As the storm rages both in my family life and outside my window, I believe it is a good time to share of God’s Goodness and, again, to be a witness of life here.
These beginning rains, although later then usual, are very good and promising so far, and that is a great blessing in our dry and thirsty land. Daily there have been articles on page one of our newspapers about the weather, usually rather poetic and thankful. It’s fun; a ray of light in the midst of doom and gloom reporting. My one pair of (non sandals or dressy) shoes (I know that sounds pathetic, but it’s just how it is right now) got soaked in a puddle the other night and so I made my way to the shuk to buy a pair of knee high rubber boots. Day one of rain and they were sold out. I got a stop-gap pair of shorter ones that our daughter can use as well, but I also had so much fun standing in line at each tiny shops behind rows of small children trying on boots! These children were so excited about the rain and the chance to wear BOOTS and go out splashing! They were stomping around the closet sized shops in assortments of pink and blue boots while frugal mothers checked toe lengths arguing with sales men to give them yet one size larger so that they can be used also next year. It was quite a sight!
The rain brings another sudden change to Jerusalem (all of the country). Thursday morning, as I was walking (the walk part of my daily journey) to work, I passed a vacant area that I love to roam with my eyes as it has been dormant for a long time and the trees, plants and grasses give me a moment’s respite from ‘city life’ and I frolic with my eyes through the country. I stood still…There they were…straight as arrows; brand new blades of grass shooting up from the earth where they were not to be seen the day before. My heart beat more rapidly and I nearly cried! No, I’m not exaggerating…I really do, and did, respond that way. It took my breath away and took me back to another similar special moment in my life many years ago:
I seem to have spent all of the ‘long’ parts of my life in…hum…somewhat ‘extreme’ places. I grew up in NYC where everything was huge, noisy, fast. Next I lived (as a hippie, a story for ‘a book’) in Wash state on an Indian Reservation (with Indians as an Indian) near the majestic Mt. Rainier. That life was extreme. From there we lived a simple life in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the ‘way’ to South Lake Tahoe. We had only wood heat (at first for cooking too) and kerosene lamps, horses, chickens, ducks, no phone, no locked doors…The life that we led there was wonderful. That is when and where I got saved. J The weather there prepared us for here in many ways as it is really similar to the weather in Jerusalem. From there we moved to remote bush Alaska where we lived for 15 years along the coast of the Bering Sea. Winters are long and harsh there. We lived on the tundra, which is flat and can look ‘barren’ (although it is rich!), especially after the snow and ice when it is brown…only brown. There was one road in our village, 15 miles long connecting us to the only other village accessible by land. One day a friend and I were driving on that road and at the very same moment we both, literally yelled, ‘LOOK!’, and I screeched the truck to a halt. At the same moment, while DRIVING, we saw one small patch of new green tundra grass! We jumped out, ran to it and entered into a wonderful time of worship and prayer so spontaneously that I remember it with joy to this day. That is what God’s natural wonders do to me (and likely you too).
The wonder…the yearly reminder… renewal! Seemingly dead, brown nothingness springing to life overnight. Color from ‘non’ color. A little seed lies dormant and a drop of water enters in giving it strength to shoot like an arrow through the rock hard earth. What a miracle! What HOPE for the promise prayed for concerning the hardened hearts, be it of loved ones, neighbors, people in far away places, or our own! It reminds me of the ‘hope’ for our daughter.
And…I had a new (for me) Israeli experience this week. I did a ‘Grandma thing’ and took our 6 year old Granddaughter to ‘a show’. Since we moved here once our youngest was already 13, I did not experience ‘Israeli childhood’ up close, so was clueless as to what I was about to enter into. I knew, beyond a doubt, that there was something ‘special’ about Israeli childhood. I sensed this as I watched patients meeting one another in the waiting room at work…people who hadn’t seen one another for years… and I would listen to them reminiscing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about it showed me that there was a special ‘connection’ forged between those who grew up together here…something very different then I had seen before.
