Favorites.

Shopping for Shabbat Flowers last week was the first time I came across Nuriot this season. (What is this flower called in English???) I happily picked out two bunches in different colors, and felt they spread a good mood just sitting there in a vase on our table.

“I was so happy to find Nuriot today! They are my favorite flowers!” I told my husband later in the day. “I think you have several favorite flowers…” was his reply. And you know what? He is right! Not only do I have several favorite flowers, – I have several favorite songs, times of the year, foods, candy – you name it! And I guess that is nice for me, don’t you think? I have so many reasons to rejoice…

These are my Shabbat flowers this week. Aren’t they beautiful? My favorite… ūüėČ

Favorite flowers

I have truly enjoyed this Friday. (My favorite day of the week…) This has been a relatively busy week for me, with a lot of time out of the house, so today I enjoyed being at home, the smell of granola filling the house. One of my favorite smells. I guess that is the way I should put it.¬†One of my many favorites.¬†

It is a beautiful day outside, and I have been out for a nice walk on the streets of Jerusalem. The children and I even had lunch outside in the garden. And afterwards I did a much needed hair cutting session for Junior out there. NOT my favorite activity, as he hates the itchy feeling of the hairs falling down his neck. But today we succeeded in limiting this by twirling toilet-paper around his neck a couple of times, so that made for a more pleasant experience for the both of us.

Now I just need to put some cookies in the oven, and then the children and I are going to make hanukkiot¬†(Hanukkah-candlestick), something we love to do. (Another favorite??) When Hanukkah comes around, you will see, we have A LOT of hanukkiot, and this might be because we make new ones every year, but still hold on to the old ones…

This Shabbat we are reading about Jacob wrestling with the angel, so we have a few little angels on our Shabbat-table this week. You know, these little items really help bring the weekly torah portion up in our conversations during Shabbat dinner. (Definitely another favorite time of the week!) This angel though is really interesting. Who was he? Bad guy, good guy? Could he have been the Mashiach?? I am looking forward to our dinner conversation tonight!

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

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Moving on and continuing to build.

It’s been a long day. A lot of traveling. A lot of buses. A lot of people. A lot of blessings and beautiful moments.

I left home before the rest of the family had even had breakfast, and got on my way to Haifa, on buses. The purpose of the trip was to help new immigrant families through a benevolence program I work with. (*This seems to be the week where I am introducing my blog-readers to my various jobs! Must be because I love the normal every day life so much this week…) I met up with twelve different families, and they were each blessed with a needed basic appliance, be it a washing machine, a refrigerator or a cooking stove. After being done with business, I got together with a dear friend in Haifa, – making my day all the more wonderful!

On the bus on my way back home to Jerusalem, I was quite tired, and just enjoyed relaxing, looking at the scenery and letting my thoughts drift off. First there was the sea, Рoh, how I LOVE the sea! The endlessness of it, the waves, the beauty! There were also the banana-trees, and all the other types of fruit-trees along the way. And in between the trees, this lovely green, green grass, Рa sign of the life giving rain that God has blessed us with. As I looked at all the planted and built areas, I thought of how much the state of Israel has been built and planted and invested in since its birth in 1948.  So many people have given their life to building this country, and this is still happening! We get to take part in it! What a privilege!

It is surreal to think of the war last week. Last Tuesday we sat in our bomb shelters in Jerusalem. When I put the children to bed a week ago, they asked what would happen if the air raid siren would go off while we are asleep. Would we wake up? Would I wake them up, if they didn’t wake up by it? That same week I would only put in one of my head-phone-pieces as I listened to music during my runs, just to make sure I would not miss the siren… Quite some days. And then all of a sudden we have moved on, so very quickly. And instead of really working through what we went through, we are so busy catching up on all the stuff we did not get done because of the war to really dwell much on it. And maybe that is just healthy, to move on, to live normal, busy days. That may be the best way to deal with it after all. Just to move on, and continue to build.

The bus was making its way up the hills to Jerusalem. I love taking in the view of the mountain-tops of Jerusalem and the hills surrounding it. It was late in the afternoon, and the clouds were low over the mountains. At some places it looked as if the clouds were even touching the hills, – and it became a beautiful picture of the connection between the Jerusalem above and the earthy Jerusalem. Those connections are very exciting to think about, and I pray that God will open our eyes to see more and more of them! And may we even be used as tools in His Hand to make some of those connections come about and happen!

Feeling blessed.

Oh, how lovely normal life seems right now! Being a whole family again. Routines. Roles. Everyone doing their own normal things. Every day life. I love it!

