Etz Chayim – reaching for the Tree of Life

It has been almost a full year since I last posted on this blog. Much has happened. After almost 7 years of ‘wilderness wandering’, we finally have our own home again and are settled, albeit out in the rural wilds of north Cornwall, far away from any kind of Messianic fellowship or congregation. I am so thankful, so surprised with joy to receive such good fortune when we thought all was lost. But still I am terribly isolated and lonely and effectively alone in terms of religious fellowship.

I may have mentioned that I had been in search of some fellowship – any kind, really, but it was a very mixed bag of good and bad experiences.

I really liked the Anglican for its freedom of conscience, although there seemed to be no understanding or interest in the Jewish side of the faith and I had the particular bad fortune of being under a priest who had a real bee in his bonnet about evangelicals. The fact that I was verging on being an ‘ex-evangelical’ seemed not to temper his ire. As far as he seemed to be concerned, I was an idiot for ever countenancing such ideas. If anything, his attitude pushed me back into the fundamentalism I was trying to leave. (Freedom of conscience didn’t extend to evangelicals, as far as he was concerned.)

We also tried an independent Pentecostal group who said they were pro-Israel, but they turned out to be extremely negative, narrow-minded and fundamentalist in every way, and the Pentecostal displays of worship put some of my children off church entirely. After everything we have been through, I can hardly blame them.

In the end, I started going to a Salvation Army while my mother was living with us (only for 6 months as it turned out) and I have continued there although it’s far from ideal. Again, there seems to be no understanding or interest in the Jewish roots of Christianity, and the occasional anti-semitic sermon is never a surprise. It takes a lot of energy to keep looking, so for now I am staying put. I can’t say that I am entirely happy, but they do at least put Christianity in action and reach out to the poorest of the poor.

I had wondered recently in what way I can still claim to be ‘Messianic’ – without fellowship or a believing husband to encourage me, the feasts and fasts and even a proper observation of Shabbat has fallen by the wayside. I wonder if I can ever get it back again.

I have made a very good friend online with a woman who had a very different experience of the Messianic movement, having first converted to Orthodox Judaism and come into Messianic Judaism from there rather than as I did, through evangelicalism. We disagree on many things, but her lack of Christian fundamentalism has been an eye-opener for me.

I also have a very good real-life friend who is not a believer, but who was raised in Orthodox Judaism. We have a surprising amount of experiences in common, and her friendship has been a real balm to my soul.

I have started thinking though in terms of abandoning the trappings of religious tradition entirely and instead reaching out for and trying to find the ‘Etz Chayim’, that is the Jesus/ Yeshua who embodies the Tree of Life, and ‘Ha Derek’, the Way itself, Himself.

Coming out of fundamentalism is a very emotional and difficult thing, and in a way I am having to start again and weigh everything up to see what is good and what is bad. That’s probably not a bad thing in itself.

I am trying to get to know the ‘real’ Yeshua from a different perspective now.

I am still at home, muddling through being a wife and homemaker/ housewife, still home educating my youngest.

So what is the future of this blog?

Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t want to lose my Messianic identity, and I would love to be able to start again from scratch and incorporate more of the Jewish feasts and traditions into my life.

What I don’t want to do, however, is to fall back into the trap of legalism or fundamentalism. It wasn’t life-giving, it was a bottomless pit of darkness that I slipped into gradually without even realising I was doing it, and it nearly ate me up whole before I realised. What I need now is to find the good path, and the Tree of Life.

Becoming the Ultimate Housewife: 1950s Housewife

Shavua tov ladies! 🙂 This is just a little bit of fun really, but I wonder – how much of this do you aspire to? 

How much of this is cultural, dated and irrelevant now, and how much the Biblical ideal/ pattern for wives?

http://www.ultimatehousewife.com/2013/02/1950s-housewife.html?m=1

Peanut Butter and Jelly Challah

A quick share! I won’t be making this today but I will definitely be adding this to my list of recipes to try! 🙂

http://www.kveller.com/recipe-peanut-butter-jelly-challah/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=nosherfacebook

Shiva: Death, mourning and hope in Jewish Tradition

ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, דיין האמת
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, dayan ha-emet.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the Just Judge.”
After 4 years of trying, hoping and praying since my last loss, and 13 years in total, and finally after giving up completely, I was unexpectedly blessed with pregnancy again.

