Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"L'Chiam!" by Rachel Remen
Many years ago my grandfather gave me a silver wine goblet so small that it holds no more than a thimbleful of wine. Exquisitely engraved into its bowl is a bow with long ribbon streamers. It was made in Russia long ago. He gave it to me during one of the many afternoons when we sat together at the kitchen table in my parents' home memorizing phrases from his old books and discussing the nature of life. I was quite young then, no more than five or six, and when I became restless, he would revive my attention by bringing out the sacramental Concord grape wine he kept in the back of the refrigerator. He would fill my little beribboned wineglass with Manischevitz and then put a splash of wine into his own, a big silver ceremonial cup, generations old. Then we would offer a toast together. At the time, the only other celebration I knew was singing "Happy Birthday" and blowing out the candles. I loved this even better.
My grandfather had taught me the toast we used. It was a single Hebrew word, L'Chiam (pronounced le CHI yeem), which he told me meant "To life!" He always said it with great enthusiasm. "Is it to a happy life, Grandpa?" I had asked him once. He had shaken his head no. "It is just 'To life!' Neshume-le," he told me.
At first, this did not make a lot of sense to me, and I struggled to understand his meaning. "Is it like a prayer?" I asked uncertainly.
"Ah no, Neshume-ly," he told me. "We pray for the things we don't have. We already have life."
"But then why do we say this before we drink the wine?" He smiled at me fondly. "Grandpa!" I said, suddenly suspicious. "Did you make it up?" He chuckled and assured me that he had not. For thousands of years all over the world people have said this same word to each other before drinking wine together. It was a Jewish tradition.
I puzzled about this last for some time. "Is it written in the Bible, Grandpa?" I asked at last. "No, Neshume-ly," he said, "it is written in people's hearts." Seeing the confusion on my face, he told me that L'Chiam! meant that no matter what difficulty life brings, no matter how hard or painful or unfair life is, life is holy and worthy of celebration. "Even the wine is sweet to remind us that life is a blessing."
It has been almost fifty-five years since I last heard my grandfather's voice, but I remember the joy with which he toasted Life and the twinkle in his eye as he said L'Chiam! It has always seemed remarkable to me that such a toast could be offered for generations by a people for whom life has not been easy. But perhaps it can only be said by such people, and only those who have lost and suffered can truly understand its power.
L'Chiam! is a way of living life. As I've grown older, it seems less and less about celebrating life and more about the wisdom of choosing life. In the many years that I have been counseling people with cancer, I have seen people choose life again and again, despite loss and pain and difficulty. The same immutable joy I saw in my grandfather's eyes is there in them all.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
As I've sorted through the sentimental photos and papers that she hung onto through the years I found several copies of a single poem. Each copy with tattered edges, I imagine from being read over and over again. As one that was loved and taught by this wonderful woman I can attest to the fact that she did not just read these words but put them into practice. I hope we can all do the same not only for our children but for our grand-children...
If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to confide.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.
Thank you Grandma for all the love and wisdom, I promise to ask the Lord to help me apply your wise counsel.
Blessings to you all this week,
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Have you made any New Years Resolutions? Do any of them have anything to do with taking the time to really enjoy life instead of simply survive life? Focusing a little more on your spiritual growth? Setting aside time to get "poured into" so you have something to "pour out" to your family?
Well I might have just the thing for you. This Thursday, January 7th, 2010 at 7pm I will be debuting a brand new talk that I hope will help "steady you" in the "storms of life." If you are in the Los Angeles area this week won't you consider joining me?
The event is called "31" and it is a women's event (hosted at NorthPark Community Church) that is open to the public. There will be music, fun, a teaching time and of course chocolate. Grab a few girlfriends and let's continue getting the year off to a "Magnificent" start!!!
