New Faith after Shavout

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Our Creator calls us to a life that is not always comfortable. It can be risky. It requires relinquishing a certain amount of control and doing what you know is right instead of what feels safe.

You could lose friends. You could cause family members to question your decisions, responsibility, and even your sanity.

Because living a life of faith doesn’t makes sense in this world.

The Apostle Paul tells us that faith in Messiah Yahushua (Jesus Christ) is foolishness to the gentiles. They think we are fools. We are pilgrims on this earth, yearning for our heavenly home.

Recently, Yahweh has been turning my world upside-down again. You see, I was baptized in a sparkling lake at the age of 21 and my life changed. I passed from death to new life. I became a child of the Most High. But I was still in many ways broken. I have had a walk that isn’t a straight line. I have had years of obedience pocketed by weeks or months of rebellion and confusion. But I am His, therefore he comes for me. I am that 100th sheep who went astray, but I was carried back on His shoulders.

The year of 2015 was a nightmare for me. My little life blew into pieces. My husband became very seriously mentally ill. There was so much pain. Abuse. Devastating loss. And then…

my relapse.

I relapsed mentally. I relapsed with addiction. I relapsed with my faith.

I was terrified. I went into PTSD mode. I lost control.

But in December of this year my husband and I came back to one another, after our own separate painful journey through relapse. My walls were up high. I was determined to take care of myself, and never allow myself to trust him again. I would do it all alone.

I went from a stay-at-home “quiverfull mom” to going to school 5 days a week while my children were in daycare. I missed them badly, and I gave up on my dream of homeschooling. I abandoned my faith community and set out by myself. I made money through my body like I did as a teenager. I convinced myself it was okay. I convinced myself I had to do this for the greater good of finical security. I had to provide for my children. I had to be strong and do it all myself. I told myself that it wasn’t wrong because I was doing what I had to do, given my circumstances.

But not of this was true. Not with Yahweh. I had other options, he always provides another way out. There is always the faithful and obedient choice. I was too scared. I was too damaged. I turned away.

Yet, slowly but surely those walls started to crack.

One day, I allowed myself to open myself up to new life. My husband and I have three little girls, and despite my mind yelling at me all the reasons why it would be horrible to get pregnant. Think of school! Money! Don’t trust anyone! I surrendered to that primal longing for life in my womb, a babe at my breast. And right away, a tiny being buried itself inside of my womb like a seed and blossomed.

Then, daycare didn’t work out my next semester because my work hours were not enough for financial help. I reluctantly and with great trepidation permitted my husband to watch the kids for me instead. I had to trust him. It was really hard.

I worked so hard during that semester, with my dream of becoming an R.N in sight. I did very well, but it cost a lot of time with my children. I could no longer take care of my home.

The Bible has many words of wisdom and commandment for mothers and wives. Many modern women bristle at the idea, but the Bible says we should be “keepers at home”. The famous Psalm 31 describes the wife whose worth is above rubies, and she cares for her home and family diligently.

I wasn’t at home very often, so I certainly couldn’t take care of it or my beloved family within its walls.

That hurt my heart, but still I heard that voice telling me “just push through school” and “you have to do it” and especially “don’t trust your husband, don’t trust Yahweh, trust only yourself”.

Yet, I completed that semester and I was in awe at how joyful it was to be home on break. I started to remember. I remembered what it felt like to take time and put all that effort into making our house and home. Teaching the children. Changing my focus from outside to right here, with my husband and children.

My heart began to soften. Those walls began to really crumble down.

Shavout/Pentacost came, and that longing inside of me grew to epic proportions. Unbeknownst to me my husband was also feeling called back to the walk of faith. We came together, and marveled at how Yahweh had been speaking the same things to us separately.

My husband had a terrible falling out with another man in our faith community while he was sick in 2015. I felt strongly that my husband should talk to him and fix that relationship. I never thought he would do it, because he was still so angry about what he perceived as this brother overstepping his boundaries of his friendship with me while he was gone. Nothing ever happened, but all of the pain from different experiences was put onto this brother.

Amazingly, my husband told me on the very day that I was considering these things that he wanted to call this brother and ask his forgiveness. I was in shock. I was blown away. This was such a major step of faith and we both thought of it at the same exact time. My husband called this brother and they immediately reconciled. All was forgiven. Love prevailed and they could move on.

