With the Bible as our History-book

The wintery weather has made its wonderful arrival to Israel, bringing blessed peace and cosiness and all kinds of good things! (Yes, it is almost funny how rain brings peace, but it really does, – I guess stone throwers don’t want to get wet and cold!)

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Right now I am sitting here in my warm home listening to the rain pouring down outside. In here it is so nice and cozy. Lots and lots of candles lit. I have fresh cream of butternut squash soup and yummy hot cider. Life is good.

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The last few days have been really nice. The children have majored on puzzles, we have enjoyed knitting and sewing, and I have been reading out loud to them from a book that was read to me (several times) when I was a child.

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I have to share one little conversation that developed from the reading. We heard about a girl who really liked the subject “history” in school. My children do not at this time have a subject called “history”, so they were trying to figure out what this would be. I suggested a subject they have where they learn about our country and our people, – because in “history” you sort of learn the history of your people, I explained. – Ah, they nodded in understanding, – that is what we call “Bible”! That is the history of our people! How precious, don’t you think? What a privilege to get to grow up with the Bible as your history-book, and that is where you find your ancestors and your identity!

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The reality is that the messages in the Bible are really central in so much of what is going on here! Recently I was at a race with runners from most of the schools in Jerusalem, our son was a participant from his school, and I was a parent coming along to help out. I was really impressed with the music chosen at this event, – it had such depth and content! To give you an example, one of the songs went like this: “Israel! Israel! Trust in the LORD!”  And another one was the whole psalm 121 “I lift my eyes up unto the mountains, where does my help come from?” 

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I really am thankful to get to raise my children in a country where faith and the Bible are given such a focus, and are seen as really relevant for our lives! There certainly is no place like Israel! Am Yisrael Chai!

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Shabbat prayer

This Shabbat’s combination of wintery weather and day-of-rage-promises from our enemies close by, did not make it hard to come up with reasons to just stay home. But, really, in difficult times, it is important to stand together, – that is the way that we are strongest, and that is the way to keep on really living!

Jerusalem

So we went as a family to pray in the synagogue this morning, – and it turned out to be one of the most uplifting mornings in a long time! Each one of the prayers just stood out as such a strong and fitting one at a time like this!

Just think of all the times that we call God “Magen Avraham” or “Magen David” – “The shield of Abraham” or “The shield of David”! He really is our shield! It was just so helpful to regain perspective of this, and be reminded of just who God is! Listen to this;

True is the eternal God, our King, Rock of Jacob, Shield of our Salvation.

He exists and His name exists through all generations.

His throne is established, His kingship and faithfulness endure for ever.

True, You are the LORD, our God and God of our ancestors,

our King and King of our ancestors, our Maker,

Rock of our Salvation,

our Deliverer and Rescuer!

Rock of Israel!

Arise to the help of Israel.

Deliver as You promised, Judah and Israel!

And how about this:

Blessed are You, LORD,

who blesses His people Israel with peace.

Amen! May it be so!

The One who lifts up my head

As we were having breakfast yesterday morning, the news ticked in on both my husband’s phone and my phone about the terror-attack that occurred in a synagogue. Ever since then, the horror of what happened has never been far from my mind. The pictures are awful! The pools of blood in combination with prayer shawls, prayerbooks and tfilin-straps, – the contrasts are just appalling! How can someone enter a sanctuary with a meat-chopper and just start slaughtering people?!? It is so beyond human understanding that we have no words to describe this kind of evil.

At school the children are told not to go around outside by themselves these days. I received an e-mail with pointers as to how we are to cope with this situation of ever heightened security-levels, and we are told to report anything suspicious. They will make the educational institutions even more secure than before, for example.

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A rainbow I saw in Jerusalem this week. Such a wonderful reminded of God’s faithfulness!

At the same time, life goes on. Really, it does. There is work to do, homework to help with, laundry to be folded, and floors to be washed. Our son had a friend over, and they had fun playing with the soccer-table. We made pasta for lunch and pancakes for dinner. We are enjoying the cooler winter-temperatures, and turned central heating on for the first time. Yet, at the same time as we have this type of normal day, there are these constant thoughts of the nightmare that some people in our city are going through right now, and how the whole situation also applies to us.

