Monday, August 18, 2014

Our Hope is in God, the Creator of the World

Things don't always go the way we plan them....

Part 2 of Hope Comes in Many Forms.  You can read Part 1 here, if you missed it.  

Sadly when Aaron was in first grade his father and I divorced. It was a blessing in disguise. I moved to a different part of town, became a member of a different Synagogue that was much more observant. It changed our lives for the better and certainly brought me closer to God and much stronger in my faith. 

While at the new synagogue since there was so much more Hebrew in the services, I really did not see a Bar Mitzvah in my son, Aaron's future. Well, I was wrong, and I really underestimated my son and the community. 

About 2 years before my son’s 13th birthday one of the Hebrew teachers volunteered to come to my home and really work with him. Within a relatively short time he was able to read the Hebrew alphabet and read simple words.  Hebrew is a phonetic language and it is read from right to left. It was a lot of work on Aaron’s behalf to learn.

Before I knew it I was meeting with my Rabbi, and 

We set a date for his Bar Mitzvah

I was on a budget, and I have been to Bar Mitzvah’s that cost thousands of dollars.  The director of our synagogue was very kind and agreed to let me do most of the planning and organizing on my own. Most people hire a party planner to do all the foot work.  

Many people helped me.  One dear friend from New York had invitations printed in Brooklyn and napkins printed with Aaron’s name for the luncheon. I was able to purchase the flowers wholesale, and 3 other moms came to help me cut the flowers and arrange them for the centerpieces. 

I let my son choose his colors, and he choose black satin table clothes with yellow flowers for decorations. Someone else offered to help with making the desserts, and baking the Challah. Before I knew it, it was almost time for Aaron’s special day! 

I had programs printed to explain the services to our non Jewish friends so they could understand the service. 

Usually for a Bar Mitzvah the boy reads from the Torah. Since this was too difficult, we all agreed Aaron would be able to go up to the Torah and make the Blessings in Hebrew over the Torah. The only thing missing was a Bar Mitzvah speech from Aaron. His tutor suggested I just interview Aaron and ask him what it means to be Jewish. 

Over a very short interview one afternoon this is what my son came up with in his own words.
Aaron's Bar Mitzvah Speech

Shabbat Shalom.

Thank you for coming to my Bar Mitzvah.

I am very happy to be here today. 

I love being Jewish because we pray a lot and when I pray G-d listens to me.

I love Jewish food very much too. 

I like to wear my kippah (yarmelke) because it tells me G-d is above me. I wear my kippah to school everyday.  I am the only one who wears a kippah at my school.

I want to thank everyone here who has cared for me especially my Grandma Fisher.

I want to thank Mrs. Bass for being the best teacher in the world and teaching me how to read Hebrew and prayers. I read better than my mom sometimes!

Thank you so much Ms. Lavana Kovo for helping me learn the blessings and practicing with me.

Thank you Rabbi and Mrs. Scheinberg. I love Rabbi Scheinberg because he has helped me and he has visited me in the hospital. Rabbi Scheinberg makes me laugh. Mrs. Scheinberg made a chocolate cake for me when I was sick.

I want to thank my brother David- he is the best brother in the whole wide world. I love him very much and he helps me with a lot of things.

Finally want to thank my Ima (mom in Hebrew). I love you so much !
I then gave my speech to him. 

(as the parents always honor their children on this special day).

Needless to say there was not a dry eye in the synagogue. There were many grown men shedding tears as my very special son touched their hearts. He said his blessings so clear and beautiful, that he could be heard in the back row.

For the luncheon we had tables set for  220 people.  We ran out of food and more tables had to be set at about 250 came. I have never been more proud of my son as I was for him on this special day. Never before had we felt so much love and devotion from friends and family to Aaron.  He made the newspaper and the Jewish Journal.

One last amazing accomplishment from my dear son...

Many children do a Mitzvah Project in connection to their Bar Mitzvah. A mitzvah is service project or kind deed. Aaron has always had a very deep love for dogs.  Two months before his Bar Mitzvah, we adopted a dog from a small, local, no-kill shelter. 

Aaron decided to collect dog food for the shelter. I thought we would take a few bags over, but Aaron asked everyone to donate for the shelter.  Before I knew it, while trying to plan the luncheon and get him fully ready for the service, people started bringing bags of dog food over.  