Sadly this pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks, my 6th loss in total.

There are no funerals for miscarriages, no burials. No family get-together, no ‘sitting Shiva’ together. It is a special kind of grief, more lonely and perhaps harder to navigate than any other type of grief, because in our culture pregnancy loss is still taboo, something we still can’t quite face or discuss openly, and thus the sufferer is largely without comfort or understanding.

The traditional period of mourning in Jewish Tradition is 7 days (thus ‘Shiva’, related to the word 7). But the reality is that grief doesn’t follow a neat progression and cannot possibly be restrained within a 7 day period.

The loss of a child isn’t ‘just’ the loss of a baby right at that moment, but the loss of all the hopes and dreams – the loss of that child’s whole life – years and decades and life events that we thought was ahead of them. And even if a mother is graced with another child, this kind of loss changes you, and you always carry that little bit of sadness with you. You never ‘get over’ loss of a child.

I thought I had completely given up and resigned myself to not having any more babies, to ending my family on a loss. Now though of course, I find old wounds re-opened and longings renewed.

But for now, I mourn. 

Mourner’s kaddish
Jewish perspective on miscarriage and stillbirth
Mourning a Jewish miscarriage 
Jewish Prayer after miscarriage or stillbirth

Recipe: Israeli Leek Quiche

leek-quiche

I just thought I would share a very quick link to a great recipe for you:

Israel Leek Quiche recipe from the Israel Forever Foundation:
http://israelforever.org/israel/cooking/leek_quiche/

I often make my quiches crust-free, as a couple of us need to eat gluten-free and lower carb, and which of course would work well for Pesach. More Pesach recipes to come soon, hopefully.

Please share what your Pesach recipe plans are!

I am the Older Woman Now

psalm127

This article from Raising Homemakers appeared in my inbox this morning, and I thought I would share it, because the topic has been so much on my heart lately.

As you know, I would have loved to have more children, but after our fourth, my husband felt that it would be irresponsible to have any more, so we had a break of 7 years, and when we finally started trying again we had a run of miscarriages, so four it is.

My husband isn’t a believer, so he has no faith or reason for confidence that there is a good and faithful God whom we can trust to provide for us, and of course the prevailing culture tells us that ‘two is enough’ and any more is over-population. Please. My heart weeps for the church and our culture, because we are cutting off God’s blessings before they reach us, and we don’t know what we are missing.

I would like to encourage anybody who is considering a larger than average family, or even allowing God complete control over your family planning, to stop listening to the faithless counsel of your peers and know that the Word of God is trustworthy: children are without a doubt a blessing, and we do indeed serve a God who is faithful and good and who can be trusted completely.

the_bible_calls_debt-71559

But (and this is not meant to be a caution to put you off but rather a heads-up so you can plan your house-building, being fully informed about the cost) taking a leap of faith like this will require you to go deeper into God – to be willing to trust and obey completely in the areas of finance and time management to name but two aspects. It’s not a journey for the easy-believer or the faint of heart.

If God has laid this matter on your heart, take it back to him in prayer, seek his heart and his will, and be open to his leadings. Don’t miss out on one of the sweetest blessings he offers.

In my experience, it is a very rare couple indeed who end up inundated with children, and the hardest part about trusting God with your fertility is the possibility not that he will give you too many children, but rather that you might not end up with as many as you hoped.  ❤

No More Grumbling!

rejoice

As I have told you, times are challenging at the moment for us, and I have been feeling very discouraged.

But this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, features the topic of grumbling quite prominently, and so I am encouraged to put a guard over my mouth and my virtual pen, to only ‘speak life’; in other words, not to grumble and moan but to look for the good in everything, to give thanks in everything and to be grateful for the goodness and mercy that is all around me.

So today I thought I would share some of the things for which I am most grateful.

– My husband, my children, my family
– We have a roof over our head, we are not out on the street, destitute.
– Running, hot water and a shower!
– Plenty of food, and a grocery delivery service!
– My husband has a job where he is happy, and he gets up faithfully early every morning and goes to work, and comes home, and never complains!
– Sunshine and rain in due season
– The books that I have not in storage.

I’m sure there is much more if I would spend some time thinking about it.

