Loving life, – challenges and all.

Often I find myself wanting to post a photo to instagram with hashtags like lovingfridays, lovingsundays, lovingeverydaylife etc. And, yes, this is how I feel; – I love my life! I love all the little parts of it; the beauty of a sunrise over Jerusalem, the satisfaction of flowers growing in the garden, the joy of laughing with my children. I have SO much to be thankful for!

sunrise over Jerusalem

However, – this does not mean that my life is free of challenges. And I wanted to share a thought I had on this challenge-part as I sat here in the quietness of the evening. The challenges come along to help us grow in our dependency on our Heavenly Father. For me they are a reminder that I cannot make it on my own, I need Him.

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When I look at challenges in this perspective, they receive added meaning, and they don’t seem quite as draining as they easily would have seemed otherwise. Now, when there is something that is just too big for me to handle, instead of being overwhelmed, I can be thankful for the reminder that I don’t have to handle it all by myself. I am just little me in the Hand of my Maker, and may I hear His guiding voice and walk in the ways He has for me, always.

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The real life

We have been home in Israel for a week now. It feels like way longer, and it feels soooo good! Not that we did not have a good time in Norway; -it was as always a very blessed time with family there, and there is no arguing about it, – it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. (Oh, and just to update you: After three weeks in Gaza, my husband was able to come and join us for the end of our time in Norway. #verythankful!)

My beloved ones on a fiord in Norway.

My beloved ones on a fiord in Norway.

But this, Jerusalem, Israel, this is HOME. This is where real life is happening for us. And this time we settled in in no time. Literally, as the plane landed on Ben-Gurion, and I turned my phone on, messages came in from the children’s friends who wanted to get together with them as soon as we would just get home. So there were playdates immediately, and sleepovers and water fights and lunch parties. Good times.

Wet fun.

Wet fun.

And it is not only the children who hit the ground running as far as meeting up with their friends. The day after we made it home, we hosted a large gathering for our weekly Torah-study. Good times indeed. And I am so glad that I was able to make it home before good friends moved into our neighborhood, so I could welcome them with fresh cookies! And today I was able to bring a meal over to another dear friend who just gave birth to an absolutely adorable little girl! So much happening in our community! So much building and growing and good stuff! There is surely very much to be thankful for!

And this is the life. This is the real life. Vacation is good. But this is the real thing. Life. Working. Building. Together. I actually feel that nowhere is life more real than in Israel. In more ways than one.

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We also had a chance to help a brand new family of immigrants here in Jerusalem buy a refrigerator. Again, – this is the life! Witnessing ancient prophecies happening in front of our eyes! God is bringing His people home and planting them in the land of their inheritance! And we get to take our little part in it! What a privilege!

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The children started school again this week, and the first three days have been really good. What a relief and a blessing for a mother’s heart to come and pick them up and hear about yet another really good day! May it stay that way!! I am majorly working on routines and building good habits now as we sort of get a fresh start on our everyday life again. And so far we are all motivated and it is all working really well. Again, – may it continue like that.

My dear husband started interning at the end of his law school-studies, and works VERY long days. He works on very interesting, very exciting and very big cases, which he can tell me NOTHING about, other than the fact that they ARE very fascinating etc. ;-)

See, – now I have caught you up on my life. Now I can either drop out for another month or so, or I can write posts about tiny little things, as you are already up to speed. I don’t know which one will happen. We’ll see.

 

The summer when I didn’t read any books

As usual I spend the majority of July and August in Norway with my family here. The children are off of school, it is too hot in Israel and very comfortable in Norway, so it has seemed like a good idea to spend a relatively long period here.

The difference this summer, is that the evening before we left, we sat in our bomb shelter  in Jerusalem. The airport we left from had signs at every corner of where to run to the nearest bomb shelter.

Now the children and I have been in Norway for two weeks already. My dear husband was supposed to come and join us in a couple of days from now, but that is not going to happen, as he is out there wearing an IDF uniform defending our country.

Being here in the beautiful land of the midnight sun, while such an ugly war is being fought in the beloved land where we have our home and live our lives, is strange beyond words.

I am really distant geographically, but in my mind, my heart and my prayers, I am SO there! Believe you me!

This is where we are in our spirits these days, - at home, in Jerusalem.

This is where we are in our spirits these days, – at home, in Jerusalem.

Day and night I get updates from Israeli news-sites, and never have I been more active on Facebook, spreading the truth as I see it. And I pray. I pray the Psalms. I pray for protection over my soldier out there, and for all the IDF soldiers out there defending us!

So, – normally during my time in Norway I read a good number of books, enjoying all the free time that comes with summer and being away from home, the nice long days, reading long into the night. This summer I have tried a couple of times, but really, I can’t. Nothing interests me enough to keep me away from the action that keeps on happening constantly, hour by hour, in my home, in Israel!