All told, Aaron collected 900 pounds of dog food to donate to the shelter! I almost did not get it all in my car. Everyone was so happy as they told us 900 pounds will feed the dogs for approximately 1 month. I never saw this coming.  

Aaron truly flew in under the radar during this special time, and shocked everyone with his amazing accomplishments. He continues to amaze me everyday and I love him with all my heart. 

Please continue to pray for the protection of Israel, and the persecuted around the world.

Shalom and the blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ to you~Kim

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hope Comes in Many Forms

The Lord God creates all hope, because true hope leads us back to Him.  He is the source of light and love to all those who call on His name.  For all those who call on the One True God, G-d, Yahweh, YHWH, the Creator of the Earth, or Father God, there is a shared bond.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.…

Psalm 139:13-14

Let us ALL be a united wall against the enemy.

When the days are dark, we need to stand on the firm foundation of our faith.  Jews and Christians alike follow the same God; the Holy One of the universe.  There is no other.

I share with you, a story from a Jewish friend of mine.

It was one of those "God moments" when I asked her to share. She posted a link about Israel on Facebook that touched me.  I was up to my eyeballs watching events unfold, even before the genocide attempts in Iraq. I honestly, did not know what to say on this blog. I cried with those who lost their lives, and I gasped at the American news media insulting Israel for protecting itself (However, some did later change their attitudes).

So I asked my friend if she wanted to share something.  She came up with her beautiful story about her special needs son's shining moment. Not only was it a special event for him, but for his mother as well.  Her story is very encouraging, and will come in a two-part series.  I hope that you are as encouraged as I was.

There is always hope in God.

My name is Susan.

I have a 16 year old son named Aaron diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome from 3 weeks of age and we also received an official Autism diagnosis 4 years ago. I don’t know where to start. There are so many overwhelming feelings that come to the surface when I reflect on the life of my beloved son Aaron.

I do feel the most important lessons I have learned from Aaron have been those related to my faith in God. I always knew I was a good person. I am Jewish and I take my religion very seriously. I can honestly say I have never doubted God or felt like I was being punished by having this child who needs 24/7 care and looking after. I have always and I will continue to acknowledge my son Aaron for making me a better person. Having a child with numerous special needs is the most humbling experience.

Aaron was born in March. 8 full weeks barely weighing 3.2 pounds. He spent the first 3 months of his life in the Neo Natal Unit at the Children’s Hospital.  My synagogue at the time had two Rabbis. They were both extremely supportive. Both Rabbis came out to the hospital to visit a few times a week to pray over Aaron.  

When it became very apparent his development would compromised,  he required a feeding tube, esophagus repair and pyloric valve repair when he was barely 3 weeks old. Before the surgery both Rabbis came to visit. There is no way I could have made it through the difficult times without their support.

Aaron was my first child and being the typical Jewish mom, I look forward to celebrating all Jewish life cycles with my son. 

The first one being Aaron’s Bris, also known as circumcision. This is a religious rite from the texts of the Book of Genesis and it is becoming part of the Abrahamic Covenant on the baby’s 8th day. This was the start of my deep sadness in underestimating my son by thinking he would never fully be like all the other children in my circle. For obvious health reasons my son had to wait until he was at least 4 pounds and in a more stable medical condition. 

I knew the day would come when God was ready for him and it would be safe for him to have the procedure.  Finally at 3 months of age, a few days before he was going to be released from the hospital, he finally had his circumcision. It was a very happy day for me and I was so proud to be able to bring my son home from the hospital a few days later.

Once he was home our community has a beautiful tradition of presenting the child to the community on a Friday night Shabbat service. Shabbat is a very special and important day in our faith. I was 30 years old, I had wanted all my life to be a mother. When Aaron was ready to go out in the community on a Friday evening as I was getting ready it occurred to me that according to the doctors that Aaron may never speak and he may have severe mental challenges. 

My heart raced as I realized Aaron may never be able to read Hebrew or have a Bar Mitzvah when he turned 13. When we were called up to present him to the community I cried the entire time. Tears of thankfulness,  and tears of sorrow, fearing this may be the only time my son would be able to participate in a Shabbat service.

Afterwards I spoke to my Rabbi and they assured me when the time would come they would work with Aaron accommodate him based on his abilities. At the time we had been told not to expect much from development and because of all his other health issues he may not even make it past his first or second birthday.

