Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Yom Kippur Conversation



Those of you who make regular stops by our blog might remember a post I shared a few months ago about a conversation with an Ultra Orthodox woman,  Excuse Me... Where You Born Jewish?  

As the months passed, I released how fitting that testimony is to the celebration of Yom Kippur, and chose to tie the two together for this month's SAVED News article.  Check it out here:


And if you didn't read the original narrative of the conversation, be sure to follow the link above!  I condensed the story a little in the article for the sake of including some other information





Related Posts:
Articles
Holy Days
Aviel's First Bike
Excuse Me... Where you Born Jewish?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Cushie Files: Upcoming Surgery



Dear Friends and Family,


Back in July, I was officially diagnosed with a very rare condition called Cushing's Disease.  This is a condition where high levels of cortisol are released in the body, causing all sorts of problems, and it is caused by a tumor on the pituitary or other adrenal glands.  I'd rather not type out a long explanation, so if you want to know more, check out the Cushing's Connection site.   

After months and months of blood tests, CT's, an MRI and a wild procedure called an IPSS exam,  doctors were able to locate a tumor on my pituitary gland.  Well, it has to come out!  That means I will be having a surgery, which is scheduled for this coming up Tuesday, Sept 17, 2013. 

The surgery will be performed by a Neuro Surgeon here in Israel.  I'll be headed to Tel HaShomer, which is in the Tel Aviv area.  He will do a procedure called an Endoscopic Transsphenoidal Surgery, entering through my nose and sinus cavity, then drilling a small hole in my skull in order to access the tumor on my pituitary gland.  I've heard some people call this a "drive through brain surgery." I'm not sure if that comforting or not!  I'll spend two nights in the hospital afterward, then I'll be in recovery at home for probably about three weeks.  My hormones should hopefully self regulate overtime. 

It has been a long journey to diagnose this condition.  Only about 25 cases are diagnosed in the United States every year, so you can imagine that there are even fewer in Israel!  The Lord has been with me this entire time, providing some pretty amazing opportunities to share His love and His word in the hospital, and He's whispered some beautiful secrets into my heart.  I love Him and trust Him through this, and I can see His great love for me as we've walked this out together. 

I could certainly use your prayers and support in the coming days.  Please pray for an easy, uncomplicated surgery, and for a full recovery! 

I hope to give you all a good report soon! 

Love and Blessings,

Callie

Resources:
The Cushings Connection
The Balancing Act:  Cushing's Syndrome  (This is a short video)


Related Posts (all of these share tid bits of my Cushie journey):
The Cushie Files:  Do the Things You Did at First
Biblical Eats:  Rumbling, Grumbling, or Humbling
Biblical Eats:  The Raven and the Hopeless Widow
The Beauty of Chagal Windows for Hospital Ashes
Excuse Me... Where You Born Jewish?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Blessed like Cornelius?

Nearly a week into September and I am just now remembering to post the link to my August article for SAVED News.  LOL.  We'll blame my forgetfulness on all the fun we were having on our Great American Adventure.

The culture shock of entering back into the prosperity and comfort of the States inspired the August article.  Israel is a different world.  We're all still pioneering the Land, and the challenges that those of us who live here face can call the Genesis 12:3 promise into question if we are looking at this in the natural. 

Since the bible is self-interpreting, the Lord granted an answer and encouragement to me personally through one of my favorite Brit Hadasha stories found in Acts 10.   Check out my August article to see how the Lord blessed Cornelius, a gentile in the Roman Cohort,  for blessing Israel.



Recommended Reading:
Revolution in World Missions by Dr. KP Yohannan 
(This is a free ebook/pdf)

Related Posts:





Friday, July 26, 2013

Aviel's First Pitch

Family Day at the ballpark was one of the treasures of my childhood.  This is a very special day for MLB families where the club provides us all with uniforms to match our dads', we play a little game on the field, have family portraits, BBQ, clowns making balloon animals....  bubbles....  fun times.  When I moved to Israel, I never thought it would be something my own children would get to experience.  God is so good, though.  He truly does grant the desires of our hearts....  and exceedingly and abundantly more. 

Over the weekend, while on our Great American Adventure, Devin, Aviel and I traveled to Milwaukee to visit my dad, Jerry Narron, who is the Brewers Bench Coach,  and participate in the Brewer's Family Day!  All of the children participating were in a drawing for the ceremonial first pitch, and Aviel won!  I was so excited to hear the news that our little guy would be the one to open the game. My sister, Cara, shared the news with me, and in my heart I knew it was a special gift from the Lord! 

Aviel practiced with my dad, aka Grandsir*, before the game while we were playing on the field.  He was all warmed up and ready.  I talked to the Brewer's family coordinator about positioning him a little closer to home plate so that his pitch would make it to my dad.   Standing on the infield grass made logical sense to both of us, but not to Aviel!

We stood on the warning track and waited for the announcer to call us to the field.  My dad took his very comfortable looking position at homeplate.   A former MLB catcher, he was right at home.  It blessed me to see his face at the plate from a field view.   I only remember watching him from behind as a child.  Aviel and I continued to the infield, but he wanted to go to the mound.  I grabbed him and tried to position him in the grass.  The crowd sort of laughed at our interactions.  Then, to my great fear, he got away!

He's going to have a belly flop tantrum... or run away....  in front of everyone!   

I seriously didn't know what to do!  But Aviel sure did!

