Blessed greetings

Yesterday I got a chance to take a walk on the beach in Ashkelon after a work-related trip to that coastal city about an hour away from Jerusalem. I miss the sea, so I totally loved the air, the sight, the feel, the smell, – everything about that little visit to the beach.

As I was leaving, I noticed this sign:

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The literal translation of the Hebrew would be something like: “May you go out to peace”. Not quite like “See you again”, huh? But it is cultural! If you were to say in English “May you go out to peace” or “Leave in peace” or something like that, you would think that you were leaving some type of religious institution and not the beach!?!

This is part of what I love about living in Israel, – the way we greet each other. You know, whenever you say “Welcome” in Hebrew, you are actually saying “Blessed are those who come”. Blessing each other is part of the culture and the way the language is built up.

And at this time of the year, in addition to wishing each other a happy and sweet new year, we wish each other “Gmar chatima tova”, basically meaning “May you have your name written in the book of life”. Now, – where else in the world does one go around saying that type of thing to parents at the school, supermarket clerks, neighbors, – anyone?! Only in Israel.

I love the blessings of Israel.

Sanctified time

Have you thought of the fact that God may have intended for there to be different kinds of time? The longer I am blessed to live, the more I believe this is the case. I believe God in His deep wisdom knew that we would need different kinds of times, so He blessed us with “Set apart times” – “Appointed times”. These are the Holy Days that He gave us through Moshe on Har Sinai, and each week there is Shabbat.

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Just like God sanctified certain people and certain places in special ways, I believe He sanctified certain times.

And I think it is a blessing for us to take advantage of these blessed, set apart and sanctified times! On the last two Shabbats I have noticed that the conversations in our home have gone to a depth that almost surprised me. But then again, – it is only natural for these deep conversations to take place during such special hours of the week. The connection between us human beings and with God above comes more easily during this set apart time, I think.

Then again, – you cannot really plan for this type of connection to happen, you just have to be ready and open for it.

We have quite traditional Shabbats. Everything is prepared ahead of time, the house is clean, the clothes are ready, the food is cooked, the guests are invited. And then we just enjoy the blessing that Shabbat is, for all the 25 hours that it lasts. The deep prayers at the synagogue, the beautiful songs, the meals, the blessings, the time together, the wonderful restfulness of it all.

More and more I love being at the synagogue on Shabbat morning and joining in the singing of these familiar prayers in these beautiful familiar melodies. It really feels like you get a bit of a taste of the heavenly Jerusalem. I feel a strong connection with God above, and it is a reminder of who we are and what we are here for.

For the Shabbat a week ago, both of our children had sleep-over-guests who of course stayed for the entire Shabbat. There were lively meals and lots of games. And then on Shabbat afternoon, when we just sat around on the couches, all of a sudden our son and his friend came with all these deep questions and thoughts that they were dealing with at this early teenage stage of their lives. Nobody planned for it, it was just there, – this depth, this connection. A similar thing happened on the afternoon of this last Shabbat. It must be that we are all calmed down and peaceful enough to deal with the real issues in life at that time!

Oh, I cannot express in words how thankful I am for Shabbat! This foretaste of Gan Eden! No wonder it is the highlight of my week, – and then again of my life, I guess! Because as we know, – The way we live our days, is the way we live our lives!

 

 

Why bad news is news.

Have you ever stopped to think of why the vast majority of news-items are portraying negative and bad events?

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It is because good and positive things happen all the time, so they are not an exception worth mentioning. They are the norm. Isn’t that just wonderful?!

We live in a good world. People are helpful to each other and try to cooperate and build something positive together. It is when people try to harm each other and be destructive that it is an exception and makes the news. While I wish there would be less events worthy of news reports from my surroundings, I am thankful that they are the exception, and that goodness is the norm.

So many good things are happening, small and big. Children learning new things. Families and friends celebrating Shabbat together. Everyone rejoicing over the showers of rain which blessed our land lately. Walking the streets of Jerusalem on Shabbat and being at synagogue praying along with everyone else for peace to bless our people and our land. Sharing a smile and a shalom for the second time with the elderly man on a neighborhood bench today. Moments of goodness.

Or moments of coexistence, when you wait for a green light right next to a Muslim person, or end up being helped by an Arab in a shop. Lately there have been many photos shared on social media of Israeli soldiers sharing their food with Arab children. Why doesn’t it make the news? Because it is the norm! It is no exception! Isn’t that just great?!

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The good news is that evil is still the exception! Goodness is still the norm! We have reason to rejoice! We live in a good world!

As God created everything, He saw that it was good! And God Himself, who is so good, created man in His image, – so each one of us have a little bit of His goodness in us! May we look for that in the people we meet on our journey through life!

