Thursday, October 16, 2014

No, Please Don't Visit My Newborn! Thoughts....

For months, you carry a baby in your womb. 

For months, you sacrifice your all to bring about life.  And this life belongs uniquely to you.  Then the baby is born and suddenly, the baby belongs to everyone else...  or so they think....  or so it feels. 

Recently I came across a beautifully written narrative called No, Please Don't Visit My Newborn!  by Laura Grace Weldon.  It might be best to read the article for yourself, but in short, she describes a time shortly after the birth of her first child in which her husband's grandmother visits, takes the baby without asking, then refuses to return upon crying.  Laura then explains her mama-grizzly response and how that one moment changed the way she and her husband planned post-birth boundaries in the future. 

It was an article that I related to on a very personal level and was shocked by the negative response in the comments.   The disappointment that plagued me as I read through is how this recently-having-birthed-mother was judged for selfish grandparent alienation.  The conclusion that I've drawn is that culturally, we know very little about maternal health.

And I confess being an uniformed relative. 

I remember when my sister had her first child.  He was Frank Breech and her water broke the day before a scheduled version as an attempt to turn him.  Though I am older than her, I was not aware of the real need for family boundaries and rode with them to the hospital, then sat in the room while the eager parents-to-be consulted the doctor on whether they should attempt a version or opt for a Cesarean (though I knew enough to not comment).  I remember them deciding on the cesarean and then waiting an hour after the surgery to visit my new nephew.    After we were welcomed to visit, my brother in law handed the baby to me and made a comment: 

"Hold his head.  Don't drop him."

"I know more about babies than you.  Don't worry."  I fired back. 

Truth be told, I probably did, being the oldest of five children.  However, I was far out of line and learned just how far after the birth of my first son a few years later.  And let me say, I certainly went to him and apologized. 

I was an intruder in every possible way. 

I should have driven to the hosptial separately.  I should have not have been in the room while they made the decision with the doctor.   I should have given them more than an hour to bond with their new son, and I certainly should not have put my BIL's protective instinct in check. 

They have not been resentful, but I still feel sad for robbing them of a private family moment. 

Fast forward two years later.  Aviel was coming into the world, arriving into our arms in a beautiful hospital birth.  My mom and my mother-in-law were both in town for his arrival, in the waiting room during pushing, and visiting as soon as they were medically allowed.  My father-in-law planned to visit several days after his birth, but my father was unable to make it at that time.  What I did not anticipate  is how overwhelming it would be to have 3 out of 4 grandparents visiting from abroad simultaneously.  After leaving the hospital, guests would be present in our home until 10 or 11 pm.  When they would leave, I would cry and cry.  (And before I get to far into my story, let me just say that the grandparents were not necessarily doing anything wrong... they were all doting grandparents.  It was simply a lot for me, having just birthed and desiring bonding with my brand new baby). 

I felt as though Aviel was constantly taken from my arms the minute he finished nursing.  Requests to not put him to sleep before feedings were not honored.  Diapers were changed, with his chord stump still present, without asking.  Pacies were placed in his mouth, again, without asking.  Others held him during worship services at our Kehilah (congregation), which had been a special time of bonding for me before he was born.

"This has been great" one of  the grandparents said one evening. "We didn't get nearly this amount of time with your nephew when he was born."

"Really?" 

"Not at all.  Its like we've been living with you." 

In that moment, I realized my overwhelmed feelings were not an exaggeration, but a response to a having guest present far more than my recovering body, and heart, needed at the time!  And apparently, the situation was characteristically different from the experience that one set of grandparents had with the first grandchild. 

Not only that, but at our 2 week appointment, when the nurse explained that Aviel was not gaining weight efficiently and suggested one formula bottle a day, something of my own maternal instinct kicked in strong. 

You see, I knew it was too much, but I didn't trust my instinct.  I wondered if I was being controlling, and I felt guilty asking grandparents who lived abroad to leave, to return my newborn child, to not grandparent quite. so. much.   

When the nurse pointed out that Aviel's health was at risk, and that we might need a feeding intervention that I did not want,  that's when my own personal mama-grizzly came out.  I then knew I needed to establish some better boundaries for both our sake.  I needed some privacy to do skin-to-skin contact and increase my milk supply.  I needed some privacy to make sure he was getting full feedings at regular intervals.  I needed him in my arms to keep my prolactin and oxytocin high.

I needed him and he needed me. 

We needed each other and this wasn't selfish...  this was healthful. 

As informed as I had been on the physiology of birth, I certainly missed something in understanding what my postpartum needs would be, and that my needs were symbiotic with Aviel's needs. 

In the years since, as I've continued to study, I've learned that privacy in those early hours and days is a very important part of overall maternal and baby health, and an area where our western culture is extremely ill informed.   

After a women gives birth, her oxytocin and prolactin levels are higher than they will ever be in her life, until she births again.  Likewise, estrogen levels are dropping at rapid rates.  She is likely sore from the birth, bleeding, and trying to learn how to nurse.  With all that is happening in her body, in all honesty, it isn't the time for a huge influx of visitors.  She very well may want and need space to work these new emotions, feelings, and body responses out privately.  Learning to breastfeed certainly does take some work and doesn't necessarily go well with constant company. 

With all that is happening, it should be understood that new mother is extremely vulnerable, almost just as much as a new baby, and the new father follows a close third.  If a clash of emotions occurs, I doubt any party is intentionally trying to be be selfish, but either acting out of lack of knowledge (guests), or the extreme hormonal change taking place (mother).  While the instinct to bond with a new baby will also be strong in grandparents, no one in the room is processing the birth in as complex biological ways as the mother, and all mature adults should do what they can to support her needs at that time, not only for her well being, but also for the baby. Extended family bonding can come later. 