So here I am again, way past midnight, watching youtube videos of the action in Gaza, the war we fight not against palestinians, but against a terror-organization which still manages to surprise me with how low it is willing to fall. There is no moral what so ever! They are literally fighting with a baby in one hand, a gun in the other! Once the children are older, they give them hand grenades to throw at our soldiers! All the while the bigger terrorists travel around in ambulances to protect themselves!

Oh, God! Free the people in Gaza from Hamas!!! Let Israel finish the job  this time! And keep your protecting Hand over us all!

 

 

The End

Today was the last day of school for Israeli school children. It was supposed to be a joyful day, and it was up until a certain point. It was a day filled with hugs and blessings, excitement and celebrations. My children and I were in a shop where my son had just picked out a soccer outfit, still excited over Holland’s victory in the game last night, – when we first heard the rumors. And just like that, the day turned from light and joyful to horribly sad. They found them. All dead. – Really? I could almost not believe it. – No, we are not sure, I was told. - It is only a rumor. There is a press blackout until the 8 o’clock news. We paid and walked out of there. I felt sick to my stomach. Oh, God! Really?? I felt like a balloon that just lost all its air. Somehow I knew deep within that the rumors we just heard were true.

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We heard the 8 o’clock news in the car on the way home. And it was confirmed. They were in fact all dead. Murdered. Well at home we stay glued to the TV-screen, going through this storm of emotions together as a people. Deep sadness. Heartfelt grief. Sickening hopelessness.

Representatives from the three different bereaved families came out and spoke with the media, and again their faith and walk amazingly helps strengthen us all. In the midst of this horrible sadness, they talk of how they are thankful for the unity of our people at this time, and ask us all to stay that way.

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Almighty father! Please comfort their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, – all of those who were close to them! 

I must say that I am also thankful for the way this has been handled in Israel. The togetherness. All the focus on prayer. Where else do they tell you on the news to keep praying??

Netanyahu ended his statement with the words: - Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay. 

I was so paralyzed with sadness, that the anger did not really hit me until I started hearing the fireworks from the “celebrations” our enemies were having. AAaahhhhhh! It makes me furious! How can they?!? How can we possibly relate to each other as fellow humans?!

Oh, God!!! Bring justice! We so need You!!

 

Nice life and hard realities

June is such a lovely month. Friends from other continents come on vacation to Israel, and we get to enjoy hanging out with them and feeling like we are on vacation as well, – in the midst of our everyday life. Not all bad.

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Long days full of light. Morning walks with a dear friend. Afternoons with the kids at the pool. A glas of good, Israeli wine in good company. Fruit smoothies, ice coffees, watermelon. Oh, yeah, life is good.

But then again, always, constantly, do we think of and pray for Gilad, Eyal and Naftali, – the teenage boys who have become close family members of all of Am Yisrael. We have their picture on our kitchen counter. We have gotten to know them, their faces, their families, their hobbies and what they liked to do.

On our drive to school in the mornings, the children include a prayer for the boys’ return in their prayers for the day ahead. And my heart aches for their mothers! What a nightmare to have to live through! All the unknown that they have been thrown into! They did not choose this reality! They did not decide to become famous like this! And now they have to deal with it! They have to remain strong for the younger children they still have at home with them, and for those who they work on returning home as soon as possible! Our Creator and Giver of all life, – Give them strength for the day and hope for tomorrow! 

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This morning I treated myself to an hour of digging through dirt in our garden. Moved plants, got my fingers dirty, removed weeds and rocks, really enjoyed the wanted result at the end. But at the same time, – I am thinking of those who are busying themselves with things on a whole other level, – and who would have much preferred working in their gardens!

Of course it would not help anyone if we all gave up and stopped going for morning walks or enjoying good times with friends. We all have to keep going. Keep living. Keep building. Keep hoping.

Hearing the international criticism of Israel’s efforts to return our boys, is disappointing, but not surprising. We are “messing up the stability in the region”, you know!! Excuse me, – what stability? The one where Fatah and Hamas can cooperate to kidnap our children??!? I won’t go further into this, as I don’t want my blog to get too deep into politics, but I had to touch on it, as it certainly is a central part of life!

I read an interesting piece in the newspaper this morning, that said it well: - If we had done to them, what they would do to us, had they had the power we have, – we would not have been here anymore. But of course, we don’t do it. We have higher values than that. We are not like them. But this is the type of reality we have to live with.

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And here I sit in our garden, having taken my home office out to a shady spot out here, answering calls from people in Beer Sheva and Ashdod, who we will help through the organisation I work for, helping immigrants settle in the Land of their inheritance. This afternoon we have a fun outing with a group of children. Tomorrow there is the end of the year party for my daughter’s class. It’s that time of the year. Life goes on. In spite of everything.

The good and the bad

Has it really been over a month since I wrote anything here?! Time flies when you are having fun! Even if you are not having fun, time can pass really quickly. This is sort of what inspired me to write now. Not about time passing, but rather about having fun and not having fun.