I cried because it was so beautiful. I was such a revealing moment to me. I could trust Yahweh. He was speaking to us. He was making us into the people we are supposed to be.
Shavout/Pentacost is a time to remember, among other things, how the Israelites agreed to follow Torah and join in covenant relationship with Yahweh. It was when they heard all he had to say and they said “YES”.

YES, we believe.

Yes, we will follow you.

Yes, make us your people,

and you will be our God.

I said that along with them. I decided to let go of the pain. I let go of the FEAR. I let go of the mistrust. I am opening myself again. It is so freeing. The truth sets us free.

Freedom and safety doesn’t come through money, education, or saving for the future. Those things are not wrong or bad, but they can be if they cause us to sacrifice the most important thing; faith and the life we are called for.

I will be a mother of 4 in October of 2016. I will continue to dedicate myself to husband. I will be a better wife. I will stay clean and sober. I will leave fear and mistrust behind. I will live that foolish and peculiar life, in freedom and the shalom/peace that passes all understanding.

Shalom to you all.

Related Scripture Verses

Exodus 19:8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the YHWH has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the YHWH.

Titus 2:4,5 …and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled

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Trigger, Trigger. (PTSD)

Where does this despair hide itself from the rest of me when life is going smoothly? Does it seep into the corners of my mouth when I smile? Does it retreat into the shadows of my insides? How can it escape notice from the very person it inhabits? Until—a nightmare during sleep opens me up and the despair that was hidden comes squarely before my face.

And it laughs at me. Taunts me. Turns my gut into twisted pieces.

Causes me to doubt everything that I am, believe, and wish to be.

I carry this endlessly deep space of despair around, it suffocates my heart and fills my belly. I force my body to move the way it is supposed to. I make myself walk around like a human being, like the person I was before the latest trigger. I can’t cry. I can’t think. I feel as if I am being stalked by this shadow enemy.

Just. Leave. Me. Alone!

I don’t want you here anymore. I don’t want to face whatever horrors of my past your trying to foist upon me. I have a present, and a future that I love living; stop dragging me down with those claws. Those claws of despair that pierce me, cut into me, slash my heart in two.

I question everything. And I know this is all a show. I know how it ends if I follow you down this rabbit hole. I have never been able to survive it. I have never been able to be strong. I always fall apart into a thousand pieces and then after you leave, put myself back together (yet never quite as together as before).

Is there a way to swim through this ocean without choking on the pain? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I feel emptied out. Terrified, again.

The sick thing is, as soon as this storm passes…all I see are clear blue skies. And then I wonder, what was I scared of? Why was I so lost in this emotional war? It all seems so..obvious and simple.

But then these triggers come and cut me open again, exposing that hidden despair. The same old cycle. I just have to hold on and let it tear through me. I have to be inert and unmoving. I have to allow it to run its course without choosing any actions, without thinking any thoughts. Then, I survive it without destroying myself. Then, I stand under the clear blue skies and realize the insanity of the storm.

But, is this the only way? Is there a way to stop these emotional tempests and finally have lasting peace and calm? I don’t know. I only know how to survive. But survival gets exhausting sometimes. I want to have that peace. Please, let me have that lasting peace.

And the storm is rolling over me….

30 Reasons Why I am Choosing an Unassisted Birth for my 4th baby….

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  1. I am stronger than you think I am
  2. I refuse to allow myself to be abused during labor again
  3. I am healthy
  4. My baby is healthy
  5. Pregnancy is NOT a disease or illness
  6. Birth is a normal physiological process, not a medical emergency
  7. I am prepared for the worst, but will not expect the worst with no reason to
  8. I deserve to be comfortable
  9. I deserve privacy
  10. I deserve respect
  11. My baby deserves to be born into a calm environment
  12. My baby deserves to not be taken from mommy
  13. The pain is more manageable at home
  14. Intimacy between myself and my husband matters during birth
  15. I will not endure harassment, coercion, and disrespect in labor again
  16. I am stronger than I think I am
  17. I want my husband’s hands to be the first to touch our son
  18. I want to eat, walk, drink, and rest as I feel lead
  19. I believe my health and safety is at risk the moment I walk into an ER with a healthy body and normal pregnancy
  20. I am sick and tired of cervical checks
  21. I cannot stand those (not evidence-based) fetal monitor bands across my belly
  22. I do not want anyone telling me what to do with my body
  23. It will be powerful, difficult, life-changing and beautiful
  24. I know what is best for my baby, and would always put his health before mine
  25. I am sick and tired of defending myself against unwanted medical procedures
  26. Birth is not scary!
  27. 1 out of 3 women get major surgery, that is too high of a risk for me
  28. Most routine practices in American hospitals are NOT evidence-based medicine
  29. America’s maternal death rates are *rising*
  30. Peace instead of PTSD