Since this is not something that is common knowledge, I believe falls on the new parents to process the post birth needs as part of the "birth plan" and to communicate expectations in advance.  If I could offer some tips based on my previous experience, this is what I would suggest and plan myself this time around:

  • Guard the first hour after birth.   According to the research of Michel Odent, the first hour after birth is a very sensitive time physiologically for mother and baby.  My birth plan for Girl baby includes guarding this time with my whole heart.  Ideally, the baby will be with me in skin-to-skin contact, while the chord finishes pulsating.  I'd prefer for her to be with either me or Devin, except for minor medical monitoring from our amazing homebirth doctor.  I hope that she will mostly be in my arms until after her first nursing.  Only after that takes place will it be time for her to meet and greet other loved ones. 
  •  Plan for privacy and practical help.  Privacy and practical help are essential for a establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship.  Make sure to communicate what practical help is for you.  For me, its not holding the baby, so I can do other things.   Its doing other things so I can hold the baby!  Its cooking, doing dishes, laundry and and keeping visits short and sweet.  Of course you can hold my baby, just ask first, please, and return promptly upon my request!   
  • Establish clear visiting hours.   We'll have time for friends with an extension for extended family.  For many, it will help ease emotions to communicate this in advance so hearts can be prepared to not "live with" the new family. 

I hope that our postpartum experience will go a little more smoothly this time, and because I do believe maternal health needs run counter cultural, I hope this will serve as a starting point for other women to evaluate with their husbands what the first few weeks postpartum might require for their family to thrive! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wars, Fear, and Sharp Swords



We live in Perilous days.  No joke?  I know sometimes scrolling through facebook, I can feel a sense of urgency of the times in which we live.  It can cause me to fear, and likewise, I can see the fear in others. 

Recently I wrote this ecouragment peice for SAVED News addressing fear, through the teachings of Yeshua found in Matt 24.  Over the years, the Lord has made this passage real and even practical in my life.  Please take a look and fear not!
 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guarding Oil

Have you ever wondered how the same Yeshua, Jesus, who instructed to give your cloak in one passage, praised the virgins who refused to share their oil in another? (Matt 5:40, 25:1-13). Or how about the command to “turn the other cheek”, yet He rebukes the church of Thyatira for “tolerating that woman Jezebel.” (Matt 5:39, Rev 2:20). After living in Israel through seasons of war, the seeming contradictions of these passages make much more sense. 

I describe a few things I learned about these passages in light of Israel's need to defend her boarders in my August post for SAVED News.  Read more here: 

Aug 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Missile Mayhem


In the last month I've had a few posts go live in my other venues about the realities of war, describing a few events surrounding missiles and sirens here in Israel. 

The first one, War Sirens and Oil Flasks, appeared on Kindred Grace.  This piece is a variation on something I wrote shortly after Operation Pillar of Defense (or Pillar Cloud, as more accurately translated), but I expanded it for our KG audience and our monthly feature  on devotional lives.  It is a narrative of my *first ever* siren that is woven through the Matt 25 parable of the virgins and lamp stands. 

Next, on SAVED News, please view my article called The Midnight Missile.  This is a shorter piece describing the events of running down the bomb shelter due to a missile in the middle of the night.  This is not a teaching piece, rather simply an update for my readers in the form of little story.  This one includes a photo of our shelter for anyone curious about how that space looks and feels. 

Life in Israel is so surreal.  Sometimes I feel like I live in the Wild Wild West.  Hmm.... that sounds like a great upcoming post! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We are Orange and Blue

As a writer, occasionally I'll put something in words, then go back and freak out over whether or not my readers will receive it as I intended.  This is the people pleaser in me fighting against my desire to be honest and real.   This most recently happened after I hit "publish" on my Honest Marriage post.  What brought on the sense of insecurity was the use of the two words complimentarian (Carolyn McCulley) and egalitarian (Rachel Held Evans).   As a Christian woman, these terms are loaded with all sorts of connotations, judgments, classifications, emotions even.   They designate being part of either particular movement within the broader body.  After submitting that post, I feared that I would be labeled as one, rejecting the other, as my readers tried to sort where I fit.

Where do I fit?

I'd like to say both... or neither.  Probably in reality I'm mostly complimentary, but I have scriptural and practical concerns about some of the teachings.  I don't believe God's plan for marriage is primarily about roles,  but rather intimacy.  Likewise, I don't love the feminist undertones of the Christian egalitarian movement.  I'm not a feminist because I'm not a victim (more on both of these from a scriptural standpoint later.  Tonight I need to be right brained).  I am so moved by Dr. Wheat's book, Love Life for Every Married Couple because I feel that as a man, he is able to express this issue of equality with scriptural soundness, void of a feminist edge. 

Perhaps my understanding of this issue is a little different than the main stream due to my training in architecture and interior design, as well as my overall nature.  Through my educational background, I understand a few things about the power of complimentary colors.  Orange and blue, for example, are probably my favorite pair.  When working with compliments, it is not essential to have the same measure of parts in order to have equality in overall narrative usage.

Consider this installation piece by contemporary artist Richard Jackson, The Blue Room:



There's something about this that is rather sad feeling.  When looking, I see and open roof, a window and a door, first.  Then I see the woman.  It might seem obvious to assume that she is the subject of the painting, being the human element,  but because of the power of the warm tones, I wonder if Jackson is making a greater commentary on what is happening outside. And then I think of her.  Maybe she feels alone, or trapped within her walls.  What do you think? 

He accomplished this statement through quality, not quantity.  When considering the percentages of color that fill this composition, I'd say the blue is the greater weight.  But the warmth of the orange and yellow tones is no less valid in telling this story simply because the quantity is smaller.  The quality of usage is provoking. 

For a more known example, lets look at this self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh:  


Again, the proportioning of amounts sways much more heavily in the cool blues tones, but look at how much influence the smaller amounts of warm orange tones have in creating the subject of this piece.  I remember writing a biographical paper on Van Gogh during my first year as an undergraduate Interior Architecture student at UNCG.  He was a man of Christian faith who pursued pastoral ministry for a time, yet could not seem to fit in with the general population due to his eccentric nature.  When I look at this self portrait, I wonder if he is telling us this secret, through the monochromatic exteriors, the wall and his clothing, paired with the contrast of his fiery beard and hair:  That he doesn't blend into this world. 

I believe the two theoretical descriptions of Christian womanhood really void themselves of strength when separated.  I am thankful for my husband's strong leadership.  I'm also thankful that my role doesn't have to be equal to his in function  in order to be equal to his in meaning.  We work together.  We are orange and blue. 

