If You Would Only Turn To ME

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GOD SPEAKS:   Oh, if you would only turn to ME, my sweet child.  Turn to ME in your timeS of need….in times of sickness and pain….in times when you need justice….in times when you feel lost and alone.  Surely you must know by now, I AM forever with you..as near as the speaking of my name.  I know your thoughts of wanting to feel my presence closer to you, but I AM always here….it is you who does not draw near.

Come to ME in prayer, quiet times, fellowship with ME, be still before ME so you can hear my voice and read my Holy Word every day.  There is so much more I have for you if you would only ask in faith, believing it will be done.  You cried out to ME for justice in what seemed an insurmountable situation you were in and I gifted you with a prophetic dream which was fulfilled in the same day and by day’s end you were Victorious.  That was a demonstration of my power in your life, a foretaste of how much more I want to give you.  Keep asking for prophetic dreams as it is in them and my Word that I will speak to you.  Return to journaling as that is another means by which I speak to you.

I gave you this message as you sat with John in the movie theater watching a Star Wars movie.  You repeated it over and over in your head so as not to forget any of it knowing it was important and with that I AM well pleased with you.

Come now and spend time with ME……I have plans for you that I want to tell you about.  I love you forever!

Your HEAVENLY FATHER

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HE Will Make a Way

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I had a prophetic dream the morning of 12/30/2019, and later that day the prophecy was fulfilled on two levels.  Before explaining all this, I want to lay a foundation as to what preceded this prophetic dream.

For awhile I’ve been in a dry place.  Feeling a bit distant from God yet calling out to Him daily.  I asked for dreams or a holy visitation.  Since early November I’ve been trying to get reimbursed for an out of pocket expense of replacing a cracked windshield.  Our worthless agent told us would be better to pay out of pocket as the cost would be more than the $500 deductible so probably wouldn’t get anything plus filing a claim might make our premiums go up.  So we got it fixed.  Later I learned of a Florida law that in the case of windshield damage forbids auto insurers of customers with comprehensive insurance to apply the deductible.  Once I found this out I called and chastised my agent for not looking out for my interests and proceeded to file a claim sending them the credit card receipt for the payment to the repair guy.  They wanted a detailed invoice and the repair guy gave me one with a date, invoice number, our name, address, etc.  Then insurance said it still needed info like car VIN number, part number, etc.  The repair guy ignored my additional requests.  We felt like we were left to twist in the wind and I began pursuing avenues to get my $$ back (State Attorney General, Better Business Bureay).  I prayed to God to grant us justice and help us get the reimbursement.  It seemed there was  NO WAY OUT.   Then I decided to call my nephew Adam’s wife, Carmen who is a lawyer.  We discussed all the options but she suggested before going to the extremes I was planning to make a final appeal to the insurance company which I did.  IT WORKED!!!  They agreed to settle our claim and we should soon get a check.

Now hear the dream and its fulfillment and you’ll see how this all falls into place.

I dreamed I was in a very crowded supermarket like Wegmans.  At one point I could hardly move my cart because of all the other carts around me.  Suddenly I saw an open space between two floor displays and steered my cart through the space to where I could move more freely.

After I woke up, we ran some errands and had to go to Publix to get a few things.  I was in a riding cart.  We stopped for eggs in the dairy section.  Suddenly a flotilla of shopping carts engulfed us and none of us can go anywhere.  I see an opening to the side and drive through it and into an open aisle.  This is the real life fulfillment of the morning dream

MEANING:   Through all this God is showing me that at times I will run into bottle necks, hemmed in (insurance woes) unable to go forward – but He will show me an opening (Carmen’s advice) to escape the bedeviling congestion, breaking out into free and open space.

Reminds me of the lines to a song…..”I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”   Hallelujah!

Beautiful in HIS eyes……

10/29/19  In a dream I saw myself as a younger woman, sitting at a table with a white tablecloth, wearing a daffodil yellow blouse .  I looked very pretty.  Later again I saw myself as a twenty-something woman with dark hair wearing a lovely white, sheer fabric blouse.  I was sitting at a table with a white tablecloth and was smiling.  Again I looked very pretty.

MEANING – Earlier on 10/28 I had a haircut and while looking at myself in the mirror, at 73 years old, I realized how much my beauty had faded over the years.  I was saddened by the facial lines, dark circles, silver white hair, etc. and wondered why I bother using makeup at all, as I was fighting a losing battle.

