It's been a while. Way too long. The last time I visited this blog I was pulling those pesky weeds - yet again!
Well, not today! Today, I sit in our lovely apartment cooling off and winding down after a long hot walk down to the Western Wall to join in with all the faithful prayer warriors during Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. A time for coming before our Father, pulling back the curtain of our hearts and asking Him show us the places that need His merciful cleansing.
Descending the stairs from Hurva Square, through the security check point to enter the Western Wall Plaza, we could see men and women dressed in white garments. It's traditional to wear white garments on Yom Kippur. The whole day is spent in fasting and prayer and white is a sort of reminder of the purity and solemnity of the day.
No pictures are allowed while at the Western Wall Plaza on this day, but Ron took this one from the top of the stairs before reaching the Plaza. You can just see people gathered to the left of the stairway leading up to the Temple Mount.
As Julia, Zelta and I sat on on the women's side, we could hear singing and shouting coming from the men's side, and listened as groups of men marched and sang as they ascended the walkway up to the Temple Mount.
It was quite the 36 hour trek from Seattle to Jerusalem but we're so thankful to be here. It's sometimes hard to grasp that I get to be again.
We can stand on our balcony, look over red tiled rooftops and see the Dome of the Rock, Mount of Olives with the Jewish cemetery just below. Right now, the city is quiet, no cars or trains running, only police cars are allowed. In the distance I hear the Muslim prayers mixed together with the laughter of Jewish children playing on a balcony in the apartment building next door. What a contrast.
Until next time... Shalom from Jerusalem!
Look! It's the same weeds I pulled four years ago! And last year! How many times must I pull the same weeds?
It occurred to me that perhaps the Lord is saying the same thing about my heart's garden. I strive to keep my weeds under control but inevitably I let my guard down, grow weary or make a poor decision and up they pop once again.
Either the root remained or passing birds redeposited them or they were borne upon the wind. In some way they found fertile ground in my heart.
When He moves us from out of our darkness into His light inevitably the weeds will be seen.
A gentle hand is required to remove the weeds without destroying the flowers. Though, sometimes the weeding will leave open wounds, bare patches, holes in my heart that leave me aching and vulnerable for a time
I mostly keep my head down during the process, heavy and burdened. Should I dare look up I find my neighbor nearby bringing calm peace and trust to brighten my spirits, if I will be open and allow her in.
I look behind me to see how far I've come but only see a plain path. It's only after much patience, when He's done - for a time - that I can see how He added His masterful touch to transform the difficult, the ugly, the bothersome, the sad, sometimes heartbroken weedy parts of my heart into something beautiful, useful, and meaningful to me and perhaps also to someone else.
It's that time of year when the promise of spring into summer makes itself known.
Spring is always to prettiest time of year for my garden. These pictures don't begin to show what's soon coming.
Though the rhododendrons have almost finished, the roses will soon explode while daisies wave in the breeze. The lavender is just pushing up flower buds and will be a purple - or lavender - haze by July.
The swallows have moved in above the arbor, soon little baby chirps will be heard.
Snow in summer blankets the beds while winter's heather finishes her bloom. The poor little scrubby tree on the left may have to come out. I tried to rescue it from struggling too long in a confining pot. The green along the stone pathway is oregano. It loves to travel and will seed any and everywhere. I regularly pull it out.
I created this lovely garden art from a metal grate. It was very easy, I just ran over it with the lawn mower. Ronnie-baby didn't appreciate, though, how it tangled itself in the mower blades breaking some sort of bracket and bending the blades. I think it's very creative and a nice modern art sort of contrast to our country garden.
This is a small glimpse into my early spring garden. More to come next time.
Wishing you all peaceful spring days!
This is one of my all time favorite dishes. It's simple and only needs a little prep time for chopping chicken and veggies. It's beautiful color and fragrance will seduce you.
Note: this is my own recipe. Everything in my cooking world is approximate. Things may change, depending on the contents of my refrigerator or what's in my pantry. My Momma always said a recipe is just a guide. Most of the time I cook with my nose, thinking of what I'm cooking while sniffing my herbs and spices to sense if they will satisfy my palate in this particular dish on this particular day.
However, for this recipe, each one of these ingredients are unchangeable essentiaIs. I wouldn't change a thing!
