Shalom

I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176


21 June 2013

What have I been reading this week? Part 2

So, I've been a busy little reader in the last day or so, and I've brought more to the table for you out there that I've found in the blogosphere.

Rob Roy's discussing Mark 7:
The  conclusion for Christianity is that Mark 7:19 has been mistranslated and
 misunderstood: Yeshua was not abrogating God’s instructions regarding
food because to do so would have been to go against His Father’s
instructions – thus disqualifying Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel. This
is why the interpretation laid out above is actually good news for all
who believe in Yeshua, as it upholds the fact that he was indeed the
spotless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). -
 See more at:  http://messianicpublications.com/robert-roy/did-jesus-declare-all-foods-clean/#sthash.yW3UiAnC.dpuf

I also read a great article entitled: 15 Positive Strategies for Dealing with Conflicts, Arguments & Back Talk this is for parenting, but it looks like it would be terribly helpful for just about any situation!

Melanie Springer Mock had a great article:
At any rate, the evangelical messaging about singles made me miserable in St. Louis. Sometimes, I wish I could live that time over without evangelicalism’s lies ringing in my ears, telling me I was worthless because I was single, even though being single is a special, special time. Somehow, I think my life here would have been far richer, had I not been waiting so desperately for my Boaz to come.
Waiting for Boaz in St. Louis

Kristen at Wordgazer's Words had a wonderful post: "Sir, I Perceive You are a Prophet" - Jesus and the Woman at the Well

Margaret Mowczko had several really cool articles on the Egalitarian Christian Alliance Blog:
...Martha and Mary were both woman of great faith, spiritual acuity and devotion.  The church needs both Marthas and Marys who will be pragmatic and exuberant in their devotion to the Lord Jesus, and are always choosing to spend time with Jesus, learning from him...
Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany
...Rather than a prescriptive definition of masculinity and femininity, or of manhood and womanhood, the reality is that – especially in western society – there is a broad continuum of manly and womanly behaviour.  Moreover, on this continuum, there is a large overlapping area of behaviour that is not especially gendered...
Gender Obsessions: Emphasizing our Differences or Similarities?

 ...despite the patriarchal culture of Bible times, there were plenty of women who, because of noble birth, extraordinary ability, spiritual gifting, or for some other reason, had authoritative and powerful positions and ministries.  There is no hint whatsoever that the positions and roles of these women were odd, improper or unacceptable.  Moreover men such as Barak, Josiah’s delegation, Mordecai, and Apollos, etc, seemed to have had no problem receiving instruction and direction from a godly woman...
The (im)Propriety of Women with Authority


...God used these two faith-filled women for his purposes – to bless the community of his people.  God could have chosen men, but in these cases he chose women.  Perhaps he saw in these two women a readiness for true faith and action.  God is still choosing to use faith-filled women who are courageous, capable and ready to bless his people...
Rahab and Lydia: Two Faith-filled Bible Women

Then there was this quite interesting article by DiannaeAnderson:
...I also cannot, in good conscience, get behind the language of self-control as it pertains to sexuality because it implies a false dichotomy between people who wait and people who choose to have sex - it fails to provide adequate sexual ethics of consent and respect.The problem, I’ve found, is much larger than simply the discussion of virginity or purity or sexuality, though that part of it is important. Instead, our language and philosophies have been heavily infiltrated by the heresy of Gnosticism...
The Flesh as Bogeyman: Sex, Self-Control, and Post-Evangelical Culture
 The comments are just as good as the article. I don't know exactly where I fall at the moment with my thoughts on the matter, but it is certainly quite thought provoking!!

Perfect Number 628 has some awesome posts in her own right that I'd read today:

...me wanting to look awesome and beautiful pushes in one direction, and my concern for some mysterious problem that boys supposedly have pushes me in the other. It's godly to give up my rights in order to help other people, but is there anything godly about looking beautiful? Is it all just my selfishness that makes me not want to look like a tent?