He ran up to the mound, and plopped his little feet hard on the rubber.  The crowd roared with joyful cheers at his fierce determination!  They all got a little glimpse of his Israeli chutzpah

I motioned to Grandsir to come closer, but he thought they were both fine.

Then the wind up.... and the pitch!

He made it farther past the mound than I expected...  the ball bounced a little in the grass and Grandsir scooped it up.  Grandsir then jogged to the mound, with a proud fist pump and we all high-fived!

As we walked back to the warning track together, I was still feeling a little self-concious about our near way-public-tantrum experience, but Devin's giant grin settled my nerves!

"That was great!" said my beaming husband.

The fans loved and it was a really special day for our family as well.  For the entire rest of the day, passersby greeted Aviel with smiles and congratulated him on how great his pitch was.  And since then, I have been blown away by the various sports blog posts and the views the video clip has received!   I hope it continues to bless others as much as it blessed us!

I am awed by how loving our heavenly Father is. Baseball was something I put in the alabaster box that I broke over His feet when I obediently followed Him to Israel.  He has returned it to me in such sweet ways.  



The official MLB clip

Narron's Grandson Throws From the Mound



 


*When my sisters and I began having children, my dad asked to be called Grandsir after his maternal grandfather who went by the same title with his grandchildren.   


Here's a few links to different articles:

Brewer's Bench Coach's Three Year Old Grandson Throws Ceremonial First Pitch From Pitcher's Mound  (NESN)

First Pitch Fireworks for Jerry Narron's Grandson (Fox Sports Wisconsin)

Grandson of Brewers Coach Throws out First Pitch like a Boss (USA Today Sports)
Brewers Bench Coach’s Three-Year-Old Grandson Throws Ceremonial First Pitch From Pitcher’s Mound (Video)

Read more at: http://nesn.com/2013/07/brewers-bench-coachs-three-year-old-grandson-throws-ceremonial-first-pitch-from-pitchers-mound-video/

Brewers Bench Coach’s Three-Year-Old Grandson Throws Ceremonial First Pitch From Pitcher’s Mound (Video)

Read more at: http://nesn.com/2013/07/brewers-bench-coachs-three-year-old-grandson-throws-ceremonial-first-pitch-from-pitchers-mound-video/
Brewers Bench Coach’s Three-Year-Old Grandson Throws Ceremonial First Pitch From Pitcher’s Mound (Video)

Read more at: http://nesn.com/2013/07/brewers-bench-coachs-three-year-old-grandson-throws-ceremonial-first-pitch-from-pitchers-mound-video/



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Aw..... Sweet Rest

As Devin, Aviel and I are blissfully enjoying our Hofesh Gadol (summer break),  I am so reminded of how good it is to rest!  What a sweet gift the Lord gives us through the command to keep Shabbat!  And what an even sweeter gift He gives us in the eternal rest we receive through Messiah Yeshua! 

Read more in this month's SAVED News article:  

By Callie Mitchell 

Related Posts:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Cushie Files: Do the Things You Did at First

This is a continuation from this post about how the Lord has been walking me through a season of dealing with an unusual health situation, recently diagnosed as Cushing's Disease.  He is good and works all things to His glory.     

***

As I pressed into my prayer:

Lord, show me in your word, how I should be eating and caring for myself.

The Lord answered, one day...


Do the things you did at first.  

My spirit recalled this verse from Revelation, one of my favorites, I knew where His Spirit was leading.

You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.   Rev 2:4

I remember being an over-joyed new believer, newly in love with the Lord.  I would sneak away--every chance I got--to read my bible and write in my journal.  I remember walking across campus, from the first year design studio all the way to my dorm room, just to steal away a few moments alone with Him.  Sometimes it seemed the walk to and fro was longer than the time alone, but to my lovesick heart, it was worth it.

Later, I found a beautiful tree that grew branches all the way to the ground.  I called it my "Holy Spirit Tree" and hid out with the Lord under its billowy boughs.  I had a hunger for His word, and wanted to be immersed in it all the time.   Now, when times are dry, I remember those things I did at first.  I remember how much effort I put into knowing His heart.  The effort wasn't work, because it was fueled by desire.  So often when the desire isn't present, simply re-doing some of those early behaviors will ignite that same passion again. 

Similarly, I often think of the early days in my relationship with Devin, and remember the sweet ways we related to each other.   I try to swoon over him similarly today.   That heart attitude, followed by the actions of early love and infatuation often breath life into our marriage.

The practical applications of this verse are bountiful.  Now the Lord was using this small passage in His word to awaken my body and spirit to full sozo healing.

Do the things you did at first.  

What did He mean?  

Well,  it began with remembering the time I felt and looked healthiest.  What was I doing?  How was I eating?

I made some comparisons about how my life has changed, living in Israel, and as a wife  and mother. For the most part, my lifestyle is much healthier in Israel than in America, but I realized there are a few things I've been lacking or neglecting that needed to be restored.   I needed to back track slightly... in order to go forward.  I noted some changes in three areas, diet, exercise, and beauty. 

Diet

In terms of diet, we eat extremely healthy.  We have great locally grown fresh produce and limited access to processed and fast food.  However, there was one key food that was a regular part of my diet in the States that I was not eating nearly enough of in my new Israeli home....  SPINACH!

