Reflections from my morning run.

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This morning my husband and I went for an absolutely beautiful early morning run. I decided to not listen to anything through my earphones, and even though we did have a bit of conversation here and there, the hour and a half out there did leave plenty of time for thoughts and reflections too.

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I thought of the Torah Portion we are learning this week, where God told Abraham to leave his country and go. The main thing in the beginning of Genesis 12 seems to be the leaving, the going, the obedience, – and then God took him to the Land that he had promised him.

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I cannot tell you how privileged I feel who gets to live my life here in the Land that God promised to Abraham and his descendants. I get to be a part of the building of this modern miracle that is taking place here in our days!

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And then, – who lets their thoughts wonder this week, and they don’t touch on the US election?! Well, here is what I thought: All of your Jewish people over there who are freaked out about the result of this election, – maybe it is time you come home??

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I am telling you, – I am so thankful for the leaders we have over here! I trust them and I am proud of them! (And as recent history has shown, if they don’t behave they are kept accountable for it!)

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So, friends, – consider it, pray about it! We could use you over here! The nation is small enough, the state is young enough, – each one really counts! Come help us build! Come influence and make a difference! Come set your footprint over here during this life that we are given here on earth!

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Rosh Hashanah Prayer

We have just celebrated yet another Rosh Hashanah, and as we have just entered a new year, I thought I would take the opportunity to start blogging again! šŸ™‚Ā I had someĀ of those high and inspired moments during the prayer in the synagogue on the mornings of Rosh Hashanah, and I remember thinking afterwards that I should share this on my blog, – so here we go!

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Our Rosh Hashanah table this year

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish fall high holidays, and it comes after a month of spiritual preparation, where we as a people and as individuals draw closer to God. We hear the Shofar-blows as wake-up-calls to remember why we are here, who we belong to, where we came from and where we are headed.

Then we get to Rosh Hashanah, to the feast of Trumpets. This is a two day holiday which is largely spent in prayer at the synagogues. And there is something so special about liturgical prayers, – it links us all together in such an amazing way! The depth of these prayers, these scriptures and songs, fills my heart and gets me to feel so excited about being alive and being a part of THIS!

At our synagogue we had several services going on simultaneously. Such a large part of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel, come out for this, that we need to expand. So as we came in, some people who had started earlier, were praying downstairs, and we heard their shofar-blows and singing. Later, those of us upstairs split up into two groups, and we went downstairs to continue with the second half of the service there, but we could still hear the prayer going onĀ upstairs.

And then to think of the fact that all over Jerusalem, all over Israel, people are praying these same prayers at this holy, set apart time! And in different time zones in different locations, Jews all over the world are praying these exact same prayers, in the same language on this special holiday! Wow! I am thankful to be alive, and to get to spend my life taking part in these types of experiences!

Just listen to some of these prayers:

Remember us for life, O King who desires life, and write us in the book of life – for your sake, o God of life! King, Helper, Savior, Shield: Blessed are You, LORD, Shield of Abraham!

And so may Your name be sanctified, LORD our God, through Israel Your nation and Jerusalem Your city, and Zion, the dwelling place of Your honor…

In the book of life, blessing, peaceĀ and prosperity, and good decrees, salvations and consolations may we and all Your people the house of Israel be remembered andĀ written before You for a good life, and for peace. Blessed are You, LORD, who blesses His people Israel withĀ peace.

AND YOU ARE KING -THE LIVING, EVERLASTING GOD!

Oh, how our voices went upwards together as we cried out:

This day, may You strengthen us…

This day, may You bless us…

To join ones voices together with the ones in the same room, hearing the people above, below, the people in the neighboring synagogue, hearing Shofar-blows all over Jerusalem, – it is a quite heavenly experience! When all these houses of prayer are filled to the brim, with hardly any standing room left even! What a privilege to get to take part in it! To actually have a seat in the midst of it!

And then we prayed together:

As is written: I shall bring them to My holy mountain, and I shall have them rejoice in My house of prayer; their offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted, desired on My altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all peoples…

How exciting it is to be alive! And the year we have just entered is 5777. So many sevens! A number symbolizing perfection. And the letter for the number 5 in Hebrew, is Hey, which is often used for HaShem, the God of Israel. He is Perfect, – over and over again! Always! May that be proclaimed wide and far this year!