Since I knew that my feeble interpretation of the flier that had inspired this outing was OBVIOUSLY wrong from the moment that I went to pay for the tickets (I THOUGHT they were 40 shekels each…not 80! Gulp! What drawbacks there are to being an immigrant!), I realized that not only was my Granddaughter about to have a new experience, but I was in for one too. Thursday night, we approached the lovely Jerusalem Theater along with (? A thousand?) other children, parents and grandparents…the air charged with excitement. My 6 year old Granddaughter had such a look of wonder on her face as I squeezed her hand and she looked up at me, I knew that this was ‘the right’ thing to do to help her through some tough adjustments that she was having just now. We found a quiet corner and prayed together and thanked The Lord for this special evening. “So. Just who IS Rinat?” I asked Ana. “What, Savtali?? Don’t you KNOW? EVERYONE knows who Rinat is!” She laughed…’knowing’ that I was just kidding ofcourse. It soon became clear that Rinat is THE children’s tv star. Even though my Grandchildren don’t have a tv, they had seen her tapes and sung her songs and she was very beloved. I soon found out why. Ana and I found our reserved seats and Ana pointed out that I was the ‘oldest one there’ “Not either!” I assured her as I quickly found some older Grandparents then I. “But they aren’t on OUR row Savtali.” This was true. We were surrounded by mothers in their 30s happily talking away…not one ‘immigrant accent’ in the bunch. I listened. The announcer reminded us (VERY important in Israel!) ‘Turn off your cell phones. No picture taking during the performance. No eating in the auditorium.’ “Why is he taking pictures?!” Ana asked me indignantly, pointing to a father a few rows away. “Doesn’t he understand Hebrew? Why would he disobey??” The eternal question! Cameras flashed all around us. Ana was giving each one a dutifully stern look…but then the play started and distracted us her. The two hour show was lovely! It was filled with patriotic Israeli songs. Everyone sang and clapped and jumped up and down. It was also filled with good clean values and loving friends (and some hysterical, NOT off color, Israeli humor) and the best part is, this ‘Rinat’ really DOES LOVE CHILDREN! In the middle of the program they announced a ‘kiss and hug Rinat time’! I was shocked!… 1000 kids? Yep! No lines…no…this is Israel; press and push. My heart sank. I figured I had no chance of getting Ana in for a kiss. I prayed. Suddenly, there she was right in front of us. Ana reached out to touch her silky dress and I whispered, ‘Rinat’…and she turned and looked right into Ana’s eyes…threw her arms around her and gave her a big loving kiss and smile. Ana melted! I watched as she went back to the stage and stage hands tried to help people back to seats. A few small ‘hopefuls’ stood at the foot of the stage as the show began again with their arms out to Rinat. The director shook his head ‘no’…and Rinat looked up…and just picked them up and hugged them. As the show began again I could not see one disappointed person in the room…adult or child. It was real…and she won me over! I love her! With a Rinat doll in hand, Ana floated out of the theater, hopefully with a ‘special memory’ bringing us a bit closer as she struggles with difficulties…and I have someone else to pray for: Rinat!
I am off to kehila now. I feel a bit ragged…it has been quite an emotional week but I have been strengthened by The Lord through the prayers of His body, and I have applied something I learned in the stance that I have taken for our daughter in Psalm 18. I suddenly saw that there are some things for me to do as I pray through this for her, a pattern: 1- “I will love YOU” (verse 2) 2- “I will take refuge in YOU” (verse 3, direct translation) 3- “I will cry unto YOU” (verse 6) 4- “I will battle IN YOU” (verse 30) 5- “I will bend YOUR bow [only]” (verse35) 6- “I will pursue these enemies and overtake them” (verse 38) 7- “I will smite them” (verse 39) 8- “I will cut them off” (verse 41) 9- “I will beat them as dust and cast them out” 10- “I will bless and exalt The LORD” (verse 47) 11- “I will give Thanks and Praise to THE LORD” (verse 50)even among the nations!
Thank you so much for your prayers and love. Thank you so much for having God’s heart toward this people and this nation, as well as for caring for our family. Love and blessing to each of you, your sis