Dear Mother, Dear Father..Your Child Was Sexually Abused.

Dear Mother, Dear Father:

There is no easy introduction. There is no careful beginning to help soften the blow. When I was a child, a small child, I was sexually abused. This is a confession a life-time in the making. This is a truth never uttered verbally from my lips. Even staring at those words makes me tremble and my stomach churn.

But how? And who? Where and when?

This is the place of my condemnation, I may never be able to answer these questions. For you, or for myself.

Well, then how do I know? Where does this confession come from if I cannot give you the face and the name and the place? If I cannot give you the who, why, where, when; how can I possibly know?

The answer is easy, because I have always known.

There has never been a day in my memory that I have not known this as a simple fact of my life.

I may not be able to remember the event(events?), but I remember the aftermath which has always been with me.

As far back as kindergarten age, I recall the sickening feeling in my belly. I remember the heavy weight on my shoulders. I most of all cannot forget the deep, enduring sense of shame and disgust at myself for what “I had done”. I was a little girl, and I somehow heard of the word “rape” and had a sense of what it meant. I knew it involved a violation, and a physical act of some private kind. I didn’t know anything about sexual intercourse, neither was I violated in that particular way. Yet, I sat on my bed in my room trying to swallow the panic lodged in my throat while thinking, “I’ve been raped.”

“How can I tell my mother?” I would think through tears. I don’t understand to this day why I never did say something. I know I wanted to. I know I really wanted to. It seemed too big, too grotesque of a truth to say to my mother who knew me only as an innocent girl. What would she of think of me? Will everyone hate me? I must be really, really bad. I bet God hates me too because I’m dirty.

I tried to forget. As I got older, left elementary school and went into middle school. I tried to push it far away. I tried to convince myself that I had to put it behind me. I was worn down by the secrecy. I was worn down by the weight of it all, crushing my chest and making it hard to breathe. I wanted peace. I wanted to be a girl, unmolested. So, I decided I would never remember it again. I was in 6th grade. I told myself it was forbidden to think of. I pushed it way, way down and wrapped up it up in a box and threw away the key. I would not allow myself the knowledge of it anymore. It would be gone, and I would be free.

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I am in 6th grade in this picture. Just a child.

But I was not free. I did forget though. But never the feelings, they stayed stubbornly with me. They insisted on bubbling up to remind me of my uncleanness, of my secret, of my ugliness.

I turned on my body. I took out my rage against this cage of flesh so determined to destroy me. With diets and vomiting and scratches with pins until I bled. I will forget. I will be normal.

Soon, whatever rage and despair I had carried with me was combined with the new traumas I endured. I realized my body was once again a deceiver and a problem, when that 40-year-old man painfully forced his fingers into me at 14. I had tried to move on. I had tried to be new. I had tried to be clean and forgiven. But here I was, laying still on the dark grass while a man taught me the same lesson again; your body does not belong to you. Your body is a temptation and a problem. It must be me. It must be my fault.

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Me at 14. Depressed inside and my outward appearance reflects that here. I wore only black.

You see the body does not allow you to forget its violations. It remembers. When I shudder at the gentle touch of a friend, because I wasn’t expecting their hand on my shoulder. When I still cannot sleep without some sort of light on, I have to know who is coming for me. When I am overwhelmed with anxiety from a doctor’s exam, their hands and tools triggering a flight or fight response. I am not allowed to forget.