I do believe we are equal, but we are equal because we compliment.  And we compliment best when we are not trying to compete, but rather allowing the Lord to put the full composition together.  Sometimes my complimentary role might actually take the lead, but it will do so through wisdom, and careful intentionality, that allows his color to do all that God planned for it to do. 

Striking statements of beauty and influence might very well come when less is more

Thank you for allowing some freedom to muse instead of teaching directly from scripture.  Since I do value the authority of His word, please do not take this as gospel...  just an idea to ponder.  


Also, I do not receive any compensation for mention of books or other resources.  I share about what I love because I love it.  If this ever changes, I will let you all know. 


Related Posts:

Honest Marriage
The Beauty of Chagall Windows for Hospital Ashes



Thursday, September 11, 2014

John Piper and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

I don't usually do this.  I don't think its in good taste to break down the teachings of another and write responsively.  But this time, for Jerusalem's sake, I cannot keep silent. 

Recently the teaching series and articles by John Piper about how Christians should respond to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was brought to my attention.  I listened, and read, nearly in tears, as he expounded upon this issue with classic replacement theology arguments, as well as an unfortunate humanist perspective.  I value so many of Piper's thoughts and have always considered him to be a sound and safe theologian, so this was quite a disappointment to me personally.  Not to mention that I have grave concerns for the amount of sway he has on the evangelical church. 

In short, Piper believes that the Jewish people do not have divine right to the land of Israel.  He bases his argument off of the conditional nature of the covenant God established with Israel - often sending them into exile for disobedience to his word.  Piper explains that the Jewish people at present are in this state of disobedience for lack of belief in Jesus.  For this reason, we should not believe they have divine right to the land, but we should support them as far as justice and humanitarian issues are concerned. 

I am so thankful that I have a heart to study God's word on my own, because the holes in his argument jumped out with clarity.   Piper is mistaken in that the divine right to the land is based merely on Israel's disposition, and he makes an extremely dangerous leap to suggest that their rejection of salvation in Messiah Yeshua is the greatest evidence so support that they do not have divine right to the land.  I personally believe that the mere existence of Israel today challenges this very notion.  If this were true, in God's sovereignty, would why would He have permitted this nation to form  after 2000 years in the diaspora.  More importantly,  no where does scripture state that Israel has land rights based on their salvation.  Rather, the Abrahamic Covenant guarantees the land as an ever lasting inheritance, and ultimately one based on His covenant keeping nature, rather than Israel's works.   

 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.  I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”  Gen 17:6-8

I think Ezekiel 36 alone truly shows the lack of biblical wholeness in Piper's argument.  Let's walk through it: 

 
Then the word of the Lord came to me saying,
  “Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols.  Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them.
  Eze 36: 16-19

So far, this passage seems in line with Pipers perspective that God sends Israel into exile for disobedience.  This is true and it is something He did do through out the OT.   In this case, the disobedience of Israel even continued in the nations:

 When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord; yet they have come out of His land.’ But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. v. 20-21 

But God has a plan that is not dependent on Israel, but rather on His own holiness: 

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of 
Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.  v. 22-23 

And what does he do:
 
For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. v. 24

In their state of disobedience, God brings the people of Israel back to the Land of Israel!  He has not made this choice based on their condition, but on His own condition of holiness.  This demonstrates a fulfillment of the "blood path covenant"  of Genesis 15.  After the Lord  promises Abraham land and descendents, Abraham asks about the land:   

He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” v. 8 

The Lord does something amazing here.  He instructs Abraham to perform a ritual sacrifice, to which they should both walk through, according to the tradition of the time.  Instead, the Lord appears on his own, fulfilling both ends of the agreement: 


 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.   v. 17-18

He is promising Abraham that He can trust that His descendents will possess the land based on HIS goodness, not on works of the flesh.  In Eze 36, the Lord affirms this same promise and even prophesies of its fulfillment.  He sates that it is not for Israel's sake, or goodness,  that He is about it act, but for His own namesake, His holiness.  Ultimately that Genesis 15 passage is one that foreshadows salvation in Messiah Yeshua.  Let's see how this relates to the Lord bringing Israel back into the land: 


Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. v. 25-27
 

God will first bring the people of Israel back into the Land of Israel in disobedience,  and then He will cleanse them.  Many scholars (and I hold this understanding) believe that this is a prophet text speaking of the spiritual salvation of the Jewish people, after they have been brought into the land.  It is His kindness that lead to repentance:   

You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.  Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.  I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!” v.28-32

And in it is in the Land that a great revelation of Messiah Yeshua will be given the Jewish people: 

 

 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.  Zech 12:10

Piper also makes a few brief nods to Romans 11 in these various teachings.  He is truthful that Israel will be grafted in to salvation, but he neglects a few critical points.  We need to also remember that this extended season in which the Jewish people have not recognized Yeshua as their Messiah is not something to hold against them.  Instead,  is is part of God's sovereign plan. 


 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!  Romans 11:11-12
For some divine purpose that I do not fully understand, it was necessary for them to become hardend inorder for the Gentile nations to become saved.  But their salvation will be as life to dead, a testimony of God's resurrection power that will bless the nations. 



But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,  do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. v. 17-18 This is something we such accept in humility and in knowledge. 

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

The Deliverer will come from Zion,

He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;
for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  V. 25-28

I recommend reading the whole of Romans 11. 

By Pipers own logic, the nation of Israel should not exist today, but it does!  The mere fact that Israel exists as a thriving nation, with a strong army, economy, and fruitful land proves these words as living.  


We are walking in bible days, friends.  

The enemy knows that the formation of Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people are one of the greatest testimonies of the Living and Holy God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and soon coming of His beloved Son.  He will do all he can to keep you from seeing this revelation as it unfolds, even using a normally sound and respectable bible teacher, if that's what it takes. 

Please study for yourself, and know God's word.  And please stand with Israel during these perilous days. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Honest Marriage

I don't write much about marriage.  As a single woman, marriage was my passion.  Coming from a family of divorce, I did as much reading as I could to learn about this holy covenant and looked forward to the day I could expound on my book knowledge with lived experience.