I believe God was telling me in my dream that in HIS eyes I am very beautiful, no matter my physical age or appearance.  Biblically speaking the color yellow symbolizes faith and the Glory of God, anointing and joy.  It is associated with gold – a most precious metal.  Yellow and gold also describe fire and fire represents the presence of God.

White, of course, symbolizes purity, holiness and redemption of sin.  It has also depicted God’s complete victory over the powers of evil as ascribed in Zechariah 6: 3 and Revelation 6: 2 and 19: 11.

Thank you Father for revealing to me how YOU see me.  That lifted my spirits immeasurably.   Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

SUFFERING FROM J. D. A. (Jesus Deficiency Anemia)

 

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What is JDA  and what are its symptoms?  JDA  is Jesus Deficiency Anemia consisting of several ailments one has  due to too little time in fellowship with the Lord Jesus.  What are its symptoms?

Having a “meh” attitude about life, prolonged lethargy,  joylessness,  lack of energy/purpose, a feeling that something’s not right but you don’t know what it is.  This is what happens when one fails to feed one’s soul with enough Bible reading, fellowship, listening to uplifting music or watching ministry programs.  It is spiritual malnutrition.  Just as a lack of food causes weakness and sickness to our physical bodies, so does lacking a closer walk with God affect our spiritual bodies.

The remedy is obvious.  Today I cracked open my Bible and read Jesus’ words.  It was living water to my soul.  Joy, purpose and renewed energy rose up within me.   My thought life is now constantly focused on Him and being like Him as much as I can.

How about you?  Are you suffering from J. D. A. ?   Be healed in Jesus name and do the things I wrote.

Have you never chosen to become a disciple of Jesus before?  This is how to do that:  Admit you are sinner in need of a savior.  Promise God you will repent of sinning for the rest of your life and ask for help from the Holy Spirit to do this.  Accept the blood atoning sacrifice of Jesus which cleanses you from all your sins.  Walk out your life as Jesus did reading the Bible to learn how to do that.  Keep in fellowship with other believers to keep you on the right path.  You can do this by going to a regular church,  house church (recommended), or bible study.

I pray you will heed these instructions and inherit eternal life with Him!

ADVENTURES IN EVANGELISM

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Matthew 28:19-20 states:  19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

This is called the Great Commission.  A commandment to the followers of Christ.  Some practice friendship evangelism.  A believer builds a relationship with a friend, neighbor, co-worker, etc. eventually telling him/her about the saviour.  That can work in some cases.  The apostles, however, had no time for this method.  They went from town to town,  talked about Jesus to the crowds, what they learned from Him and most of all taught how his sacrificial death and resurrection paid their sin debt.  They called folks to a repentant lifestyle and accept Jesus sacrifice, baptizing them after they professed such faith.

Last year, God impressed on me to engage people more directly.  Thus was born Tea Time with Tovah (see facebook page of same name).  With teammates Pia, Irma,  Nepy, and occasional guest helpers,  we go to Flagler Beach, prop up my Tea Time with Tovah sign at a covered picnic table and as folks walk by, greet them and ask if they’d like some cold ice tea and cookies.  Many stop and we chat with them a bit.  When they ask why we are doing this, we advise we are there to bless people with treats, pray for any needs they have and ask if Jesus is their Lord and if they know the gospel.  If they are not interested we wish them well as they leave; if interested we share the gospel and pray with them to receive Jesus.  We then provide wooden or colored cut stone crosses and offer free bibles.  At times we baptize them right there in the ocean.  It’s very 1st century and totally exhilirating!

Here are some encounters:   2/15/19 Kenneth A….a homeless marine vet.  His face was weathered and leathery but his blue eyes still twinkled.  I struck up a chat with him and bought him some lunch.  He showed me his bullet scars and a huge lump on his back where shrapnel was imbedded.  He said he believed in Jesus but has misbegotten ideas about God’s forgiveness. He took lives in the service, and thinks he is going to hell.   Before parting ways,  I gave him a wooden neck cross and pocket new testament hoping it might encourage his faith.  I prayed for his travels to Virginia to see his daughters and that he would believe in God’s forgiveness.  He thanked me for even bothering with him as so many people give him dirty looks or chase him away.  This is how we can show the love of Jesus to others through kind acceptance.  If they can’t see Him in us, what are we really doing out here?  We need to be His eyes, ears and healing hands.