I am not the only one with those types of thoughts, – the children definitely have them too, in spite of playing and all. As they went to bed there were many questions regarding the safety of our home and our neighborhood and so on. And no wonder why. Really. What makes us any safer than the victims in this last wave of terror?

As I put together a pumpkin loaf after the kids went to bed last night, I heard them call out from their beds. – “What was that noise? It wasn’t thunder, was it? It sounded like gunfire.” I started saying that maybe it was just the noise of building, but we all realized that it could not have been that at that time of the day, so I went with the truth that it is probably just people celebrating (with gunfire) in one of the neighboring Arab villages. Not the easiest of truths to live with either, but there could be worse alternatives.

One can be tempted to just close oneself and ones dear ones up inside the house, order groceries online and just not go outside. But if we limit our lives like that, we really hand the terrorists their victory on a silver platter. That is exactly what they want! They want us to be paralyzed with fear. They want us to stop living. And however challenging, – we are not going to give them that victory! We are keeping on living here in our homeland, – and that is victory!

This morning, – the day after, – I kind of woke up with a heavy feeling from yesterday. And I  thought I should replace some of the news-updates with Psalms, and I am telling you, – it was like balm to my soul: – especially Psalm 3 spoke straight to my heart: 

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.

Mamy are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.”

But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.

I lay down and slept. I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O LORD, Save me, O my God!

For you have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone.

You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.

Salvation belongs to the LORD.

Your blessing is upon Your people.

May we always keep finding strength and perspective from Him who still sits on the throne! He certainly was the One who lifted up my head today. May we all live close to Him, feed on the real source of Life and go around with our heads lifted up!

Surreal realities

Tensions are building all throughout my beloved country. I can feel it in the air. And, – I get constant updates about it on my phone! And while I read about the seriously injured woman succumbing to her stab-wounds this afternoon, I also help my 8 year old daughter with her math homework. Because life goes on quite normally next to these very surreal realities, – which unfortunately are way too real!

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Two stabbing attacks just today. How can you defend yourself when your enemy comes against you with cars and knives as weapons? Willing to give their own life as long as they get to take some Jewish lives with them in the process? It is so evil. It is beyond sickening. There are no right words for it. It is so inhuman, it is so hard to relate to, we just don’t even know where to start! One thing we can learn from these days, is that there is certainly NO partner for peace to be found among the leaders who encourage such acts!

Then, at the same time, – life goes on. For the past week or so I have been traveling around our beautiful country with a small Norwegian group of tourists. I love being part of the process where people get a connection to the Land of Israel. We had many first impressions, learning experiences, beautiful moments, good conversations and yummy wine!

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Today we walked around Jerusalem. Mostly around the area of the old city and the Mount of Olives. And it is funny how it works out, – wherever you go, there are stories to tell! So much has happened right here! There are many layers packed with history under the ground we are walking on! Amazing! And, – I get to call this city my home! What a privilege!

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But then, when this city takes up a big part of my heart, it is so heartbreaking when it goes through its deep struggles. Like, when last week I was touring Har Bental on the Golan and all of a sudden got the news that another terrorist attack happened in my beloved Jerusalem! It is like someone punches you in the stomach! It is like someone wants to take away your hope for a future! But, don’t you worry, – we are not going to let them! We have a hope and a future here, – and we know it! Life in Israel teaches you to grow stronger through those moments. We learn to stand together, because that is certainly the way we best can fight the powers of destruction that come against us. Most of all we experience our dependency on the God of Israel! He has brought us this far, – He will bring us through this too!

Here I sit in my own peaceful livingroom, candles lit, hot cider in cup, slippered feet on the coffee table. And I think of – and pray for – the families who have been hit by the recent waves of terror! I pray for the protection of my beloved city and my beloved country! And I am clinging to God’s faithful promises of a future and a hope, – in spite of everything!