Friday, May 4, 2018

Routine Signs of Love

This blog being about my whole healing journey I thought this an appropriate thing to share here.

I've been married now for 10 years to a man who among other things has OCD, and every night there is this routine of saying "Goodnight, I love you, see you tomorrow."  Always in that order.  Always together.  If we said it at one point then had more pillow talk then either of us said "good night" again the rest of this scripted conversation had to follow.  There were two options for this.  One with alternating speakers:
"Good night"
"Good night"
"I love you."
"I love you too."
"See you tomorrow."
"Okay."
Or he could say all three phrases together in a row and I had to reply with all three phrases in a row:
"Good night. I love you. See you tomorrow."
"Good night.  I love you.  See you tomorrow."
Only recently my husband allowed me the new answer "Okay. Good night. I love you too."  This was actually a huge thing for him allowing me a new answer that felt more natural to me.

This routine was actually very stressful for me.  If I absent mindedly varied from the script we had to start over. Sometimes I'd say "yeah" instead of "okay" and he would be upset by it and we'd start over.  Over time when I'd make this mistake if I corrected it right away he'd let it slide.  A few times in our early marriage I switched it up on purpose, "...see you tomorrow." replied with, "yeah, you will." or some other affirmitive answer outside the script.  This bugged him the most.

Growing up most affection was routine.  Very little was spontaneous.  It was hard for me to tell how sincere these routine affections were:  whether they really meant I was loved or whether they were just done because it is what you do at bed time (or whenever it was routinely occuring) but didn't actually mean anything.  This question of whether routine affection is actually sincere is why I had such a problem with my husband's scripted bed time "good night, I love you, see you tomorrow."  Realizing this for the first time tonight felt like a huge break through for me.  As well as the love languages there's also the question of whether you prefer spontaneous affection or routine affection.  My husband prefers the routines and once I obliged he has been satisfied in our marriage ever since.  I prefer the spontaneous and it doesn't come naturally to him and is harder to remember and make that effort.

Routines can be a way of making sure something happens at all.  I haven't had these bedtime affection routines with my kids because I'd rather show affection spontaneously throughout the day.  But in this busy world you don't always get to do that.  And my daughter is very much routine oriented and affectionate on her own terms kind of girl and between school and her brothers sucking my energy I don't know how much I've shown her I love her.  But just like saying the Shamah every week doesn't make one guilty of using vain repitions using routine affections doesn't make that affection any less sincere.  All this time I've thought myself unlovabe because affection from others hasn't come in the spontaneous ways I prefer.  If I assume all affection to be sincere I've really been loved all along.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Parenting Inspiration

The internet is full of parenting advice.  Mostly of what people think we should not do and with that comes a sence of shame if we every resorted to such a tactic in a desperate hour with our kids.  This post will not be about any of that.  What good does it do to know what not to do if we aren't given an alternative to do instead?  This leads to undisciplined kids disrespecting adults.

I've seen it in my own kids.  I've not known what to do so I tell them to stop doing the undesired behavior, but have no consequence to follow up with because all I can think of are things parenting gurus online say not to do.  So this morning when the kids were fighting and yelling at each other I told them all to go outside.  I figure out door voices belong outside and it makes for a good natural consequence.  But it still didn't address the fighting.  Then while they were getting shoes and coats I had my ah-ha!  All this time I've really wanted to get to their hearts.  None of the online advice or ideas has ever helped with this goal.  My husband, when I have bemoaned this problem, has said they're just too young to get to their hearts yet.

Well today an idea occured to me.  Praise God!  Have them each say five things they love about the person they were fighting with.  First this involved a lot of quiet thinking time.  Then as each one went through the process of voicing and discussing things they love about their sibblings the whole atmosphere of our home changed.  Their anger was gone and they started thinking of ways to show love to each other and ways they could serve each other.  Especially doing things they just heard someone say they love about them. They heard and voiced what they each love about each other and were now focused on the positive attributes they each have.  I hope this continues to work on their hearts, but it sure did this morning.  Each child had a change of heart about the sibbling they have been fighting with.