Well, then I got married.

Only having been a bride for 5 and 1/2 years now, I'm not sure that I'm even qualified to share my thoughts.  Nor have I felt free to do so, learning how personal marriage issues truly are.  Ultimately, though, the Lord showed me that I haven't been writing about wedded bliss because I actually have not thought myself to be a good wife.

My negative self perception of my wifeliness has happened in response to the multitude of reading that I did as a single woman, and feeling as though  I could not measure up.  My marriage didn't seem to look like the books, and to be frank, the complimentarian resources I had studied were not working for me.

Praise God for a good Pastor.

Our premarital counseling worked through a book called Love Life for Every Married Couple, by Dr. Ed. Wheat, Md.  And now, just now, nearly 6 years later, I get it.

You see, Dr. Wheat, a medical doctor turned family counselor and sex therapist, writes of marriage through the whole scripture, through the whole of the human heart.  On the scope of Christian marriage writing, his perspective swings much more egalitarian.  He holds this perspective with a close reading of scripture, bringing headship and submission back to the Garden, where the first command was to cleave to each other.

As this was the first command for marriage, the greatest testimony we can give the world through our covenant love is one of great intimacy.

Defined roles and formulas aren't necessarily intimacy building.  While they can be helpful, they can also block the communication paths essential for a relationship to grow.  Intimacy has needs greater than what comes in the form a wife silently praying, hoping God changes parts of her marriage that are causing her pain.  This is a biblical admonishment, and one to follow, but sometimes intimacy comes through sharing a difficult word, always motivated by love.  Intimacy requires honesty, and honesty can be quite messy at times.  I'll take a little mess here and there, if it is producing something real and life long, because that's what I want....  with the man I pledged my life to on December 13, 2008.

Perhaps you'll see more marriage posts from me in the future.  I hope so.


Eating Religion For Dinner



My greatest concern about the "I hate religion" movement is that it is it shifts eyes from where they should be (Jesus, Yeshua) and on to another person.

Check out this month's submission for Kindred Grace about navigating religion in Israel, through a Shabbat Dinner story.

July 2014


Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Little About Learning Hebrew

For July's edition of Saved News,  I wrote in response to reader questions about learning Hebrew!  I love hearing from you all about what sparks your curiosity in Israel.  It helps me to generate new material.  Feel free to email or post questions or article tops in the comments, and keep them coming.  It is truly a joy to minister to my hometown through the ministry Saved News.  I hope you'll take away something inspiring about the Lord through my journey to become a Hebrew speaker! 

July 2014

Through a Marriage Proposal

At Kindred Grace, we all wrote about issues of love, dating or courtship, and marriage for the month of June.  My contribution was a story I know well, our love story!  Rather than telling it simply as our meeting and path to marriage, I hoped to testify to how God can use relationships to answer questions and call us further and deaper into our own individual callings and Kingdom purposes.  Follow the link to learn more! 

June 2014


 

PS.  Amanda took that photo of me on my wedding day. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Brave House of David

This is an article that I wrote for SAVEDNews for Oct 2013.  For some reason it didn't appear on their website so I was never able to share it with you all!  This link will be its home for now!  

                                                                        ***


The two most common questions I receive about life in Israel are, "Is it safe?" and "Are you scared?" 

Going about living my daily life, I am not afraid and I feel very safe.  When crisis hits a neighboring nation, or when missiles pick up frequency in the South, I do feel fearful.  I wrestle with fear more as a mom, than I did before Aviel was born.

During the Pillar of Defense conflict last year, several friends who grew up in Israel shared similar sentiments.  They reminisced about their experiences of the Gulf War, carrying gas masks to school in cartoon-covered bags, as if they were lunch boxes or backpacks.  My friends agreed that they felt safe because they trusted their parents to protect them.  Now as parents themselves, they felt the weight of that responsibility and struggled with fear.  My own memories of the Gulf War, as a second grader at Rosewood Elementary, are quite different; however, I relate to their present struggles as parents.   

What is the remedy to fear?  According to scripture, perfect love.  As children, my friends trusted the love of their parents to be perfect and they were unafraid.  Now as adults, we must trust in the perfect love of our heavenly father, and allow that to cast out fear. 

One practical way I trust in His perfect love is to stand on His promises in the word. Zachariah 12 holds a particular promise that encourages me as someone living in Israel.  This passage describes an attack on Jerusalem that will take place in the last days, but look how good God is:   "In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God…" (v.8).  

This is a promise that a great anointing of power will fall on those of us who live in Jerusalem.  I understand the “feeble” to be those who do not yet believe in Messiah Yeshua.  Since Yeshua is the “son of David,” I understand the “house of David” to be the Messianic community, the believers in the Land.  Holding tight to this promise, I trust that in God's perfect love, when these tumultuous times hit, His spirit will rend the heavens, empowering us to demonstrate radical love in the face of hate, and to testify of His greatness through miracles, signs, and wonders.  We will look more like Yeshua in that moment than ever before.  And that, more than anything, gives me courage. 

While I believe this promise holds specific meaning for the context of Jerusalem, I also trust it to be a promise for believers throughout the earth. Yeshua himself warns that in last days there will be wars and rumors of wars (Matt 24).  We will all face this issue of safety and fear.  Together, lets become a brave house.  Lets hide God's promises in our hearts, and walk in His perfect love, so in that day, we can be as Yeshua! 



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mom on a Mission!



Several months ago, a friend shared an article on FB listing reasons for intentional childlessness within Christian marriages.  As I read the authors argument, a sadness swelled in my heart.  At that time I was in the midst of secondary infertility and didn't know if I would carry a child in my womb again.  In my humble opinion, her reasoning resembled more closely that of worldly thinking than embracing a biblical world view, even unintentionally sending the message that women are of more social value without babies.  But it was when I read her thoughts on childlessness making one more more free to serve in Missions that I knew I had a voice on this issue. 

My personal experience has been exactly opposite of the author's thesis.  Having Aviel has only opened doors to know my Jewish and Muslim neighbors because this season has increased my common ground with women unlike me.  Take a few minutes, if you can, and read more in this month's submission to Kindred Grace. 