They say God made beauty. Well he obviously did it wrong- we need to cover it all up before its evil power enslaves all the men...
Modesty as she is taught


...I feel like I'm not allowed to look cute/beautiful/feminine at all. The logical conclusion is that I should wear a tent, you know, in order to help the guys as much as possible.
...the bible says to treat others better than ourselves. So shouldn't I give up my rights, without limit, in order to possibly help someone else a little bit?
...this is exactly what it's like for a woman to worry about her clothes and feel bad and fear that she might "cause her brother to stumble", and by extension feel like something is wrong with the feminine way her body was made, and that she's not allowed to be beautiful. Huge cost, no apparent benefit...
Modesty: My Solution
Sarah McCarten had a wonderful article entitled: When we experience things differently. 

Hannah, as always, has wonderful posts about Domestic Violence issues in the church:  Parish Response To Domestic Violence
 
Fromtwotoone is offering a Feminism Q&A series - I can't say it enough, I would LOVE to see what you all bring to the table!!

Caris Adel is writing a True Womanhood series discussing the True Woman 101 Divine Design study:
Part 1 – True Womanhood – Why Airplanes Aren’t in the Bible
Part 2 – True Womanhood – Death to Certainty
Part 3 – True Womanhood – Affirming Female Ordination?
Part 4 – True Womanhood – June Cleaver as Jesus
Part 5 – True Womanhood – An Offensive Gospel

 Oh my goodness!! They are all quite wonderful!

The Wall Street Journal had this to read: Why Dads Don't Take Paternity Leave More Companies Offer New Fathers Paid Time Off, but Many Fear Losing Face Back at the Office
"There's still a stigma associated with men who put parenting on an equal footing with their jobs," said Scott Coltrane, a sociologist at the University of Oregon. "Most employers still assume that work comes first for men, while women do all the child care."
...Active fathers are seen as distracted and less dedicated to their work—the same perception that harms career prospects for many working mothers, said Jennifer Berdahl, the study's lead author, adding that such men are accused of being wimpy or henpecked by their wives...
What a pity.  We really do need to turn this on it's head to benefit parents and children.
For those who do not know, Maternity and Paternity leave is available here in Germany, and my husband took time off with both children's births.


I also found this little gem:

... millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not. When I mention this to friends and associates, by far the most common reaction is: “No … No way. Really?” Surprisingly few well-designed studies of female age and natural fertility include women born in the 20th century—but those that do tend to paint a more optimistic picture....
The Atlantic: How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?

The article I'll sign off with is the one that really made me angry to no end. If someone can get me a copy of this magazine, I will be forever grateful to you.

"Gospel Today, the Fayetteville-published magazine, was pulled off the racks by the bookstores’ owner, the Southern Baptist Convention. The problem? The five smiling women on the cover are women of the cloth — church pastors."

..."The buyers said the statements that were in it took positions that were contrary to what we would say," Turner said. "It wasn't so much that there were women on the cover."... - See more at: http://soulfulbeauty.com/new.php?n=121#sthash.01JQEiiy.dpuf


Have you been reading anything interesting? Feel free to drop me a line below. :)  I might not always comment on the blogs listed above, especially since hurting myself on a chair this week... but I'm reading and sharing your stuff if it speaks to me! I'm more than happy to be an evangelist for you when it speaks to my heart.

Much love,

Jennifer

19 June 2013

What am I reading this week?

Cherry Tree, 2013, photo by J. Stahl
Now, before I get chided for not posting something of my own, I have to say that I've been reading so many interesting things this week that I've been inspired a bit by Rachel Held Evans' Sunday Superlatives.  I couldn't cram all of these things into several posts with the schedule I have lately, so today I'd like to share some of the interesting things I've been reading this week.