Are you making gratefulness and thankfulness a habit, even when it is hard? Even on my darkest days, I can usually find at least 5 things to be thankful for, even if it is just my bed at the end of the day, running water, food to eat, a bit of sunshine and a good conversation.

What are you grateful for today?

Wilderness Experience

I have a confession to make. I try not to let this blog get too personal – I prefer to keep it ‘on topic’, just talking mainly about cooking and housework and crafts.

But here is the thing. I am really, really struggling.

I know that we are blessed in many ways. After our landlord evicted us, we were re-housed against all the odds, in the town where we wanted to be. That was pretty miraculous, but it is far from ideal.

The house that we were put in has turned out to be totally unsuitable – there is no garden for the children (they were pretty heartbroken when we had to sell their trampoline), and since it is designed over three floors (meaning that I have to be more active than I can cope with), I have got much sicker since we moved here. In fact, I seem to be in relapse. I’m arguably sicker now than I was when I first got ill. It’s too small, so most of our books and possessions and furniture is still in storage, and our finances are a nightmare. My kids are ill, there just seems no end of massive, insurmountable problems.

I feel as though I am in the ‘pit’.

The result of this is that I am finding the upkeep of the housework impossible, and I’m not well enough to do the cooking. Added to the physical issues, or perhaps as a result of them, I think I can safely say that I have descended into a deep depression.

And I am feeling a failure.

We have had a run of more than five really rough years now, and I feel as though I have been brought into a long-term, painful wilderness experience, or a ‘Job’ experience, and I don’t really understand why.

So many scripture passages talk about blessing following the keeping of Torah, and for those who bless Israel. So I just keep wondering, what have I done wrong, and why am I missing the blessing? And when is it going to end?

I pray, I read the Word, I try to remain faithful. But it feels as though my prayers fall on deaf ears, and I have never felt more distant from Abba.

I never expected the ‘narrow way’ to be quite this rocky.

The Kingdom Divided

I thought I would re-post this here, as I don’t usually post Bible studies on Life for Beginners, and this seems a more appropriate place. I don’t often post Bible studies here either, but this is a specifically Messianic topic. What do you think? Does it matter whether or not we are accepted?

Life for Beginners

I have been quite shocked and disappointed this week to (re-)discover two things:

Firstly that anti-semitism is alive and kicking in the churches, particularly down here in Cornwall.

Secondly, that there are many groups and individuals who believe that gentile believers are not part of Israel proper, only on the fringe as part of the ‘commonwealth’, and that Torah is only for Jews (and beyond that, that we need the “oral Torah” to properly understand and obey Torah).

To my understanding of the scriptures, such a view and practice of exclusion is falsely resurrecting the partition wall that Yeshua tore down. It is a little bit like saying that gentiles aren’t really part of the Kingdom, which is after all what “Israel” is meant to be – the Kingdom where God reigns.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free”

We are meant to be equal…

View original post 1,014 more words

Crafts and Topics for 2016

I have been thinking about what to do with this blog over the next year, and I think that, in addition to specifically Messianic/ Jewish topics, I will try to post on subjects covered in the TODKAH home economics curriculum, in no particular order:

todkah

– sewing
– knitting
– crochet
– embroidery
– gardening
– cooking
– baking
– flower arranging
– basketry
– budgeting
– child development
– child training
– home management
– making a house a home
– quilting
– cross stitch
– hospitality
– caring
(caring for the elderly, sick and injured, comforting the mourning)
– rug braiding
– women’s health
– pregnancy
– infant care and breastfeeding
– child bearing
– candlemaking
– soapmaking
– raising small animals
– home business

If you’re looking for a home economics curriculum, it really is unequalled – it is a 7 year programme for home educated teens (not to mention useful for their mothers!), and as you can see it covers far more than what is usually covered in school. (Certainly today, but even 30 or 40 years ago.)

I know that the uber-traditional title of the curriculum puts more moderate Christians off using the curriculum, but I think that is a pity. It’s not necessary to agree with Mrs Ann Ward’s very conservative views to make use of her expertise and knowledge in the areas of crafts and home management.

If you are interested in exploring the curriculum, take a look at the website, and join the yahoo group and/ or the facebook group/ page to discuss any of the crafts or topics covered.

Previous Older Entries

Follow Messianic Woman at Home on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: