is on hold, its no cause to fear, but time to trust that its in the soil of the spirit germinating for a later harvest.

The more I surrender to the seasonal nature of my life- as a testimony to the Glory of God and for the health of my family and myself -the greater I am able to walk in peace and contentment.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3

Creating a Life: What Every Woman Needs to Know about Having a Career and a Baby Sylvia Ann Hewlett
Thriving as a Modern Day Woman, Podcast with Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Revive Our Hearts interview with Candice and Steve Watters: Part 1 (Stewardship of Your Fertility), Part 2 (Are There Enough Children in the World?), Part 3 (The Rewards of a Parents Sacrifice)

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tiny Hands, Pocket Change, and the Black Drawstring Bag

God's blessing of provision has been one of the lessons of the baby season. I've said again and again to friends, "God loves babies" and He seems to constantly remind me of this truth -- a truth I have soaked up through my heart for Natural Family Planning.* As I've studied the natural processes of the body, and scripture about children and family, the Lord has deepened my understanding of His purpose for marriage and the creation of life. He loves marriage, and He loves babies. He loves them enough to manifest resources out of thin air, to make ends meet for families on a tight budget. The voice of this age says children are an inconvenience, and an expense, an unwanted consequence to human sexuality; but His word speaks of these little ones as a blessing, source of wealth, and an inheritance. He reminded me of this, yet again, through an interesting set of circumstances the other day.

Before Devin and I got married… before we became engaged… well, actually, before we even met… I had a dream about us, rich with what I believe to be prophetic symbolism. In the dream, we were in our apartment (yes, the one we live in today), and we were praying together for God's financial provision. When we opened our eyes, our apartment was full of money! It was all in the form of pocket change, and it was hidden in places like couch cushions, corners, and window sills. As we gathered the coins, we realized it was international currency from nations all over the world! We picked up the coins, of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and placed them in black drawstring bags.

When I awakened, I wondered if I would marry this man in Israel -- this man whom I had never met. I wondered if we would share a calling to the nations, trusting God to be our provider.

Well, we did marry and we've seen financial and material miracles, but traveling outside of Israel has been slow to manifest, at least for me! Devin has had opportunities to teach internationally, but with Aviel's arrival, certain doors for me to travel with Devin closed. It was a struggle to not be bitter towards the elders on the ministry board Devin works with when they shared that I couldn't go to Scotland because of the baby. They knew it was the land of my roots and we had been talking about this trip for quite some time; however, their wisdom proved to be justified in the end. I wasn't able to leave the country for eight months after Aviel's birth, due to the beurocratic complications that caused a lack of birth certificate, thus preventing us from getting him a passport. If we had purchased tickets, I would not have been able to go. It was hard to trust their decision but it was the Lord's leading.

Over the last few months, my heart has been crying out to the Lord about doing doing ministry outside of Israel, in Asia, Africa, Europe- somewhere please! I've had a desire to travel and serve with my husband some. I've been concerned that as more babies come, these opportunities will be harder and harder to come by. And selfishly, I've wondered if I would ever again get to share in the adventure, or if I'd always be sending Devin off while I stayed at home with the babes.

The Lord gave me a great peace about this a few days ago, through the actions of my toddler son while we were visiting Devin's mom and several friends at an apartment down the street. It started while watching little Aviel as he played with his matchbox cars on the couch. Lately he has enjoyed lifting up cushions and rolling the cars on the surface they rest on. On this particular occasion, Aviel lifted up the cushion and found a half euro! Then he found 5 shekels under another… and another half euro under the next cushion! Earlier in the evening, Savta (Hebrew for Grandma) had given him a frisbee that came in a little black bag. He took these three coins, found the black drawstring bag, placed them inside and pulled it shut!

As I watched this whole scenario take place, the peace of God flooded my heart. Here was Aviel, doing exactly what I had dreamed about doing with his father several years earlier. I realized that our child was part of the prophetic fulfillment of what the Lord had shown me before I even knew this man who would become my husband. I should not fear that doors would be closed because of my children, but trust that their tiny hands might very well be used to open doors to blessings and callings in my life. By investing in my child, my children, I am investing in God's promises.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127: 3-5

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on allmankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28

*I always feel like its necessary to offer a little disclaimer because this is a sensitive and personal matter. Though we feel called to NFP, and are both amazed and inspired by the entire process, we also believe that all non-abortificiant forms of birth control are permissible at the prayerful discretion of each individual couple.

related posts:
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Aviel's First Bike!

I may not be a Jewish Mother but I am, most certainly, a proper Israeli Ima. How do I know this? Because it was the most sincere burden of my heart to make sure Aviel had a bike for Yom Kippur this year!

You see, in Israel, the tradition on Yom Kippur is that all of the children (and adults, too) break out the bikes and ride in the streets. Typically theses spaces would be full of traffic, but on Yom Kippur, no one drives... from the most orthodox to the most secular.

Its a rather unusual way to celebrate a day of fasting and affliction, but its what we do, and I wanted to make sure our little guy was able to celebrate with his people.

Devin thought I was a little odd for caring so much, but my mama-heart led the way! We agreed on a budget for a little bike, and don't you know that I found one in a baby store, Shilav, on sale for exactly what we discussed! The wheels fold up flat so I can carry it to the park or to friends houses!

We got dressed up in traditional white and khaki, went outside and let our little one ride around! All day long he said, "Bike! Bike! Bike!" It was such a sweet day!

Here he is...

"Look at me..."

"I have a bike!"

"Ima! Quit taking pictures and take me outside!"

Related Posts:
Sukkot Adventures
Yesterday was Yom Kippur!