Curry Chicken Vegetable Stew
1.5 - 2 lbs. chicken thighs - I prefer boneless, it's easier.
Variety of Vegetables - my favorites are little potatoes, onions, mushrooms, celery, carrots. You choose your favorites. Quantity? totaled together, shoot for filling the cooking pot to about half full.
One bottle (2 oz.) curry - yes, it seems like a lot - and I've been known to add even more!
One quart chicken broth, unsalted - such as Pacific brand, or homemade.
2 cans coconut milk - full fat, I like Thai Kitchen.
4 - tablespoons butter.
4 - tablespoons coconut oil.
Prepare by chopping all the vegetables and chicken into bite-sized pieces. Heat large stew pot, melt butter and coconut oil. Add chicken pieces and sprinkle about half of the curry powder over the chicken. If you know you'll like it, add the entire amount of curry. Let the chicken brown a bit, stirring the curry in well, and let it saute with the chicken a bit. Add the chopped vegetables and stir to coat with the curry. Pour in the chicken broth until mostly covering the chicken and vegetables. Stir well and simmer for a few minutes. Add both cans of coconut milk, stir well. Add any remaining curry powder. Let simmer, stirring regularly to keep from sticking, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is rich, smooth and creamy - maybe about 45 - 60 minutes, depending upon how much liquid is added.
Season with sea salt to taste. Pepper would also be good. Serve over rice if desired, or with some pita or naan bread. We just eat it straight up.
If you don't think you'll like such a strong curry flavor, decrease the amount. You can always add more later. But do a taste test before the cooking is complete to decide if you want to add more so the additional curry can mellow and meld with the overall dish.
If you don't use the entire quart of chicken broth, that's fine. If you do and find it's too much, just let the entire stew simmer longer until it's the consistency you prefer. I like the stew to be a little thicker, not so soupy.
No, this is not a low-fat recipe. All the fats in this dish are healthy fats - paleo style - and is very filling and sooo delicious! And to keep it paleo, there are numerous websites with recipes for paleo pita or paleo naan. Just a few to try: myheartbeets.com; paleohacks.com; healinggourmet.com .
I hope you enjoy!
The swimmers have returned.. splash and dive. Another beautiful day in paradise. Conversations with our brothers and sisters from the Netherlands. We were surrounded by them last evening at dinner. Ron and I were the only two Americans at a table of 10. Their Dutch accented voices sharing their hearts and perspectives...
"We don't want either! [Trump or Hillary]", with which we agreed.
"We are still bridge builders between our brothers and sisters at home and our Israel homeland." Again, we agreed.
"It's a difficult place to live, here in Israel. It's not time to invest in the land." Well... I'm praying this last statement is a translational issue. I believe if it were time to live in Israel, we would live in Israel. However, it is time to invest in the land to whatever degree we are able and allowed.
We did enjoy much talk and sharing about our families and learning how to say thank you in Dutch, "danke something"... I wish I could remember. And your welcome.. which I can't even remember a hint of how it goes.
Never the less, our hearts connected as much as possible during an hour and a half dinner time. It was so special - a stretch to understand each other, but so sweet. This is the land of prophesy. I can't seem to forget that. Our very presence here demonstrates that.
It's now lunch time on Shabbat (October 29, 2016). This morning we enjoyed reading the Torah together, all sitting in a huge double-ringed circle. Different people reading different sections. Here in Israel. Where it's all about that.
We have a rest time now, a Shabbat, and little pockets of people have gathered here and there for Bible study.
Julia and Ron have both been down with colds and feel pretty poor. It's a good day for them to rest and recuperate as much as possible. Zel and Julia are staying in a room near us and they will be down in a little bit so we can enjoy lunch together.
It's been hard to grasp all that I've experienced in the last 2.5 weeks. Hard to put into words. I can rattle off each event, each activity, but I'm finding it difficult to get down into the feeling of it all. It will take some processing. These are just odds and ends...
They shout, they holler, they wave their hands then it's all over. Shaloms are said and off they go on their way.
This is a land of passion and emotion, all worn on the outside, lived on the outside.
During our stay at the Eshel Ha'Shomron Hotel, in Ariel, Samaria, we had the opportunity to meet some of the writers and staff who run the Breaking Israel News website. They had many questions about what country/state we came from, how did we come to understand our Israelite heritage, how do our fellowships work, in essence, who we are and what we believe.