In no particular order:

"Public meetings with altar calls and invitations have nothing to do with Jesus. They are a phenomenon arising out revival meetings among Protestants in the late 1800′s. Believe it or not, God has had a remnant through the ages of people who are among his faithful and altar calls have not had anything to do with it. But what is the Gospel? What did Yeshua say about such matters?"
The Gospel from the Gospels #1


" This coming kingdom foretold in Daniel was the great Jewish hope. It was looming in the air. People have differing theories about how it would happen. Jewish groups and common Jews had differing ideas about who would make it happen and how. Many felt the time was right. Many were open to a military option for bringing the kingdom. Some groups (Essenes, Pharisees) believed they had the keys to a Torah-renewal movement that would bring about the kingdom.
And Yeshua came saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15)."
The Gospel from the Gospels #2

 "...at the same time, i can’t bury my head in the sand and hope for the day i wake up and we’re all getting along.
we are stuck with each other in this mess.
and there’s only one way out–Love.
love hurts.  love is hard.  but it’s what we are called to.
the world is watching.  those hanging on to their faith by a thread are watching. the future generations are watching.
and  so far what we’re offering them are deep divides, angry answers on the internet, homogenous churches and ministries, fear, and disdain.  we’re either fighting or fleeing.
i believe there’s a third way-a more mature way, a harder way, a better way."
8 ways those from more liberal-progressive and conservative-evangelical persuasions can better love each other

"a really big thing that gets in the way of healthier-ways-of-living-in-the-tension-of-our-differences is unsafety.
it’s impossible to have unity and love when there’s all kinds of unsafe, unhealthy behavior going on.
to me, another word for “safety” is “healthy”.
safer, healthier people make safer, healthier conversations.
they bridge divides."
safer people make safer conversations

" ...spiritual abuse does damage in all directions. The perpetrator gets away with practicing soul-destroying conduct that is antithetical to what it means to be a Christian and that inevitably undermines their own ministry. Likewise, the wounds inflicted by spiritual abuse are deep and hard to heal. The toll this takes on the abused person can be spiritually and emotionally devastating and, in some cases, lasts a lifetime. "
This Can of Worms Must be Opened!

" As followers of Jesus, Christians belong on the forefront in this devastating crisis. But the roots of the problem run deeper and saturate our own culture where doors are already open to girls. Yet they're being bombardedboth outside and inside the churchwith messages that lower their aspirations and shrink their horizons."
Young Ezers Rising
" Tragically, one form of abuse can escalate to another and, if allowed to persist, can inadvertently give permission for others to abuse.

None of these abuses have any place among the people of God, although to our shame all of them are present among us in shocking numbers. They must be rooted out, and we cannot rely on others to step up to do the uprooting."
The Perfect Storm

Would Father's Day be different...
If Christianity wasn’t preaching that, not only are they allowed to hit their children, but they must hit their children in order to be good fathers?
Sarah Over The Moon

"There is a term for a family without boundaries, a family in which the self is suffocated and a single identity is meant to fit more than one individual -- enmeshed."

"
The progress toward my self and the healing from my boundary-less childhood has been a slow and difficult march, but my heart is being transformed."
knowing your boundaries :: freedom is waiting
"I left Christianity entirely at fourteen, shortly after I did what every Fundamentalist is subtly discouraged from doing: reading the entire Bible, cover to cover, without a study guide or Sunday School teachers or pastors to “interpret” things for me."
learning the words: liberation

 "Turning to Kassian’s post from yesterday, which she titled “When A Woman Makes A Lot of Money and Her Husband Doesn’t,” I’d like to systematically break down and address each major component of her post (her words are indented and italicized). I could have written a full post in response, but chose to address Kassian point-by-point to ensure that I touch on every assumption, value, and half-truth embedded in the post. This response is divided into four posts since I really don’t want to dump the whole 4,200 words on you in one sitting.


"It may surprise both anti-feminists and anti-Christians equally to know that feminism’s roots are tangled up with the strong Christian women’s commitments to the temperance movement, women’s rights to personhood under the law, suffragist movements, and–in America and England in particular–the abolitionist movements of the nineteenth century. Christian feminism predates the works of second- and third-wave secular feminist writers..."
Reclaiming Feminism

 "To label women who work as tainted or unnatural within Christian circles is not just detestable and cowardly, it is contrary to the Scriptures themselves. Instead, we should celebrate all work that holds a family together, whether accomplished by a man or a woman or both."Women are Breadwinners, Literally

"...just don’t love him enough. A man you’ve never met. And he’s going to continuously feel threatened by your previous sexual partners, because he has always owned your body. It’s his possession, and someone else dared to touch it. No, you dared to let someone else touch it..."
future husbands: your future wife does not belong to you

"It's distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus," she said, "or when we hear about `Women of the Wall' having metal chairs thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray."
Barbra Streisand slams treatment of women in Israel

 
And last but not least, the most thought provoking things I've seen in the last week:
Here's wishing you all a wonderful week.