In the States, I would buy bags of baby spinach leaves and use it in all sorts of ways.  Lettuce based salads are not common to the Israeli food culture.  As a culture, we consume large quantities of Hummus, a variety of eggplant salads, tehina, and of course, cucumber and tomato salads,  but leafy greens aren't the norm.  When I would shop, I would literally forget to look for them.   I respond really well to leafy greens, so upon revelation, spinach is now a staple in our fridge.   My dear friend, Angela, even found a store that sells Kale when in season.  We had both been looking for months.  What I believe was a true leading of the Lord, I am now eating leafy greens in abundance.  And I'm feeding them to my husband... and working on Aviel.   Dinosaurs eat leafs, so he can, too.
 
Exercise

Recalling my most fit season of life, I realized I had been neglecting fitness care.  As a pedestrian,  I haven't necessarily needed to do much intentional cardio to stay shapely, but I remembered how much I loved running before I had Aviel.   As I researched adrenal fatigue, which is how I have been "self-treating" prior to discovery that my Cushing's is adenoma related, I learned that running actually puts stress on the body and causes a release of cortisol.  Its not necessarily recommended for those struggling with adrenal problems, but I departed from the suggestion and went for it.  My logic is that the good endorphins are worth the small amount of stress.  I'm not a marathon runner...  just 20 minutes at a time.  And I think this was a good choice.  I feel so much better when I'm running regularly.  It builds my confidence to meet my goals, and it increases my energy through out the day.  I really do have this sense that I am more than a conqueror. For that, it is totally worth it.  
  
Beauty

During the season of the life that the Lord drew me to remember, I also realized that I had a regular habit of caring for my feet!  I made sure to take the time to paint my toe nails every week.  Glancing down at my feet, I knew they had been seriously neglected.  Devin and I serve in ministry in the Land,  therefore we do not have the same creature comforts that we would have in the States.  We live on little income, and we walk everywhere we go.  We work hard and it shows my tired, worn out tootsies.  Beautiful are the feet that carry good news, but beautiful feet are dirty feet.  Yeshua washes feet, and He instructed me to wash mine.  If I suspected that I was being overly emotional or subjective about this issue, those concerns vanished when I opened a care package from my mom filled with nail polish!  The Lord truly was calling me to wash my feet, as a time to stop and be still before Him, and He confirmed it through my mother's gift. 

Take That, Cushing's Disease!   

The Lord has been so good to me through this strange health situation.  In a time where I'm supposed to be "rapidly gaining weight,"  I've actually lost weight, and toned up, although my face and collar bone are still puffier than normal.  Its not about numbers on a scale right now.  More than anything, I am so thankful to feel great.  I feel healthy, and I feel joyful.  For the first time in a long while, I also feel beautiful. 

His provision has been so good. 


Related Posts:
Biblical Eats:  The Raven and the Hopeless Widow 
The Beauty of Chagall Windows for Hospital Ashes  
Frozen Flowers















Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anne Graham Lotz, Last Days, and Good Bye Fear!


This past May, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, paid a visit to Israel!  She took time out of her tour schedule to do an evening devotional and meet'n'greet  with some of us in the local Messianic body.   I was very blessed by my time with her and chose to write about it for my June SAVED News submission. 

Check out the article to see how her visit further fanned into flame a work of overcoming fear in these last days,  that the Lord has been doing in my heart since the Pillar of Defense (aka Pillar Cloud) operation last November. 


By Callie Mitchell




Resources:

Related Posts:  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Biblical Eats: Rumbling... Grumbling or Humbling?

Embarking on this journey of studying food passages in the bible, I couldn't pass up the Manna and Quail!  I've been studying this from Exodus 16, Numbers 11, Psalm 106, and 1 Corinthians 10 .  The time of wandering in the Sinai has so many rich lessons.  Expect posts to have running themes from this story in the coming weeks!

***

Anyone with kids knows it true.  Hungry tummies make for cranky little ones.  Babies cry to let Ima (Hebrew for Mama) know its time to eat.  When snacks are delayed, most toddlers are more prone to the belly sprawl tantrum...  you know the one...  the child goes splat on his stomach with flailing  arms and legs.  When we're hungry, we're generally not happy people, no matter the age. 

Well, hungry tummies made for a tribe of cranky desert dwelling Israelis thousands of years ago.

As their tummies rumbled, their hearts grumbled against the Lord, and He was not pleased.

This story often baffles me.  They just witnessed profound moves of the Lord...  the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea,  they saw God manifest as a pillar of cloud and fire, and they were given heavenly bread every morning.  

Yet they complained:

"Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,  but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."  (Num 11:4-6)

They would rather go back to slavery, for the sake of their stomachs, than walk in the freedom of God.  I have to think that maybe if I ate only bread everyday, I might fall into the sin of complaint, too.  And through this food study, I'm learning just how serious this particular sin truly is.   

God's displeasure with the murmuring was so great that:  

His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (Num 11:1)

Literal. Wrath.

God takes this sin of complaint seriously.  Consider how the Lord equates this sin with idolatry and sexual immorality:  

 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  (1 Cor 10: 7-10)


As I have asked the Lord why He feels so seriously about complaining,  I believe the understanding that He's given me is this:  the sin of complaint is not only on par with idolatry, but it is actually evidence of idolatry operating in the heart!  He is a jealous God!   

Consider the origin of complaint.  It always takes place when elevating the pressures of circumstances above the nature and promises of God.   Allowing anything to become bigger than God removes Him from His place of Lordship in our lives.  That's idolatry. 