What do you do to help your kids have a change of heart?  Or if you don't have kids what helps you step back from a negative situation and change your own heart? 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Passover preparations

This year is my second Passover.  Last year I was very worried about how my kids would survive when I was finding yeast in the ingredients of most the foods they ate.  I try to eat mostly kosher, but do slip up from time to time. I grew up not worrying about it because it was just the Mosaic Law and after Yeshua (Jesus Christ' Hebrew name) it doesn't apply any more (a more careful read of my Bible has convinced me that the clean and unclean animals are more than just part of the Mosaic Law, after all Noah brought seven of each clean animal instead of just two on the arc). So I have many habits that can be hard to break, and many foods I simply didn't know where they came from, I'm learning many foods I didn't know where they come from, really come from pork (apparently marshmallows aren't just fluffy sugar).  So I decided to really try to be kosher for Passover.  My mom came to visit and wanted to help with the shopping and decided to buy a pizza.  It had yeast and pork!  I figured, "Oh well, I don't want to offend her and she's even less used to thinking about it than I am."  Other than that pizza we enjoyed lots of homemade Matzah, and my kids survived coming up with creative ways to eat it.  Like Matzah pizza, and the good reliable peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Preparing for Passover this year consists mostly of slowly buying less of the products with yeast in them and phasing out what we have to make sure it gets used up before Passover starts.  It's a good time to check the pantry for mixes that over time the leaven would get old and become ineffective anyway.  Like the nasty pancakes that have been a past result of using an expired pancake mix. My kids were scared of what my next pancakes would be like and talked about them for at least a year.  Passover is the opportunity to save myself from such cooking or baking disasters with subsequent embarrassment as it is talked of till I finally live it down.  I just make those pancakes and buy a fresh box of mix when Passover is over.  The kids will be happy and so will my pantry. 

As a Gentile who believes in Yeshua I don't prepare or eat a Passover Lamb because He was and is our sacrificial lamb.  It is a good time to look to Him, remember Him and ask Him to reveal the leaven that needs to be removed from my life.  What wastes my time that could be used better to be more in line with his purpose for my life?  What attitudes and thought patterns need to be removed?  What is hiding in the back of my heart that should just be thrown out like the expired pancake mix in the back of my pantry?

Passover and First Fruits are a great way to teach kids about Yeshua the Passover Lamb and the First Fruits of the resurrection.  I'm preparing my children for this lesson by teaching them the Scriptures in 1Corinthians 11:23-26 about Yeshua ministering the bread and wine to His disciples at His last supper before his death. As I've celebrated the Biblical feast days over the last year I've learned more about the God I worship. I've also found it refreshingly easy to use these Holy days to teach my children about God since they were designed by Him to do just that in the first place.

Whether you celebrate Passover and First Fruits or Easter or Resurrection day remember it is all to point us to God's grace that can show us what we need to change and also give us the power to do it while removing our guilt when we realize what we still lack.  Isn't grace wonderful?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How One Recited Prayer has Made me a Better Mom.

My Synagogue does a liturgy each week consisting of several prayers recited together as a congregation in Hebrew and English.  When I first encountered this practice I thought of the vain repitions Yeshua warned against.  But I did feel directed to be there so I did it because I was there and it was what they do.  I continued to ponder about the teachings of Yeshua about prayer.  After a month or two of pondering I concluded that if I mean what I say every time I say it, it isn't vain repition.

One prayer in particular we call, "The Shamah" always stood out as being particularly important, maybe because we face East for it, maybe because kids could enter or leave during the other prayers but not this one, or maybe because it seemed more readily applicable to my life right now.  The prayer comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and part of it says, "And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you retire, and when you arise."  And in an effort to be sincere in my prayers and not use vain repetition, I would reflect on how well I'd lived this commandment to teach my children.  Most weeks we were in survival mode just getting through a week.  Breaking up fights, feeding, and puting to bed seemed to take all my time and energy.  I hardly did any teaching, if I did any at all.  I would commit to do better at teaching my children over the next coming week.  This went on for months week after week I'd do it all over again.  I'd pray the Shamah and realize I hadn't taught my children a thing and think I'd try to do better in the coming week.

