"How was your birthday this year?"
All things considered, it was great.
This year marked the change of an era for me (Callie), as my time as a 20-something came to an end.
Yep. This was a big one. On November 20, the seventh day of the eight day Pillar Cloud operation, I turned 30!
And 30 came in with a bang! Missiles, sirens... it was a memorable day for sure.
The night before, I celebrated a shared party with a close friend. We had planned a ladies night out, but things changed due to bombs and husbands who had been called up to serve in reserves. Instead we had a really sweet celebration at a friend's house. It was a blessed evening where we all offered support to each other, during a stressful time. The host later apologized for allowing a great deal of the conversation to focus on the current events of the time, but it was honestly just what I needed. I needed to hear how my friends where processing things at present, as well as how they had walked through past military conflicts. This was my first war, and there were some veteran Israeli war-time civilians present. The food was great, my friend and I both received gifts, and the best part of all, our friends laid hands on us, offering prayers of gratitude for our lives and speaking prophetic encouragement over us. It was a great little party.
The next day, my actual birthday, Aviel and I headed up to a neighborhood, Ramat Beit HaKerem. We visited a dear friend, a single women - mid forties - whom I lived with while Devin and I were engaged. Knowing that breakfast is my favorite meal, Susy invited us over for a lovely pancake brunch. She also selected a few other guests that she wanted to connect me with. Susy blessed me with the gift of new friends!
After brunch, Aviel and I jumped on bus 5, where he fell asleep and unfortunately dropped one of his beloved Pixar Cars matchbox toys. I carried my sleeping boy up a the flight of stairs from Hebron Rd, to our street.... then another flight of stairs up to our building... then three flights of stairs up to our apartment... gently laid him in his bed, only for him to wake up screaming!
I worked with him to help soothe him back to sleep, and just as his precious eyes were shutting....
The siren sounded.
Thank you Hamas for blowing a nap on my birthday.
I scooped him up, ran to the door, grabbed my well organized, pre-packed shelter bag (I was ready this time), and headed down the stairs. We met neighbors on the way down, who suggested that we all wait in the stairwell rather than go into the wet shelter below. So, there we all sat, for the duration of the siren and 10 minutes afterward.
Aviel wasn't such a happy camper. The siren was fairly short, but just long enough to be challenging for a nap deprived two and half year old. We tried some snacks and books while we waited, then he whimpered, "Can I watch Mickey Mouse?" By the time it was over, I wanted to watch Mickey Mouse, too.
Eventually we said good bye to our neighbors and moved back into our apartment. I set up a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for Aviel, grabbed my bible and absorbed God's promises from Psalm 91.
One of the greatest difficulties I faced during Pillar Cloud was holding myself together for Aviel's sake. With the sound of the siren would come a tremendous release of adrenaline, as fear and panic tried to take over. I did my best to remain as calm and normal as possible, so he would feel safe and secure, but I could only hold it together for so long. This wasn't a siren drill. Missiles really were being launched at my home city, and we really were seeking safety. After I took a moment to remind myself of God's faithfulness, I joined my little boy in some Mouse-viewing, then playtime with his toy cars. We also called Devin to make sure he was safe and sound at work.
Oh yeah... Its still my birthday!
I remembered after our phone call.
A little later, we packed our things, hopped on bus 74 and met Devin in City Center to have a birthday dinner as a family. The Israeli way of coping with this sort of conflict is to continue on as normal as possible, so out we went. What a relief to be together. First, Devin took me shopping! I found a lovely blue sweater at my favorite store on Ben Yehuda Street. Then we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Focaccia, with a little detour into a pet store on the way. Dinner was excellent (so were the left overs the next day), but even though trying to be "normal" is the Israeli way, these events were far from normal for me! I still felt flooded with emotion, and was glad to be back at our apartment when we finally made it home.
To be honest, I can even remember what we did when we got home... and thinking about the second half of the day still makes me teary! I'm still recovering! Devin did well to keep it a special day for me, even with all the turmoil. I am thankful for him... his character and his leadership in our home. And I'm glad we went out, even if staying in would have felt more secure. I'm glad we didn't let the enemy steal away a celebration.
Well, there you have it. That is how I entered into my 30's.
Overwhelmed by Love
Sirens and Oil Flasks
War Drills, Hamas, and Stuff
Aviel Turns 2
Adventures on the Bus