As Aaron grew and developed I was pleasantly surprised that he accomplished many milestones I feared he may not. I was teaching Hebrew school on Sundays. When it was time for Aaron to start Kindergarden our Rabbi, and religious school director, made it possible for Aaron to participate. They had a young college student be his shadow and personal helper. 

Aaron was able to learn prayers, learn basic Hebrew words and songs just like all the other children and he loved it. I still though would become very emotional and teary eyed during services whenever a child would be having a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. I still felt it would not be possible for Aaron to accomplish this. 

To be continued on Monday...

Please continue to pray for Israel's victory and safety, and for the safety of all those people in Iraq and around the globe who are suffering from of acts of terrorism.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Unlocking God's Will in Your Life

Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9-13 :

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed by your Name.
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On Earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil.

What happens when it doesn't work?

Honestly, this prayer, known as the Lord's prayer, is not just a set formula that guarantees instant results. Too often, in our absolute frustration with life's events, we find ourselves calling out to Heaven with our words and cries, only to find that our prayers are not answered in the way we wanted them to be.

But, you know, there can be two reasons this is happening...

We may be praying the wrong prayer.

You might say, "God wants life not death, health, not sickness, right?"

Yes, but sometimes our hearts may not be aligned with God's heart in the matters we lay before Him.  God's purpose in all of our lives does not rest on human world view, but on bringing us closer to Him.

You see, in my own experience, in our human world, we look around and decide things need to be aligned this way, or that way. This child should be normal, not disabled.  This child should be healthy, not sick.  This child should live, not die.

Yet, just as we learn in the book of John that a man is born blind just so Jesus can heal him and show the world God's healing power, so too, can God have a plan we just don't understand in our world's eye view.

God may not restore things that go wrong in the way that we think restoration should happen. He may have an even better, more glorious solution than we understand.  In our human's eye view, it can cause us great sorrow and loss.

Which brings me to the second point.

Why should we even pray at all?

It is like this, if God has not prepared our hearts, or rather, we are still holding on to sinful ideas that keep us from hearing Him and His will for a specific event, then our prayers appear to hit the ceiling of Heaven.  I am not saying it is the means to an end, but that we may need to be on a stronger foundation before things shift in God's realm.

The real question is, how honest are you ready to be before the One who created you?

Have you ever tried laying your heart, completely bare before Jesus?  Trust me, it is NOT an easy thing to do! When we look full into the mirror of our own hearts, it is not pretty.  Not one person can tell me they are not stained and don't need Jesus, because they do.

We have to allow the Lord to shine His light on our hearts and repent of our sins.  It is a cleansing that you want to do, believe me, but it is only for brave hearts.  It will not only bring light into your soul, but true grace and peace. It will also bring you a new heart.

In the end, we can choose to follow God or our own plan.

God knows the best way to solve our problems, if we will only listen.  We, His people, will only find true rest when we choose to submit to His will.  The funny part is that the Lord will not force us.  He will only beckon us, His Bride, to Him.  He promises us a new heart if we will.

The Lord's blessings to you~Kim

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Do You Need More Than a Miracle?

Did you ever wonder how many miracles you could have in a lifetime?

I mean, can we have one?  Or two?  Three?

Or, can we have as many miracles as we need?!

If you are like us, you need a lot of miracles. Our family would be over our heads with disaster if we stopped at three miracles!

No, they may not be miracles like raising the dead, making the blind see or the lame to walk, but they have been miracles for US. We were brought to the edge and back again.

God has delivered us over and over again.

Was it because we are Super Faith Heroes;-)?  Well, no, but what I can say is that when I seek the Lord in prayer, knowing that I have done all that I can, the Spirit takes me where He wishes.

The devil roars around like a prowling lion. He seeks to deliver injustice, hate and death.  He seeks to take and destroy all that is purely love.  When we take that seriously, we find that the Lord brings His Kingdom.

Even that does not guarantee 100% deliverance.

Even in our unanswered prayers, God's precious grace pours over our lives.

I recently read a story about a woman who lost her special needs child at the age of two.  All special needs parents can relate to seeing the possibility of death arrive at our child's doorstep; but this woman's child crossed the threshold of heaven, while the rest of us sighed, Thank you Jesus!

Why didn't God save him when He saved our children?  We can only speculate, but I loved her response. God was faithful despite her son's death.  Faithful?  Is that the word you would use?