All the while at church no one ever spoke in a condemning manner of me or my parenting or my kids.  They only spoke love and encouragment, while setting examples I could learn from.  There was never a guilt inducing tone in talks or comments.  After some time instead of vague commitments to teach my children I would think of a specific way I could fit in some teaching in the week, and I would make small improvments.  I thought of a scripture I thought would help teach my kids something they needed to learn, and we would recite it together and discuss it while driving to various destinations.

Now after a year of reciting this prayer every week I've helped my daughter memorize a scripture and we discussed what it means and how we apply it.  My boys didn't quite memorize it, but were familiar with it.  They all told this scripture to the our Rabbi after church last Friday.  On the way home during our conversation I came up with the next scripture I feel they should learn and apply, and  something I could do to add a method of teaching.  I wrote it out to put up on our wall so we could see it and learn while we sit in our house, as well as reciting in the car while we drive.  And I've seen changes in my children for the better, some is likely just natural maturing over growing one year older, but I am a better mother than I was a year ago.  And I can say the scriptures are being written in my heart and I am finally teaching them dilligently to my children, and seeing them start to be written in their hearts.  The Shamah has made me a better mother than I was a year ago by Yeshua's grace to strengthen my weaknesses.  Praise God!

What have you done to teach your children dilligently when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you retire, and when you arise?  Prehaps an exchange of ideas can help us all be more dilligent than we are now.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My Mixed-Faith Marriage

I'm seeking to become a better person, and in some places I've gone to help me with my goals, I find myself trying to turn the problem to other people.  "Their obsession with heaven and hell and who goes to which is just to manipulate people" or "My husband isn't interested in Spiritual things" and the list likely goes on. I've just been thinking about why I keep turning outward instead of inward.  I love these people, but apparently I'm still in a victim mindset.  My problems are someone else's fault. 

Well, I'm wrong.  After reflecting on this all day, I had an "ah-ha" this evening.  I was reading something about relationship freedom.  A concept of loving without trying to fix each other (this part we've all heard) but it said we don't take responsibility for the other person's pains or failures OR their successes or joys.  It occurred to me that most my life I'd heard things like "behind every good preisthood leader is [something about the wife who made it possible or got him there or some such]" and I realized that I've thought my husband's spiritual success was my responsibility!  This is how I interpreted and internalized these kinds of statements. I thought my success as a wife is measured in my husband's accomplishments.  How messed up is that?!  I am not my husband.  I cannot control him and so I can't take credit or blame for his choices and accomplishments.  Much of this was thoroughly ingrained in the culture in which I grew up, that I'm apparently still trying to unlearn and leave behind.

I've let this belief hold me back for some time. The sooner I make peace with who my husband is whether that's Christian, agnostic, or athiest; the sooner we can work out a dynamic for our relationship that is reasonable and fair for where we are both at in our journeys. I'm responsible for no one's happiness but my own and no one else is responsible for my happiness but me. Mixed-faith is not the only thing that defines my marriage.  My happiness is my own and my husband's happiness is his.  My accomplishments are mine and his are his.  Most of all, I've been just as much of a problem in our marriage as he has.  And I'm the only half I need to fix.

If any of this was helpful in your journey as well, please leave a comment and let me know any "ah-ha's" you've had.  God bless you in your journeys.  Shalom.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Be the Change you Want to See in the World