Here in Israel we live with such parallel realities. Constantly. We have amazing highs of the Jewish holidays that we get to celebrate together in such a special way in the Land that God promised to our forefathers thousands of years ago. As a Jewish people in a Jewish Land. It is really special. The togetherness is tangible. The joy. The depth. The thankfulness.

Our table ready for Shavuot, just before we said the blessings and entered into the holiday.

Our table ready for Shavuot, just before we said the blessings and entered into the holiday.

Then, Jerusalem Day, – one of my very favorite days of the year. Celebrating the united Jerusalem. The undivided capital of Israel! What a celebration!! The songs! The flags! The masses of people! What a huge privilege to get to be a part of this.

I am so thankful to be alive, right now, right here, together with the people who happen to have been blessed with life right now also. May we together build something beautiful and meaningful on the basis of what the people who have gone before us have prepared, and that the next generations can keep building on,  – until our Messiah comes! May we do what we can to take our part, to live faithful lives, to make the most of this amazing opportunity that life really is!

The Flag Parade on our way to the Western Wall on Jerusalem Day.

The Flag Parade on our way to the Western Wall on Jerusalem Day.

So, yes, this is the one side of our realities. The positive, optimistic, hopeful and building side.

Then there is the other side. Which we are so reminded of right now when we can’t stop thinking of our three boys who are in the hands of terrorists. Even writing it is painful. The letters, the words, they cannot describe the depth of this catastrophe, this horrible tragedy, this black hole.

Imagine life for the families of these kids. Two of them are only sixteen years old. Sixteen! Think of a sixteen year old that you know, and imagine him in the hands of Hamas. The third is nineteen. Teenagers. Kids! Oh, God!!

(photo from Facebook)

(photo from Facebook)

We pray that God will give wisdom to our leaders, to our military, to each one who is working night and day to return those boys to their homes! Oh, God, hear our prayers!! Protect our boys, their minds, their hearts… May you fill them with your peace that is beyond understanding. Oh, Merciful One…!

The Torah Portion for last week included the story of the twelve representatives of the twelve tribes who were sent to tour the Land of Israel to see what it was like, when the people of Israel were still in the dessert. We all know how it goes. Only two had a positive report to bring. The overwhelming number of ten against two, had a negative report to bring. Actually, come to think of it, their reports were not all that different, it was their attitudes that were miles apart. What does it matter if giants are against us, if God is with us??! What do we have to fear when we have the Almighty on our side? He is faithful to His promises to us, and He will not leave us! He will keep us, lead us and stay with us, just like He has promised!

Western Wall on Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day celebrations at the Western Wall

May we take this to heart also in our days. We want to bring a positive report. And more than that, – we want to keep our faith! We want to see things for what they really are. Yes, there are massive enemies surrounding us. Yes, most of the world seems to side with our enemies, not interested neither in truth nor facts. But listen, – the Almighty God is with us! The Creator of heaven and earth, – He goes before us! He holds us in His hands! What do we have to fear?!

So yes, – in the midst of parallel realities, – laughter and tears, in the midst of the intenseness of it all, – let’s keep our perspective right where it should be! We are promised a future and a hope! And we can feel it already in our days! There is something here! We already have a taste of it! And it is here to stay and to grow. And we get to be a part of it! Halleluyah! I would not want to be anywhere else than right here, where God has placed me!

 

Please make noise…

Quite regularly we have a relatively big group of children over to our house. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. We had ten kids aged between seven and eleven around our dining room table, learning Torah, doing crafts, eating snacks, and well, being kids.

After about an hour and a half of them being kids (read: making noise), a couple staying in the apartment underneath us this week, knocked on the door. They wanted to ask about something completely unrelated to the fact that we had the group of children over, but I mentioned that they must have noticed the fact. The couple then explained that they loved hearing it, because their own home had turned too quiet, as they lost their young daughter in a tragic accident a few months ago… The woman turned to my son who had come to the door with me, and encouraged him to “Please make noise!”.

blessed noise makers

Now that puts things in perspective! Thank God we have these live and thriving little noise-makers! What enormous blessings they are, really! And what a huge change it would be to all of a sudden not have them here anymore… Impossible for us to grasp. I pray for comfort for those who have to go through this nightmare.

The perspective stayed with me for the rest of the afternoon and evening, and I found myself being very present there with my children also after the group had left. I was thankful for the moments. I enjoyed sitting next to my daughter as she did her Torah-homework, listening to her thoughts and opinions. I loved reading to them from a Norwegian children’s book that we almost know by heart as they ate their evening meal before going to bed. Getting just a tiny glimpse into the loss that the people who are visiting downstairs right now are going through, makes me incredibly thankful for all those everyday kind of moments. I don’t want to them to just fly by, – I want to be there, to be present, and make the most of them.

Thank God for these blessed noise-makers.