For more details and directions click here
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
"The Treasure Box provides families and individuals with a substantial box of grocery store quality food retailing between $65-100 for just $30 each...Each Treasure Box contains between 21-25 pounds of high quality, frozen foods, including chicken, pork, beef, or seafood, as well as vegetables, fruit, a side dish and a dessert. One Treasure Box is enough food to nutritiously feed a family of four lunch and dinner for almost a week or a senior citizen for nearly a month."
Our church just signed up to be a host site and that even might be something that you could look into for your church or charity organization. We found it to be a very low commitment of time and energy but with potentially huge impact. It basically required our church to open up our parking lot to The Treasure Box truck for two hours once a month so that people could show up to pick up their pre-paid box of food.
Our family not only signed up to get a box once a month to help with our grocery bill but we are considering ways we might be able to give the gift of The Treasure Box to friends and family that might be going through some tough times.
If you sign up before Saturday you can receive the December box. Here is a great link that will show a brief video with more information about the program and what the actual food in the box looks like. I hope you find it as helpful and hopeful as we have.
Blessings to you,
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Storm or calm, as Thou shalt choose;
Though Thine every gift were lost
Thee Thyself we cannot lose.
-Mary Elizabeth Coleridge (1861-1907)
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever."
Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV
God Bless you all and may this be the beginning of your "Most Magnificent" Christmas season ever! May you and yours always live in an awareness of what truly "belongs" to you...the gift that can never be taken away and may that awareness spill over to those around you that they might soon possess that which you do as well.
Love Your Sister in Christ,
Friday, November 20, 2009
This was my twelve year old daughters' answer to the conversation starter card that said "describe your mother in one sentence." I'd say she pretty much has me pegged wouldn't you (for those of you who have spent any time with me)?
With pending "Dinner Conversations" just around the corner (Thanksgiving) I thought it might be fun for you and your kids to sit down and brainstorm some fun conversation starter questions for your Holiday Dinners. You can even let the kids print them up on the computer or write them in crayon on file cards and let them decide how best to present them at Thanksgiving dinner...a basket, a box, a little bag...
It might just be a new tradition in the making and a way to get people talking, laughing and feeling even more thankful for the love that surrounds them.
Happy Thanksgiving from your crazy, jumping and screaming girlfriend,
Monday, November 9, 2009
Here is a new Bible Study from an author I really enjoy. I hope you enjoy the interview and the excerpt from her new study.
New Hope Publishers
Release Date: 9/1/09
Jennifer Kennedy Dean is Executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Her book Heart’s Cry has been named National Day of Prayer’s signature book. You’ll find articles and daily quotes from Jennifer at the National Day of Prayer website. Her book, Live a Praying Life, has been called a flagship work on prayer.
Jennifer was widowed in 2005 after 26 years of marriage to Wayne Dean, her partner both in life and ministry. They are the parents of three grown sons. Jennifer makes her home in Marion, KY.
An Interview with Jennifer Kennedy Dean
You are known for your extensive research and your fresh insights. Do you have a method for gleaning new concepts?
Of course, the truths are not new, but I think I sometimes am able to frame old truths in new ways. I always find that when I put the words of Jesus into their original Hebraic setting and experience the scene through the viewpoint of His real-time audience, some new little fragment of truth finds its way into my thinking. I like to let the Scripture breathe. To let it sit in my heart until its full aroma has time to emerge. There's the hard-core research, and then there's the marinating. Turn your imagination loose and unfurl your curiosity, and listen to the living Word.
You have a series of Bible studies in the format of Set Apart, designed to be interactive. This series of studies has video series and leader's kits available. What is the advantage to this kind of format?
I try to produce a new Bible study with video series every year. I like the interactive format because I like to pull the reader into the Scripture to experience the Word. I like to challenge the reader to interact with the thoughts and ideas and to take the time to absorb them and apply them, rather than just to read. The other thing I like about this format is that it can be done by an individual, or as a group. In the video series, I like to be able to teach the main points of the material and set the learners' up for a productive week of personal study. I love feeling like I get to be part of your Bible study group! The kits have lots of other resources for leading a small group in the study.
