Sunday, June 19, 2016

Shavuot- Pentecost 2016

Our family celebrates the feasts that are mentioned in the Scriptures, so our year of holidays looks different than most people.  Last weekend was one of our favorite feasts.  The fellowship in Sturgis, City on a Hill always puts on such a grand event filled with memories that last forever.  We always meet new people and get the chance to visit with old friends that we might see a couple times a year.  It's like a family reunion.  We love it!

 In the Old Testament, Shavuot was the first fruits of the barley harvest.  It was also when the law was given at Sinai.
 In the New Testament, Shavuot was when the Spirit poured out on the people.  We celebrate the Spirit as it gives us comfort, peace, and helps us along this walk.

We celebrate with music, some teaching, dance, and sweet fellowship with one another.

 Hands raised in worship and hearts dancing in praise.

 The teaching for the children is always captivating both for the children and adults.  :)

 This year there was a special dance and our girls were a part of it.  It was very beautiful!

 They do a reenactment of the barley harvest and the men offer up prayer towards the different directions.  It's always moving to see the men come together to do this and hear the prayers that are offered up.

 Men and boys.

After the service, we eat.  Everyone brings such delicious foods and there is never a shortage!  When all are done eating the festivities begin.  There are planned games and activities for the children and the youth.  It brings much laughter, fun, and hopefully some learning.  When it begins getting dark, the sky lanterns come out which is a favorite for everyone.  The fire can be seen as it floats across the sky.  Hopefully the fire of the Spirit can be seen by all around us no matter where we are.

 The evening gets wrapped up with a lovely display of fireworks.  The lawn fills with everyone visiting more, watching fireworks, echoing with their excitement over the sounds and sights in the sky, and beginning to get sleepy from the long and joy filled day.  Another Shavuot celebration that takes up a day and leaves us tired, yet full of something that we ponder on for days.  Are we truly filled with His Spirit?  Are we truly desiring more and more of it?  Are we welcoming it to move on our families and in our homes?  This has been my continued prayer for the last year.

Until next year, we will continue learning and growing.  We will surrender, so He can pour out on us what He desires us to be filled with.   Let it flood our every being and cause us to walk in a renewed way.

We are so thankful for His feasts and appointed times when we focus more on Him and each part of His purpose and plan.  They are a blessing indeed!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Alegra's Bat Shema- Ceremony and Guests

 A father who loves his daughter wants to give her blessing on her life.  That was our goal with this celebration.  Many people have asked us what the purpose was or what was it all about if we aren't jewish.  The purpose was to give our daughter blessing.  She has expressed a desire to walk with the Lord and walk as He calls her, so we want to bless her in that as she grows, matures, and continues to strive after His heart.

It's a big deal really!   Scripture talks about blessings and cursings.  Sometimes those things just happen naturally as a person lives depending on the choices they make in life.  Sometimes we can vocally express blessing on another person because there is something strong and powerful about speaking life to another person.

So, here is how it looked for Alegra.  We would like to do this for all of our children.  We don't know if this is how it will look for all of them, but the concept will be the same, and hopefully the blessing will cover them in love, peace, and HIS presence.

 Jonathon likes to talk.  :)  After we did a slide show of Alegra as a baby through her years to now, Jonathon did a not so brief welcome.  :D  Brief is hard for him.  It was good  though and just what he was supposed to say to welcome all of our family and friends who came to support our daughter, Alegra Hope.

Now it's her turn!
 She shared why she wanted to do this and how she came to this decision in her walk of faith.
Then she shared some music.
She played the piano and sang "Blessed Assurance".

 And then she played the ukulele and played "Write Your Story".

We then chose to give her a ring to signify her father/Father's voice.  It has the Shema engraved around it, so when she looks at it. we want her to remember what Jonathon, her father's, voice says, but ultimately what her heavenly Father's voice says.  Above all, we want it to be written on her heart, but this is just to have as a visual reminder.

 She really loves her papa.  It was so evident as she watched him and listened to what he was sharing.  I admire him so much for having captured her heart.  I pray that continues with each of our children.

 It was a beautiful fit.

Onto the blessings!
Alegra had been talking a lot about her party and how excited she was for it.  I am one who wants to make sure they truely understand what it is all about.  It's not just a time to party with our friends.  This is a serious moment in her life.  So, earlier in the week, I said to her, "Alegra, what are you most looking forward to at your party".  She didn't hesitate with her response of, "The blessings".  Wow, I was really quite surprised that her heart was so desiring that.  It's special and she had the picture of what it was supposed to be for her.  

We wanted the grandparents to share something if they wanted to.  We were sad that Jonathon's mom had to miss this special time.  I know she wanted to give Alegra  a blessing as well.  My parents were ready even before they were asked.  I appreciate their willingness so much!  My Dad read the most beautiful blessing to his granddaughter.  So many people commented how that was their favorite part.  She is blessed to have them love her and bless her the way they do.

 Then the parents blessing.  I went first and of course cried through it.  Jonathon shared next and just shared from what was already in his heart.  He is such a good speaker and just let's the Spirit lead him in what he's to say.  What a blessed girl Alegra is.

 And Benaiah ran up on stage to give me a kleenex. :)

We then had a community  prayer where anyone could come up and lay hands on her to pray over her.  We are truly blessed for those who came up and for those who lifted her up right where they were sitting.  It's a little blurry, but you get the idea.

 We ended the ceremony with our friend, Maxine singing a song for Alegra to encourage her.  Thank you for participating in this special time!

Since Alegra loves photography and knew she wouldn't be able to take all the pictures at her party, we decided to make a game to have the guests help us out with pictures.  We got some great shots.  They were given the list below of things to capture on their phones or cameras.  

The following pictures were contributed by Kathy Edmonds, Leah Bender, Ellie Sivils, Betty Jo Rodgers, Maxine Aldrin, Deborah Murphy, Darlene Danberry. and Bev Coolman.

We are blessed with many, many people who love us and support us in what we do.  For that we are so very thankful!  Thank you to each of you who came and supported our daughter in this blessing!  We hope that you were encouraged, uplifted, and edified by what we were doing.