10/11  Great time today at Andy Romano Park. Six people prayed to receive Yeshua…..including surfers Nick, Kenny and David;  Also met pastor in training Kevin and wife Raquel. They were very excited about what we were doing.  On their way to Sebastian, FL (I think) they said might do a similar outreach at the beaches down there. Hallelujah!!   I talked with Mark who was ambivalent about the gospel message. Middle aged Ed felt there’s something good in all religions. I shared with each of them Yeshua’s words….”I AM the Way the Truth and the Life…No one comes to the Father except through me”

11/1  Ormond outreach.   Chatted with two middle aged gents and asked if they knew what the gospel message was. One said it was to be good to others. Made a “wrong answer game show” noise then explained how we try to obey God but fail often so Jesus came to suffer and die to pay our sin debt; if we repent and believe in Him, we will not face God’s punishment.  I asked if they would like to do that. Answer: No. Gave them tracts and as they left told them would pray they change their minds and escape the burning building of their lives in which they now live.  Does that sound extreme?  Guilty as charged.  Sometimes I do tire of pussyfooting around with people.

3/7/19 At Romano Park…met two nice blokes from England; George and son Sean. George WAS a Baptist but turned off by the hypocrisy he saw. Urged him not to throw away Jesus because of that. Sean believes people should just love each other. I asked what about our sins…when we break God’s commandments and the need to remove them so one day can live with God….cricket sounds. Then asked if they believe in the bible….more cricket sounds.  Sean was very kind and said he understood that we sincerely wanted to share our message. They left and I said I will pray their hearts soften towards God and Jesus the son.

2/28….Shawna/Shauna approached our table and my spirit sensed she wanted to talk to

us. I asked her if Jesus was in her heart. She said was 2 years free of cancer and been

drawing closer to God since then. I exhorted her to draw ever closer to Him. I should

have asked her to pray to receive him. She said her faith was in process so did not press

her.  We gave Shawna a lovely turquoise colored stone cross. We put it on her and it

contrasted beautifully with her tan skin.  Her face lit up.  and she beamed ear to ear. We

said we would pray her faith would grow. She said “I’m going to cry”. Hoping to see her

again to give her list of houses of worship.

Time does not allow to share every story with y’all.  We’ve ministered to surfer teens,

high school kids, homeless, tourists, lonely, stressed, you name it kind of folks and it is

our joy to do so.  We go to Andy Romano park 1st and 2nd Thursdays, and Flagler Beach

3rd and 4th Thursdays 11 am to 1 pm.  Stop  by sometime for tea and sympathy, cookies,

prayers, etc.  Would love to see you there.

 

Update:  after watching a Paul Washer video the other night I’ve decided that folks need
to do more than accept Jesus sacrifice for their salvation.  Too many do that but then go
their own unholy way.  We are told to make disciples, not believers.  From now on I will
ask folks if they are disciples of Jesus and if they know what that means and requires of
them.  I know many may walk away but also know this is what God wants me to do.
That video was a direct message and wake up call to me to make this change.  thanks for
listening.

 

Cold Spring

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After a visit to New York State to see our 3 grandsons in mid April 2018, we began our journey home to Florida.

The time spent there was one of cold temperatures, damp air and great discomfort.  As we drove through Pennsylvania I looked out the window and what I saw inspired this short poem

 

Naked spindly branch fingers reach up to grab the overhead grey blankets.

They try in vain to pull it down releasing views of a chilly, golden sun under its folds.

Weeping morning skies dampen the joy of a new day.

REMEMBERING FATHER PETER

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Well folks…looks like that super busy time of the year is upon us once again.  Often the Christmas holiday brings to my mind a particular Christmas in 1979.  We bundled up the kids including 2 month old Sara and rode through the chilly night into Ithaca, NY to attend the midnight Mass at the Immaculate Conception Church.  Sitting in a back row in case Sara became fussy, we sang carols and listened to the liturgy.  Recently a new priest, Peter Clifford, had joined our parish.  A tall Irish-American with chestnut hair and blue eyes, he ascended the pulpit to deliver the homily.

