The Sabbath is the presence of God in the world, open to the soul of man. God is not in things of space, but in moments of time.

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A striking individual wrote the words above when speaking of a beautiful day in the Judaic week. Shabbat. Abraham Joshua Heschel, if you’re looking for some deeply interesting reads check out some of his books. In particular I have been reading “The Sabbath” and I have found it intrinsically beautiful. Like touching a part of another individuals pure love of their own Jewish soul.

For some who may be unaware, particularly because it appears so frequently, this day, is above all days the most important. What does it mean? What is Heschel is saying here?

“The Sabbath is the presence of God in the world, open to the soul of man. God is not in things of space, but in moments of time.” and for that matter, why above all else (save for one day) is this day so important? I have sought to explore this myself.

During my journey I had set a goal in mind to begin alternating the way we conduct Shabbat. Generally we spend our Friday nights immersed with our Congregation. With love, liturgy, community, and light. However, in my process I have met so many that, growing up, missed out on the home experience of Shabbat. Since, for a long time, our little guy at least is going to have to spend his time in the baby sitting room, we decided to alternate weeks at services outside the house and do some weeks at home so that we have home observance too. Myself having never conducted the Shabbat rituals at home before, and ever the perfectionist, wanted to have EVERYTHING in order, and be so well versed it would be shocking. Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be the least bit surprised by this at this point lol.

Of course, none of the things I had planned for the first time I did this happened at all. You know what though? It could not have felt more perfect, save for my husband being with us. I always had this idea in my head that I’d make this incredibly elaborate meal, that we’d have all the things we needed, the right table cloth, and even the havdalah set I have had my eye on to properly finish off Shabbat at it’s end.

Instead it was the first Shabbat after Chanukah. I missed very much the warmth that the candles brought, and the reflection that sparked inside me for those nights I will absolutely never forget. I missed my husband and was exhausted physically from driving around for all the hustle and bustle a Jewish holiday affair like that brings. I needed rest. I needed to stop. I NEEDED Shabbat, and if I’m honest, as my life progresses with Judaism as such an important part of it, I need those spiritual breaks more and more.

That, is why it is such an important day. We need that rest, just as there was rest in the creation of the world. I think even more so in such a weary world where it’s so hard to just rest. We are bombarded with so much all of the time from all directions all week long. It’s really difficult to set aside time to just cease. As a matter of fact, and as a side tidbit, the Hebrew for Shabbat, שַׁבָּת, has the root of three main Hebrew letters that actually mean to cease. I find Hebrew to be such an incredible language so everything about it and the meaning behind it to me becomes more and more meaningful as time goes by as well.

As I turned on music in Hebrew, made up my chicken thighs with their lovely spices filling the air of my kitchen, and my son helped me make the Challah, I stopped as I often do and drank in what was going on. As Heschel said, God is in the moments of time. I have to agree that is true to some degree. I feel God in a myriad of places, but there are many times that I know there is that presence. Watching the Challah rise and bake. Setting the table, lighting the candles, singing, doing Kiddush and HaMotzi, chanting the blessings over my sweet son and eating a meal with him, doing all of these things knowing that as he grows he will have all these as memories. My heart rose to new levels of joy that I’ve never known. I relaxed in a way I’ve never known as well. Shabbat was spent laughing, playing legos and puzzles, reading; both Jewish kids books and my own Torah study, and resting in the most positive ways I could. We marked the end of Shabbat with songs, and in our own way.

One day we’ll have all the right things, one day it’ll be more “proper” but one thing I have learned is it’s not about being perfect. Adonai does not expect perfection. We did all we could with what we had to show and we gave our praise to the one who brought us forth to this Earth, and to this moment, in this place. We will continue to do so at every step. I am so utterly proud of our family. Giving of myself all that I have is indeed probably the most important thing, or at least I’d like to hope so. As we are able, we’ll get better.

Is the Sabbath the presence of Adonai in the world open to us? I’d like to think that we have multiple facets of contact and presence with our creator at any given time. Certainly though, on that Shabbat, and the ones since, I have felt even more of a stirring and closer connection in my heart.

I know that I have my beautiful family, and have. I have lived with a darkness in my past before, and an ever aching feeling that I was alone in this world. I no longer fear the darkness, for I am a child of the light of HaShem and no matter how dark my world my seem or get I am never really alone. I never have been even when I didn’t know.