More than anything, know that if you are a ministry minded person, that love for your neighbor will overflow no matter what season in life you are in.  Your marital and mothering "status" neither qualifies nor disqualifies you from Kingdom Service, it simply changes how you go about things. 


May, 2014


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Antisemitism, Intactivism, Bullying, and a Loving God


Several years ago, I was naive enough to share about my experience with Aviel's Brit Milah with a few fellow attachment/natural parenting moms.  Being new to this community of moms, I had no idea that our decision to keep the commands of scripture, and to bring our son in to the traditions of his Jewish heritage would spark such an outrage.  Thus,  my first taste of the Intactivist movement was one of hate and bullying.  Not one of "education,"  love,  and compassion. 

The shock to my system prompted a tremendous amount of scripture studying, medical, and historical research, all of which have shaped my broader understanding of the heart and even spiritual issues lying behind this discussion.  After looking at this issue from a variety of angles, I have tremendous concern that the average Intactivist has no clue as to the antisemitic roots in this position, and maybe have given little consideration to how this reflects a heart posture towards God.  

In order to be clear, let me define who and I am and not talking about.  The parents who choose not to circumcise their sons for whatever personal reasons are the demographic I'm speaking of.  I personally am not concerned about what's going on in your baby's diapers and honor the freedom parents have to make personal decisions on behalf of their children.   Also, the bible is clear that the gentile nations who came into the covenants of Israel through salvation in Yeshua, Jesus, were not obligated to be circumcised. 

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.  Galation 5:6

The concern, however, is for the vehement opposition.  Those who use phrases such as "gentile mutilation" and "child abuse" to describe their position.  Those who push laws to forbid parents from even having an option to make this decision.  


I know a few Jewish ladies who are opposed to circumcision, but this is the minority position amongst the Jewish community.  The majority see this movement as blatantly antisemetic and an attack on their ability to keep the commands of scripture.  

You see, circumcision is one of the oldest laws given to the Jewish people, first commanded by the Lord to Abraham in Genesis 17.  As He bestows upon Abraham the everlasting covenant that the Land will belong to his children and He will be their God, He commands:  


This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”  Genesis 17: 10-14  

This command was granted well before the Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, although it is included in Levitus 12, as well.   Even before Sinai, this issue was so serious to the heart of God that the Lord nearly killed Moses for being disobedient to this command, before entering Egypt to free His people.  

Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”—because of the circumcision.  (Ex 4:24-26).

His gentile wife was clearly unhappy, but in order to bring the nation of Israel into the Land, Moses first had to keep the command of circumcision in his own home.  

Perhaps some intactivists will not take offense to the idea of grown men making their own adult decision to be circumcised, but believe its is against "child rights" for this practice to be forced onto a baby.  Amongst scripture and Jewish thought, however,  this is not a command for an adult man, but an command for parents to bestow upon their sons on the 8th day.  Moses did not feel God's displeasure because he himself was not circumcised, but because he had not circumcised his son.  Any national or city laws that prevent Jewish parents from making this choice for their sons are preventing them from acting in obedience according to scripture. 

This is where the antisemetic root is exposed (again, not in making your own personal choice, but in preventing your Jewish neighbors from being Jewish).  Upon investigating the legal proceedings surrounding the purposed ban on circumcision in San Fransisco that took place several years ago,  I learned something quite frightening!  

In order to promote the intactivist perspective, a graphic novel was developed.  The comic book centers around the blond, blue eyed, very Aryan superhero, called Foreskin Man, who takes on Ultra Orthodox Mohels and doctors who perform circumcisions.  In this Intactivist propaganda, Jewish families and doctors are presented as wicked villains who perform circumcisions for their own pleasure.  The illustrations presented resemble all too closely the historic antisemetic cartoons that were regularly published before WWII, and are currently published amongst the Muslim world today.  



An illustration from Foreskin Man

The publication has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, with details that can be found on the ADL's website, here.  


What I personally find disturbing about this graphic novel, as it relates to the Intactivist movement is that the author and illustrator, Matthew Hess, is not a fringe member of the campaign, but rather the president of the Male Genital Mutilation Bill group, who wrote the legislation that was to be voted on in San Fransico.  The ring leader of this particular movement is either highly antisemitic, or simply an uneducated individual.    

As King Solomon says, "There is nothing new under the sun."  This is indeed true for the Intactivist movement, which gives further cause for a concerned Jewish community.  Through out history, the practice of circumcision has been something gentile communities have used to further an anti-Jewish agenda.  As part of the "blood libel" and "ritual child sacrifice" accusations that were brought against Jewish communities, this practice of male circumcision was even part of the justification for the Pogroms.  

Today, the radical position is presented as "Child's Rights" advocacy against "child abuse."  

As a mother, I personally feel bullied when I hear this description, and I close my ears.  I have no interest in hearing your perspective if I am going to be criticized for mutilating my son.  It is offensive on a highly personal level.  

Offending me, and even making rulings that prevent Jewish families from keeping scriptural commands could be justified if all research supported male circumcision being harmful without any health benefits, but that is simply not true.  While I am aware that the Intactivist community has a body of their own research addressing possible risks, at present, there is a large and growing body of medical science research that supports the safety and long term health benefits of male circumcission, for both men and women.   Consider this study that illustrates a significant decrease in HPV, and Syphilis. Or this study that shows very low rates of severe complication, with the risk of complications increasing with age.  Maybe God was right about the 8 day thing?

Oddly, it is when I make this point that the Intactivist position becomes the most enraged, but to ignore this medical research is simply being intellectually dishonest.  The research does not have to shape your own personal family choices, but I do hope a thoughtful person would allow to shape how they discuss this issue with others.  

Besides taking personal offense to the "child abuse" accusation, I also personally believe this statement about circumcision to be unbiblical.  

It is God himself who gives the command to circumcise on the 8th day, and we are told in Deuteronomy 4:40:  

So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.

And again in Deuteronomy 5: 32-33

 So you shall observe to do just as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess. 