I find myself having high expectations for this year. May we all faithfully take our parts in the great things that are happening in our time!

 

 

Moments of connection

I really like to feel connected. Connected to God, to the people around me, to nature, to my loved ones. I love when you all of a sudden can just feel a moment of real connection. You don’t know that it is coming, and you cannot plan for it, – all of a sudden it is just there!

It can happen when you read the Bible. Not every time, but all of a sudden, you can just feel how you are moved with excitement over a truth that so stands out to you, or something you had never quite understood before that now becomes very clear, – and you feel so connected to it, and to God who is behind it all!

I remember moments of dancing at the Kotel, singing together with people I don’t even know, looking up at the Wall which really is a connection point both with God and with generations past, – and all of a sudden just feel so connected to the Jewish people, those who are here now, and those who have gone before, and possibly also to those who are coming after us. Those moments also feel like connection points between heaven and earth. They are real highlights in my life.

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The same thing can happen at Shabbat and the holidays. After major preparations, you find yourself around the holiday table, looking at the faces of loved ones, family and friends, in the light of the candles, saying traditional blessings. And all of a sudden you feel the connection with them and others around similar tables at that very time, and with those who have done so in ages past. It is a wonderful thing, experiencing this connection.

Growing up on an island, loving boat life, I can get this feeling when I am out on the water too. Smelling the fresh saltiness of the sea, hearing the wonderful sound of the waves, feeling the wind in my face, seeing the sun’s diamond-like reflection on the water. Oh, the connection with nature, and with generations past who have also travelled those same waters, between those same islands.

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Also, when preparing food in traditional ways, I can get a feeling of connection with those who have done this in ages past. Small and big moments, but I still find it exciting to feel part of something greater, part of a chain, so to speak.

The last couple of days I have noticed moments of sweet connection with my children. People talk about quality time versus quantity time. I like the idea that you spend quantity time with your children, and all of a sudden, you notice that it turns into quality time, – without even planning for it! Like the other day, when my son and I stood by the kitchen counter preparing coffee together. He was grinding the flavored decaf coffee beans, and I was getting the milk ready for frothing. I could feel how happy he was at that moment, and in spite of the simple everyday-life-ness of the whole thing, I felt the deep connection that I knew was part of strengthening our relationship.

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Another sweet coffee moment with this one

Yesterday my daughter and I were rearranging her room. And again, all of a sudden, it was there, – we were just cleaning off dust from some doll beds we had brought in from the treehouse, – but we shared the same satisfaction in the moment and I felt the connection that builds and strengthens the bond between us.

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I believe the feeling of connectedness has a lot to do with being present in the moment. Be where you are right now. Live now. I remember as a teenager loving the saying: – The one who never lives now, never lives. Ā So, I guess, when I get into these trains of thoughts, I feel a connection with myself too, the younger version of myself, who I guess is still who I am to some extent.

May you LIVE every day of your life! And may you be blessed with moments of connection!

Being whole.

We are reading such amazing Torah portions these weeks. The stories of our patriarchs are coming alive in front of us as we study and learn these familiar texts again as part of our yearly cycle.

I know we are well into a new week, but there is a thought from last week’s portion that is still going around in my mind. We were reading about Jacob returning to the Land of Israel after having been gone for such a long time. He had fled from his brother and the mess he had gotten himself into, he had married two wives (or kind of four, really…), and had eleven children. So much had happened in his life. And then it says in Genesis 33,18, – Jacob came to Schem WHOLE… (I never noticed it before!) He came back WHOLE. Meaning, there was more of a lack when he left. He had been on a long journey, he had gone through a process, he had become WHOLE.

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We are all on journeys through life. May our journeys be processes that make us more and more WHOLE! Sometimes we don’t understand why something was needed, or why it needs to take so long, – but maybe it is part of what it takes to make us WHOLE!

I don’t know if I even manage to explain this well enough. But to me, this struck a cord deep within me. This is what I want! I want this for me and my family, for my children. May we grow into becoming more and more WHOLE!

To me, being WHOLE, means being who God meant for you to be when He created you. Fitting more and more into the mold that is YOU!

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!