It was a sweet meeting of brothers and sisters, an inspiring visit. Though definitely not enough time to thoroughly explore each others hearts, I felt affirmed as their Ephraimite sister and gushed a bit, wanting to apologize,
"Please forgive our Ephraimite Crush. We are so glad to see you seeing us. Though we may still see each other through a glass darkly, we are so glad to be seen and to meet you and be in your midst."
Several days later, during the taxi ride from the Townhouse Tel Aviv Boutique Hotel in Tel Aviv, our driver, Daniel, was also interested in us Americans. We shared much conversation, including each of our opinions about our upcoming Presidential election. He was amazed at our love for and desire to support Israel and so eloquently expressed his heart stating that Israelis consider themselves as one of the stars in our flag. We didn't talk much about God or religion, but no matter, I was very touched and, again, felt affirmed by my Israeli brother.
In contrast, I sat next to a woman during our flight from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt. She slept almost the entire way, waking up in a very chatty mood just as we approached Frankfurt. She said she had been visiting in Israel for about a week and was so glad to be headed home to Chicago. Her opinion of Israel was that of a third-world country, very difficult living situations for the general public; strongly disliked the cats that are everywhere and disapproved of the governments decision to subsidize people in order to feed them. I hadn't heard of this, but apparently the government believes it is the humane thing to do.
I had to mostly agree with her on all but one point, the third-world view. And, I can mostly agree that it can be very difficult to live in Israel. But, with all of the security, military, technology and agricultural innovations, third world it is not.
Her opinions were her own, and I may even consider them to be a bad report, but my thoughts, which I kept to myself, were, "but if those (us Ephraimites), who love Israel were allowed in to live, we would bring good things to help improve conditions where necessary, and even fill the land pushing out those who hate Israel."
No, it is not America, with her spacious freedom. But, dare I say, we Americans could learn a lot from these strong, brave and tenacious people who are holding on to this incredible land in the face of unrestrained and unrepentant hatred directed toward them by most of the world. And, not least of all, they are building and improving, as they are able, in spite of it. And that needs an exclamation point after it!!
Photos: A diverse mosaic of paths walked by our ancestors, Ceasarea, Israel.
Prophesy is before our eyes...
Eshel Ha'Shomron Hotel. It's just as I remembered. Only cooler. What is Your plan for us this year, Father?
This lovely breeze blows, voices softly murmuring from neighboring balconies interspersed with joyous laughter. The splashing has ceased for now as the swimmers prepare for this evenings dinner, the roar of a lawnmower takes it's place.
In the distance I see from our ground-floor terrace the spikey fronds of a palm tree peeking above juniper trees woven through with deep pink bougainvillea. Situated next to a ramp leading from our group of 8 rooms to the pool area below, ours is a cute, rather public little terrace, and we see everyone coming and going.Thus, we must be the gate-keepers of our little enclave.
There are many such enclaves in this hotel. Perhaps the Lord has designated a gate-keeper for each one.
I must be forthright to say, though it feels somewhat isolated from the outside Israeli world with its necessary and excellent security, this hotel is a safe haven and a peaceful oasis in the middle of hills filled with an angry adversary.
The owners, Menachem and Tovah, shared with our group their stories of unbelievable personal encounters with suicide bombers inside their hotel lobby and just outside at the gas station. Both of them incurred major injuries, Menachem still carries metal pieces inside his body, and the lobby tiles are scarred and pitted where the bomber blew himself up. The entire lobby had to be rebuilt but Tovah left these tiles so she would not forget, and perhaps also, to always remember how good and protective God has been to them.
These two honored heroes stood before my eyes with smiles and jokes. I have no frame of reference so I must believe them. They are tenacious, determined to hang on to their hotel and this land. I believe we, B'ney Yosef, are here to support them with our prayers, our money, our very presence. May we help fill this land with love and helping hands. May we be worthy.
We are still getting to know each other, we members of Judah and Ephraim, and it will take some time. Definitely patience and perseverance will help make it happen. The Lord has said it will happen. Indeed, it is happening now.
I used to think that He would be the only One Who knows how and when we will all walk together again. But during this entire trip He's been urging me to look with my spiritual rather than my natural eyes. It is no longer if/when, but here/now. It is happening now. I, we, each one of us, are a part of it.
