Everything Old is New Again

A few times in our lives, truly course altering opportunities knock quietly and wait patiently–just to see if we will notice them. Often times, these opportunities come in the form of, well, work–and if not back breakingly hard work, at least work that we feel (and possibly are) completely ill equipped to handle. Now that I’m more comfortable opening the door, I can’t help but wonder how many blessings I turned away. Maybe they took a long walk and then came to knock again when I was ready. But really, I don’t think we always get  a second chance.

I sat writing on a Sunday afternoon. Whether perfect timing or distraction, an e-mail alert stole my attention. Essentially, the message read:

God said you should edit my mom’s book. What do you think?

And what I thought was, “Yeah, like I have time for that!” Thankfully, what I wrote was, “Tell her to send it right over!”

I told her to send it right over because, to me, her mom is my mom, too. I’ve been blessed with just a couple bonus moms in my lifetime, and I hope my kids will someday find that same gift. I haven’t seen this bonus family since I was in my early twenties, but family never stops being family–especially not when you join them of your own free will.

My first day in the Stein home was a whirlwind of activity. I didn’t have time to unpack my bags until very late that first night. I was nineteen, still painfully shy, and the reality of what I’d gotten myself into hit me as I sat on my new bed and flipped open midwifery textbooks. I turned off the light and sat still in darkened silence, tears welling in my eyes. This was stupid. I can’t do this. I should just pack up my car and leave now.  Then, I heard laughter. And not just any laughter. If your run of the mill breed of laughter works like a medicine, laughter in the Stein home behaves more like wine.

The midwife I would be training under had two daughters still living at home–one older than I and one younger. I never did ask them the question I’d wondered as I sat in the darkness that night, “What on earth was so funny?!” Because, as I would soon find out, pretty much everything was. I’d lost my joy; but I found it again, among many other things, in the Stein home.

There were a few times over the past several months when I tried to back out of this editing project. Times when my work and my time crawled back to the top of my priority list.  I shudder to think what I would have missed, what you would have missed, if I hadn’t seen through to publication a book that far exceeds the importance of anything I’ve ever written. If I’d failed to swing open the door to this opportunity, I wouldn’t have seen that what was veiled in a tremendous amount of work (on my part and of course on the part of the author herself) was not so much a chance for me to serve. It was an invitation for me to change–and one of the most important invitations of my life. How could I not share that with all of you?

Everything Old is New Again: A Jewish Midwife’s Look into Pregnancy and the Feasts of Israel is making it’s Kindle debut today. And for the next five days (through 3/18) you can download it for FREE. Let me encourage you, please, this is not a book to simply add to your someday collection. This is a book to read. Tonight. I’ve asked Renee to answer a few questions, and I hope her answers will woo you to dive heart first into this incredible invitation she has hand engraved especially for today, and especially for you.

Where were you living when you first received the revelation for this book?

In Colorado, the first nudge was a word which just would not go away. That word is release. Release is the word used for the emancipation of Hebrews from captivity (known as Passover), and release is the word for the beginning as a human  egg is released from the fallopian tube during mothers’ ovulation. I kept seeing that parallel for a very long time. Then, at a birth in Colorado, which was just before Chanukah which is the Feast of Light-Chanukah celebrates victory over darkness. I suddenly saw this baby as being  ‘born into the light”, and I made a mental note to find out more. The revelation of this book came in pieces. Many years later I made Aliyah to Israel, and there I found more answers as I was immersed in Judaism. I became drenched in the Feasts of the Torah and realized this was all part of the plan of G-d for this little book.

Is the ole wives tale true, does revelation come easier in the Holy Land? Is it a wives tale at all?

I’m not sure if there is an ole wives tale or not, but the people in general told me spiritual things do come easier in Israel as nothing in Israel distracts from the Torah. When there is a holiday in Israel, all things come to a halt. They even turn off the TV nationally. No distractions. All things being Torah seems to lead to an open heaven for those who seek Hashem.

Why do you think this comparison has been missed by so many people?

For many,  the topic seems too complicated to follow, and people are busy. How could one be as crazy to make the Holy Feasts line up with the act of childbirth? The two side by side become a controversy. The Holy Feasts and the growth of the preborn become unsettling to rabbis, and rabbis do not want much to do with childbirth. But once you get past all the complexities, both the Holy Convocations, or the Feasts, do align with  the growth spurts of a preborn baby! I believe both are relevant today and are perhaps a timeline which may be understood now because our time is so short.

What would you say to someone who might think, “So, I celebrated the Feasts in the womb? Why should that affect my life now?”

I would say to someone who may be skeptical that each one of us is so very special, and even our savior experienced the Feasts as do each one of us. If it’s good enough for Him, then it’s something I want to consider for myself.  For Believers, this knowledge should be extremely validating. For those who may not get it, (that each of us has had the opportunity to experience something of the Holy Feasts), the facts I have presented should help move them into a more ‘believing’ position and certainly a deeper understanding of the secret place.

Whom do you most hope will read this book?

I hope everyone will read this book, but this book may not be for everyone. I do think that it will speak to those who have an interest in Torah or a deeper walk with the L-rd. I also think teachers, pastors, and anyone in the Birthing Theater  (midwives, doulas, birthing assistants, childbirth educators, etc.) would benefit from this information.

And there you have it. Buy it, gift it, download it…but please read it. And for the next five days, I am also offering you another opportunity to claim your free Kindle copy of 31 Days to Lovely! Grab both today!

eoina for blog

31days for blog

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Purim!