He began talking about how most of us celebrate Christ’s birth…..sending Christmas cards, beautifully decorated trees, artfully wrapped presents, lights, glitter, parties, cantatas and plays.  Then he began  pointing out that in the midst of it all, Jesus, “the reason for the season” is all but lost.  He then told a tale about a man who worked in a train trestle roundhouse.  When he got a signal that a train was about to cross the river, he started up the mechanical gears that swiveled the train trestle to connect each side of the divide so the train would safely cross over.  He had a young son who always wanted to follow him to work, but dad always said no.  One day the son followed him anyway.  He saw the roundhouse and peered into an open window and was fascinated by the mechanical gears; then, because a train was coming the gears started turning.  To get a better look he leaned in further and further, and then fell into the gears.  The dad heard his cries but would not stop the trestle, lest all on the train would perish.  Father Peter drew particular attention to how those passengers had no idea of the sacrifice of the boy nor his father and continued in their chats, cigar smoking, naps, book reading and thinking about their happy return to home and hearth.  He drew an analogy on how this is what happened when Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the sins of mankind.   Many never knew/understood the great atoning sacrifice He made….still many today either don’t know or don’t care due to unbelief.  The parishoners listened intently, allowing pictures of this grisly allegory to form in our collective minds.  As the story grew in intensity we sensed what was coming; our blood pressures rose, stomachs knotted, and the pallor of sadness covered us all.  I was shaken out of my snow boots.  It was a shocking Christmas message….never heard one like that before.  We were all stunned.  I was unsettled, disturbed…but the more I thought about it I realized Father Peter was right to shake people out of their comfort zones.

For the next few years I was a Father Peter fan.  I was always hoping he would deliver the homily instead of one of the other priests.  He talked more about Jesus than any priest I had heard before.  He often challenged the parishoners asking, “So you want to be like Jesus do you?  Have you stopped gossiping, cheating on your spouse and your taxes, refusing to forgive others, etc?”  (maybe not in those exact words, but  you get the idea).  It was like holding up a mirror for all of us to look into and see the truth about ourselves.  Jesus did this too with the self-righteous Pharisees.  Father Peter spoke with great passion and conviction which plucked the strings of my heart sending dust flying off in every direction. I was being spiritually reawakened.

One Sunday he announced he was being relocated to a church in the Rochester, NY area.  I sat in stunned disbelief.  “No! “I cried within myself….”Father Peter can’t be leaving.”  Streams of hot tears flowed down my cheeks.  Father Peter  whom God brought into my life along with others (Jeff Gregory, Christine Palumbo), was a kind of stepping stone in my faith walk, drawing me closer and closer to a deeper commitment to Jesus.  I realized later perhaps he came to us for a season and for me personally, to help me along in that process.  Other  good people of God would come along, and they did, to help me further through their teaching.

 I recently tracked him down to the church in Rochester and sent him an email.  I shared with him the great spiritual impact he had on my life.  I saw on the church website they had links to YouTube videos of some Sunday services.  I clicked on a few and fast forwarded to the homilies.  In one he asked the folks “Is Jesus King of your life”?  In another message he taught we should look at others as our brothers and sisters…look at them with the eyes of God, remembering Jesus loved everyone, women, children, the unlovely, the difficult and to follow His example.  Also that our faith must be more than an hour spent in church…we are to be His disciples, communing with Him every waking minute; that we literally “breathe” Him to sustain ourselves.  It blessed me immensely to know his deep love for the Lord in his messages has not dimmed one bit in the 39 years since I last heard him speak.  Later, on the day I emailed him, he sent a return email with profuse thanks for remembering him, the homily and the effect of his ministry on my life.  He was deeply touched and encouraged.

So I close now, remembering Father Peter with great fondness and thanksgiving.The memory of that homily of 1979 will be forever with me.  Thank you and God bless you Father Peter.

The Big “C” and Me


CANCER!! The most hated word in the English language. Waves of fear and trembling wash over just about everyone who receives this diagnosis.
Rewind to winter 1994 in Ithaca, NY.  I meet with tall, dark and handsome surgeon Dr. Ferrer about a matter that was quickly moved off the table when I inquired about a small hard lump just above my right collarbone. I had this for at least a year but always forgot to ask our family doctor about it.

“So Dr. Ferrer, what do you think this is?”
“I don’t know but whatever it is I don’t like it and would like that biopsied asap”.