I end this post to you all with two of my favorite Shabbat songs. Thank you for sharing in my journey.

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Don’t look back, There’s only pillars of salt.

I know I,

Have lost my way,

And I know I,

Have seen better days,

The past will fade away,

If I just pray

Lot’s wife is told not to look back at Sodom, for if she does she will turn to a pillar of salt. She was so swept up in the longing for her former way of living that she is tempted into looking, and immediately becomes the pillar.

What a sad thing one would think, such dwelling on what would be considered a tempted and evil life, one doomed to death, why look back? It raises many thoughts to be sure.

While I can say I have probably lived in what you could call evil, I can’t say I’ve longed for it. I have, however, dwelled in it. I have carried it around like an albatross around my neck. I am guilty of letting my past draw me into looking back more times than Lot’s wife ever did or could have. The past few weeks have made me reflect on that. Yom Kippur was a turning point for me. It was the first time I allowed myself to let go of some things. Things I have been holding onto since adolescence. I stood in the sanctuary and I felt pain leave me that I’d never felt able to let go of. Exasperation I had felt, and shame toward myself, feelings that I had finally realized were so utterly misplaced. I finally placed it all where it belonged, for the first time. Also for the first time, I truly atoned. I apologized, for every curse, every ill word, and every bit of blame I ever put on God. In my weakness, there was always strength, it was simply not my own. The proof positive in that is my life. Against all odds, somehow I live on, thought many times my life has been in such close danger of ending.

So Baruch HaShem. I shall no longer look back, for I have no desire to be a pillar of salt.  I desire to be here, now, looking ahead and around. I want to embrace all that I have and am today, NOW. It is time to put the past behind me, and let it fade away. Being hurt and angry, and pained over things that cannot be changed, does nobody any benefit, least of all myself. Finally fully accepting that there are things in this world that were inflicted upon me, that I had no control over, and did not deserve, has made all the difference.

I leave you today with a beautiful song by The Tin Man called “I Know I”, my post title and opening lines come from this song. I heard it early this spring, not knowing what it would mean to me now.

Our Endless Numbered Days, Wisdom Comes In Time

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“There are times that walk from you like some passing afternoon
Summer warmed the open window of her honeymoon
And she chose a yard to burn but the ground remembers her
Wooden spoons, her children stir her Bougainvillea blooms

There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days
Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made
And she’s chosen to believe in the hymns her mother sings
Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves

There are sailing ships that pass all our bodies in the grass
Springtime calls her children ’till she let’s them go at last
And she’s chosen where to be, though she’s lost her wedding ring
Somewhere near her misplaced jar of Bougainvillea seeds

There are things we can’t recall, blind as night that finds us all
Winter tucks her children in, her fragile china dolls
But my hands remember hers, rolling ’round the shaded ferns
Naked arms, her secrets still like songs I’d never learned

There are names across the sea, only now I do believe
Sometimes, with the windows closed, she’ll sit and think of me
But she’ll mend his tattered clothes and they’ll kiss as if they know
A baby sleeps in all our bones, so scared to be alone”

I cannot get over the symbolism and beautiful undertones in this mans music. I have listened for so many years. A friend introduced me to his music when I was much younger. As I have aged, so has my understanding of things of course. As life continues so to does our knowledge and acquisition of it. I like to believe we become smarter as we age, though I’m not sure that’s true for all people. I have always strived to keep my mind sharper over time, seeking more to feed it. I am seeing every single song of his in a brand new light.

Granted I’m probably the last horse to cross the finish line on this one, though that may be, I’m fascinated. There is so much more substance than I ever knew in some of these songs. Of course “Jezebel” has always been easy to identify.

“Who’s seen Jezebel?
She was born to be the woman I would know
And hold like the breeze
Half as tight as both our eyes closed

Who’s seen Jezebel?
She went walking where the cedars line the road
Her blouse on the ground
Where the dogs were hungry, roaming

Saying, “Wait, we swear
We’ll love you more and wholly
Jezebel, it’s we, we that you are for
Only”

Who’s seen Jezebel?
She was born to be the woman we could blame
Make me a beast half as brave
I’d be the same

Who’s seen Jezebel?
She was gone before I ever got to say
“Lay here my love
You’re the only shape I’ll pray to, jezebel”

Who’s seen Jezebel?
Will the mountain last as long as i can wait
Wait like the dawn
How it aches to meet the day