One of my jobs is to sell DVDs of a tour my tour guide mother in law has done of Israel (*anyone interested can go to the website http://www.lpv.co.il), and today I met up with a group from Singapore and sold them some DVDs. This is something I do often, but this group was special, and they are here at such a special time. I was there with my husband and kids, because we were on our way to somewhere else, and the group really wanted to bless us. So they got up, and wanted to sing us a song. And not just any song, – they sung us the Aaronic blessing –¬†in Hebrew! – Yevarechecha Adonai ve yishmerecha…. May the Lord bless you and keep you…¬†

I stood there, with one hand on each of my dear children, my husband next to me, and all these Singaporeans in front of us blessing us in Hebrew! And at such a time as this! It became one of those moments… where I just feel so very blessed, so very blessed to be here, living my life right here in Israel!¬†Yes, it is intense! Yes, it has its price! But, wow, is it worth it! We live a rich and blessed life! And I am so thankful for it!!!

I still hear the airplanes practicing above us, the helicopters on the look out for any suspicious thing or activity, I notice the heightened security on the streets of Jerusalem. We¬†still talk about the bomb shelter experiences, the siren going off is still a part of the children’s roleplaying. But at the same time, – we get ¬†to live our lives HERE! In the Promised Land! In the Land of our forefathers! Where it all began! I get to raise my children in the city where King David once reigned! I get to live my every day life in the Land people for hundreds of years only dreamt about, sung about, prayed for… We get to be part of building and defending this land and nation! I feel so privileged! So blessed!

And this is the way I have felt about Israel for as long as I have lived here, – it is intense, the challenges are bigger than I have felt them other places, but so are the blessings!! You really get to FEEL that you are alive here. There is no sort of lukewarm existence… It is really good, really hard, really meaningful, – a blessed life!

He is HOME!

As I hear of the cease fire, I of course contact my soldier out there to see if this means he is coming home. And yes, they did start packing as the cease fire started. Which again amazes me. Israel is so full of integrity, -being true to who she is in spite of what the people on the other side are doing. So, we keep our side of the agreement, even if they don’t. But at the same time, we keep on protecting our civilians. So, as the soldiers are packing up, the children in the southern cities are still staying home from school. Get that! We are in a period of cease fire, so our soldiers get to go home, but our population has yet to return to normal life, because we don’t trust the other side to keep their side of the agreement.

The packing up and putting away all their gear would take a while, the soldiers were told, and I was told the earliest I could expect my soldier back would be in the beginning of next week. Late last night came an SMS that there was a chance he would come home already for Shabbat. And as the children and I sat around the breakfast table this morning, there was a knock on the door, –¬†and there was ABBA!¬†(I hadn’t even told them there was a chance he would come today, because I didn’t want them to be disappointed if it didn’t happen!)

So now he is resting upstairs, there is a storm outside, and I am in the kitchen cooking up the quickest thanksgiving dinner ever (my favorite laundry will have to wait till after shabbat). I was able to get a turkey at the supermarket after dropping off the kids at school, and we will have all our favorites to go with it. Ah, life seems so good all of a sudden!! I am not completely happy with the turn of events the last few days, but right now I am just going to enjoy my family and my home, and leave the rest in God’s Hands! (But I will leave a little light on in the bomb shelter over Shabbat, just in case…)

The challah-dough is rising, and today I am planning to make one of the challot in the shape of a ladder, to remind us of Jacob‘s dream that we are reading about in this week’s torah portion. It is really interesting to notice that the angels are going “up and down”¬†on the ladder. They started from ¬†here, meaning that their presence was already here on earth! Tradition says the place where Jacob was resting, might have been the place where the temple later stood, which I find very exciting. Either way, it is a wonderful thought that God’s angels are present with us here on earth wherever we might be!

With this I am wishing all of you out there a blessed Shabbat Shalom, and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating that as well!

Life after Air Raid Sirens.

I must admit. Having heard the siren yesterday, and sat in our bomb shelter with our children, did something to me. In several different ways.

For one, I have numerous times between then and now for a second thought that I heard the siren starting up again, but it was just the wind, an ambulance, a noisy car-engine or something else, totally NOT the siren. This has never happened to me before. I hope it will go away soon. (I notice that it happens to our daughter too. As we were out driving today, she twice thought the siren started, and it was just something else.)

The other thing I find myself doing, is looking for what I would do if the siren was to go off right now. And the options are not always all that great, if you are out for a walk, a drive, or like this afternoon watching our son out on the baseball-field.

