Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dedication to my SIL: A quote from Rebbe were right sis!

Rebbe Nachman says, "The whole battle is over a hairsbreadth. In other words, If someone wants to be victorious all in one go, it's impossible. But if all you have to do each time is move one hairsbreadth forward, you can! All you have to do is take a little step from bad to good."

Here's to all our baby steps closer to Hashem! Joy in the journey!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A quote from the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Inner Exile

It is not so much that we need to be taken out of exile. It is that the exile must be taken out of us.

~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneerson

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

On Spinning Wool and Praying with Kavanah

“She puts her hand to the spindle and her palm to the distaff.” I often wondered about this verse from Eishet Chayil (Proverbs 31). Spinning wool is not one of those womanly arts that too many of us have experienced. I was always fascinated by re-enactors at local fairs using a spinning wheel or a drop spindle. Their dexterity and the beautiful yarn coming from their fingertips spoke to me of womanly glory and quiet serenity. About five years ago I finally learned to spin with a drop spindle. My first attempts were sorry lumpy and bumpy creations. In spite of their lack of apparent beauty to me I persevered in this art. It was not easy but it was serene. It felt spiritual and quieted me when I felt on edge. The wool I spun into yarn felt like a connection, albeit a lumpy and bumpy one. My instructor assured me I would get better with practice and in a little time I too would be making fine yarn come from my fingertips. Then she looked a little wistful and told me that when that happened I would actually miss my lumpy, bumpy yarn creations. At the time I found that very hard to imagine, but it was true.
It reminds me of not so many years ago when I was learning to read the prayers from my siddur. I agonized with every letter and vowel. I wanted so much to pray in Hebrew, lashon kodesh, the holy tongue. I wanted to really connect with Hashem in this way. As I learned I felt the spirituality of the prayers connecting me to my Creator. I felt the serenity of time alone pronouncing each word, with such concentration, that I eagerly looked forward to my prayer time each day. It was not easy but it felt serene. It did not sound very beautiful to me but I was doing it. My teacher assured me that I would get better with practice and in time I too would be making fine brachot come from my lips. Then she too looked a little wistful and told me when that happened I would miss these days of absolute concentration and focus on each and every word. At the time I found that hard to imagine, but that too was true.
Now I spin quite well and can a rattle the morning brachot off in a couple of minutes. Although I don’t miss the lumpy yarn all that much, I do miss the focus I had in the beginning on my tefilla (prayer). Now, I have to work on maintaining concentration on what I am saying and the words that are coming from my lips. I have to work on pronouncing each letter and each word carefully.
I want the yarn of my prayers to come from a deeper place than just my lips. I want them to begin in the depths of my heart and flow from there. I want them to be slow and filled with the love I feel in my heart for my Father.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Things that make you say "hmmm?"

TOKYO (Jan. 19) - Gohan and Aochan make strange bedfellows: one's a 3.5-inch dwarf hamster; the other is a four-foot rat snake. Zookeepers at Tokyo's Mutsugoro Okoku zoo presented the hamster - whose name means "meal" in Japanese - to Aochan as a tasty morsel in October, after the snake refused to eat frozen mice.

This is quite a picture of the saying," keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

Do you really think they are getting along? And if they are, then what is our problem?

Although we can not be naive to the fact the snake cannot really be trusted, I mean he is a snake after all and my guess is he is simply lulling the mouse into a false sense of security.

hmmm...reminds me of a situation in my HomeTown.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Good Advice...Sing a niggun!

Here is a wonderful post called "When the words won't come," by Rabbi Lazer Brody. Go check it out!

Girl's Pajama Party

This is the night before Racheli left for Israel. We had a girlie pajama party. The youngest is three...we won't talk about the oldest. °Ü°

Righteous Women

In the merit of the righteous women of that generation were the Israelites delivered from Egypt

- Talmud, Sotah 11b

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mighty Ones in the Holy Land

Here I am in the U.S of A and I am missing my children so much. I was reading "Crossing the Narrow Bridge, a Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Teachings", and I came across this quote from Rebbe Nachman that has comforted me greatly.