Complaining also makes me central within my circumstances.  When I'm complaining about something, its usually because things aren't going the way I think they should.  I am inconvenienced.  Everything is about me and my desires.  If I am in the center, then where is God?   

This sin of complaint is sneaky and creepy.     

Recently, a woman in our congregation asked me how I was managing with my on going health concerns.  In the beginning I was filled with a supernatural joy, and I had a true attitude of thanksgiving.  After round two of CT's came back clear, but lab work came back high, I found myself drifting into apathy. 

Whatever, Lord.  I don't even care anymore.  
  
As I shared this, my friend quickly challenged me to evaluate what that meant about my heart condition.  The Holy Spirit convicted me that my apathy was simply cynicism and bitterness.  I was giving God the silent treatment, but He knows the heart.  He was hearing my silence as complaint.  
 
Complaint can also sneak in is through the guise of authenticity.  This is probably the greatest way our cultural standards have desensitized us to this particular sin.  Being negative isn't being real.  Its just being negative.  

The challenge is that most of us really do want to be honest about where we are in life.  I certainly do.  I have bad days.  I contend with sin.  I am a real person with real struggles.  My faith in the Lord certainly doesn't mean I have to be happy and up all the time, and I certainly don't want to fake it when I'm not.  Most of us want an honest testimony from others and from ourselves. Outsides should match insides; but the Lord is showing me that being cynical, and negative, in essence, complaining about my circumstances, is not a mature way to express disappointment, fears, or frustrations.  

So how does true authenticity in the midst of a desert season look?   Yeshua provides an example. 

In an Olive garden, just before the time He knew He would carry the sins of the world on His perfect sinless shoulders,  Yeshua went before His father in prayer.  With agony so great that His sweat was as blood, He cried out to the Lord:  

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  (Luke 22:42)

He was authentic and He was real.  He didn't pretend that He wanted to go to the cross.  He didn't pretend that He was happy about atoning for us.  His was totally honest, but His honesty was not in the form of a complaint, rather in a humble expression of pain.   

I don't want to do this, Abba, but I want your will more than anything.  

One key factor that makes Yeshua's dealing with His trial different from that of the Israelis in the Sinai is that He looked beyond His circumstances and He kept His Father central.  His Father met Him in His humility, sending an angel to strengthen him for what was to come next (v. 43).

In the next few weeks I'll be undergoing an Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling (IPSS) exam.  This is an invasive procedure that involves running a catheter from my leg into my pituitary gland in order to measure hormone levels.  Nothing about it seems fun.  Although its low risk, I'm a bit freaked out about how they do it, and a little afraid! 

Personally, I'm facing the challenge:  grumble or humble.

We are not promised to have an easy life in this age (John 16:33).  I've certainly been in a desert season for the last few months, wandering around, looking for answers, and the temptation is to complain.  The trap of the enemy is that the sin of complaint will cause separation from God at a time when He is most needed!

Not only that, but the sin of complaint is even damaging to my body!  Every time I complain, I remember my frustrations, relive the stress, and my body responds by releasing more cortisol! Not good for a cushie!*   The destroyer wants to destroy (1 Cor 10:10). 

My tummy is rumbling,  but I can see His heavenly bread manifesting in the morning dew.  I want to fill my hunger with Him.   The manna fast will come to an end, and according to His word, do you know what's next?  A land flowing with milk and honey.   
 

Let's feast together.    
  

Manna?


***

Besides prayer for an uncomplicated procedure, more than anything, I hope that I can walk this out with the same heart as Yeshua, who lives inside of me.  Can you pray for me to have His strength?

I don't want to do this, Abba, but I want your will more than anything.  


 ***
 
*Cushie is the term I'm finding on the blogosphere for people who have been diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome.   



Related Posts:
Biblical Eats:  The Raven and the Hopeless Widow
The Beauty of Chagal Windows for Hospital Ashes
Excuse me...  Where you Born Jewish?
His Time Out Chair was the Cross













Saturday, June 1, 2013

Biblical Eats: The Raven and the Hopeless Widow

I firmly believe the bible has an answer for every problem we could possibly encounter in this present age.  As I've walked through this season of strange health issues, this firm conviction has held true, and proved helpful.  The double edged sword of the Word, has severed a spirit of confusion particularly in the area of food.   This is part one in my journey with the Lord, as I learn more about His heart for my healing and health.   

***

Months have passed now without clear understanding as to what is causing my cortisol and ACTH to be high.  MRIs and CTs have shown normal looking glands, but my labs continue to indicate high hormones.  Without a clear diagnosis, I have been void of a treatment plan from my doctor. 

Feeling trapped by my circumstances and afraid of the possibility of rapid weight gain that is common with Cushing's Syndrome (my tentative diagnosis), hopelessness and fear have tried settle in.  

"Have you considered addressing this with your diet?"  I have heard from many friends, enough that I thought it would be worthwhile to investigate.   The only problem is that I was receiving so much contradictory advice!

The prevailing food concerns of the day are the hormones and anti-biotics found in meats, the gluten in grains, the toxins in pesticides found on fruits and veggies, preservatives in anything pre-packaged.  With all this icky-ness, what on earth do we eat?!? 

Battling with confusion over the issue, I went to the Lord.

Lord, I know confusion is not of You.  Show me what is true. 

And nearly immediately the Lord responded,

You are confused because you are looking to food for your healing, instead of Me. 

