Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Holiness

It’s been about six months since we packed up the truck with just an inkling of what we were doing…with only a general idea of where we were going. I left my couch. I left my living room chair. I left the kids’ squeaky bunk beds and my washer and dryer. They wouldn’t fit in the truck, and anything superfluous simply had  to stay behind.

A few evenings before, we’d dragged the red wagon down to the lake and gathered bundles of mint and mullen. We rolled in clover one last time, and we chomped on the earthy red flowers as we sat and gazed over the water. It was low..lower than I’d ever seen it. Fish scales littered the shore and tried their best to turn me away. But it wasn’t working; I wasn’t buying. I adore summer mountain evenings. The air is clean and light and just cool enough to redden one’s nose. It’s quiet, and we sat lulled by the symphony of fish jumping and bees buzzing and birds prattling from shore to shore.  I squinted my eyelids tightly to wall a flood of tears behind them, and I breathed in with all of my might.

“I’m sorry, Father,” I whispered, “if I let Your creation move me more than You do.”   Then we waved at the lake with stalwart faces and promised it we’d be back someday. For now, we’d have to leave it. We were headed to Missouri.

I know most of y’all probably think that this move had something to do with my husband. It didn’t. He hopes to follow the kids out here someday soon, and he gave his 100% blessing to the move. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

When God is ready for His people to move, He has a funny way of sullying their opinion of the place where they currently are. You’d think making bricks would be bad enough, but I believe it was God who increased the Israelites’ workload just to sour their taste for Egypt. Over the past year (2013) I had lost relationships. My once strong system of support had all but turned and walked away (because I’d decided to walk-out the Torah). I’d denied Jesus (in embracing Yeshua); at least, that’s what some people said. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

The only possession I had in the world was my broken-down (but well-loved), single-wide trailer. The previous winter had been bitterly cold, and we weren’t really looking forward to another one — nor were my parents in their only slightly better trailer next door. Coincidentally, or not at all so, they had simultaneously begun a walk in Torah before a single conversation between us. Neither family wanted to move without the other or stay and face another mountain winter (and my health has been poor, making single-parenting increasingly difficult)…so we decided to just become one and to move together.

We chose Missouri for several reasons, not the least of which was a fellowship of believers in the unlikely city of St. Charles (just outside of St. Louis). Passion for Truth Ministries, and more specifically Jim Staley, is the church that Google warned you about. Those warnings put me at ease (cause the same things were being said about me). After almost a full year of personal study in which I listened to dozens of preachers and spent much more time in the Word than I ever had before, furiously digging for truth, I found that no other visible ministry fit my life (the one I believe He has called me to) like the one embraced by Passion for Truth.

To remind y’all of what that is, here is the breakdown:

  • I’m a Christian (there is no need to scorn a label that Paul and Peter did not seem to scorn); but more importantly, I am grafted into the commonwealth of Israel.
  • I am saved by belief in a Jewish, Torah-abiding, Messiah who asks me to walk as He did.
  • Yeshua’s blood paid for the curse (what I had coming for breaking God’s law). It didn’t nullify God’s eternal instructions.
  • The fact that I cannot be perfect is not  a reason not to try (i.e. I can’t feed the whole world, so there is no need to feed one child?? Hogwash!).
  • God absolutely cares about obedience, and I live to make Him smile.

In the end, it wasn’t really location or doctrine or friends (or the lack thereof)…God just said go, so we sold the trailers and ordered a truck. And off we went.

We spent eight days in a Super8 while we, sometimes frantically, searched for a house. Deep breath. I’ll break the suspense: We did find one! Honestly, I let Mom and Dad handle most of that part. The kids and I were poolside. We love hotels, no matter the reason. On our first morning there, Sophie (a.k.a. Tiny Dancer) leaned over her complimentary cinnamon roll and OJ and asked through a quirky grin, “Mom, are we homeless?” “Ummm…yep,” I grinned back. Then she laughed-out-loud for five minutes. Apparently she still trusts me enough to think homelessness is funny. I take this as a very good sign.

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The truck was unloaded…and then reloaded and unloaded again (all thanks to Dad). None of us had any income yet, and it’s never wise to play the “God said to move” card with landlords. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we wondered over leaving. Had it really been the safe thing to do? And like the Israelites in the wilderness, we gathered (and continue to gather) manna at just the right time. Unless I’m much, much weaker than they were, I think my ancestors in the wilderness were at least somewhat surprised every morning, and maybe a little worried every night. Even when you should know it’s coming, because God has never failed you before, it’s hard to trust provision that has nothing to do with you.

But then, that’s the story of my life.


What is It?

Exodus 16:14-15 (KJV) And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

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It’s Manna (What is It?)!

7 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 cups water

1 t. salt

1/2 cup oil

Roll thin with more flour and bake at 400 degrees until slightly browned. Recipe will make four large sheets. Once cooled, cut or break into wafers.

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Happy Passover/Unleavened Bread!

Early yesterday morning…

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I couldn’t sleep on Tuesday night. Maybe I was just excited. So, at four-thirty I got up, flipped on Pandora, took a shower and headed to the kitchen to prep garlic and horseradish crusted roast beef, herb crusted rack of lamb, root vegetable broth for matzo ball soup (after the broth was done I mashed the softened vegetables with heavy cream so nothing was wasted–and it was so good!), unleavened bread, tomato salad, and matzoh dessert.

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I wasn’t quiet, but these three managed to sleep through it.

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Oh, and latkas! What’s a Feast without latkas?!