11 June 2013

What is Ordinary Courage?


Flower and Honeybee, photo by A. Stahl
Any coward can fight a battle when he’s sure of winning, but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he’s sure of losing. – George Eliot

If you notice the photo above, this is something my husband snapped several years ago, not long before I came to Germany.

You see a lovely honey bee, all covered in beautiful pollen, doing her job harvesting and helping to cross-pollinate, strengthening the genes of future plants.   Often, we do not think of the smaller creatures of our planet as brave, as they are simply "dumb insects".  I believe this dear little bee is indeed courageous for not only doing her job, but by succeeding at it.  She leaves her hive, knowing what dangers she will face - and still does her job every day.

How many other little "bees" do we have in our lives that we often do not consider for their courageousness?

 When I think of ordinary courage:
  • I think of a family member who was confronted with some very immense and heavy news that the gender they always thought they were growing up - is a lot more convoluted than we ever could have imagined and is living life to the best of their ability.
  • I think of a family member who has recently been diagnosed with a disability and many health issues. I watch and hear how all of their friends turn their back on her for many reasons - who still wakes up every morning and attempts to be a light to the nations in spite of what other Christians have done to her personally.
  • I think of my best friend in Alabama who faced cancer and came out on the other side. Where anyone else would have been utterly devastated; She had her stuff together and was a light to everyone in her workplace, at the hospital and in the community. After a bleak prognosis, surgeries and chemo, she went into remission. This past month she found that her newest health issues were no issues at all; but a miracle child!
  • I think of the many wonderful bloggers I'm now coming to know and love who in the face of so many different disadvantages have risen to the occasion and are pushing ever more upwards and higher, as if on eagle's wings.
  • It's ordinary moms and dads who, despite their hangups or upbringing, decide to parent with grace and a simple gentleness that just touches the very heart and soul of their children and their children's circle of friends.
  • It's trusting whatever little seed of faith that you have and giving your all to what is ahead of you whether it ends well or not.
I know that most people would not think of many of these instances as "ordinary", but perhaps "extraordinary" examples.  Maybe they are to you, but to me, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to courage I have seen every day.

"Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it." —Mark Twain

 Ordinary courage is sometimes the simple act of getting out of bed to face the day. Perhaps, the act of getting dressed. It may be overcoming your health issues or social anxieties so you can give courage to others.

  Ordinary courage might be described as brushing off bruised and skinned knees or changing bedpans. It might even be hugging a stranger over the internet. It might even be giving some change, coffee, food or necessities to someone in need.

Each of us, in their own brave ways, are acting in spite of our every day fears to overcome the hard things in this world.  It might look different from my perspective to yours, but G-d knows all of those many ordinary acts of courage that we take every day.

Ordinary courage is doing something that is mundane for someone else, but shows the true colors of your heart in the face of fear and acting to give fear a one-two in the puss.  It is allowing G-d to move when you are afraid and unable to go it alone.

"What brought this on?", you might ask.  Well, some wonderful bloggers I know that are participating in a Syncroblog and exploring Brené Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection", and TED talks. 

Rather than leave you hanging, wondering what all of this is, I'll share some of the wonderful talks that Brené has made that are available online. It is my hope that her talks may encourage you, with whatever little grain of courage you may have.








You will find all of the other syncrobloggers below:

This Is Courage by Jen Bradbury
Being Vulnerable by Phil Lancaster
How to Become a Flasher by Glenn Hager
Ordinary Courage by Elaine Hansen
Courage, Hope, Generosity by Carol Kuniholm
The Courage to Fail by Wendy McCaig
Sharing One's Heart by K. W. Leslie
All I See Is Rocks by Tim Nichols
Loving Courageously by Doreen A. Mannion

10 June 2013

Where have I been?