Several of your studies have theme songs that go with them, as Set Apart does. How do these songs come about?
I have developed a song-writing relationship with a talented musician named Roxanne Lingle. I write poems, we turn them into lyrics, Roxanne composes and arranges the music, and Roxanne records the songs. For Set Apart, we have the theme song in the form of a music video, which is a new addition. In the leader's kit you have the audio track, accompaniment track, lead sheet, and the music video. The theme song becomes an important and worshipful part of the study experience.
About the Book:
(Marion, Kentucky) - In a world of self-love and materialism it's reassuring to know that God's Word has a better plan for living. Renowned author and speaker, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, provides insight to the life of Christ, specifically the Sermon on the Mount, in her new book, Set Apart: A 6 Week Study of the Beatitudes.
Through careful study of the Hebrew traditions of biblical times, Dean leads participants into a deeper awareness of this early ministry sermon series by Christ.
Jennifer guides readers to a heightened understanding of each beatitude, correlating the Ten Commandments with the Sermon on the Mount to tie these Old and New Testament principles together. Dean shares how living the Set Apart Life is an exciting and life-changing spiritual journey. Participants surrendered to Christ will see a total transformation: outward actions of holiness as well as inward attitudes of joy. Believers following along in this workbook will experience the life God intends. This blessedness comes from seeking and knowing God. Anything outside the realm of Jesus Christ results in emptiness--the ultimate opposite of blessing.
Each chapter includes interactive questions for readers to answer, emphasizing God's desire to reproduce the character and attitudes of Jesus in each Christian's life. Along with the Bible study book, there is a Leader Kit that includes six DVD sessions and a CD with bonus material for small-group leaders. Jennifer's website, www.prayinglife.org, provides opportunities for previewing the Set Apart materials and extra resources for pastors and leaders.
If you'd like to see Jennifer teach an excerpt of the book click on the link below...
Adapted from Set Apart by Jennifer Kennedy Dean
"I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:9-10).
My weakness is my greatest asset in the Kingdom. My weakness is where God meets me. My weakness is where Christ's power is most clearly displayed in me. Only when I am confronted with my own helplessness can I experience the power of Christ in me.
"Your helplessness is your best prayer. It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas. He hears it from the very moment that you are seized with helplessness, and He becomes actively engaged at once in hearing and answering the prayer of your helplessness." (O. Hallesby, Prayer)
I recently had the tiniest glimpse of how powerfully helplessness speaks. A few years ago, I lost my husband to brain cancer. During the final months of his illness, he became utterly helpless. The man I had leaned on for 26 years, whose strength I counted on, was now dependent upon me for his every need. During those weeks, my ear was tuned to his every sigh, his every restless movement, every change in his breathing pattern. If I had to be out of his room for even a few minutes, I had a monitor with me so I could hear him if he needed me. When he was strong, I was not so attentive. His needs did not fill my waking moments, when he could meet them himself. His helplessness spoke louder than any word he might have spoken. Because of his helplessness--because I knew he could do nothing on his own--I was on watch day and night.
My experience is but a pale shadow of the reality of the Kingdom, but still it helps me understand how my weakness is the opening for His strength. The fact of my helplessness is the only prayer I need. It speaks louder than eloquence.
Let your helplessness and your weakness be the offering you bring to Him. He is not waiting for you to be strong. He is waiting for you to recognize that you are weak.
GRAND PRIZE DRAWING
Please leave a comment to be entered in a drawing to win the following items from Jennifer. If you are a leader (small groups, book club, Bible Study, Women's Ministry), please note that you are--you will automatically be entered in the contest. If you are a member of one of these groups at your church or community, mention that you are a group member.
You will be entered to win:
A Set Apart Leader's Kit (video and leader resources and a student book) retail $79.99
A copy of Fueled by Faith (retail $19.99)
Jennifer will have a live web event just for your group