Happy Hanukkah 2017!!!
I’m sure you’ve heard this word recently used as a derogatory term for those in our world who are easily offended, who are shattered by the slightest…slight, who are weak victims with easy lives. Well, that is not what the Creator creates!
He forms beautiful things, unique things, fragile and precious things. He creates the fabric of families…beautiful, complex personalities and strengths…unique, and the glittering web of life…both fragile and precious. The culture we live in thrives on crisis, damage, suspicion and false victimhood, but we CAN choose to see past this reality and hold on to the patterns we see in a snowflake.
The order that replaces chaos.
The glitter that replaces dirt.
The light that replaces darkness.
The beauty that replaces a frozen west wind.
The Festival of Light was birthed in a culture that truly did attempt to damage and victimize an entire people group, but the people fought back! One family looked past their current situation and saw through to the Light. One leader, one family, one life changed the course of a nation! I want to be a snowflake…beautiful, unique, fragile and precious…capable of changing the world, replacing chaos, dirt, darkness and frozen wind with order, glitter, light and beauty.
Happy Hanukkah 2017!!!
One of the traditions of Hanukkah is called “gelt”! It was originally REAL money, like you don’t deal with enough money as accountants. ? In this case, the tradition has its origin from Jewish people in Poland and it was money given to small children as a gift to their teachers.
Well, this year you have been my teachers! Several of you have taught me to smile again. Some of you have taught me great strength in the face of struggle. Some of you have taught me to be braver. Ummm…ONE of you has taught me how to be WAY too loud! Some of you have taught me MATH? Some of you have taught me how to handle mistakes and learn from them. Some of you have taught me diplomacy…need that one! ? So much treasure given to me this year in the form of growth, learning, stretching and making mistakes.
So out of the little “gelt” I have, I give to you my most precious gift…one of which I am not worthy. I fail on a regular basis, succumb to sadness, and stumble over the smallest things, but I hold tightly to my Treasure, my joy, and then I give it away. You will find in this tiny package my treasure…my segulah (Hebrew for special treasure).
Happy Hanukkah 2017!!!
I know that several of us have had some devastating circumstances this year and we share the weight of it alongside each other. We have shared the loss of people we love dearly or worked alongside someone who is grieving, some of us have faced devastation of family relationships due to trauma and mental illness, and some of us are walking through serious health issues. Aside from our own struggles, we look around us and find a culture that is upside down and irrational. I know it is a daily choice for me to put one foot in front of the other in order to return to the hopeful, happy person I once was.
Part of the path that I am needing to walk involves returning to one of the things I once loved…Hanukkah…teaching Jesus through a Jewish holiday that he Himself celebrated. Scholar Ministries delivered gifts to over 75+ families each year that were in desperate need of smiles no matter the age or situation…just silly, happy and sometimes truly yucky fun. The kids in our ministry adored this tradition and I will admit to thoroughly enjoying it myself. The simple sacrifice of bringing joy to other people ended up bringing great joy to us.
But something happened…
A deep sadness gripped me as I watched someone slip away into the darkness. The further I saw that someone slip, the more ministry I laid down and became a ghost. Some of you have seen how far I’ve come back since the beginning of this year. I am so terribly thankful for my hubby, my Scholar Ministries family, and an incredible workplace! Their consistent and careful acceptance of me has inspired me to try to return to being the leader I once was…thank you.
If you will allow me, I want to try to take one more giant step back into my old self. I want to do for you what I did for so many others. I would like to bring you a letter, a post, to read each night of Hanukkah. Some will be silly…some will be really cool. Some will feel like Christmas…some will feel like Hanukkah. Each gift will require time and affection on my part. Each gift will bring me joy.
Please just put up with me, chuckle a little, and know that I am praying for you as you walk through your Christmas/Hanukkah season and thanking God for the strength you teach me every day.