We quickly set up a hospital appointment to find out more. Our son had an out of town hockey game and I insisted that John take him and I would follow up later. That never happened. In the O.R. I’m given a local anesthetic and the digout soon ensued. At first all was well but began to feel the scalpel and jerked when I felt it.  They asked…”Are you feeling that?”   “Yeah, can’t you tell by the body imprint I left on the ceiling?”  The team was stunned and more anesthetic was given to complete the task.
In the recovery room Dr. Ferrer arrives with bad and good news.
“Mrs. Janovsky you have stage 2 papillary thyroid cancer…but the good news is that it is highly curable” I might have had a meltdown were it not for that “highly curable” prognosis. It stopped me from spiraling down into fears of ultimate death preceded by long periods of treatment. I’ve never been afraid of dying as much as just HOW I would die…in pain? pain-free? I was more worried about the reactions of my family, and in my mind composed a little speech I would give them to calm any fears.  I couldn’t drive myself home so Dr. Ferrer’s assistant, who was a member of my church drove me home. Later John and I retrieved our car. The family accepted my news calmly.

D-Day arrived in late March. In the O.R., on the table I start to feel the anesthesia kick in. Slowly my body turned to lead, getting heavier and heavier every second. Except for my head, I did not feel my body at all. I was like a dismembered head on the table. It was so, so surreal.  Like something out of a B horror movie “The Brain that Would not die”, as I saw my head in a bell jar with electrostatic waves emanating from my head.
The surgery over I breathed a sigh of relief, but there was more to come in my recovery.

The doctor came in to see me the next day.  Remembering past surgeries and removals ….tonsils, appendix, uterus, ovary, etc. and when he reported they took the thyroid, some lymph nodes, part of a jugular vein I wanted to blurt out..”Stop…just draw up an inventory list of what’s left and have it on my desk in the morning, and is it possible to install a velcro strip for any future surgeries?”. The cancer had metastasized in the neck region so they had scraped and harvested as much diseased tissue as they could find. What should have taken 90 minutes went for 3 hours plus. The incision  went far up the right side of my neck but stopped before getting too close to a major nerve. For several years, however there was a slightly diminished sense of feeling in the right shoulder.

Finally I was home and on thyroid medication I would be taking the rest of my life. Was so good to be with John and the kids again. In June ’94 my endocrinologist wanted to test scan for any remaining thyroid cells. Given a “special” pill to “light up” any thyroid tissue I went to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester for the scan. There I met Egyptian Dr. Sayeed who explained what we would be doing. The scan revealed there were still thyroid cells and I was being admitted for a radioactive therapy.  John and family kissed me so long and went home (2 hours away) but of course we talked on the phone often.

My room was prepped for easy decontamination with paper toweling taped to the floor, walls,  chair and food table. The phone was covered in plastic as was the toilet seat. Why you ask? Because the radioactivity in my sweat and skin oils would contaminate these things. In my hospital gown and on my bed, Dr. Sayeed entered with one or two assistants. They rolled in a cart with an 18″ lead shield and vial of the killer drug.   Placing the vial on my food table with the shield behind it (to protect them) they opened the vial and advised me to place the little straw in and draw up all the fluid without lifting the straw off the vial bottom. I complied. I was instructed  to drink a lot of fluid as this would flush the poison from my body in a few days.  Mylanta rid me of some mild nausea from the drug.
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This was an isolation room. I had to stay there until I was “safe”.  I was not allowed to roam the pristine halls or visit other patients. Visitors could visit me but only for 30 minutes lest they absorb some radiation. A few times a day someone would come in and take geiger counter readings to measure the decreasing radioactivity levels.  So now I’m reduced to a lump of uranium?  Yeah, I was one HOT mama you could say, with a distinctive GLOW about me. Who needs a night light with me around?

I called a friend who lived nearby and she agreed to visit me. She asked if I’d like her to bring anything. “Yes…bring me some colored markers”. I was so happy when I saw Sara Jo’s blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes and heard her voice.  We had a nice visit and she prayed for me. Soon she left and my creative side kicked in as I made drawings on all the paper in my room, like blue waves on the papered walls.  My favorite was my chair. On the backrest I drew a large circle and inside it a Star of David. On each armrest I drew three radioactive discs. This was now my throne..I was the Queen of Radioactivity.