Bam.  Idolatry in my heart exposed.

His word came as a bit of a surprise.  In my natural mind, I would have believed the confusion to be more about about the different claims in the articles this research-aholic was reading.  My coping mechanism to stress is to know as much as possible about the issue at hand.  I was steeped in different websites about Cushing's Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue,  fertility and nutrition, and of course, all the readings about meats and grains.  God sees the heart, though,  and His spirit convicted me that I was searching for a solution outside of Him.   

Repentance, restoring the Lord to His rightful throne,  and then...

Ok, Lord, show me in your word, how I should  be eating and caring for myself.

I petitioned the Lord with this request for several days before He presented me with the first answer, as it pertains to food, but even more than food, He's granting lessons for my heart.

In what I believe to be God's sovereignty, Aviel and I just so happened to be reading the story of the ravens bringing food to Elijah during the drought (see 1 Kings 17).  Several months ago, one of these sneaky Israeli ravens stole Aviel's grilled cheese sandwich in the park. He swooped down, grabbed it and flew off, while we were sitting right there!  With that in recent memory,  it wasn't hard to imagine these birds bringing Elijah breakfast and dinner.  Aviel's little bible did not detail the food that the birds brought, so later that day, I went to my "big bible" (as Aviel calls it) to read the full story.   

Lo and Behold:

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.  1 Kings 17:6  (Italics mine.)

I had to laugh out loud at the Lord's sense of humor.  The two food groups that are are cause for concern in our present culture were provided -- by the Lord -- for Elijah to eat.  

Now, I'm sure Elijah's bread was made with good healthy, maybe even heavenly, grains, and  His meat was likely grass fed goat or sheep.   Farming and processing practices have greatly changed in the thousands of years since this event occurred, and this was also during an extreme food shortage due to a God ordained drought.  With that in mind,  I want to be responsible with how I'm using scripture here as I testify to my personal journey.  This small passage is not something I would build an objective doctrine around as I value rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15); however, it is something the Lord used to speak to my heart.  
  
As I prayerfully considered this passage, the Lord granted personal revelation.  Where I stand now, I  trust that the Lord was showing me that firstly, I should trust Him to be my provider.  Just as He provided Elijah with the nutrients necessary to survive the famine, He will provide me with the nutrients I need, spiritually and physically, to sustain me through the tribulations of this age.  He is the Bread of Life. 
 
Next, I believe the Lord used this passage to bring awareness of what to eliminate.  Since this passage specifically mentioned the two food groups eliminated in trending diets of our time, I felt He was speaking to me that I should be less concerned about totally eliminating a food group, and more concerned about eliminating a Spirit of Fear.  This is particularly important because cortisol is a stress hormone, and stress is related to anxiety, which is just another way of saying... fear. 

In this same chapter, after the brook dries up, Elijah encounters yet another food dilemma.  The Lord sends him to a widow who is gathering sticks to prepare what she believes to be the last meal she will eat with her son before hopelessly succumbing to starvation.   

“Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”  Elijah says to the widow  (v.11).

“As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”  She replies (v. 12). 

Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son." (v. 13, bold emphasis mine).  

The rest of the story concludes that the Lord supernaturally sustained her small supply of flour and oil to last for the duration of the drought.  He was her provision, and her solution.  She had nothing to fear. 

Hopelessness is an emotion I have shared with the widow.  In not knowing what is going on with my body, when it will be restored to order, how this will affect our family planning, I have felt real dispair.  This hopelessness is a tool of the enemy to bring death, rather than victory into our lives.   

The word is clear:  
  
Who will separate us from the love of Messiah? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.  Romans 8:35-39 (Bold emphasis, and Messianic language mine).
   
He is our provision, and He is our solution.   Beloved, whom or what shall we fear?   

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Cor 10:31

 My First Bible in Pictures by Kenneth N. Taylor pp. 102-103

Related Posts:
The Beauty of Chagal Windows for Hospital Ashes
Why do We Eat Matzah?
(W)Holy Lentils
Fruit of the Season






Shavuot Party!

Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks... also known as Pentecost to some, was a joyful event this year! If you are unfamiliar to Shavuot, it is the last of the spring Holy Days on the Hebrew calendar and celebrates the time the Law was given on Mount Sinai. In the Brit Hadasha, it is the time the Holy Spirit was give in Acts 2. For more detailed explainations read this blog post from a few years ago,  and my most article for SAVEDnews, Cheesecake and the Fire of God.

This year I accepted the role of Vod Chagim, which means I am the chair person for our congregation's Holy Day Committee. Not being Jewish,  I'm surprised I was asked to fulfill this role!  Its been a joyful challenge to organize events, since these traditions were not part of my childhood and upbringing.  I've enjoyed learning about the Holy Days, not only from a theological perspective, but also as traditional celebrations. I so greatly see the the Lord's hand in asking me to serve the body this way!

Purim was the first celebration I was responsible for organizing (a giant thanks to Devorah for really heading that one up), and this year's Shavuot feast was the second (thanks to Karen for the help on this one!) So... The three Mitchells celebrated this year's Shavuot feast with our Kehilah (congregation) at the home of some friends! The party focused around an Israeli style BBQ, and a Cheesecake competition!



The Cheesecake competition was one of the highlights of the day. We had two categories: Best Taste and Best Presentation, which were each selected by popular vote.  Like my ballot boxes?  This was great fun because it meant all of us had to *sample* each cheesecake present, and prompting a lot of interaction and conversation between guests.


