Sleeping Out for Sukkot

Standard

img_20161020_183012703_hdr1This past week has been unseasonably warm—so warm that we were able to sleep outside in our “sukkah” (i.e., a tent). The nights were mild and beautiful, and we enjoyed a restful night of sleep in the fresh night air.

Friday, the temperature dropped, and the wind increased. I figured my children would sleep inside where it was warm. But no, they wanted to camp out, and they convinced me to join them.

We dressed warmly and took extra blankets outside. Like butterflies in cocoons, we snuggled inside sleeping bags with blankets piled on top.

I was enjoying the coziness when I sensed wetness. (It had poured that morning, and my sleeping mat and bag was beside the tent window.)

For a moment, I contemplated returning to my soft, warm bed but decided that since we had made the effort to drag extra blankets out to the tent, we would make the best of it.

I abandoned the damp sleeping bag for the other side of the tent and again wrapped myself in blankets.

Unlike the previous night’s calm air and relaxing sleep, the extreme windy conditions seemed to mock my attempts at sleeping as it whipped the protective tarp we had secured over the tent.

My mind imagined the howling wind yanking the tent pegs and transporting us into another “world,” like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Fortunately, our tent stayed intact and the kids got more sleep than I did.

The kids are planning to sleep outside again tonight (even though it’s a little colder).

And I might just join them. After all, it is Sukkot!

Job 37:9 “From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds of the north.”

John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Advertisements

Rosh HaShanah–a Joyful, Jewish New Year!

Standard

“Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.

For it is a statute for Israel, An ordinance of the God of Jacob.” Psalm 81:3-4

Rosh HaShanah (the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah) is the first of the Jewish fall festivals. The Hebrew phrase “Rosh HaShanah” literally means “the head of the year” and is known as the Jewish New Year.

Rosh HaShanah is described in Leviticus 23:23-25 where it tells the Israelites to rest and blow the trumpet or shofar (ram’s horn). Teruah is the Hebrew word for the blowing of the shofar (Numbers 29:1). This feast falls on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar.

Rosh HaShanah holds future significance as a day of judgment since it is connected to the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the new season (Exodus 34:22). The days following Rosh HaShanah are intense days of repentance and forgiveness leading up to Yom Kippur.

Blowing the shofar has significance in Scripture. The Israelites sounded shofars as a call to assembly, a command to move out, a call to war, in preparation for an announcement, a warning of judgment to come, a call to celebration and worship, or for the coronation of a new king, as well as new moons and feast times (Numbers 10:1-10).

Varying sounds meant different things, and when blown correctly, the shofar could be heard at great distances. Blowing shofars was a reminder of God’s presence both during war and days of joy and also indicates judgment and the coming of the LORD (Joel 2:1).

This feast does not merely point to the past, but also to the future. Isaiah foretells a time when Israel will be gathered back to their land at the sound of a “great trumpet” (Isaiah 27:13).

The New Covenant prophecies Yeshua (Jesus) coming from heaven with the sound of the shofar at the rapture of His saints (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The angels will also sound the shofar at His second coming (Matthew 24:31). Just like a new year marks new beginnings, this last trumpet will mark the beginning of the reign of Messiah (Revelation 11:15).

Psalm 47:5 says that “God has ascended with a shout, the LORD, with the sound of a trumpet (shofar).” Yeshua was crucified for the atonement of sins on the very day of Passover; we eagerly await His imminent return which will be announced with the sound of a shofar.

“Blessed are the people who know the trumpet sound (teruah) of the LORD,

they will walk in the light of Your face.” Psalm 89:15

Like traditional New Year’s celebrations, Jewish people celebrate and commit for a better year, and one tradition is eating apples dipped in honey for the sweet New Year. 

Shannah Tova Umetuka! – Have a good and sweet year!

The Love Chapter for Couples

Standard

Though I send exquisite Valentine cards, write romantic notes, and sing beautiful love songs,

but have not love, I am like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Though my writings are eloquent, and I quote marriage experts’ soundly advice,

Yet I have not true love, I am nothing.

Though I give time and energy to my spouse and pledge promises of undying love,

Yet fail to show real love,

I have accomplished nothing.

True love is patient (even when dirty clothes are lying around).

True love is kind and does not hurt the other’s feelings.

True love does not envy or despair when disappointments abound and others prosper.

It does not brag about its strengths or downplays another’s weaknesses

Instead it seeks to make the other look good.

Love is never too proud to admit failure or ask for help and understanding.

Love neither manipulates nor seeks to change.

Instead, love remains content with an imperfect partner.

Love is forgiving and holds no grudges nor keeps track of the other’s failure.