I tried to overcome this body-remembrance dilemma by cutting off all feelings of attachments to it. Punishing my body didn’t work, just left scars and fluctuated my weight. So maybe I could become a spirit, totally separate from this fleshy prison. I would leave my body whenever I was abused, now as a teenager and young adult. I could watch myself from outside of my body. I learned how to go through motions and sounds without feeling anything or being present.

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16 years old here

But you know what? The spirit doesn’t forget either. And then, when I tried to make love to a man that I wanted to be with; I realized I had been robbed of the ability to feel. I couldn’t just turn it back on. And, even worse, my problem body would react as if I was being abused even if I wasn’t. I had been trained to associate anything sexual with pain. I was stuck.

Drugs helped to numb the pain away, and distract me from all this hell. But it also led me to places where I was being hurt on a regular basis. My body became currency, because it was all I had left to give. If I didn’t give it, it would be taken anyway. Once again the same lesson, your body is not yours. I was taught at 16 by the men who dragged me down a hallway kicking and screaming that it is better not to fight. Just give in, fly away, endure it.

I have endured. But now, I want to stop running away.

This is just too big. How can I possibly address every act violence committed against me? I don’t think that I can. It is too much. But I can address the feelings. I can address how I relate to myself, to my body, which is in fact mine. I can ask for help. I can set boundaries and actually stick to them. I can find myself worthy of defending again. I can place blame where it rightfully belongs, not on my fragile bony kindergarten shoulders, not on the broken back of my teenage self, but rather on the broad grown shoulders of the men who choose to hurt me.

And you, my parents, could you try to remember with me? Maybe there is something, anything you can recall about what took place? If not, then just support me. Believe me, and believe in me.

I am starting to believe in myself.

Flying Handmade Kites- Homeschooling

One of the best decisions I have made after deciding to homeschool our children was to join a local Facebook homeschooling group. We have already had so much fun doing outdoor activities with other families, and really look forward to more cooperative learning. Last week the husband and I took the girls to a near by state park and created kites with other homeschoolers.

First the children played inside, chasing each other and playing hide and seek. Then, we gathered them onto mini carpets in front of our guide while she read aloud to them two books about the wind.20160624_11063220160624_121943

Next, we learned how to determine how strong the wind is (gentle breeze was ours for the day) by watching the leaves of the trees and the clouds. This park is one of the highest points of NJ and the building we were in has large windows to see far across the sky. Our guide told us that she often sees storms coming in before they reach the area.

After this, we all came together and cut, taped, colored, and tied our handmade kites. My oldest daughter and another little girl her age took coloring their kites very seriously!

Then, the main event; kite flying!

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It was such a joy to see my girls flying their own kites. They would run and when it lifted up into the air they were just jubilant! I took turns with my husband helping our littlest one (2 years old) fly her kite, and that was also really sweet.

I have to say, when you decide to homeschool it can feel like a very scary task. How can I manage it? Will I be good enough for my children? Luckily, we are spending this summer getting our feet wet and it feels like a perfect fit for family. My husband recently said, “we aren’t trying to homeschool, we ARE homeschooling already!” And he is absolutely right.

Yes, we haven’t started full courses of phonics and math yet; but we are reading tons of library books and playing phonics games. And you know what? Making and flying a kite is learning too. They are always learning! We have always been their teachers, and this will only be a continuation of what has already been true.

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I look forward to many homeschool adventures to come!

Shalom friends!

“Me Generation” Rebel- Children as a Blessing

Millennials, roughly defined as those born between year 1980-2000, have been described as the “me generation”. I was born in 1988, so I fall squarely within the millennial range, yet I have chosen something that many women in my cohort are eschewing; young marriage and motherhood.

Now if I had been born during my grandmothers’ era, or even my parents, my marriage at age 21 and first baby at age 22 would not be at all unusual. Both of my grandmothers had six living children, and this was not uncommon. My maternal grandmother had a medically necessary full hysterectomy at age 28 but she already had six children! In today’s America, this would be met with raised eyebrows.

Although some of the “me generation” accusations seem heavy-handed and a bit unfair, it has become clear that many women my age simply do not want marriage or children. News articles and magazines proudly declare the decision of my generations women to say “no” to putting off their careers and sacrificing their independence in order to have children.