This year I learned that part of the traditional celebration of Shavuot is for the children to fill baskets with fruit and to wear floral crown - both boys and girls - since this is a harvest celebration. 



Devin spent most of the day outside at the grill with the guys.  Israeli BBQ's consists of tons and tons of meat, of all varieties.


We had wings, kebabs, kevis (lamb), steaks... And inside we had a variety of salads.

 

This is the view of the Israeli landscape that Devin was privileged to view as he worked on the grill.


Stunning.


After lunch, these guys went for a little swim. Pools aren't common in Israel due to our water shortage. The family we visited have this pool for medical purposes, and they blessedly allow us to use it when we visit! It is a special treat!

Thanks for celebrating Shavuot with us!

 Related Posts:
 
Need an Excuse to Eat Cheesecake?
Cheesecake and the Fire of God
Yom Huledet Israel 
Purim Parties!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Beauty of Chagall Windows, For Hospital Ashes


We have been wondering for a while why baby number two hasn't shown up yet.  Maybe those of you who know us have wondered, too?  Avid Natural Family Planners,  I have never been on birth control, and we have totally trusted the Lord to grant us children in His timing.  Both coming from families of four and five children, it is a desire of our hearts to have a home full...  a quiverfull.   

Aviel was a welcomed surprise, but the next baby has been an unwelcome delay. 

Several months after Aviel totally weaned, with no sign of fertility in site, we decided it was time to have some tests run.  The results revealed that I have high cortisol and ACTH, indicating some form of adrenal or pituitary problem, which has affected my fertility.  

Since the in initial tests in January, I have been in and out of CT machines;  poked and prodded with needles; and faced the embarrassment of carrying pee pee jugs around town (I'm a pedestrian, remember), all in an attempt to discern what is causing this hormonal imbalance.  No cause determined so far, and more tests to go.  

I've known for some time that something was wrong.  My face has been red, unusually puffy, and my stomach has looked bloated. Yet the rest of me (arms, legs) has been the same.  When I put on a little weight, it normally distributes differently. I weighed the the same just before I became pregnant with Aviel, but I look different now.  And to be gut wrenchingly honest, I hate looking at photos of myself because I don't feel like I look like me. 

Maybe its my post baby body? Aging?

I would wonder.

Then I'd look at photos from when Aviel was about 5-7 months old...  I was thin, glowing, and healthy.  I was in love, and overflowing with joy about my new place in life.   I was happy.  We were happy.  All three of us.

We still are happy, joyful even.  I'm learning how supernatural joy really is.  A sadness permeates my emotions as we're are walking out this season of unknowns, but a joy in the goodness of the Lord remains.

The Lord grants a crown of beauty for ashes.  He reminded me of this during my last set of tests.  While at the hospital, I noticed a sign for Chagall Windows.  Having a love for art and architecture history, I was familiar with Marc Chagall, a Russian born an early modernist.  His Jewish heritage brought him to Israel and compelled him to create many biblically inspired works.  I was not aware that the hospital had original pieces on display; and not only on display, but as a central architectural feature in the hospital synagogue. 

Between blood drawls, I walked down to the synagogue, paid my 10 Shekel entry fee, and gazed at beauty.  Chagall created color-rich stained glass windows, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  They adorn the walls of the synagogue as over-sized sized clerestories. 

I left inspired.

Even if my body isn't in position to be creative right now, my heart and my hands are.

The Lord will make this season beautiful, and I will make beauty and live as fruitfully as I can while we wait.






Resource:
Chagall Windows at Hadassah Medical Center

Related Posts:
Excuse Me,,,  Where you born Jewish?
Heart Tree
Fruit of the Season 
Living in Bible Times - Now!  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Yom Huledet, Israel


I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully  plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.  Jeremiah 32:41
Did you know that bringing the Jewish people back into the Land of Israel is the only thing the bible says God is doing with His whole heart and His whole soul?  He is passionate about this work of Aliyah, and I feel blessed to be part of it!  

This year Israel celebrated 65 years of blessed statehood.  On May 16, 1948, the modern State of Israel was born in, wake of the Holocaust.  David Ben-Gurion, along with other early leaders, declared independence from the British Mandate, and Israel was granted full state status by the United Nations.  The next day, this young nation was attacked by Arab neighbors, launching the War of Independence.

In Israel, we call this day, Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Independence day).  As a nation, we celebrated in April this year, because this is when the date falls in line with the Hebrew Calendar.   As a family, we celebrated with our Kehilah (congregation) in the form of a BBQ.  




Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell...  In blue and white. 

And inside...

These lovely cupcakes, blue and white, each with an Israeli flag. 


Beverage table decor.


This was my favorite.  Each star contained a scripture or interesting fact about Israel.  I learned quite a few things.  DYK:  Israel has the highest percentage of engineers per capita, in the world. 


And outside...




There was a game of "lemon ball" with a lemon picked straight off of a tree.  

 

Lots of grilling, Israeli style, which means lots of meat, and lots of men manning the meat.


Devin at work.  


And if that wasn't enough meat, on one grill, here's the second. 


I like to take craft supplies to group parties like this.  It helps the kids stay entertained and its always fun to see what the adults come up with, too.  Here's a few patriotic pieces Aviel and I made together. Blue and white, of course.