God gave the Law to bless His covenant people, the apple of His eye.  As I have walked amongst them in His covenant land, I see His love for the decedents of Abraham.  He would not have ordained a command with the intent to physically or psychologically harm the Jewish people.  I believe the radical Intactivist position, is not only antisemitic, but also a lie about the heart and character of a loving God.  

It is one thing to want to search out this issue and understand it in all of its biblical complexity, and even thoughtfully consider whether or not this is best practice for your family.  Its completely different to demonize something God commanded for the good of His people.   

If you are a gentile Christian and you desire to celebrate your identity and freedom through leaving your sons uncircumcised, good for you.  You can exercise your freedom and fully love God and the Jewish people.  You can do what's best for your family, and not promote a position that is hurtful to others, and maligns the character God.  So go, be intact in the flesh if that's your prerogative.  Meanwhile, any boys born into our household will be circumcised, thereby remaining intact with their people.  

Related Posts:

The Power of Brit Milah

    









A Blessed Appointment


My apologies for posting this well after Passover.  I have a decent excuse, in the way of some pretty severe early pregnancy symptoms that have kept me horizontal for most of the last few weeks.  For this month's contribution to SAVED News, I shared a story about how keeping the biblical command to pass on the Pesach tradition brought tremendous blessings into my life.  This was really the revelation that brought me through the last year in confidence of God's protection. 
April 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beauty Thief

I am very pleased to share this month's Kindred Grace submission with my friends and loyal readers.  As beauty and body image are the topic of the month, I chose to share the pain of my heart as I saw my body transforming through Cushing's Disease.  It was a baptism of fire that drew me closer to the Heart of God, as I learned the power of sharing in His sufferings.  For that, I wouldn't change one single day. 

Please read, and see how the Lord healed my body, and my heart.  And see how He restored what was lost and filled me with new life (due in November!). 

April 2014


Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Cushie Files: How I Figured it Out





I look like her...  This is happening to me.

That was my first reaction upon finding this image through a simple google for "puffy face".   I could see my own ballet frame transforming before my eyes, and this photo might as well have been me.  By the Lord's grace, finding this photo may have saved my life.

http://classes.midlandstech.edu/carterp/Courses/bio211/chap16/chap16.htm

For several months I had been struggling with a series of strange changes in my body.  My face was rounding, I had a double chin and hump  on my back.  My body was growing hairy, stomach enlarging, and though a two year old Aviel had weaned, I was still not have a regular cycle.

I clicked on the image and was able to check off more than few symptoms - enough to have me worried. 

Several months later, while visiting North Carolina in preparation for a family reunion trip to Disney World, I asked a doctor for his opinion.

"You are still really small, so I don't think you have Cushings.  And its really rare."  he said.

I was small, weighing 117 lbs, however, this was a massive weight gain for my ordinarily 105 lb, 5'2" frame.  Rapid weight gain is the most predominant symptom, with many patients reaching nearly 200 lbs before they receive and accurate diagnoses.  Though I was gaining weight,  at 30 years old, it was not nearly enough to worry. 

Then I showed him the photo of this still slender woman.  I pulled up my hair, turned to the side, revealing a similar profile,  and said, "What do you think?"

"Hmm..  I can see why you're concerned.  We'll do a test for your piece of mind."

Surely enough, my first blood test indicated high levels of coritsol, a tell-tale sign of Cushing's Disease.  The doctor asked if my lifestyle might be causing enough stress for my hormones to spike.  Having just gone through a war,  it could have been a likely cause, but he still advised me to complete further tests when I got home. 
 
After I returned to Israel, I took my labs to my family doctor.  Just looking at me, she had the same initial response as the first doctor, but I had enough symptoms present, and charts showing high cortisol, that she believed it was best to move forward with more tests.  After seven months of being a human pin cushion,  we knew or sure that I had ACTH Dependent Cushing's Disease, originating from a tumor on my pituitary gland. 

Seeing a new doctor at my last endocrinology appointment, he asked me how I knew something was wrong.  Cushing's Disease is rare and as my doctor said, "not usually considered by doctors for some reason."   You see, Cushing's disease is rare, but perhaps not as rare as it should be.  In America, only about 25 new cases are diagnosed  each year.  My regular endocrinologist, who was out for maternity leave on this visit, shared that she sees 5 new cases a year, in Israel - a nation the size of New Jersey.

"Once a doctor gets the idea and starts the tests, things can move pretty quickly"  He encouraged.  This may be true in Israel, but I know that in America, patients often suffer through the symptoms for 5 years before they get an accurate diagnoses.   He congratulated me for "reading the literature," asking my doctor about my strange symptoms, and even suggesting Cushing's Disease as what was going on. 

As I hear more and more testimonials from other Cushings patients, I see so much of God's grace over my entire story.  Everything from  finding that initial photo, to the speed with which it was diagnosed, and the ease with which my neurosurgeon was able to remove the tumor, all of this was orchestrated by the Lord, without doubt.  

As the word says, we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, I pray that my story will help other woman; women with changes in their body that they don't understand; women struggling with infertility.  It may be daunting to consider the possibility of having a brain tumor, but identifying the problem is the first step in finding the solution.  And Cushing's Disease does have solution.

Resources:
Cushing's Connection

Related Posts:
The Cushie Files:  Upcoming Surgery 








 




Friday, April 4, 2014

When Friends say Mean Things

A memory surfaced recently.  

One in which a friend called me a "hairy beast". 

This wasn't a one time deal.  She said it frequently through middle school and early high school, always in front of others.  

I thought about her words often while I was struggling with Cushing's disease, and my body was forming more hairy, and hunch-backed.  As I wrote in greater detail about her comment, using the insecurity that developed to frame my April piece for Kindred Grace (which I will announce with a link on its post date), I felt a true sense of healing from that hurtful memory.

Processing what happened with the Lord, asking if I held unforgiveness towards her in my heart,   I realized that her comment didn't cause me to love her any less.   What it did, however, was cause me to love me less. And that's not ok. 

I wish I had told her that even if she was only kidding, her words hurt my heart and I wouldn't listen to them anymore. Honestly, I didn't know that was right, or even Godly.  And I felt so embarrassed about being a fuzzy gril, that my shame caused me to hide from help. 