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Late in the afternoon, we acknowledged Jesus’ death and adorned our doorway. The kiddos excitedly shouted to the neighbors, “That’s blood!” Sigh.

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I didn’t grow up celebrating the biblical holidays, so this was the first Passover Seder my dad has ever led for us. What a special memory. Oh, and our wine and watered down grape juice just happened to be the same color. Don’t worry.

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I surprised each of the kids with a lamb (who they each immediately named). I think this one is Elijah. We also had an Abraham and a Roxy.

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1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (KJV)

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

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The Spring Feasts!

Passover/Pesach, The Feast of Unleavened Bread/Hag HaMatzah, and The Feast of Frist Fruits/Yom Habikkurim:

Although technically three separate holidays, since the second immediately follows the first and the third is during the second (confused yet??), they are generally spoken of as one holiday, so they will be presented together. Pesach begins on the fourteenth of Nisan (March/April). This is the day the Passover lambs were killed and is the day Yeshua died.  Since the Bible sets the new day as beginning at sundown the previous evening, the Pesach meal/the first day of Unleavened Bread will begin at sundown on March 27* (this year) and end at sundown March 28. Hag HaMatzah ends at sundown April 3. Both the first and the last day of Hag HaMatzah are High Sabbaths. First Fruits is the Sunday that falls during the holiday. Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23 outline the holy days and give instruction. We can see from Ex. 12:14 that this set apart time was to be remembered and honored forever.

What are we supposed to remember? In Deuteronomy 16, it tells us to remember that we were once slaves, but He brought us out of Egypt. The unleavened bread reminds us that they left in haste. And how do we honor it? We can honor Him by doing what He tells us. Leviticus 23:5-8 tells us that we eat no leavened bread, and on the first and seventh day we do no servile work. We also are to teach our children. We use the Pesach Seder meal to do this.

To perform your own Seder meal, you will probably want a Haggadah (“the telling”, an order of service). There are many available for free on the internet; search for Messianic Haggadah. The basics of the ceremony include: the seder plate with the foods, a retelling of the Exodus story, four cups of wine/juice, and matzah. The seder plate will include bitter herbs (usually horseradish which represents the bitterness of slavery), shank bone of lamb (which represents the lamb), matzah (representing His body and reminding of the exodus in haste), charoset (a mix of apples, nuts, grape juice, and cinnamon which represents the mortar used to build the Egyptian cities and the sweetness of freedom), salt water (representing the tears shed in bondage), and karpas (parsley or other leafy herb symbolizing the new life). The retelling of the Exodus story is generally done by the youngest asking four questions. 1) “On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread; why on this night do we eat only matzah which is unleavened bread?” 2) “On all other nights we eat vegetables and herbs of all kinds; why on this night do we eat only bitter herbs?” 3) “On all other nights we never think of dipping herbs in water or in anything else; why on this night do we dip the parsley in salt water and the bitter herbs in charoseth?” 4) “On all other nights we eat either sitting upright or reclining why on this night do we all recline?” During the ceremony, there are three pieces of matzah that are used—two for blessing and one for breaking—and one half of the broken one is wrapped in linen and hidden (the afikoman). This is a very brief overview of the Pesach Seder meal. Be prepared; this is usually a long ceremony.

The symbolism between Yeshua and Passover is overwhelming. He is seen clearly in every single aspect of the Seder meal—from the pierced and striped matzah to the unbroken shank of a lamb. And the parallelism between Him and the Passover are mind boggling—a first-born male lamb without blemish who was set aside four days, killed at 3:00 p.m., the lamb’s blood applied for salvation, no work they did could save them. The comparison could go on and on.

The conclusion of Passover leads us into the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Hag HaMatzah. This is the week following Passover. All leaven is to be gone from the house by the start of this festival, symbolizing the removing of sin (1 Cor 5).  This is the root of spring cleaning and should be spiritual as well as physical. Take this opportunity to examine your life and remove those things that are not true, noble, righteous, clean, lovely, and of good report. (See Phil 4:8) You can use this week to read parables and other passages on how you should (or shouldn’t) live your life. Don’t let this holiday seem like it’s only a somber time, though. It’s a celebration! Have a fun week filled with food, music, and dancing; you might even want to learn to dance the Horah! Find fun matzah recipes like matzah pizza and chocolate caramel matzah. Spend time with family and good friends. And mark that first Sunday on your calendar.

The Sunday during the week of Unleavened Bread is Yom Habikkurim or First Fruits. This is the beginning of the counting of the Omer. Lev. 23:15-16 tells us to count 50 days from that Sunday—which will end on Pentecost/Shavuoat. There are many cute counting worksheets available online to help your kids (or you) keep track of what day you’re on. This holiday was also significant because it is when the new harvest of barley was taken to the Temple and offered as a wave offering to G-d. It is also the day that Yeshua was raised up from the dead (1 Cor 15:20). As the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us to “put off the old man”, First Fruits is a reminder to “put on the new man” (Eph. 4:24).

Throughout this holy holiday time, there is continually redirection to focus on the Messiah and His fulfillment of these spring holidays. Take this time to center your thoughts on Him and line up your life with His Word. You can find great joy in celebrating the very same holidays that our Messiah participated in. Start this new year with new traditions that are sanctified by the Scriptures.


“A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays” by Robin Sampson and Linda Pierce










* This is not in accordance with the Orthodox calendar or the calendar based on NASA but with the spotting of the moon by witnesses  in Jerusalem.