Who’s seen Jezebel?
She was certainly the spark for all i’ve done
The window was wide
She could see the dogs come running

Saying, “Wait, we swear
We’ll love you more and wholly
Jezebel, it’s we, we that you are for
Only”

That said, it’s somewhat easy to identify that all of his music has ties to theology in some way (from what I read he is formerly Christian, and labels himself Agnostic currently). Thus of course not all of this resonates with me personally story wise being Jewish, but seeing the beauty in the artform is no less amazing. Knowing that a fair few of his songs were based in biblical reference was one thing. Seeing him weave this in such a way that songs I used to believe were simply about a man, woman, and a dress are not so, is quite incredible.

If any of you are unfamiliar with his work (Iron & Wine being the band name, though he does all the instrumentation and vocals) if you have ever seen movies such as Twilight, Garden State, or In Good Company, you’ve likely heard his songs. “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” was used in the Twilight series so it’s pretty familiar to most.

Sometimes things are not always what we first see, and sometimes, moreover, oftentimes, age gives us wisdom to see beyond what we once saw. Listen to music, listen again, read books once, twice, three times, then read them again.

During our last class we spoke of Ecclesiastes and the main question the younger people in class had was WHY is SUCH a sad book included in our reading for such a joyous occasion (Rosh Hashanah)? Now I’m not sure of everyone’s ages. I do know I’m one of the older individuals, and I do know for certain I am one of the only ones with children, I am still green in my years to be sure, though more seasoned than some. That said I felt it was an important inclusion in the readings. I listened intently as the Rabbi explained that the book is important at this time, so as to show us that we will leave this world the same as we entered it. “As he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand.” Ecclesiastes (5:15). King Solomon realized too late in his life that all the materialistic items in this world would not matter once he had perished. Thus it leaves a depressing tone to the book to be sure, as there is a lamenting to the time lost. There is also a beauty in the realization of what is truly important. For that is the lesson taught. The bonds, the time we have here, the need not to look forward to work toward “what comes next”, the living here and now for those around us, that is the importance of it during Rosh Hashanah and even more during the reflection time coming into Yom Kippur in my personal opinion. In assessing your shortcomings, and the things you wish to improve upon, it is ever important to recall what truly matters in life.

The point I’m making on it is this, go back and revisit things from the past with new eyes. You never know what your new perspective and the wisdom of age will give you. Fresh ears too. As we move forward in life we grow, and that growth unlocks so many things in us. Push ever harder to be a better version of yourself, more giving, more loving, kinder, harder working. Not just during the times of the year we are told to do so, but all of the time. If we all did the world would be a much better place for it. Recall that life is fleeting, we are small in the place that God has created for us, and we return to Earth once we are no longer here. Marvel at the beauty around you. Drink it in. Live in it, while you can, for as long as you are given.

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Spiritual awakening, the start of my conversion to Judaism.

I would rather think of life of as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to come together and make sense. 

This quote is credited to Rabbi Harold Kushner, I feel like it could not be more relevant to my life, in general, or right now.

When I think over my life there has been a large amount of pain, turmoil, and hurt, but there has been joy, and love, as well as extreme happiness. I searched from a very young age for more. From Catholicism, to Evangelism, Judaism, to even Buddhism. I have learned a great many things about what those around me had believed.

I have always felt there was more in this place than random design. Weather it be anger, sorrow or stubbornness, I have chided away from this in the past. I have gone to churches, tried to feel welcomed and fit. How could I ever find a home in a place where others were hated? Where a good and loving God would cast aside those who were different, and it was my duty, nay, calling to judge them and cast them away from me, or even worse the love of the creator of us all? There was no part of me that felt at home in those places, though my faith and connection spiritually never disappeared. I suppose you could call it a spark inside of me. A light that shone, even if it was dim at times.

This, is about how I came to find a start in my life, a path that I must walk to see where it leads, and where I believe it will lead. I say this, because for some reason I can’t help but feel that my feet already know the steps. I just need the hand to reach out and help guide me. I felt lost, yet not scared, I feel adrift, needing knowledge, yet I know that it will come, when it is time. For the first time in my life, ever, I feel like I have found solid footing in a world that has always felt so uncertain in my mind. Everything around me feels firm and planted.