I remember another time when a friend in undergraduate school shared a prophetic vision with me. 

"The Lord gave me a picture of you, and your chest was a bird cage.  The door was open and birds were flying out....  one day you'll be that free." 

She may have meant it as encouragement, but given that we had walked through repeated conflict, in which I felt she was always trying to change me, rather than accept me for who I was, it was hurtful. 


I just sort of said, "Ok, thanks." and went on my way. But it wasn't something I could shake.   Again, I found myself, not angry with her for saying these things, but shame-filled, wondering if there really was so much wrong with me. 

This time, a growing believer, I asked the Lord about this picture, which actually was quite beautiful, wondering if her interpretation was correct... if I was so bound up.

His response brought me to tears.  You see, what He told me was that when He looked at me, He saw that much freedom right then...  in that minute...  in that season...  broken parts and all.  He saw me as free, because I was covered in the blood of His Son.  

Of course I had places where the Lord needed to do some work.  I still do and will until I die.  But so did my friend.  Maybe if she would have been open to listening, she might have heard the Lord telling her, not that I needed to be free, but that I was free, I am free, and she needed to see me as He did. 

Even more importantly,  I needed to see myself as he did.  
 
Both times I wish I had spoken up.   And not for my friend's sake, but for my own.  I needed to state that I was worth too much to be put down.  I needed to hear that I was beautiful.  I needed to hear that I was free.  Facts that are eternally true, not because of my body or my personality, but because I was bought at a high price through the shed blood of Messiah Yeshua, and he was, and is, at work in me.

To curse me is to curse someone He treasures.  I don't even have a personal right to receive it, because I don't belong to myself, I belong to Him.   

The work in progress that I am, Lord, embolden me to council myself with your truth, even in the presence of the enemy.   Amen. 






Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tears by 8 am

Sometimes (understatement) life in Israel is hard. 

Errands that would be easy in America become complicated, if nothing else, because I'm an functioning in a second language that I only speak on a beginner level.  Add the culture of chutzpe in to the mix and its just a rough go of it on some days. 

As I've walked out this journey of Cushing's Disease, I have had more than few tough days, simply from navigating the healthcare system.  Even six months after my surgery, appointments still try their hardest to disrupt my peace.

This morning I left the house with Aviel at 7:15am to walk, yes walk, to our Kupat Cholim (insurance clinic), to do a few labs before my next endocrinology appointment.  The test had to happen before 8 am by the doctor's orders, and even earlier if possible, to get Aviel to gan on time.  We left the house with ample time, however, I forgot Aviel's backpack and had to turn around to get it.  Finally we arrived, but to a room full of people.  I pulled my number, and after a 40 minute wait, in which someone (no names) spilled water all over the floor, the technician informed me that I did not have the correct documents for them to do the test.   

I burst into tears. 

Receiving orders for this test just two days before, this was my deadline for drawing blood so that the lab results would be completed before my appointment.  And I need those labs. 

Aviel and I gathered our belongings and headed to the bus stop, tears still streaming.  As we approached the traffic light, I noticed our preferred bus, the 30aleph, pulling up.  There was no way we would make it to the stop still stuck at the light.  Noticing that his light was about to turn red, I thought maybe just maybe the driver would let us on while he was stopped.

I banged on the door, but no.  He refused this mother crying and shaking, with her small son. 

Then we sat at the bus stop, me still crying, until the next bus arrived. 

When we miss the 30aleph, we have to take two buses to gan.   I cried the entire two bus rides there.  And the sad thing is that this is one of many stories of bloodshed and tears in the land.  It is not easy. 

But... Can I tell you a secret? 

I am thankful. 

My circumstances are such that I am pressed to walk in humility before God.  I need Him for every breath that I take.  It is only because of His goodness that I'm able to make it here.  I'm not good enough or strong enough to do it on my own, and I know that.  

Anything that draws me closer to God is worth the struggle. 

So I'll take it. 

I'll take rude bus drivers and language barriers.  I'll take tears by 8 am.  I'll take it if it gives me something new to lay at Messiah Yeshua's feet. 

You know what else I'll take? 

A nap.  At 10 am.

Good night.


Related Posts:
Lets Call it Chocolate  

 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Perpetua, a Bus, and a Vow

Have you ever read a story and felt it was written just for you?  That's the way I have felt about the testimony of Perpetua, a third century martyr,  from the very first time I read her diary.  Recently I discovered that Amy Rachel Peterson gifted the world with a Historical Fiction novel expanding upon the true story,  Perpetua:  A Bride, a Martyr, a Passion.  It stole my heart.

This month, for Kindred Grace's annual March of Books, I contributed an "unreview" telling a bit about Perpetua's story, Peterson's novel, and how reading this book on a Jerusalem bus emboldened my spirit!

March 2014



Sunday, March 16, 2014

But I might Die!


Tis the season for Purim in Israel! 

If you aren't familiar with this celebration, it is the feast of Esther, in which we commemorate her brave act of intercession for the nation of Israel, and God's redemption of His people. 

This March also happens to my my 5 year anniversary in Israel.   I feel so encouraged that the Lord would align my celebration with Purim, and I explain why in this month's Saved News article.  

March 2014

Related Post:
To learn more about Purim, see this post from last year, Purim Parties!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Praying for Aviel: Not Yet Created


I have loved Aviel from the moment I first knew he was with us, but really, I  have loved him long  before.

Today, Kindred Grace will share my testimony of praying for my babies as a single women.  Please visit and read this story of sowing seeds and reaping a harvest.





***

I'd like to offer a warm welcome to regular KG readers who have stopped by.  I hope that you'll feel God's love as you browse through our wild life in Israel. 

***

Resources:
Meet Melissa from the story, and see her family's ministry, A Place for the Heart


Related Posts:
Aviel David
At the Sound of Your Voice
Fill the Earth
Gilad Shalit and My Last Days Baby
Fruit of the Season

This is a more refined version of a sweet post from Feb 4, 2012, entitled Praying for Aviel: Not Yet Created.  I have left all related links from the original, in keeping with the learning of that season in the Lord.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Worthy is the Lamb!

For this month's SAVED News article, I take on Hell, Fire, and Brimstone...  and I win.  Because of Yeshua, I win. 