The strength of continuing life in the midst of everything.

I am just going to say it as it is. I am so proud to be a Jerusalemite. I am SO proud to be Israeli. What a people this is! What strength it is showing in the midst of enormous difficulty!

My beautiful Jerusalem

My beautiful Jerusalem

Just getting up and continuing life takes an effort when there are large forces out there that are doing their best to paralyze you with fear! The fact that horrible lies about us are being spread around the world, takes away whatever would be left of energy. Yet, – we continue to go about our lives. There is a real strength in that.

It was wonderful to walk to synagogue on Shabbat morning and find that the streets were as full as they normally are at that time of the week, and we still greet each other with Shabbat shalom – in spite of everything, or maybe with even more intent than normal, because of everything!

I found that it was even more upbuilding and encouraging to pray together than it normally is, this past shabbat morning. To call out to God from the depth of our heart! To proclaim back to Him, His truths and His promises, felt really good!

Rock of Israel! Arise to the aid of Israel and redeem as You pledged Judah and Israel!

O, King, Helper, Savior, and Shield. Blessed are You LORD, Shield of Abraham!

The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, from generation to generation! Halleluyah!

The LORD will give strength to His people! The LORD will bless His people with peace! 

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Sunday morning I went for a nice and enjoyable run. I will admit that I slightly changed the route because of the situation we are in, but still, it felt really good to intentionally NOT give in to the fear that would just want me to not leave home whenever I did not absolutely have to. Going out running has been very helpful for me for the last few days, actually. it energizes me and gets positive thoughts going through my system as supposed to just being drained by all the negative things one so easily could have focused on. It is an intentional choice, really, what to focus on, and for me, running has somehow helped make that choice easier.

After the run, my waffles and I were off to our women’s group meeting. Good times as always, even though conversations naturally were quite influenced by everything going on in our country. (I mean, do you normally make plans to go to self defense classes at your women’s group meetings??)

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Monday morning I went on a work-trip to Haifa. A wonderful trip through our beautiful country! After buying two cooking stoves, one washing machine and three fridges for different needy immigrant families in the area, I got to go to the beach for a little while before heading back home to Jerusalem. I even got to meet up with a sweet friend who used to live in Jerusalem. She is one of the most positive people I know, and it was great to go for a walk on the beach with her and talk up a lot of positive energy! 🙂

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And look at the “Dove of Peace” that I found in the sand:

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Yes, life is continuing in spite of everything! Back in Jerusalem, I found out that Israeli flags to hang on our cars (the ones we usually buy for Israeli independence day) are being given out for free, – because of everything going on right now!

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This is our answer! i hope you are listening well, world, because this is our message: We are not giving in and we are not giving up. We are living and we are going to continue going on living! AM YISRAEL CHAI!!!

Why I love living in Israel.

In spite of everything that is happening in our country these days, I could not imagine living anywhere else. Here is a list of what I love about living in Israel. ❤

  • Our togetherness, the feeling of all of us being family, the care that people show for perfect strangers.
  • Being part of building something way bigger than myself or my family. Anyone who reads this blog, knows that I care deeply for my home, my husband, my children and my family. They are my life, really! My dream come true. But then, at the same time, – our family gets to be part of a community, of a people, of a country, that we all build together! Now, THAT, is way bigger than I knew to dream about!
  • Watching prophecy being fulfilled in front of my eyes! The God of our forefathers is bringing His people back to the Land that He promised them and planting them here, – and we get to be a part of it! It is HUGE! (When starting to think of things like this, I feel so thankful that I get to be alive NOW, and certainly would not want to live anywhere else than right HERE!)
  • Living in a place with a future and a hope. Ok, so we are facing difficulties! Life is extremely intense at times, but we have promises that we get to hold on to together! We know that HE who has brought us through sooo much in the past, will bring us through this too, – and HE has good plans for a future full of hope!

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  • Our weather! Well, except for the summer. Even then, the evenings are beautiful, dark and warm, great for sitting outside with candles and a glass of wine. And fall, winter and spring are just perfect. You can always go out for a run or a walk, or have lunch outside just about any time. And gardening is a total joy, – no lack of sun, that’s for sure!
  • The fact that we greet each other with the word Shalom – Peace! And when we raise our glasses, instead of cheers, we say Le chaim! – To life!