"Once, Rebbe Nachman gave lesson about the greatness of the Holy Land: To be a Jew means to rise time and again, to be forever reaching to ever greater levels. Whoever wants to be a Jew can only do so with the merit of the Holy Land. Getting there is a major battle. But when a person merits arriving in the Holy Land, he is called a "mighty one," for he has won the battle. (Likutey Moharan 1. 20 end)

My children are mighty ones. I pray I too can be a mighty one and merit to be in Eretz Israel soon.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Quote from Rebbe Nachman

“ It's very good to speak out your heart to God as you would to a true good friend. ”
--Rebbe Nachman

To my friends

I have friends. I really do. They are coming out and allowing me freedom to grieve and to grow during this time. They are listening to me and offering nothing more than a shoulder and their open hearts. They are not shushing my pain but allowing me to feel it and grow from it. They assure me that all will be right and that I am normal. Wow, I am normal. What a concept!
I am so grateful to Hashem who has shown Himself a true Father to me. He has blessed me with such a wonderful family. He has given my the most amazing children and has afforded them this incredible opportunity. He has given me my dear friends. You know who you are but I did not know you. I did not even realize you were there. Thank you for revealing yourselves to me. Thank you more for loving me just as I am.

My John Deere Blankie

Sometimes you just wanna whip something up to make you feel good. So here is something I did. Nice and easy but awful cute and warm. If you haven't figured it out, I gotta thing about John Deere...all you Case International fans, back off, you're just jealous.

PS. I also have a thing about calenders, I have them all over the place. I don't know why really. My family thinks it's an Amish thing I picked up in Lancaster. Anyway, a friend brought me two new ones...lighthouses and John Deere.

"I can't believe YOU are actually letting her go!"

Y'know, if another person says this to me, I may forgo my naturally nonviolent ways :::cough, cough::: and slug them!

OK, maybe not, but really it is beginning to get annoying. People who do not homeschool, who do not raise their children the way that we do, totally misunderstand why we do what we do. They seem to think that we kept them home, protected them, filtered things, etc., because we wanted them to stay lame at home for the rest of their lives. What a terrible thing I did by not having television and pop culture all over my home. Who would want such a thing for their children?

We homeschool because there was no other option as far as we were concerned. We were certainly not sacrificing our children to the public school system, (no offense intended to those who do use the schools, I know some are very fine and wonderful children have come out of them), but for us we could not. We did not want the schools enforcing their beliefs, their ideas of right and wrong, their agenda, etc., on our children.

We did not want our children to grow up peer dependent. We wanted to spare them the agonies as much as possible of this slavery that young people so often find themselves in. Slavery to the opinions of Hollywood and it's minions, slavery to pop culture, fads, fashions and the opinions of their equally confused peers. Did our children have to struggle with any of these issues? Of course they did! We did not raise them in a cave after all. They had friends and these things sometimes came up, but they were secure in themselves already and if they had any questions they came to us.

We presented them life in it's beauty and in it's ugliness. We did not keep all of it away, we could not, but we did shelter them from the worse and we allowed them to experience the rest when they were ready and through our filters. We have dysfunction in our family just like the rest of America so they could not be spared of all sorrow.

Some accused us of over protecting our children. Tell me who among you, if you had as your own the Hope Diamond would not 'over protect' it? I dare say our children are more valuable than this mere trinket. Besides that, as I said before, we did not live as hermits on a mountaintop, so life happened every day all around us.

'You are raising hot house plants', I was told. Yep, I thought, indeed I am. Strong plants, growing deep and strong roots, to withstand any storm when they are ready to be transplanted outside. This is the whole point. We raised them to be strong and independent in themselves. To know that family is where it is at. That if you do not have faith and family you have nothing. That no matter what and not matter who, your family is always there for you. That your best friends should be the ones waiting at home for you at the end of the day. If you cannot respect and be kind to your parents and siblings, how can you treat others any better? If you do treat friends kinder than siblings there is something very wrong. We tried to give them a solid foundation to launch from. A safe place to strengthen their wings from which they would fly. They grew stronger and more secure in themselves and in the safety of their home. And now that the time has come and they are ready, they will take flight! This is what it was all about. To enable and empower them to leave when they were ready and not before. Not at the magic age of 18 because society says so. Not because they heard us say, I can't wait till they are all eighteen and out of the house.