He is calling, has been calling, is calling still. Look with your spiritual eyes and see Him at work. Watch Him do what He says He will do.
If you've been following my blog during our wild ride in Israel you may have noticed a large gap in posts. Even I had to go back and read what I last wrote.
In any case, we are back in Sequim now. I could say we're back home, but really, our home is in Israel. We made our plea, knocked on a couple of Israeli doors, but it became very apparent that we have only been sent out as emissaries from our Israel home to this beautiful but far-away land.
And, in truth, I do see the Lord's hand in it as He's given me vision, and confirmation of vision, of what He wants us to put our hands to here. We've much to learn about how to go about it all but our prayers of direction have been submitted to our Master and King. I am sure He will show us when it's time. He usually works with us on a "need to know" basis.
One thing I know, my heart is so full of desire for restoration and revival for the First Nations Peoples in our area: the S'Klallam, Elwha, Makah, Quileutte, Chimakum, Skokomish and Hoh. My heart is broken for them and I pray our Heavenly Father would open their eyes to who they are as Israelites being restored to His ways.
It's been my observation that these Nations place such huge importance on ancestral wisdom and knowledge, this is a deep thing in their hearts, stories and ways. I desire to learn more about them and how they got from their ancient ways to their present ways, and I believe the Lord sent me here to share with them what He has given to me.
I would love to take a delegation of Olympic Peninsula First Nations Peoples to Israel for the next B'ney Yosef Congress in 2018!! That, of course, is up to Him.
Another thing both Ron and I desire to do is host another National Shabbat here in Sequim. And we want to get our website AtHomeIsrael, seriously up and running strong. We also plan to attend the B'ney Yosef North America congress in Mesa, AZ, in February. And, oh yeah, we have to be faithful to go to work to earn a living.
All this we desire to do, and there is much. We do submit our plans to Him believing He will direct our paths. We must put our hands only to what He has for us to do. May we know and see and hear what those things are.
Living life in amazing times, in a most beautiful land, on a missions trip sent by our King, requires our full attention. May we will be focused, faithful, and strong of heart.
"By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea..."
Who goes to Caesarea to see ruins of the ancient Roman city and then takes a boat out into the midst of one of three major sailing events in the country?
We walked upon ancient and worn stone pathways and mosaics surrounded by ancient stone walls which formed stables, homes, baths, public latrines and taverns, even a stone vault dedicated to the Persian god Mithra.
King Herod's Hippodrome is where horse and chariot races and gladiator games were held. This is also a place where Christian and Jewish prisoners were forced to fight to their deaths as gladiators themselves, or as prey for wild beasts. And all within view of the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea.
We spent about 2 hours in Caesarea, then were invited on a boat ride in a pontoon-type boat called a RIB-craft which took us out into the sea to watch the sailboat races. Weaving in and out of the different sailboats or running alongside them was the most amazing thing I've ever done. It was like we were a part of the race. Sitting pommel-horse style holding on to handles on the seats in front of us as well as gripping with our legs. It was over way too soon.
After a bite to eat at one of Caesarea's restaurants, a little shopping and a dip of our toes in the Mediterranean, we headed back to Jerusalem
A little wine, bread and fellowship at our neighbors, the Knudson's and the Gish's, in Apartment 2, we now line up for the shower to wash off the sea and then to bed. Another full day comes to an end.
Father says "Look over my city". I look. The city of Jerusalem. His city has already woken up. I see the sun rising, washing across the stone upon stone buildings. Illuminating. Bringing light, birthing light, through windows into the hearts of homes like he shines His light into us, illuminating our hearts of stone.
The light of His Son. His Son Rise. His Son Rises over His city. He says, "I will come. I will do what I say I will do. I will do what I say I will do."
Early morning street-sweepers, delivery trucks and construction jack hammers rattle their wake up calls through our walls, shake us, urge us to close our natural eyes, to see with our spiritual eyes.
This nitty-gritty city. Indeed, this land, strives not just to stay alive, but to thrive, to shine the brightest light it possesses to illuminate the world.
He calls from the roof tops of His city. He whistles for his children. All who have ears to hear let them hear. I say to you, all who have ears to hear, let them hear.