I WOULD!  Why?!

We struggle to see that heaven is a place of rejoicing, because we view life as more important than death and eternal life in heaven. We do struggle to believe that God has a plan for our life, and it may not the politically-correct perfect Christian life.

If we believe in heaven and a merciful, gracious God, then we know that little boy now lives with His Savior and the angels.  Why should he stay in the world, while his parents pray and drag him to medical specialists and hospitals, asking the Lord for a cure?  God had a better plan for this little boy.

He is a gracious God and took this little boy and many other sick children home.

God does bring beauty out of ashes.

When He does, it isn't just one lone little flower.  No, it is a whole rose bush!  He wants us to see that when tragedy breaks, even if it is the devil's attacks that succeeded, God will redeem the whole mess into something beautiful.

This rebirth and renewal is what brings us joy!

[The Spirit of the Lord is upon me]
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lordthat he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

The real paradox here is that if we didn't have the sorrows of this world, we wouldn't have joy.  We honestly would not know what God has done in our hearts and our lives unless we found ourselves in the deep ocean of sorrow, only to come back up for breath again for deliverance.

Prayers for healing and God's blessings in your home~Kim

Thursday, July 10, 2014

You are Created for a Purpose

We are all a miracle.

Further, it is a miracle that any of us are saved!

One of the things that so many Christians preach and teach (intentional or not) is that we all come to Jesus ONE way.  Yet, read the Bible.  There is not one story about someone's faith that is the same.  Some may be similar, but never the same.

The funny thing is that God does not even create us the same.

He creates each of us in His own image.  Think about it, if God creates us in His own image, then how in the world did we end up with so many different colors, sizes, shapes, male, female, disabilities and normal people in the world? Because God creates and looks at us from the inside out.

The twelve tribes of Israel in the Bible consisted of many nationalities.  Watch the the Aliyah coming into Israel in the past few years, and you will see ethnic diversity from many different races.  Why?  Because God created Israel this way, and it still exists in the Jewish faith.

Each utensil is created for a different purpose.

Sometimes, I think about our life journeys.  Some have it relatively easy, with all of the perfect family trimmings.  Others have a difficult road of childhood abuse and addiction.  Yet, still others barely survive through a life of poverty and neglect.  Some live only a few short years and shine the brightest Light of Jesus to all who know them.

Your purpose is just for you.

When we receive Jesus we become part of the Body of Christ.   God creates us just for His good pleasure, and His purpose on this earth.  Yet, we can't receive it until we begin to listen to God.  When we hear Him, we follow the Spirit.

Following Jesus brings His children together.  When we put Him first, we will bond together in a way that only comes from the Lord.  It is His good will.  Each child of God has a part and purpose in the Body of Christ.  Sometimes it fluctuates and changes, but it always glorifies God.

As the Word says, we are all created with a purpose, but knowing this rests on our decision to follow Him first.

Blessings to you and your family~Kim

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The REAL Love Dare

I am not afraid to say it.

I don't believe that homosexuality is acceptable in God's sight.

I don't believe that adultery is acceptable in God's sight.

I don't believe that lawlessness is acceptable in God's sight.

I don't believe that drug addiction or alcoholism are acceptable in God's sight.

Nor do I believe that fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, scorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and things like these are acceptable in God's sight. Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Ref: Galatians 5:19-21)

Does that mean that Christian's cannot be guilty of such sins?  Yes, but they will not be able to continue them.  We can't if we are saved.

We are His Temple.

Does that mean, that just because we have been guilty of these things in the past that we cannot receive God's grace? No!

In fact, we are all called to repent of such things, crucifying the flesh and conforming to the will of God.
God calls us all to the cross, to lay down our sins and believe that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He then blesses us with forgiveness and GRACE.  It is the way of the cross and it brings us salvation from the start, and keeps us saved.

This is Real Love.

By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  1 John 3:16

Even after we are saved, and we lose our way, He brings us back.

He takes us from one point to another, because we cannot keep sinning with the power of the Holy Spirit saved up within us.  Once we have His mark, His power within us, we are His, and we will not be able to stay stuck in our sins.  It just won't happen.

God does not call us STAY in our sins, but to repent and move into His grace and glory.

Have you faltered?  Take the Real Love Dare.  Then move into His grace and His Light.

God's blessings to you and your family~Kim

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