Tonight I put my children to sleep and it took some time because my oldest daughter (five years old) was sacred. I stroked her hand and rubbed her back. I soothed her with my words of safety and security. My presence was what she needed. I kissed the top of my three-year-old daughters head, and the chubby cheek of my 21 month old before closing their bedroom door. All the while my womb was filled with the kicking of our fourth child, and first son.

There is a part of me who would have preferred to go read a book, or write, or crochet. A part of me that comes out on difficult parenting days when I just want to walk out the door and do what I want unhindered. Yet, this is the path I have chosen. I have chosen a path of sacrifice for their sake, and in return they fill my cup to overflowing with love and fulfillment. I cannot imagine losing this, not for a thousand years of independent living.

 

Their dependence is temporary, and it is an honor to be their security and comfort. It is an honor to raise these beautiful little people. When I die, I will feel full of gratitude for the chance to do something as wonderful as this.

What do the scriptures say about children? What does the Word of our Creator say about bringing life into the world? One word seems to fit it all; blessing.

Blessing! To have the fruit of the womb and the fruit of the breasts is blessing. To nurse a child and rock them on your knee, it is a blessing! To work hard by the sweat of your brow, to sacrifice for these little ones, it is a blessing.

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newborn Zipporah, my 3rd child

Yet, the focus of the world is on “me”. Now, I am not condemning everyone who chooses not to marry and have children. Indeed, the scriptures put this forth as a noble and righteous path to be walked as well. However, the reason must be for God, not for self-indulgence. The Apostle Paul says that he is better able to serve Messiah because he is not also focused on a wife and children. I understand that, and it is a choice that can be made. But the reasons given in our society to refusing children are not something aligned with scripture.

Money. We don’t have enough money! Yet women in countries all over the world, women in refugee camps, are welcoming children. For a Biblical example, the Israelites were horribly oppressed under Egyptian rule. Their newborn sons were under threat of death. They were worked hard all day long baking bricks in hot ovens. If there ever was a time to say “not now” to children, surely slavery and the threat of death would be it! But is that what we see?

Americans look at their 3-bedroom home and say “not enough”. Americans look at their bank account and say “not enough”. It may be true in the natural, but that is what faith is about. Faith is trusting that what Yahweh calls a blessing is always a blessing, and when he gives us children he will provide for them because they are His own.

I am not here to condemn anyone, certainly I have fallen short in many places and too often lack trust and faith. But I see the women of my generation refusing such a precious gift, a blessing, and seeking after what the world has to offer them. Yahushua (Jesus) says “I do not give as the world gives”; what he gives us is better in every way.

There is another narrative to follow. We do not have to value what the world values or want what the world wants. Indeed, the world is enmity with God! So, those of us who call ourselves believers, let us open our hearts and our hands and our homes and our bodies to the blessing of children. Let us be amazed at how He provides. Let us value what our Creator values most of all; human life.

As women, we have the incredible ability to create life . We nurture and grow a living and eternal soul within our bodies, and bring them forth. It is an incomparable gift, let it not be wasted! May you be a fruitful vine within your husband’s house. May you praise Yahweh unto your children’s children.

Amen.

Shalom.

*Related Scripture*

Psalm 128:3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Exodus 1:7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Exodus 1:17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.

Exodus 1:20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Genesis 49:25 because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

1 Corinthians 7:17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Homeschooling Nature Walk&Crafts

Today the girls and I (and hubby) went for a walk at a local state park with some other homeschooling families. Our oldest is 5, so we are new to officially homeschooling but I sure like what I see so far!

We decided to homeschool for a lot of reasons, but one of them was the desire to spend more time with our children and give them a flexible personalized education.  I loved watching them run and play outside with other children. I love that they are with children of a range of ages, giving them the ability to play well with children a little older or younger (as well as have conversations with adults). They were able to use their bodies and senses to learn and exercise but all of it was fun for them, so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

The mother who started the event had two creative ideas for the nature walk crafts. The children (and some big kids/adults hehe) made nature bracelets. We wrapped duct tape sticky side up around their wrists and the children added flowers and clovers and leaves to them as they walked the trails. Then, after our hike we came to a picnic area and created big nature collages with the ferns, flowers, leaves, moss, etc that was collected along the way.

I am looking forward to what homeschooling has to offer us as a family, and what kind of relationships my husband and I and our children will develop along the way. Bring it on!

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