Love refrains from saying, “I told you so!”

Love believes and seeks to protect the other.

It patiently endures even through disappointments.

Love hopes for better times and perseveres when all else fails.

Romantic speeches and love songs will cease.

All knowledge will be destroyed,

But true love abides forever.

When I was young, I had unrealistic expectations of love.

Now, as a mature lover, I understand that a perfect marriage will never exist.

Yet, I know that this present love only dimly reflects what my marriage can become.

My love for you has increased immeasurably since the day I pledged my honor and love,

And it will continue to blossom with each passing year.

One day I shall know you more fully than I do now.

While time destroys dreams, and romantic aspirations dissolve in the realities of day-to-day living;

Faith, hope, and love abide forever.

And truly the greatest of these three is love!

Check out my poetic version of the love chapter, also from 1 Corinthians 13.

The Love Chapter (1 Corinthians 13)

Standard

Although I speak eloquently with a voice like an angel

Yet if I have not love or kindness,

I am like an annoying sound.

And though I proclaim God’s Word and understand all secret truths,

Without love, my mountain-moving faith

Amounts to nothing at all.

 

 

Though I give away everything, all my money and possessions—

Even sacrificing my life—

Without God’s love, I gain nothing.

Love is not jealous, boastful, or proud, or easily provoked

Love does not seek its own or act unseemly

Rejoices not in unrighteousness.

 

 

Love is patient, kind, and true. It bears, believes, and hopes all things.

It endures without wavering

And overlooks a suffered wrong.

Though tongues, knowledge, and prophecy cease and though I lie silent in the grave,

True love and faith and hope endure,

The greatest of these is love.

Heaven’s Treasure

Standard

Image
He was just a little boy
with a heart full of love,
yet God the Father called him
to his heavenly home above.

He was just a little boy
with so much in store,
yet on that fateful day
his life became no more.

He left behind a family
with mourning in their hearts
who sorrow at his passing.
His soul from earth departs.

Forever in God’s presence
his soul with God resides.
In heav’nly mansions yonder
forever to abide.

We know you cannot come back.
We miss you tenderly;
but one day soon in heaven,
united we will be.

1 Corinthians 15:54b-55
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O Death, where is your victory?
O Death, where is your sting?

In memory of Cody James Creech (January 24, 1995 – January 1, 2005)

When Death Hits Home describes the terrible tragedy that ended Cody’s life on this earth.

When Death Hits Home

Standard

 Cody Creech

I’ll never forget that phone call nine years ago.

“Rachel, this is Mom.”

From the tone in her voice, I sensed something was desperately wrong.

She quivered as she told me the news. “There’s been an accident. Cody was hit by a tractor trailer while on his four wheeler. He’s on life support at the hospital.” She barely sobbed out the next words, “They—they don’t think…he’ll make it.”

I was stunned, not knowing what to say. I had just seen my sister a few days earlier. Although miles separated my family from the rest of my extended family, and my sister lived even further away, I had seen my sister for a brief time before she and her family spent a few days skiing over their Christmas vacation.

That mild December night as I walked under the stars in my neighborhood cul-de-sac, I cried out to God to save Cody’s life, but most of all to give my sister and her family His all sufficient grace to bear the grief ahead and the painful decisions that had to be made.

I kept hoping that this was just a bad dream, and that I would wake up to find everything all right. Why would Cody, a bright young boy just shy of his 10th birthday, have to face the grim reaper? Cody was a delightful boy so full of promise. It seemed unfair that my sister would lose one of her two biological children, while I was expecting my 5th child.

I looked up at the stars and imagined Cody’s soul already in heaven. Even as I thought of death, the baby within my womb kicked reminding me of the life growing within me.

Nothing could be done to save Cody’s life. His soul had already left his body; only the life support was keeping his body alive for possible organ donation. On New Year’s Day when everyone else was celebrating, my sister made the painful decision to remove the life support.

Only those who have lost a child understand the deep pain a person experiences at the death of a child. I know the loss of miscarriage, but I still have my five children.

Yes, it hurts to know that you will never see your child on earth again, but we have the assurance that we will one day be reunited with him. The previous summer Cody had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and he is waiting in heaven for us.

Even in his death, Cody made a difference: his organs helped others live. While the pain of death never goes away, you learn to cope and become a stronger person in the process. My sister has helped so many others in so many ways. And after being out of school for so many years, she decided to go back to earn her teaching degree (with highest honors). She is now making a difference in the lives of precious boys and girls as a 3rd grade teacher.

Yes, we miss Cody, but we know that one day death will be swallowed up in victory.

O Death, where is your victory?

O Death, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55

Cody Creech Memorial Site