Some folks just don't get it. They think it is all about us controlling and suffocating them. Quite the contrary. We helped them to grow strong and helped refine their character and nature. They are strong in their faith and and trust the Holy One, Most Blessed be He.

Our children have not always agreed with us, but they have always respected. We have not always agreed with them, we have always loved them and given them the freedom to grow. In doing that we grew as parents too and as human beings. We are all constantly being refined. You cannot believe I am letting her go?! Why not? Of course I am, because as a dear friend just told me, this is the best of homeschooling! This is where it goes into action. This is where are the principles and faith and everything else that is homeschooling becomes very practical. When they leave the nest and soar with the eagles! This is beyond my wildest dreams and I am most blessed and very proud of the children that Hashem has given me! I pray I make my Father proud too.

But those whose hope is in Hashem will have renewed strength; they will grow wings like eagles; they will run and not grow tired, they will walk and not grow weary. ~~Isaiah40:31

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blog, Blog, Blog

I have been blogging like crazy, especially since I have two other blogs to keep up with. I think I need to slow down, but it has been an outlet for me. I know why I am blogging so much. It is my escape from reality. I figure if I just keep busying myself, talking about this and that, I will not feel my sadness.
I feel so dumb feeling so sad about such a good thing. This is wonderful for my daughter. Opportunity of a lifetime and all that stuff!
So, instead of letting myself feel, I blog. I guess I will soon need 'bloggers anonymous'.
I am a mother though. I am allowed to feel this way, aren't I? I don't have to always be so strong, do I?
I won't allow myself a cry, not today. Today I want to rejoice with my daughter. Today I want to tell her she is going to have such a wonderful time in Tsfat. Today I will tell her not to be afraid of not making friends, fuhgetabout it! You will make all kinds of friends and have so much fun! I will tell her about all the torah she will learn and bring home to me. I will tell her that the time will fly and how wonderful it will be to see her brother again! Today I will be strong. I know she will miss us all as much as we will her, but we all know this is so good.

Sunday afternoon may be another story. At least until I get home from the airport and I pull it all together for my youngest again.

Y'know, motherhood is not for the faint of heart.

Philly Farmgirl's Farmyard Fantasies (Warning: Strictly Girl Talk)

A bath...ahhhh, the luxury of a long hot bath. Y'know, I think 'normal' ladies, (whoever they are) would take some sort of romance novel with them when partaking of a long deserved bath. At the very least one would think they would take the latest fashion magazine. They would put on some classical music, light a few candles and sink into the joy that is the bath tub. But not this true blue (or John Deere green, if you will) farmgirl. I decide to relax in the bath tub, with bath salts of my own making and the newest Murray McMurray Hatchery Catalog! Can I tell you? It was so grand!

I used to have chickens when I lived in Maryland. I miss them so much. There I was, in the tub, fantasizing and planning my barnyard full of black Australorps, white Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and a few Black tailed Buff Japanese thrown in for good measure. What a beautiful rainbow that would be! If I were actually planning my barnyard, I think I might be a bit more practical, maybe not. When I had finished my bath, I laid my catalog down, sank back into the tub one more time and gave such a contented sigh. Oy, was that relaxing. No romance novel can give me the joy a real Farmgirl Fantasy can!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Jump Into the Sea of Faith

When we come to the shore of this sea how far are we prepared to go? Are we only ready to ‘get our feet wet,’ or are we prepared to jump into the sea of faith without thinking too much?...

I found this inspiring article on Breslov World by Rav Shalom Arush. Click here to read the whole thing. I think you will be very encouraged and blessed by it!

Jewish Farmer

I found this pic here on the web and thought it was just wonderful! There are so many images of other farmers and of course the Amish, that is was really fun for me to find this one of a Jewish Farmer. Granted, it is from 1920 but I still think this is wonderful.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Last Night of Chanukah...our Chanukiah

The last night of Chanukah was very quiet for us. Just the family at home. It was really wonderful. I thought I would share some pics of our chanukiah with you all. It really is beautiful all lit up. It is my prayer that we also continue to grow in mizvot and torah, growing more and more beautiful as each day passes, hastening the coming of Moschiach, speedily in our time.