I feel just as sure about the choices I am making now as I did choosing Zane, falling in love with Zane, and marrying him. There is nothing but clarity inside me. I feel as steady inside as I did in the NICU with Alexandr, knowing that I was his mother, and somehow, we would make it through. So many nights I sat in my glider or on my knees, holding the number to the NICU unit in my hand in the dead of night, crying, and praying, waiting to call and hoping for the safety of my child. I know he was kept safe. I’ve never lost faith, I’ve just never known where to place it, I’ve never known a home to hold that faith.

Next month I will begin a year long spiritually educational journey. A pilgrimage of my own as it were. I will immerse myself and our family fully to the practice and observance of Judaism. Every day I work to enhance my spiritual relationship with God. I will work very diligently to learn all I can and to live as Jewishly as possible, and raise my family this way. This includes following as many practices as we are able, including my fumbling attempts to convert our household to being Kosher (which has been mildly amusing).

I know I’m going to get this question from some, yes, my husband is Jewish. This however is not my reason for conversion. We have been married for some time now. Two years on Valentine’s day as a matter of fact. That said he has been non practicing for as long as I have known him. We are embarking on this journey of spirituality together, and feel it is a wonderful thing for us all, and is the way we want to conduct our home. The idea to convert was actually my own, it has been something I have considered for years. Starting in my teenage years. Sometimes you are just called from within. I believe Judaism called to me and always has.

If I haven’t told you personally about my conversion know that I told my family only directly and felt that announcing it this way was the best way to go about telling others. If you have any questions you’d like to ask me about it, any curiosities feel free to ask me privately, or comment. I am looking forward to this journey, and hope to share in some of it with you. I would love to hear from any of you who have gone through the conversion process, or talk to any of you who may be considering it.

I feel very much like my spiritual heart has found it’s home.

Shari

(The pictures at the top are my Magen David, to commemorate the start of my journey we decided a modest pendant to keep me in touch with my path, and remind me to pray was in order.)

Much Germs, So Yuck!

So the video is live, Alex has a bacterial infection surprise, surprise, because sickness always runs rampant in this house. Took him to the doctor who was AMAZING. This guy took the time to earn his trust. Alex even opened his mouth and showed his ears to him. He gave the doctor a hug at the end, which is not something he does with people. Affection is not his thing having ASD.

I’ve decided to switch doctors to the one we saw. He versed me better in the short visit with him than the two doctors I’ve seen in the last two years have. There is a lot going on with me but I will save that for another day. For now I’ll just say there may be some serious items on the horizon for me and my own health some of it having to do with my thyroid issues that cropped up in 2015 around Christmas for those of you that have been long time readers. That is never anything new though.

 

Long Drive Release Day!

 

Title: Long Drive
Author: Jessica Florence
Release Date: Jan 9, 2017
There is a long road in everyone’s journey in life.
For some people, it’s a way to get from one place to another.
For others, it’s a search for one’s purpose in existence.
For me, the road was where I could find peace.
When everything in my life had shattered, I turned to the road.
And that’s where I met him.
Killian Lemarque.
A beautiful truck driver, and my salvation.
One month on the road together is the deal, and when it’s over, I will have hopefully figured out what I’m going to do about my torn reality.
But sometimes the road can change everything.
One Month. One Truck. One Long Drive.
“Dance with destiny, Livia,” he whispered against me, and I swear it was the hottest thing anyone has ever said to me. My whole entire body turned molten, and I wanted nothing more than to let everything go with him. No struggles, no pain, no problems. Just me and him, right now, dancing in Vegas. A place I never thought I’d be.
My nose ran along his cheekbone, and my hips started swaying slowly against him. He understood that as my agreement. From that moment, neither of us disconnected from the other. His hands were on me, and mine were running over his chest, feeling him, feeling every flex of his muscles from my touch.  Even as the song changed to something different, we danced as if our theme song was still going on. His erection was pressed against my abdomen, and I felt the need to do something about it.
Never had I felt so strongly about a man’s desire. I moved against him, and pulled him closer than we were before. I needed to be plastered to this man. He must have felt the same way, because his fingers splayed against my ass, and pulled me hard against his cock.  A gasp fled my lips.
It was that gasp that did him in; his hand cupped behind my neck and his lips crushed against mine.
My knees immediately felt weak, but he was quick to catch me, holding my body to his with his strong arm around my waist. Wasting no time, our tongues met and explored each other’s mouths. His kiss lit a fire in me that I would gladly burn to ashes in, just for a taste of more. Soft lips, but demanding in their pursuit to electrify my soul. I held onto him so tightly, I feared for ripping his shirt. Not a horrible crime to commit against humanity. When his hips moved his cock against me, I was on my way to a complete unraveling.
“Killian.” His name was a prayer on my lips, a prayer to soothe the ache that had been created.
“Say my name one more time, and I’ll crush your perfect fucking body against the wall behind us, and dry fuck you until everyone on the strip knows my name.”
“Oh, God.” My head rolled back as his lips moved over my neck, pressing hot kisses against my skin like the ones I had imagined in the shower the day before.
“God won’t want any part of the things I would do to you Livia.”  I believe it. Killian would handle me in ways that only a sinner would be begging for.
Jessica Florence, Kaleidoscope of Romance
Author ❤ PotterHead ❤ Movie Geek Extraordinaire.
Writer of Surviving Valentine. The of The Heart trilogy, Evergreen, Lights of Scotland Series, and The Final Love series.
When she’s not writing her next invigorating story. You can find her running her own business, and spending time with her husband and daughter in southwest Florida.