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Get out your costumes; it’s time for Purim! Purim, or the Feast of Lots, is celebrated on the 14th of Adar (Feb. 24 this year).  This non-commanded festival honors the deliverance of the Jews depicted in the story of Esther. Rabbi Shraga Simmons sums Purim up this way, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”

 

The history of Purim, as told on aish.com is as follows:

Set in Persia 2,300 years ago, the Book of Esther – or the “Megillah” as it is commonly called – recounts how a seemingly unrelated series of events spun together to save the Jewish people from annihilation.

King Achashverosh throws a huge six-month party and Queen Vashti refuses to follow orders. After a global search, Esther becomes the new queen – but does not reveal her Jewishness. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, uncovers a plot to assassinate the king – putting him also in a favorable position with the king. All this comes in handy when Haman, the king’s top advisor, obtains a decree to have all the Jews destroyed. (Purim is the Persian word for “lottery,” used by Haman to determine a date for his planned destruction of the Jews.)

In the end, through a complex twist of events, Esther gets the decree reversed, Haman is hanged on the gallows, and Mordechai becomes prime minister.

The name Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther) literally means “revealing the hidden.” The Book of Esther is unique in the Bible, not mentioning God’s name even once. The hidden hand of God is revealed through the maze of events.

Megillat Esther teaches us that life’s challenges are always for the best, because what appears as an obstacle is really an opportunity to develop ourselves for the better. And it all comes from God’s invisible hand that guides our fate, every step of the way.

Of course, God’s people need to celebrate that! And what better way than to put on costumes and act out the whole thing? There a hundreds of versions of the play available online ranging from very small child friendly to over-the-top-Broadway-rivaling epics. (Just make sure you “Boo” and twirl your grogger—noise maker—at the mention of Haman and cheer for Mordechai.)

Surely, we must feast! Well, that is after we fast the day before. Typical Purim fare would include Hamentaschen, a triangle pastry folded to resemble “Haman’s ears.” It is filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. Some of my favorite are Nutella (because it goes with EVERYTHING), jelly, and lemon curd. I just saw a recipe today for Mediterranean Hamentaschen with sun dried tomatoes, basil and feta cheese. Yes, please. Then bring on the wine. According to tradition, you’re supposed to drink enough wine that you no longer know the difference between “Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Mordechai”. But being in redneck country (as I am), after consuming that much alcohol, someone would invariably yell, “Hey y’all, watch this.”

Back to being serious. I know, it stinks to be a grown-up, but somebody’s got to do it. There are certain tasks, mitzvoth, that are to be performed for this festival. You should send gifts, usually food, to people in need and give to charity. We read the Megillah, the story of Esther, and say special prayers. We also enjoy watching the movie “One Night with the King.”

How does this relate to the Messiah? Some ways are the symbolism of the fasting by Esther then rising to go before the king, Esther’s upright walk and exposing the sin of Haman, and the day of deliverance. The Jews were delivered on the feast of Firstfruits which is the same day the Israelites were delivered from Egypt and also the same day that our Savior rose from the dead!

So grab your costumes, groggers, wine, and Hamanteschen–and let’s party!

Sources:

www.hebrew4christians.com

www.aish.com

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

Happy Hanukkah, Y’all!

Hanukkah (Chanukah)—The Festival of Dedication

Around 333 BCE, Alexander the Great had ushered in a Hellenistic culture that infiltrated Jerusalem. The Jews and Greeks lived mostly in peace but the pagan traditions began to replace the teaching of the Torah. After a century of Greek influence and teaching, the Syrian king, Antiochus IV came into power. The Jews were then openly persecuted, the study of Torah was prohibited, and the altar was desecrated by the sacrificing of pigs. The High Priest was replaced by a Hellenistic priest.

In 165 BCE, a High Priest along with his son, Judah Maccabee, started a Jewish revolt. The revolt succeeded in reclaiming Israel. The Temple was cleansed and the process for rededication undertaken. According to tradition, only a small vial of purified oil was found—enough to light the Temple Menorah for one day; but the purification process takes eight days. Miraculously, the lamps continued to burn for the duration of the purification process. An eight day festival was proclaimed to commemorate the miracle and the Jewish victory.

Hanukkah is celebrated on the twenty-fifth of Kislev 25 to Tevet 3 (December 9 – 17, 2012, for this year). It is not a commanded feast time. The theme of this festive holiday is the miracle that God preformed with the oil. As a believer in the Messiah, we also celebrate the miracle of the Light of the World. A nine branch menorah is used during this holiday—one candle is usually higher, the shamus, for lighting the other candles. Some light one candle the first night and add one additional candle on subsequent nights. Others start with all eight candles lit and decrease by one each night. Blessings are recited each night during the lighting and Scripture is read.

A fun part of Hanukkah is playing “Spin the Dreidel”. This game wasn’t always played just for fun. In times when Scripture study was forbidden, Jewish children would gather in small circles to learn anyway. If someone approached, they would take out the dreidel and pretend to play, taking suspicion away. The letters on the dreidel are nun, gimel, shin and hay. This stands for “A great miracle happened there” in Hebrew. To play the game, each person starts with the same number of coins, chocolate pieces or small objects. The dreidel is spun and the letter on top indicates what you are to do. Shin must add one to the “pot” in the middle. Hay gets half the pot. Gimel gets all the pot. Nun gets nothing. Whoever has the most at the end wins.

Other common practices include singing Hallel—the song of praise, Psalms 115-118; eating fried foods to remember the miracle of the oil; and gift giving (although this is an American tradition) on each night. There are many unique ways that each family can decide to include in the celebration of Hanukkah. Making new memories while focusing on His miracles is just a start.

Hanukkah Same’ach! Happy Hanukkah!

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Sources:

http://www.hebrew4christians.com
http://www.aish.com
“A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays” by Robin Sampson and Linda Pierce