Seerosengewächse - Luisenpark, Mannheim - Photo by J.Stahl


I've been trying to return back here several times in the past couple of weeks, and honestly, I didn't know what to write about. There's so much I could talk about, but I've started feeling slightly like a crazy person with many of the things that I've started realizing and noticing around me and it's... well, it's depressing!

Out of all the things I had hoped to observe, one of them is that men in Christian forums can be really nice and respectable, and if you express your opinion, it'll be taken at face value. [[buzzer sound]] WRONG!!!!!!!  I've had to block several people this week. Mostly because I could not bear to see the misogyny any more. I just cannot handle that insanity. 

 It's just the same crazy rehashed over and over. No one is moving forward. No one wants to hear the other side.Those of us who actually do try, keep being burnt.

Otherwise, things have been extremely busy around the house, I've been sick with an infection. I've just gotten caught up on Doctor Who. (From Doctor #9 to #11 from February until last week)  I've also just begun Series 2 of Torchwood - and I've been reading again!

I'm not the sort of person to read one book at a time since I have many different interests. I usually read three or four books at one go. Then I add in several magazines or short pamphlets as well. If I do not do that, I get extremely bored and forget about the book entirely.  Actually, that's about how I watch television shows as well. Multiple genres, several things recorded to watch later, and nothing that is only one series as I've been burnt over and over on cancellations. (Twelve of my favorites have been cancelled since early May - American and Canadian series. Two British series that I enjoyed have ended in a short run.) In other words, I've learned from my mistakes after Fox cancelled Firefly... I keep my options open.


Books I'm reading now include Hillary Clinton's  "It Takes a Village". I'd heard nothing but terrible reviews of the book since it came out, and honestly? I'm not seeing why. So far, it's really well written and her arguments are many of the same issues I've had with child-rearing, gaps in Child Protective Services and over-arching issues in schools. I purchased my copy used, since we haven't a library nearby that I can lend books from in English.


I recently finished Virginia Ramsey Mollenkott's "The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God As Female". Contrary to some things I'd heard about the book, it was absolutely wonderful!
Virginia Mollenkott raised a lot of imagery and questions that I have had since childhood and been told I was bringing in heretical doctrine.

Some of these images are expounded upon in Judaism, but Christians are afraid to entertain the idea that G-d has described imagery that is both masculine and feminine to explain what and who G-d is.

My particular copy is from 1983. I was two years old when this was published. Somehow that is extremely encouraging, as I'd wondered if perhaps I was going off the deep-end to assume there must have been scholars that were arguing for a more egalitarian and less masculine driven theology and philosophy about G-d; as G-d is not gendered.

One fun thing about getting older used books is that they often have notes already in them from the individuals that have read them before you.   I actually laughed while reading the book to find that I did not need my pencil as much as I thought I would. Normally I do not underline or mark in my books, but if the book is very thought provoking and I want to be sure to highlight some area to revisit, I do mark along the sides of paragraphs to pay closer attention, or if a phrase is particularly poignant, I'll underline something. Whomever it was that owned this withdrawn library copy before me, had done just that!  I decided to leave in the pencil markings and instead use a pen and make arrows to the areas I was particularly drawn towards.