 

Alright guys, Holy wow.

What can I say about this book? As a trucker’s daughter and now a trucker’s wife, as well as being someone who has worked in the industry, I know a thing or two about trucking.

Killian and Livia captivated me from the very beginning, the development and vibrancy of these two characters sat me down and buckled me up, and thank goodness for that. This book took me for a ride and then some. I have been out on the road with my husband before, and all this book did was take me back, back to those long nights, long drives, the winding roads to random destinations. The whole time I was reading it I could hear the truck engine the bumps of the road and the shifts of each gear. The descriptive nature of this book sets the scenes in your mind.

Killian’s grounded salt of the earth soul and Livia’s airy winged spirit will take you away. With every page, you’ll just want to read a little more, even in the wee hours of the morning.

The realism of trucking paired with the fantasy and romance that are these two and their month-long drive is incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed Jessica’s tale of their journey. Taking that drive with them and feeling them grow not only in passion but in every other way possible between a man and woman was wonderful. I have read this book three times now. I very much look forward to purchasing her next book.

If you haven’t checked it out for yourself, please do. It is so worth the read, truly. I have looked forward to this book from the very beginning stages of it and I was so happy when I finally got a chance to read it. What a fun adventure.

 

Long Drive, Check out this amazing cover!

 
Title: Long Drive
Author: Jessica Florence
Release Date: Jan 9, 2017
 
 
 
There is a long road in everyone’s journey in life.
For some people, it’s a way to get from one place to another.
For others, it’s a search for one’s purpose in existence.
For me, the road was where I could find peace.
When everything in my life had shattered, I turned to the road.
And that’s where I met him.
Killian Lemarque.
A beautiful truck driver, and my salvation.
One month on the road together is the deal, and when it’s over, I will have hopefully figured out what I’m going to do about my torn reality.
But sometimes the road can change everything.
One Month. One Truck. One Long Drive.
 
 
 
 
 
Jessica Florence, Kaleidoscope of Romance
 
Author ❤ PotterHead ❤ Movie Geek Extraordinaire.
 
Writer of Surviving Valentine. The of The Heart trilogy, Evergreen,Lights of Scotland Series, and The Final Love series.
 
When she's not writing her next invigorating story. You can find her running her own business, and spending time with her husband and daughter in southwest Florida.
 

Okay so those of you that don’t know, I LOVE to read. I came to know Jessica by happenstance and this book of hers is something I have watched transform and grow. This story is one after my own heart as the wife of a truck driver. The subject matter is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Jessica is a fantastic novelist with such a talented and guided hand, her other works are certainly worth checking out as well. Do not forget to stop by her facebook and other social media outlets as well.

Trust me, you guys do not want to miss this book. Having gotten some delightful little snacks myself, I am chomping at the bit. I already have my preorder in. DON’T HESITATE, especially you trucker wives out there. This book is so unique. This is nothing like the weaksauce romance novels with the same old plot lines. This is new, fresh, and AMAZING. Give it a read and you won’t regret it, I cannot wait to see what the ending has in store. With a wonderfully strong female in the lead role and a hunky, hard working trucker as the counter part, this story has captured my heart from go. This cover is GORGEOUS. Stay tuned as sometime soon I’ll have more details to share with you about the book!