This would in turn encourage me to just stay as close to home as I can, as much as I can, and not go out more than absolutely necessary. I played with the thought of not taking the kids to their gymnastics class and baseball class today. We could¬†just stay home too…Nothing seemed safer.

But then again, – is that how I want to live my life?!? Do I really want to allow Hamas to limit it like that? The answer is no…

If I was to stop living my normal every day life, that would give victory to Hamas. Because that is just what they want to achieve! If they cannot take our lives literally, at least they want to take away our normal lives! And I am NOT going to let them!

On the other side I feel that the fact that the siren sounded over all of Jerusalem, and we all ran for shelter, somehow gave me more energy to fight. My adrenaline was refilled, somehow. It sort of brought it all to a different level, and I feel a great need to show them and everyone that Am Yisrael Chai!  They are not going to succeed in destroying us!! God, who has done miracles in the past, keeps doing them in our days, and we just need to trust Him!

At the time of writing, two hours have passed since we agreed on a cease fire. Even as it was all being announced, Hamas was still shooting, and they kept shooting twelve rockets at civilian areas in Southern Israel. So it seems to me that cease fire means we cease, they fire…

It is a good thing we put our trust, not in a cease fire agreement, but in the Keeper of Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps!

Cookie making and Air Raid Siren.

As part of our “cozy afternoons-program”, we today made sugar-cookies together. We had lots of fun with it, sticking out some Hanukkah-shapes, and some letter-shapes. Our little girl always wants to write all the different variations of her name with letter-cookies.¬†In the middle of this, we all of a sudden hear the air raid siren going off… In Jerusalem!! This is pretty big! A first for us who were not here Friday! Because of the children, I stay remarkably calm (if I can say so myself), and just say; “Ah, listen to that, it is the siren. So let’s go to the bomb shelter.” Within seconds we are all behind closed doors in our bomb shelter. I thought I heard the sound of an explosion, but decided it must be something else, and certainly did not mention anything to the kids.

Inside our bomb shelter during a real air raid siren today

We stay inside the bomb shelter for about ten minutes, and then return to our cookie making. I just have to smile of the children who sort of look around as we come upstairs, seemingly surprised and relieved that everything is still the same. And they say; – good thing the rocket didn’t destroy our house, it would have broken the cookies… (By the way, the rocket landed near an arab village not far from here, so I could have heard the explosion.)

Our big boy is very focused on a project he has going with the letter-shapes, and when he is done, he lets us see what he made, and he has written out the words: Am Yisrael Chai! Meaning, Рthe People of Israel Lives! What a great message to come out of the bomb shelter with!

They are trying to destroy us, to break us, – but they are not going to manage! We are going to stay alive and thriving! Because God has promised us a future and a hope!!

My heart at the Gaza-border.

I get the kids ready and off to school in the morning, and try to get at least some work done before preparing comfort food for lunch. I spend cozy afternoons with the children; our favorite snacks, candles, lots of hugging and just being together, – all while my heart is somewhere along the border of Gaza

Soldiers at Gaza border. Photo from Google

My heart is there with one of the soldiers there, a.k.a. The Love Of My Life. Along with tens of thousands of other soldiers he rushed and hurried up, just to get there and have more time to wait. They are ready at the border, and will go in as soon as they get the green light from our government. And every time I check a news update, there seems to be a different opinion on the matter. – We are close to a cease fire. – They are shooting, we are shooting, they are not interested in peace. And so on.

I notice that I am not the only one who is with abba in my thoughts pretty constantly. As I was reading the kids a sweet Hanukkah-story the other night, my son interrupted and asked a question about some Hamas-activity, which of course had nothing to do with the story we were reading… And I watch him play war games with himself, where he is totally destroying Hamas… Our daughter is not as clearly expressing how the whole thing is affecting her, – but one can see it through how her various body-aches are eased by hugging, showing that the source of these physical pains may really be emotional unrest.

As they go to bed, we pray for abba, for our soldiers, for our leaders, our people and our country. We go to sleep with the Hebrew song Hineh lo yanum ve lo yishan Shomer Yisrael sung over and over in our heads. РHe that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

Praying soldiers at Gaza border. Photo from Google.

And I return to all my screens, never have I been so glued to my computer, I Phone and TV! I watch the soldiers out there, searching for my soldier among them. I listen to the updates and try to understand how it all influences everything. There is a lot of rockets, Рdoes that mean we are just before the end and finishing up, or that it is all just being escalated to yet another level?? There is uncertainty in the air. A decision needs to be made. And we continue to pray for faith, courage and great wisdom for those who have to make that decision!