Having mainly a television for company I truly felt isolated.  Friends have often told me I am strong like a rock.  But I didn’t want to be a rock now….Sometimes a bigger rock falls on another and smashes it.  I was needy and felt no shame over that.  Just wanted to curl up on someone’s lap and have him stroke my hair, humming songs to me.  Tapping into my faith I remembered Yeshua (Jesus) told us “I will never leave you nor forsake you” This inspired a pencil drawing on a sheet of paper. It displayed me being comforted by Yeshua, with arms extended up onto his chest, smiling peacefully with my eyes closed. On the back of each hand I bore the radioactive signs. With one arm around me and the other raised, He too had these signs. It was His way of saying, “Yes…I came to be radioactive with you so you would not feel alone”. Behind the two of us was a sun-sized radioactive disc with waves emanating from it. This drawing brought me great comfort. I had nothing to fear…He was with me. I know it sounds a little child-like but Yeshua said we should come to Him as innocent children.

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A final scan confirmed all thyroid cells destroyed, and I went home. Sara Jo drove me as she was going to Ithaca anyway and it saved John the drive up. Future scans spread over several years were done to insure no return of thyroid tissue and the scans finally stopped. That was 24 years ago but the memories are still with me…you don’t forget all that very easily.

I thank God that my journey through this was way easier than it could have been and I pray for all those who are on a much harder road than I was.  Heal them all Father,  Please heal them all.

BACK TO THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

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In my early 20’s I left the church…went my own way; sex, drugs and rock and roll were the order of the day. Married 4 years and wanting to fill the nest, I went off birth control for a year plus, nothing happened. Facing the prospect of barrenness I was devastated. The sight of a pregnant woman often made me burst into tears. I begged and pleaded with God. I began thinking about adoption. A fertility drug kick-started my system and I was finally pregnant(1975)! I went to the moon and back, blossoming a bit more month by month, my belly mushroomed. I was into all things “baby”…maternity clothes, furnishings for the nursery, baby supplies, etc. When my May 10 1976 due date passed I became depressed. I wanted my much-loved pregnancy to end and it did on May 24 1976. Welcome Serena!!

Although we didn’t go to church, we thought to get Serena baptized into the Catholic Church (in which we were raised). We met with a priest at Immaculate Conception in Ithaca, NY who asked us if we were members or came to services. When we said no he asked why did we want our child baptized into a faith we weren’t practicing. It made sense and we agreed to come back to church. We baptized Serena and me and my mother-in-law Josie went to services every Sunday. I tapped into the liturgy I knew so well when I was a girl. I actually began to like it again. The Mass became a spiritual touchstone for me. In 1977 our son Jesse came along and in 1979 we welcomed Sara. Around that time a new priest came to the parish, Father Peter Clifford. His sermons often spoke of Jesus. The very sound of His name plucked my heartstrings.
I felt the dust and cobwebs go flying off my heart after so many years of not thinking of Him at all. Father Peter spoke passionately about the Saviour. He was a total inspiration. I rejoiced every time I saw him ascend to the pulpit with its beautiful wooden carvings. His homilies never disappointed me.

One Sunday he announced he was transferring to a different parish, St John The Evangelist in Greece NY. I listened in disbelief as my eyes quickly welled with tears…Oh no! Not Father Peter!! I later sensed Jesus saying “You thought you were mourning the loss of Father Peter but truly, you thought without him you would never hear about Me.  Without realizing it, you wanted Me, not Father Peter.  He was my representative, messenger, ambassador.  He reawakened your love for Me”.

At that time I wasn’t yet ready to leap into a truly committed faith in Jesus.  The Lord was gracious and patient.  He knew I would become His again soon, even if I didn’t. As I realize this, I see the bigger picture; the work of His invisible hand. The pregnancy issues, crying out to God, children, returning to church, and the Teshuva dream trilogy some years earlier in which He beckoned to me. It all makes perfect sense now.

Stranger in a Strange Land…….A Pilgrim’s Progress

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Throughout my life my feet touched on many spiritual paths such as Catholicism, Eastern Religions, Spiritualism, Astral Projection and Biblical Christianity.  In 1981 I defined myself as a “born again Christian”, a label I enthusiastically applied to myself.  True, my spirit was “born again” into a way deeper commitment to God.  Along that path I spoke “Christianese” salting my speech with “Hallelujahs” and “Praise the Lord”.  Was that wrong?  No but not when you say it every other word.  If some church lady referred to the Lord “tarrying” before His return, I would envision her in a bonnet and long skirt, sitting and stirring a butter churn because of that archaic word.  I was a stranger in a strange land.  I wanted to belong, and fell into lockstep with the others.   It took years to get out of lockstep and feel OK to believe and worship as I wanted to, as long as it was Biblical, which it was.  I rejected cookie cutter Christianity.  I thought for myself but not in rebellion against Biblical truths.  I later abandoned the “born again” title as too many of my brethren said/did things they should not have and didn’t want others judging me because of them.  They were not perfect, and I do still love my Christian brothers and sisters.