One such area that stood out at me was from the chapter about "God as Mother Bear".
"Many women are struggling with their anger at a society and a religion that do not appreciate the full range of their gifts and relegates them always to a supportive, secondary, or self-sacrificial role... One-way servitude is not healthy, whether it be that of the Divine Mother or the human female."
Virginia Ramsey Mollenkott's "The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God As Female", pages 52-53
Another area was from the chapter "God as Female Homemaker
"Throughout the centuries of patriarchy, religious women have been told to model themselves after the exclusively masculine models... The masculinizing results are evident in various historical eras. ...ascetic women... were regularly compared to Thecla, the legendary disciple of Saint Paul, who cut her hair like a man, traveled with the apostle disguised as a man, and refused to let any threats from her family or the state stop her from pursuing her vocation. While we can be thankful for the courage of Thecla, her example does nothing for contemporary women who want to serve God without denying our womanliness."
Virginia Ramsey Mollenkott's "The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God As Female", page 63
My absolute favorite though was the chapter "God our Ezer". It reminded me so much of Carolyn Custis James' book "Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women".  Did you know that Ezer is used 21 times in the Tanakh and it is used twice to describe Eve? Every other time it is used to talk about someone, it is used to talk about G-d. Now, I'm not saying (and neither is the author) that women are more equal to G-d or some nonsense, but that we've lost this information somewhere in time and instead of having a balanced view of men and women working together (not in some sort of patriarchal way, but as true equals as G-d intended), we have chosen to put on "blue glasses" and view G-d in one way, when G-d is actually not presented that way at all.

In other words, it's as if we've sat back and tried to watch a 3D movie without the wonderful advantage of having the glasses to go along with it. We've seen the same film together, but some of us have gotten more out of it by using the proper glasses to view the film with, than those who chose to go without and watch a distorted image.  Everything would simply change if we were on even ground.
"One of the direct results of sexism is that it blinds us to the humble nearness of God, the internal presence of God who is our ezer, our servant as well as our master."
Virginia Ramsey Mollenkott's "The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God As Female", page 77
 To that, all I can say is "Preach on, Sister!



I've also read and finished Firstfruits of Zion's "The Sabbath Breaker". I really liked the book, but I felt like it could have given us a little bit more. It was very good in explaining three different views on whether or not (and how) Y'shua broke the Sabbath and IF he broke the Sabbath that he couldn't be Messiah because that made him a sinner and not qualified to be Messiah.

The book goes on to explain the 39 Melachot (Forbidden types of work on Shabbat) and where Y'shua diverted from one interpretation and accepted another.

Where I felt the book fell short, was that it didn't really explain thoroughly how Y'shua was a rabbi in his own right, recognized as a Pharisee and therefore qualified to argue the finer points of one observance over another sect of Pharisees.   (For those that might not know, there were seven types of Pharisee, which were mentioned in Scripture and alive and functioning at the time of Y'shua and into the end of the times the Apostles were alive.)  Honestly, I would have loved to have more explanation there rather than needing to get another book that explains how Y'shua and the disciples/apostles were all functioning as Pharisees and Essenes, and that this is not a bad thing.

I do enjoy the brevity of the book for people who are rather argumentative and want short easy answers, but for those of us who are a bit further along or want meatier material, it does fall just short of that.

My other issue is that the 39 melachot are accepted without much argument as 100% valid "Must do's" without fleshing that out further. I believe that this may be better handled in another book to explain how and why this would be so - given that I'm such a person that doesn't learn well unless my hands are busy taking down notes, or otherwise occupied in some sort of crafty manner. I know many women who are exactly the same. We don't find our handicrafts or taking notes as "work" at all, but as a way to keep the mind flexible so that what we are hearing will be assimilated knowledge.

I do not believe at all that anyone who observes these rules are legalistic, but I find it short sighted to say that those of us who don't are "missing out" or otherwise creating by taking notes. I'm one of the few people who has trouble keeping in knowledge that I must be sure to act upon or remember if I haven't written it down.

I know it is not the author's intention, but the feeling I get about this is that the next step would be to suggest a separate women's area - and then women's attendance will fall because they are not as involved in services, are relegated to the back (or balcony) and are unseen and unheard by the male populace. I pray this is not so, but I've seen many Messianic congregations head that way and I'd rather not be involved in such a congregation where I am made to feel unwanted and unneeded.

This will be one place that I am unconvinced and lean more Conservative with my observance. I would like to see more and explore more, but at this point, I just don't see quite eye to eye with this point of view. I am however quite giving in that I don't think it's really something to quibble over or let divide otherwise lovely individuals from having great interactions with each other.

Two other items from Firstfruits of Zion that I'd recently purchased and finally perused. (Color me embarrassed - life just seems to get away from me. I'd had it for over a month before I sat down to look it over.)


