Shabbat Shalom, dear ones! Finally another week has wound down and I am actually sitting down to do things NOT on my ever-growing list of To-Do's!! Ah... it's so nice to sit down guilt-free and do what I actually LOVE to do! Sweet, sweet Sabbath, indeed!
On Friday nights when we watch for the sun to touch the horizon, we anticipate the start of Sabbath with cups of "Sabbath Juice" (grape juice) and a readiness in our hearts to reflect on the past week. We start with the littlest one (who still grows in my womb) and we ask the question "What was the best part of your week? What was the worst part of your week? What would you like us to pray for?" For our Littlest One, the best part of the week is usually "growing a little bit bigger and stronger!" The worst part is "finding it getting squishier in here!" The kids usually giggle at my attempt at a high baby voice but they love asking the baby these questions.
Next we go to Sivana who has typically already been put to bed by this point but whose highlight of the week is usually things like NOT getting any more bleeding noses (will explain another time) or eating food. Worst part of her week is usually that she STILL has only TWO teeth!! This makes enjoying her food a little more challenging.
Ethan's highlight of his week is, without fail, consistently "going for FAST quad rides on the bumpies!" We have some big mud hills by the ditches around the farm and Duane often takes the kids up and down the sides of the ditches (not MY idea of safety, but the kids sure love it). And Ethan's worst part of his week is when he DOESN'T get to go for a quad ride! He always asks to pray for more rain for the fields... too cute.
Anika has a more worldly approach. She gets the rolls of the eyes from Mina & Duane but I definitely get her heart. She wants us to pray for the world, or for love, for everyone's family and friends. The highlight of her week is usually when she gets to be helpful to Melina with chores and the worst part of her week is when she chooses to make bad decisions. I get her heart because this is how I think about things, too. But she and I are definitely considered the "cheese" factory of the family!!
Isabel's highlight of the week is when she's had fewer seizures and the worst part is often having had one big seizure that was scary. As for prayers, we ask for continued health and safety for her and a life of less suffering.
Melina is usually glad that Friday has finally arrived and this marks the highlight of her week. Worst part of her week usually has to do with disappointment with bad choices she watches her dear friends beginning to make and resulting sense of separation. This saddens her but I have talked with her about this for the last few years telling her to watch with open eyes for these changes and to choose for herself if she wants to follow blindly like a sheep for the sake of being with all those peers or if she is ready and willing to take the narrow road which often looks like it will be lonely, but she will be most delightfully surprised at the presence of God she will discover there. I am so proud of her wisdom and the journey she has embarked upon from wanting nothing more than to fit in with the rest of the world, to recognizing the true value of being WHO she is fearless of whether this finds her standing alone or not.
Someone once said, "It's better to be hated for who you ARE than to be loved for who you are NOT."
Duane and I take our turns summarizing highlights and downfalls of the week... my highlights having to do with new discoveries or special moments shared with someone and the downfalls being discovering a new weakness or inner struggle. Duane's highlights have to do with the farm and his disappointments also reside in his deep desire to understand how to farm nourishing foods successfully without the use of any chemicals. He longs more than anything to farm full time but with the big losses we've endured these last few years, had it not been for his firefighting job, we likely would have filed for bankruptcy twice over by now! This obviously weighs very heavily on his heart.
With all of our hearts poured out, we join hands and bow our heads as Duane prays a blessing upon each one of us. Then we lift up our cups and shout "SHABBAT SHALOM!!!" and the clinking of glasses resonates as we celebrate the start of a special day.
With a big purple moustache on the kids' faces, and Ethan licking his chaps and asking for more Sabbath Juice, I pick up the guitar and we sing some of our favourite songs starting with "Thank You God".
The time is sacred and had God not commanded this of us, the sad thing is that I do not know that we would have chosen this for ourselves. But now that we do this, I could not imagine a greater blessing upon our family! Just goes to show that He really does know best, doesn't He? How many times have I sat there thinking that I am the ruler of my own life, that I know what's best for ME only to discover that what He had in store for me far exceeds my wildest imagination?
And as I learn His laws and discover the significance behind them, it is becoming easier and easier to TRUST that these rules are laid out for a LOVING purpose! I seem to resist them at first, not recognizing the gift in them but surrender to them through obedience, only to discover the life-giving aspect of them to the point where I honour them through my love and TRUST in God.
Sometimes I sit and laugh at some of the 613 conditions as I cannot understand WHY certain processes are expected of us... but I realize now I am trying to pour the ocean into my limited bucket of understanding! It is impossible!
But I see more and more everyday that I am WILLING and TRUST His word and His desire for us as His children. He is proving beyond a shadow of doubt that His perfection and magnitude far exceeds what I can fathom or ever understand... that as He alone created the story from beginning to end, who am I to question such a meagre part of the middle where this tiny grain of sand now stands?
What a gracious God that He would grant us salvation through the blood of His sacred son, and what a gracious God that He would lay out for us His rules to live by that ensure we do not follow blindly like sheep being led by a wolf cleverly disguised... but rather EQUIPPED to know when we are being misled and strong enough in our love and desire to be with Him to turn away from the current of the crowd to seek His truth... even if it feels that we stand alone.
So my darling brothers and sisters... today I pray that your hearts recognize His truth within you. It is there. He has said that it is there. It is His breath of life... His RUACH (spirit of God) that thrives within you, in the very temple that is your body. So you ARE equipped to know what is truth and what is not. So be fearless in honouring what draws you nearer to Him even if it means stepping away from the comforts of tradition(s). Close your eyes and feel the very life flow through you... you, who are sacred to Him. You, who are beautiful to Him. You, whom He longs to be with. He alone is our Shepherd who could never lead us astray.
I love you all out there... you, my brothers and sisters. God bless you all.