A Jewish descendant, I was thrilled to learn there were Jews that believed in Yeshua and found a little local fellowship of Messianic Jews.  I visited a few times but never felt led to stop going to a Christian church.  All that changed in 1985.  My nephew Adam was being bar mitzvahed.  My sister married a Jewish man and the kids were raised in the usual traditions.  In an orthodox synagogue I perched in the women’s balcony (men were on the ground level).  I tried to follow along with the siddur (prayer book), wrestling with the Hebrew transliterations with help from Wendy, my sister’s niece while listening to the Cantor belt out the Sh’ma  (Jewish confession of faith).  Once again, I was a stranger in a strange land….I was lost in a sea of Hebrew words, prayers and songs.  I needed a “Judaism for Dummies” book.  I thought how could I be Jewish yet feel so disconnected from my ethnic/religious family.   I learned some things about Judaism from my mom (she converted to marry dad) but there was so much more I didn’t know.   An aching hunger to know more began to grow within me.  When I returned to our home in Ithaca, I called a lady from the fellowship. We met many times so I could learn more.  We later resurrected the little fellowship B’rit Olam meeting for several years.  I also visited with  a friend who was studying Hebrew with an orthodox rabbi.  She invited me to join.  Rabbi Silberstein thought I should have a Jewish name and together we came up with Tovah.  For awhile my Judaism felt like I was putting on a “jewish” coat and did not feel it on an internal level.   That sense of Jewish identity evolved over time.

In 2000 me and another lady started a new fellowship Ahavat Yahshua.  I was there for 5 years before moving to Vegas (big mistake there).  From that point, I never again was a member of a church.   Here in Florida I go to a similar congregation and feel a great peace in my inner being.  I also learned some Hebrew and can read and write it.

When I am asked “what faith are you?”.  I often respond, “I am a disciple of Yeshua (aka Jesus) and emulate Him in every way I can, with a desire to obey the commandments of the Holy Bible.”  They respond, “Oh I see, then you are a Christian right?”  Whoa Nellie, not exactly.  “I do not subscribe to many things that Christians do.  Most Christians don’t believe in obeying the Torah and have their own special holidays, Christmas and Easter.  For my husband’s sake I get a little involved in Christmas (reluctantly) but not Easter at all.  I happily observe the Biblical feasts like Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), and Tabernacles.”   “Oh”, they respond, “then you are Jewish, right?”  Again there are issues with this.  My DNA test revealed I am 46.9% Ashkanazi Jew..my mom, grandparents and great grandparents were Jews, so I already knew that.  Most Jews do not believe Yeshua is the Messiah so I am at odds with most Jews, except for those Jews that DO believe.  They are called Messianic Jews and many outsiders feel these folks are confused about their identities.  Check out my post “No Respect” where I liken being a Messianic Jew to Rodney Dangerfield who “gets no respect”.  Thing is in the early congregations, Jews dominated this branch of Judaism known as The Way.  It had a very Jewish flavor until the gentiles flooded in and radically changed things.

MeButtonsMom Mom, Buttons and Me circa 1960

I purposely avoid these labels as they set off bells and whistles in the minds of others.  Their minds work like steel traps as they conjure up their pet beliefs about what those labels mean to them.  We are all WAY MORE complex than simple labels.  Labels are short cuts that requires little thinking so people can comfortably jump to conclusions without digging any deeper.  They found the correct pigeon-hole to shove you into.  It may take a bit longer to explain to others how I walk out my faith and I really  appreciate those who take the time to listen.  My desire is to be light and salt in a world that is dark and flavorless. …to follow the much admired Christ-like prayer of St. Francis..

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, unity; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.  “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”   But wasn’t he a Catholic you ask???  Yes but there are many gems to be mined from those well spoken words, Amen?  OK  we be in church now.

If we live our lives as He did, people will be attracted to that and inquire of you.  How you live your life will speak way more volumes to others, than your quoting the Scriptures (although the Scriptures are very important).  Yeshua said in the Gospels “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me”.  This is my heart’s desire no matter what I call myself.

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