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  • Living in a place where there are real values, and a basic agreement on what is good and what is evil. When morality is falling apart, truth is getting increasing relative, and people are being lead astray by their own leaders, I am incredibly thankful to be right HERE, where I trust our leaders to make right decisions, and our army to really defend us when there is a need to do that!
  • Our food! Lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables available, locally grown and you get to enjoy them in their season. (Oh, and if you have tried looking for kosher food or restaurants other places, you will love Israel!)
  • Our people! Yes, people can seem nosy at first, but at least they care! And, yes, the lines at the supermarket can be slow because of all the conversations between everyone, but at least we treat each other as fellow human beings!
  • The feeling of connection between the past, the present and the future that I feel is really unique for life in Israel. The history (and such meaningful history!) really speaks to us from the stones we are walking on, and we get to live that history and build it for future generations!
  • Our ability to keep on living, and celebrating life, in spite of so many enemies all around trying to crush us down. It is a conscious choice not to give up, really. This is a strength that has been built up from just those types of experiences, and the knowledge that we are NOT alone, we stand together, and our God is with us in the midst of everything! Last night, shortly after another terror-attack here in Jerusalem, people gathered to sing our national anthem, HaTikvah, right where the attack had happened! What a powerful message! We have hope! We are going to live as a free people in our country, the Land of Zion, Jerusalem!
  • Our faith! And the fact that the faith in the God of Israel is such a central part of everything! On national radio broadcasts you get encouraged to read the psalms and pray for our people. Faith is something that is right there on the table being talked about naturally, it is not tabu like in so many other places.
  • To get to live in the city where the Torah, the Living Word, is coming out from, now nothing can compare to that, can it?

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  • This is the people that is called to be a light to the nations, to be a blessing to all! Wow, – to get to live in the midst of that! Wow!
  • And when God chose a home for himself on this earth, – this is where He chose for it to be! (Sometimes I have to ask myself how come I get to be so blessed as to live my life and raise my kids right here!)

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  • Our language. And everything that is hidden within that language. I learn new depths all the time! Think for example of the word for truth in Hebrew, EMET – אמת. The first letter in the word, is the first in the alphabet, the last letter in the word is the last in the alphabet and the middle letter in the word is the middle letter of the alphabet. “All-consuming truth” built into the one word “truth”. And the fact that the letters have numerical values, that add meaning to numbers too! 🙂
  • Shabbat! ❤ It is definitely what I miss the most whenever we are abroad. The walking to service or back home from having shared a meal with friends, and wishing everyone shabbat shalom. Living in a community that is Jewish, where the Jewish way of life comes naturally. The fact that you can just about feel it in the air that it is shabbat!
  • Such a meaningful life! To be honest, I more and more realize how this is where I found what I had always been looking for, without even being aware of it! This is where things are happening in our time! And not only do I get to live in Israel! I get to live in the heart of Israel, – in Jerusalem! #sothankful!

This is just what came to mind first when I spontaneously sat down to write this, and I am sure I will think of many more things later. And now when I count it, it by chance ended up being 18! The numerical value of the Hebrew word LIFE – חי!

Feel free to add more points in the comment-section!  🙂

Living my dream

Do you remember what you imagined your adult life would be like when you were a child? Call it dreams, thoughts, imaginations, – I think we all had some sort of thoughts or expectations.

For me, if I were to think about it in a black and white type of way, I guess I would have to say that a lot turned out very different than I expected. But then again, – today there were so many moments when I just had to stop myself and think about it, – I am living my dream! What a blessing!

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Like so often, – I am reminded that it is the small things that matter. They make up life, really. Today was a beautiful day. Spring weather with sun from a clear Jerusalem sky. In the morning I got efficient work done for several of the different jobs I have, and still had time for a nice walk (and talk!) with a dear friend.

And it was especially in the afternoon that I was reminded of how this matches my childhood dreams for my adult life. The children both had friends over. The door was open, and they were playing inside and outside, everyone was getting along and there was plenty of creativity and positive energy going around. Two neighbor girls noticed all the fun going on in our yard, and it was decided that they would come and join as well. Meanwhile I was having tea and cookies with one of the moms.

It was one of those days. The kids ate well at the meals. No one got into a fight. Everyone played well and cooperated well. (I guess the fact that I notice these things, tells you that it is not always like that, but that is also part of life, right?)

And so it hit me, that even if the setting (country, language, culture etc.) is not the same as I imagined as a child, the content is still the same. I dreamed of being a mom, my children having friends over, me hearing them playing outside, opening the window to call them in for home cooked meals… Life. My dream came true!!

Even if not every day is like a dream, it is all part of life, and we will take what we get served. Enjoy the good days and grow on the more challenging ones.

And even the parts of my life that are different than I dreamed, – really, I could not possibly have dreamed of the turn my life was to take! It was too much, too good to be imagined!

I feel very blessed, and have so much to be thankful for.

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.