Kiddush Shabbat is a wonderful fold out guide to the opening Shabbat liturgy. This would work fine for home or synagogue observance.

The wonderful part about this guide is that it includes suggestions of songs, and is well annotated for those of us who like looking at the Scriptures from which this liturgy was inspired.




Closing Shabbat is a wonderful guide that I believe would help a lot of people who are not quite used to Shabbat liturgy find their way and help them to memorize a home service or have a more easily fluid Melaveh Malkah

I love the fact that the card has a slight gloss so that it won't glare either by sun or candle light  and that it is well annotated so that you can look up the various Scriptures that each part of the service is drawn from.

I would however recommend laminating your copies of each pamphlet if you will be using it frequently.




For those of you who saw my "Spank Out Day USA Musings", you would probably not be shocked to hear that I have been reading Pastor Crystal Lutton's books "Biblical Parenting" and "Grace-Based Living".

Due to my living in Germany, I had a terrible time trying to find "Biblical Parenting". We didn't have it available on our Amazon. Amazingly, there are now a few used and new copies being offered for over 30€. I found my copy on E-bay for a little bit less than that, which is crazy for a book that runs around $18 in the United States.

I do know Crystal a bit from our online interactions together on Skype and Gentle Christian Mothers, as well as her new group on Google Plus, Grace Based Living. I wish I had known her long before this and my parenting would have certainly gone a whole lot smoother. 

There were so many awesome take-aways from this book, and it is a really quick read. The book was written in 2001, when Crystal had only two children - but it is just as valid in 2013 after many children. 

Crystal references several different authors who teach along a similar premise, as well as those who explain about healthy boundaries to quickly sum up what she (and many others like her) believe are Biblical parenting methods.

The basics that every Christian and Messianic parent needs are: boundaries, grace and tools to navigate normal child development.  (These tools do not include beating your child.)



 When Crystal's book "Grace-Based Living" was offered on Spank Out Day for free, I snapped up a copy. I'm currently in the middle of it, and all I can say is that you really need to get a copy if you are moving away from a punitive mindset.
This one has a lot more tools in it than the previous book, probably as it was originally written in 2006. 

In chapter three, Crystal discusses a Grace-Based Marriage. Unsurprisingly, she mentions the issue of Eve being described as a wife, an Ezer Neged:


"In fact, the woman was not created only to be ezer to her husband. she was created to be ezer neghed. This translates as a 'helper who opposes.' When the rabbis talk about the responsibility of women in marriage, they speak of her having been created to walk side by side with her husband and carry the burdens of this life with him as long as he is on the path of righteousness.
If he attempts to stray from that path and pursue some sinful or unrighteous effort, it becomes his wife's responsibility to throw herself in front of his path and, to the best of her ability, block him from leaving. She is to help him in righteousness and oppose him in sin."
"...Most popular teaching today on submission is really about how women can biblically manipulate men. It is not worded that way, but as we talk about boundaries and other relationship principles and dynamics, I believe you will see better where I am coming from. Women are taught that through submission they can control their husband. Every time a woman has been told, 'If you would only submit more/properly/better, your husband would...' That is the language of manipulation, not submission."
Crystal Lutton, Chapter 3 of
Grace-Based Living

I'll leave you with those two quotes to go on and beg you to get a copy whether you now have kids, never will have kids, or plan on having kids in the deep dark future somewhere, sometime. It really is a wonderful book that touches on many issues of marriage and child-rearing.

 I'm noticing that most of the books that I'm reading are really looking at the deeper issues of seeking Tikkun Olam. Repairing relationships (parental, with one's children, and with others in the community and world at large) is the main focus, but also following the mandate in Genesis to take care of and help repair the world.

You see, I was raised in a rather spiritually abusive environment. I could have simply walked away. But I chose not to. I chose to step aside and just watch it play out while being very rude and sullen about it all, until I was ready to delve in and start exploring again, after I had my oldest son.

Maybe that could be something I write about. Coming to terms with my spiritual abuse and horrible childhood experiences..?