There was lounging in the grass.  These guys are buddies. 


 And some spontaneous praise and worship with our friends.


A little shot of the three of us.  

It was a joyful and peaceful day.  Happy 65 years, Israel.


Related Posts:
Living in Bible Times Now!  (Callie's article about Yom HaAtzmaut for SAVED News)


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Excuse me... Were you born Jewish?


"Excuse me...  Were you born Jewish?"

I was caught slightly off guard by a question from a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) woman in the hospital waiting room.

"Um... No, I wasn't."

"Ok, so you were born a Christian.  I was going to tell you how terrible it was that you converted, but I suppose if you were born a Christian its different."

"Oh well, I grew up in a Christian family, but you're not born a Christian.  Following Yeshua is a choice I made when I was in high school."  I differentiated. 

Still a bit surprised by her boldness, my puzzled look must have prompted her further.

"I noticed your book and wanted to tell you how terrible it was."

My appointment included two hours of drinking iodine contrast before my scan.  Being a mother of a small child, I thought I'd seize the opportunity to do some reading and took a long Shaping History Through Fasting and Prayer by Derek Prince.  My Haredi neighbor was insulted by the back cover... 

Christians Can Change World Events

"Christians do change world events, but not for the better.  That's just terrible. What are you doing here anyway?"  she continued.

"I live here with my husband.  He moved here about thirteen years ago, made Aliyah, and we decided to live here after we got married."

"Oh so your husband is Jewish and he married a Christian.  That's just terrible.  He shouldn't have done that.  See, that's how Christians change world events.  Your children will not be Jewish and that's terrible.  That's a terrible way to change world events. "

"Well, my husband is Messianic Jewish...  we are a Messianic family." 

"Uth....  Oh he converted...  that's even worse! Jesus was a terrible person.  He rebelled against Judaism, and Jewish authorities, and his followers killed us...  uh."  

The verbal assault was quite harsh and I didn't know what to do.

Lord, What can I say to reach her heart?  I prayed while she was telling her family history, a story of persecution during the Pograms that led to an escape to American, then Israel.   The Lord whispered:

Ask for her forgiveness.

Really, Lord?  After hearing how terrible we are...  how terrible I am?  Ok...  here it goes....

"Have you ever personally been hurt by any Christians?"  I asked wanting to get a better sense of her heart.

"Personally?  This was my family....  my nation...  my people.  That IS personal."


"I can tell you are really hurting over this issue, carrying a lot of pain.  I am so so sorry that Christians killed your family, and your nation in the name of Yeshua.  I am so so sorry.  As a Christian, I'd like to ask for your forgiveness."

My statement was met with a blank stare.  After an awkward silence, I tried again.

"Well, you don't have to accept it, but I wanted to let you know that I am truly sorry.  And I wanted at least, to offer an apology.  You can give forgiveness in your own time."

Her puzzled silence ensued, so I continued on.  "I know these things happened, but there are also a lot of Christians who love Israel and the Jewish people.  My own family has a heritage of a great love for the Jewish people and passed that on to me."  

"Hmm...  so what is your husband's background?"  She asked with a softer tone.

"He grew up in a Messianic Jewish home.  His father is ordained as a Methodist minister and His mother is a believer in Yeshua from a Jewish background.  They started attending a Messianic Congregation when was 12."

"Oh ok...  well, he didn't know....  he didn't know... maybe he won't be judged for what he has done because he didn't know. "

I could see her wheels turning, really trying to work out the morality of the situation. I also felt something rise up in my spirit...

"Actually, we fully believe he won't be judged for anything he's done because Yeshua is his atoning sacrifice."

"Oh.. oh... oh...  That's a terrible idea."

I sort of laughed at that because I knew it was coming. 

"So are you here as a missionary or something?"  She pressed.

"No...  we live here."  I emphasized.  "We are citizens.  My husband made Aliyah, served in the army.  We pay taxes.  Our son was born here.  This is home for us.  And I believe being here is part of a prophetic fulfillment of that love for Israel that was passed down through my family that I was telling you about."

"How is that?"

I then shared my family history with her.  A story of my grandfather working for one of the few Jewish men in town.

"My dad's family grew up with the rhythm of the Chagim (Holy Days).  They took all of their family vacations with the Chagim and were aware of timing and traditions.  There's a verse in Isaiah that says even the Goyim who keep my Shabbats will worship me on my Holy Hill. I believe me being here today is a fulfillment of that verse, since I now live on the Lord's Holy Hill."  (see Isaiah 56:6-7)

"Well, HaShem surely is doing quite a bit to bring people into their destinies these days."

I love how the orthodox are mystic about these things and found some unity with her.

"Yes, He is!  The fact that Israel even exists is miraculous and evidence of that!"    

 "Yes."  She agreed, "And it means the Mashiach is coming soon."

"Yes!  And His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives and it will split in two!  He'll have a Holy procession and take his throw forever!"  (See Zechariah 14)

She chuckled a little at my passionate statement, thanked me for talking, then had to leave.

Though it ended well, I was wiped out after that conversation.  It took a tremendous act of His Spirit to not be offended, to love her through the insults, and to offer an humble response.  We serve a humble God, a servant who ate with sinners, washed feet, and was willing to atone for me, and for you,  through His own shed blood.   The Lord is good, and I have tremendous faith, based on His word,  that this Haredi woman will one day receive Yeshua as her Messiah.