This article was prompted by the last year of battling a brain tumor, fearing death, and God's solution to my problem.  I thinks its become unfashionable to talk about Hell because it seems unloving and scary, but we can't fully grasp God's love if we don't talk about Hell, and what He did to overcome. 

In avoiding discussions about the consequence of sin, we miss a huge anointing of power that comes from the work Yeshua did for us.  I've been walking in that power and want it to overflow into the lives of others. 

I hope in reading this, you will be empowered that one day, you will look death in the eye, and you will live! 

February 2014

Related Posts:


Need some Related Worship?
Revelation Song - Kari Jobe
Though You Slay Me - Shane and Shane
The Harlot - Misty Edwards

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The TV Diet Challenge!



We don't have cable.  We don't even have a TV.  This wasn't a choice we made out of a desire to be overly pious.  Serving in ministry and living off of support in our early days, we simply didn't have the budget.  Nor did we feel good about using money *you* were sacrificing on our behalf for something we didn't really need. (Thank you... we couldn't have made it without you).  Now that Devin has a salaried position at Anglican International School - Jerusalem, we probably could squeeze a small cable plan into our budget, but we've chosen not too.  We're not entertainment free.  We watch movies and sitcoms on DVDs.  The difference is that we are in charge of what and how much we watch.  The TV isn't on when guests come over, and its not on as white noise in the background during the day or at meals.  Its selective.  

This year during the annual International Prayer Conference - Jerusalem, Aviel and joyfully accepted an invitation to stay at the hotel with Devin, who is a regular speaker.  The food was great, I spent a bit of time resting in a Turkish Bath (as most hotels in Israel include), I loved meeting the attendees from around the world, and we did something we never do at home...  we watched TV.

It was fun...  at first.  However,  the longer the TV was on, the more icky I felt, and the more thankful I became for not having cable. 

One time while visiting family in North Carolina, my sister shared a story about her son telling her that he could see "angels with broken wings" flying out of the TV.  That image of what I believe to be demons, always stuck with me.  I understand that there are some worthwhile shows, but most of what's on is just plain gross, at best, and the enemy's way of sneaking into our homes, at worst.  
 
My dad likes to say "Garbage in - Garbage out"  and I totally believe that holds true for TV viewing.   In the same way that your body will show your diet, junk foods impairing your immune system and adding a little fluff, compared to whole foods building a healthy and tone body; I truly believe your media diet will do the same for your soul. 

If you spend your days watching The Bachelor,  you're likely ruminating on the wrong idea about romance and relationships. Don't expect to go into marriage with a realist understanding of all that's involved. Similarly, I remember a sudden onset of anxiety and fear while walking to classes at UNC-G one spring, that had not previously existed.  After going to the Lord in prayer, I realized it was directly related to watching a weekend marathon of a murder mystery show with my house mates.  And that was the end of that.  

You see, watching TV is not sinful in itself.  But much of the what's on the screen, particularly Reality TV,  is training us to be entertained by the sin of others.  That exposure is a principle the bible calls defilement.  In the Old Testament, there were laws that made provision for this problem.  Consider the pedestrian who innocently passed by a dead body.  This person did not sin.  It wasn't his fault he accidentally came in contact with this unclean scenario.  He was, however, defiled and had to go through a ritual cleansing before entering the camp, and especially before participating in Temple worship, so as not to defile the temple.  (See Numbers 19:11-13)   I believe that principle applies today, even under the blood covenant of Yeshua.  If you are being entertained by sin,  you could be defiling yourself through the seeds that are being sown into your mind and heart, which brings me back to the garbage in -garbage out principle.  (Mark 7:21-23If so, you'll need a washing with the word.   

That icky feeling I mentioned before, well, that's the greatest indicator for me that I've been defiled, and I need to turn off the show.  The problem is that the greater the exposure to sin for entertainment, the less sensitive I become to that particular discernment.  I've learned that through the way my Israeli lifestyle of no TV causes utter culture shock when I'm in a TV driven environment.

Have you noticed the same in your life?  There's a simple remedy...  Maybe its time to go on a TV diet, or a even total fast!   I'd like to challenge you to disconnect the cable for a few months and see how it changes your life.  You decide the parameters.  I'm not trying to perpetuate legalism, rather Holy Spirit led consecration that will strengthen your spirit-man and encourage your relationship with the Lord.   

I know there's some good, enjoyable shows that you might miss out on, but allow me to brainstorm with you on this....

Instead of putting that money into cable so you can watch ESPN, buy tickets to REAL ballgames... High School, College, Minor League Baseball are some inexpensive ways to get the family out of the house to make sports memories together if you can't afford MLB, NBA, or NFL.

Do you like shows about families with lots of kids?  Then why not offer to babysit for that friend who has a ton of little kids at home...  learn from REALity.

Reality Dating shows?  Aspire for some romance with your mate.  If you're single, used that time block to intentionally pray for marriage and children

Fashion and Beauty?  Why not get a Gym/spa membership and develop a healthy body, or use your saving from cable to increase your grocery budget to afford organic foods.

Travel Shows?  Save your cable budget and do some real traveling of your own.          
Drama?  Go to a play.   Read a novel.  For the ladies, allow me to recommend Perpetua:  A Bride, A Martyr, A Passion by Amy Rachel Peterson.  

And of course, since this is a fast, you could prioritize bible reading and prayer in place of TV time. If you want to be altruistic with your financial savings,  you could even consider giving all or a percentage of your saved cable budget to your favorite cause.  Support well digging in Africa...  or maybe your friend who is trying to raise money for an international adoption.   

What's really to lose?  

You see, you can exchange passive entertainment for active entertainment.  By getting out of the house, you and your kids will be challenged and inspired.  Inspiration always generates creativity and innovation, and an overall healthier lifestyle.   If you lose your favorite sitcom in favor of real human relationships, and more time with the Lord,  I'd say it was worth it.

Ok...  so if anyone takes on my challenge,  come back and share your testimony in the comments! 

Love and Shalom from the Land! 


Resources:

Check out this great TV Post, Couch Potato Coma by Lindsey Carlson