For the last two years I've wanted more than anything to do something big to make a difference in this world for good.  To make it a better place than it is.  To make a real impact for good. I heard and read stories of families who did this together and children learned valuable lessons serving along side their parents.  I've been praying over this off and on for these two years and at every idea I've come up with and been inspired by, all my best efforts to approach the idea have come to nothing.  The demands of my children and family have prevented me from "being the change I want to see in the world".  I even came to hate my life situation (partly because of this desire to be and do more, and partly because there are many problems being as introverted as I am and having boys as loud as mine are, which leave me overwhelmed and empty before my day is over) wondering what better opportunities I might have had if I just stayed single (which feeling also filled me with guilt just for feeling it).  I've been reading, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, and in it, while talking about how to figure out what profession you should persue as an introvert the author says (among other things) to, "pay attention to what you envy.  Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth.  You mostly envy those who have what you desire." (p. 218). At first I thought, "I don't envy anyone, I just hate my life how it is right now."  But actually while writing this post I realized I envy the people who travel to places where people really want the Gospel and they bring their family and serve God together and they make a real meaningful impact in people's lives.  But I'm a stay at home mom, and just don't have the means right now to do anything like that, and my kids aren't ages where I could trust them not to, for example, run off in the airport and get lost before we've even made it to Africa.

Well, praying over my calling or mission or role in God's work (whatever you wish to call it) one morning, God said, "Be the change you want to see in your home!"  I got up motivated and I wrote it on my mirror and made a sign for my kitchen, and then oddly enough the rest of my day ended up much like all the others.  Me perpetuating the things I don't like within my family culture just as much as my husband and children do.  I can't blame the kids they're just following the things they've learned from me and my husband.  But all of us seem to be stuck in a rutt unable to change the direction we are headed.  The inertia feels stronger than my ability to pull us in another direction.  I realized inertia this strong (ten years in the making) is going to take a lot of force to shift it in another direction.

The next day, praying now about how to follow this instruction, how to be the change I want to see in my home, I begged for grace to overcome my weaknesses, to make my weaknesses strengths, to get out of this damning rutt!  I felt like I need my home blessed and I wanted my Rabbi to do it.  I asked my husband and he approved.  I also asked if he would be willing to have Bible study in our home, and he said he would.  So I attended church and told my Rabbi and set up the blessing, and talked to the people I wanted to invite to this Bible study.

This will not only give me more motivation to study my Bible, it will do so much more.  It will motivate me to keep my home clean and organized, it will help me teach my children and be the example I should be and want to be and yet am not, it will help me learn more from the passages I study by discussing them with others, it will be the push I need to change my direction and get out of the deep rut I've carved together with my husband for the last ten years.  At least, these are the things it has the potential to do.  I'm not giving up on myself yet!

God bless you, and if you, like me just aren't in a position to be the change you want to see in the world, then first be the change you want to see in your home, then in your community, and on. When the time is right and you and your family are ready to take on the world more power to you!  And if you are already working to be the change you want to see in the world, then keep up the good work!  Shalom.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Feasting on the Words of Christ

For a long time I've had no interest in studying my sctiptures.  It has really been an off and on struggle ever since my mission.  I made excuses why I couldn't or didn't have time, but the honest truth was I just didn't like it.  I never really felt fed by my scripture study experience and it had become drudgery.  Stories of people reading and not wanting to sleep or eat were incomprehensible to me.

Now I think I finally get it!  Last week was a ladies' meeting at my synagogue.  The meeting itself was alright, but as the meeting wound down me and another lady got to talking about her trying to decide whether or not our synagogue was the place for her.  She told me a couple comments I had made in our new members class she had appreciated and we got to talking about what we're each looking for and whether or not we feel like we're getting it at our synagogue.  Then our discussion turned toward some scriptural teachings, and we decided to go to my house to continue it.  We sat at my kitchen table across from each other and read many scriptures together and I understood certain scriptures in greater depth than I had before.  We talked and read for a couple hours.  I truely felt fed.  It had been a while since I've felt that way.  When she left I made dinner for my kids and went through nightly routines and when I got them to bed I realized I hadn't eaten since lunch, but being so fed spiritually I didn't actually hunger physically, and I went to bed content.

I'm still not great at reading daily, but I've had a taste and I want more, and I will figure out how to feed myself spiritually on a more regular basis.  This was like a feast after a fast.  I really want continual daily growth.  This was so joyful, I know I would love my life more if I feasted more regularly.

How do you carve out time to feast on the words of Christ?  May you eat and be filled regularly.  God bless you.