Thank you, Lord, for granting me the privilege of being part of that process in her life.  To YOU be the glory, forever.  Amen. 

 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him..." Zech 12:10
  
 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”  Matt 23:37-39



Related Posts:
His Time Out Chair Was the Cross
The Angel of Death Won't Get In
Living in Bible Times Now! 
A Testimony of Keeping Shabbat
 


   

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sometimes We.... do PIZZA Shabbat!

Israel does many things well, but pizza is not really one of them! Its not terrible...  its just...  ok.  They don't get the concept of sauce, and because most restaurants keep kosher, separating milk and meat, toppings are all veggies. No pepperoni or meat lovers pizzas around here!

 Regardless, we do treat ourselves now and then and have even developed a little family tradition of going out for pizza before for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


Here's Aviel at this year's pre-Seder pizza night...


And a real Israeli pizza. Toppings:  2 regular cheese, 2 mushroom, and 2 Bulgarian cheese.

This pizza is from a little restaurant called Pistachio's.  They make some of the better pizza in town, but we learned  that in order to get a really good pizza,  we have to make it ourselves! We don't do this often, but every once in a while we splurge on ingredients and calories because its just plain fun.  And it especially makes for a nice Shabbat Dinner when its just the three of us! 

Devin's the Pizza man around here... 
 

Here he is making the dough for the crust.  Devin's quite a chef.  He can cook far more sophisticated things than me, and he makes dinner most weeknights.  I appreciate his skills in the kitchen.


Aviel took this photo of Devin rolling the dough around. 


Then he asked if he could touch it.

After the dough is well kneaded, it goes in an olive oil coated bowl to rise.


While we wait for the dough, Devin makes his secret recipe pizza sauce.  Ok... so its not really a secret, but I'm not sure exactly how he does it... so we'll call it a secret for now.  :)


And the guys get a little sample. 



Then Devin grates fresh mozzerella and slices turkey salami (no pepperonis here). 


And he rolls out the crust.  


Meanwhile, the pizza stone is in the oven heating up. 


Next he adds the sauce....  


Then the cheese and salami.  

It goes in the oven and....  



...We get these lovely personal pan sized pizzas!  Devin made three little pizzas, and a small calzone.  We did our candles, bread and wine blessings, then ate the best pizza in Jerusalem.

Thank you Chef Devin! 

Related Posts:

Monday, April 1, 2013

How Do We Eat Matzah? Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies!

Fasting from one thing often means feasting on another.  In the case of Feast of Unleavened bread, that means Matzah!  Who says Matzah has to be boring?  Part of the fun of the feast is finding ways to make this cracker-like bread taste yummy.

As I've lived in Israel, I've enjoyed, and sometimes wept over, trying to adapt my Southern food culture into our life over here.  I've had great successes (Israelis love broccoli salad and sweet potato casserole), and other times, epic failures!  In the case of Matzah, I have something that I'm actually really proud of:  an adaptation of the ever popular Christmas Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookie,  Matzah-fied and totally kosher for Pesach.   

I've made this treat three years in a row, now... so I figure it deserves a place on the blog.  :) 




Simple ingredients:  Matzah, Peanut butter (or other nut butter of your choice...  I use a sugar free organic Israeli brand), and chocolate bars.  Funny story about the chocolate bars.  I accidentally bought the chocolate with nuts because I was shopping in haste and I don't know enough Hebrew yet to have realized what happened... even though there are clearly nuts on the package! It didn't hurt the taste at all, although it did cause me to use more bars per Matzah. 
 

Next, create a double boiler to melt the chocolate without burning.  While its melting, I broke up the Matzah and made little peanut butter sandwiches.  This part of the process makes this treat distinguishably different from the southern Ritz Cracker version.  Matzah doesn't not cut or break evenly because its very crumbly.  It takes a little work "guess and check" work to match up peices that are similar sizes.  AND the result is always a variation of size.  I actually like the size differences in the cookies because I can always find one to fit the sweet tooth needs of the moment!
 

Next, smoother them in chocolate!  For this, I don't recommend dipping because of the crumble factor.  Its best to use a spoon to cover the Matzah on both sides.  This will leave a little bit of exposed Matzah on the end, but I like something about that, too!  Then let them firm up on a baking sheet covered in wax or parchment paper.  In Israel, I let this take place in the fridge do to lack of HVAC. 


Here they are, ready to eat!  And the Bread of Affliction tastes so sweet! 

***

Ingredients:
Matzah
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Bars 

*To give an idea about how many chocolate bars/Matzah.... From my experience , 1 dark chocolate bar will cover about 2 full sized Matzah crackers broken and peanut buttered, 1 milk chocolate will cover 1 Matzah cracker broken and peanut buttered, and 1 bar of white chocolate will cover about 3/4 of a full sized Matzah cracker broken and peanut buttered due to opacity. 

Instructions:

1.  Set up a double boiler with a sauce pan and a metal mixing bowl.  Bring water to a boil, and melt chocolate in the mixing bowl. 

2.  While chocolate is melting break Matzah into cookie sized pieces and make little peanut butter sandwiches. 

3.  Use a spoon to cover the little sandwiches with chocolate on both sides.

4.  Place on a baking sheet covered in wax or parchment paper and allow chocolate to cool and firm up.  

5.  Eat and enjoy!  

***

Related Posts:

Nuts About Stuffed Honey Dates - Another Kosher for Pesach Treat