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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,Ā 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 wisdom of asking questions

Asking questions is something that is very encouraged in Jewish tradition and culture. We see this already in Abrahams relationship with God, – he asks questions, and it is acceptable and encouraged. You want to raise your children to be critical thinkers, not to just receive and accept whatever they are told without thinking for themselves.

Kite flying during chol hamoed Pesach

Kite flying during chol hamoed Pesach

We have an eight year old and a ten year old here in our home, – and boy, do they ask questions! Of all kinds! Our daughter will very often at night, when I have prayed with her as she is going to bed, quickly turn to me saying: – Can I ask you something? And of course, I say yes, as I am trying to prepare for the coming question. Often it is just something little, like: – What are you going to do now? Where are you going to be? How long do you think you’ll stay up? But then all of a sudden she asks: – Imma, do you believe in hell?? Eh…. good night and sweet dreams to you too!

And then the other day, she was wondering: -Why is water wet?? We actually googled that one, and found that many others had asked the same question, and the answer is that “wet” is how you describe the feeling of water. So there you go! You’re welcome.

the kite high up in the air

the kite high up in the air

Now at Pesach the whole thing of asking questions is part of our rituals. There are standardized questions that we all ask and answer, and we hear about different types of children, of whom the saddest type is the one who doesn’t know to ask. This year we talked about the fact that somehow the one asking the question may in certain ways be wiser than the one providing the answer. I gave the reasoning that the one asking the question is openminded and ready to learn, while the one answering, may have more of an attitude of “having arrived” and not seeing the need to keep on moving forward and learning. Then one of the children added; – and the one giving the answer, may even have the wrong answer…

So, people, let’s keep asking questions. Let’s keep thinking and seeking and learning and growing! It is OK to come up with answer too of course, as long as we keep an open mind to learn more about the subject.

Fun Fridays

Here in Israel we only have one-day-weekends. (So be very thankful for your two-day-weekends those of you who have those! ;-)) When you add to the picture, that we do not drive on Shabbat, which is the only day off, – you have to be creative and very intentional about your trips and outings that are not done solely by foot!

Look how beautiful the almond trees are right now!

Look how beautiful the almond trees are right now!

I want us to utilize Friday afternoons as much as we can, to go straight into weekend-mode and enjoy it to the fullest. I stop working when the kids come home from school, and we have about four and a half hours till Shabbat starts. (DonĀ“t forget that there are lots of preparations for this which also have to get done at some point…)

I should write a separate post about our princess and her dolls. She does not "play" with them, - she "practices" for becoming a mom...!

I should write a separate post about our princess and her dolls. She does not “play” with them, – she “practices” for becoming a mom…!

So the last two Friday afternoons we’ve been making the most of it. For the first one, we went jeeping and hiking in the hills surrounding Jerusalem.

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It turned out such a lovely and wonderful outing! Just to smell the air, to rest your eyes on nature. I loved the feeling of being surrounded by nature only, – I am a nature girl at heart, I guess that is what it comes down to.

enjoying the hills of Jerusalem

I enjoyed watching the children skip along and get creative about coming up with games and fun stuff to do out there, – there was a positive energy going around.

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The almond trees were blossoming. The poppies were popping up everywhere, as were the cyclamens. They were so beautiful! We only wished we could have picked some… If we were the ones making the rules, we would have said everyone can take only one, instead of making it none… šŸ˜‰ But don’t worry, – we left them all there! We just picked some of the yellow ones, – now, don’t you tell him they are weeds!!

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We came back home with renewed energy, and really felt like we had gone somewhere.

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On Shabbat I read something about finding the connecting points between heaven and earth. And really, when we have our eyes open to find them, – they are everywhere! Be it in the synagogue when singing the prayers together with our people, be it at home around the shabbat table with the family and at the same time with our whole people everywhere, – or be it out in nature enjoying His wonderful creation!

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Then on this past Friday, it was actually the shared birthday of our prince and me. Yes, he was born on my birthday! The best birthday gift ever!!!

Ok, now for a special birthday moment. I was born 14 minutes after 2 o’clock on February 14th. That is twice 2.14, right? And then, this year, being 2014, – it was three times 2.14! So, – this is us making that very moment a special one, with really yummy chocolates for desert after having gone out for lunch to celebrate!

A sweet moment. I am so rich, - surrounded by my beloved family! #blessed

A sweet moment. I am so rich, – surrounded by my beloved family! #blessed