Emily Grace’s best advice:
Read her blog “But wait! There’s more.” at https://beautifullyunworthy.weebly.com/blog
It seems to me that those closest to the battlefront often have blood and pain as their portion. It also seems to me that they have a deep capacity for both courage, passion and a stubborn faithfulness that makes them strong enough to bear up under it.
Those that live closely around us or even with us have long noted that the Smith family seems to be followed by the most painful experiences…too many and too sensitive to reveal here. We open ourselves and our home to those who are hurting or just really hungry for truth not religion knowing that we are likely to fight through the same pains and struggles with them.
A friend once saw a vision of two types of believers: 1) those who stand on a stage and preach to a crowd deeply trapped in a sea of mud, unable to free themselves from the muck, and 2) those who climb down off the stage, go into the mud and pour absolutely all their strength into holding tightly to the sinking heart as they struggle to be free…crawling and barely breathing, if necessary, along with them as they walk into freedom. Both have terribly vital roles in the Kingdom!
This second believer will be bloodied, soaked in mud and struggle with the pain of those they crawl with, but they refuse to give up and back down or let go. This is the life I have chosen and my heart simply breaks over and over and over. Then there are the days when someone breaks free of complacency or poverty, depression or abuse, perversion or blind religion and I see my purpose again instead of the pain. I have learned only in the last few months to live looking beyond the pain…to find mental rest. I see one of these quasi sons and daughters as they become absorbed in the Bible-Nerd culture…listen as another one shares a very mental excerpt from Dostsyevski…watch another defend Godly standards and purity with passion. These are the souls that make everything else worth the splatter and the joy.
If I can claim any strength trained into me and my trophy husband, it is courage, passion and a stubborn faithfulness that causes me to go back to the battle of mud and heart…just one more time for a million times.
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
28 “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.[a] 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
“…choosing not to believe in the devil doesn’t protect you from him.” A brutal truth spoken by the role of Father Lucas, played by Anthony Hopkins, to his doubting apprentice. I wonder if a similar truth also holds…true? Choosing not to believe in God doesn’t protect you from Him?
This is not a post for the weak. It is not for the saved who believe in a good, good Father as I believe. I know that God is good and kind and patient. I also know that He is jealous and hates and can be angered. He is jealous for the affections of His children as a good parent longs for the affections of a child. He hates the things that harm those He loves even as I hate the things that hurt not just my sons, but my spiritual sons and daughters as well. He is angered by the lack of justice in the world, the misrepresentation of His Name, the deliberate rebellion inspired by the adversary.
I write this for you, the one who sees the evil in a world inspired by the adversary, yet refuses to acknowledge the source of this evil. You see the addictions, the abuse, the selfishness, the complacency and hypocrisy, yet you refuse to believe that there is a voice that speaks into the weakest of minds. You know the stubborn refusal of a shattered heart to feel the pain caused by your own daily choices, yet you refuse to see that your will was ruled by an unseen advisor.
Choosing NOT to believe in the devil, the Adversary, did not protect you from him. He has done the unspeakable and you don’t know which way to run…what voice to listen to…how you can be free of the nightmare.
I know the answer…
Choose to believe in God. Choosing not to believe in God doesn’t protect you from His intensity…His existence…His pursuit. You are sought after with a pursuit born out of the deepest love, an honest, pure and clean jealousy. You are harmed by the things He hates and He fights against the adversary with a vengeance that belongs only to Him. You are watched over by a fierce, and sometimes, angry Father who sees the injustice you do…the way you misrepresent Him in your weakness…the deliberate rebellion as you chase after your own identity while listening to someone or something else’s voice.
Believe in God. Choose God. Be broken and shattered, but be His child. Listen to His voice. Be loved, not tortured, because all this time…the long nights and lost days…all this time He has been watching, waiting, pursuing you in a way no parent ever could. He has followed the evil that has hurt you and executed a hidden vengeance fueled by the intensity of love. Risk facing the One once angered by the things you’ve chosen, because the peace on the other side of forgiveness, release of the anger and pain of separation, is the only answer you need.
So go ahead…