The Screaming Baby At Church

You are sitting in church listening to your Rabbi teach. In the room there are several new and young mothers. Somewhere a baby starts making small noises. The mom becomes embarrassed and tries anything that she can do to quiet her child. After five minutes the baby calms down; the mother is still embarrassed but calms down and tries to focus on the teaching.
Ten minutes later a different baby who had been perfectly content just starts screaming. Immediately the flustered mother rushes out of the sanctuary and takes it to a different room and tries to calm the baby down.

If you have gone to church this is not an uncommon sight. This happens to EVERY mother who chooses to keep thier child in the service. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It is just a part of life.

Recently, I witnessed this. I have spent some time pondering this concept.

When I attend/observe the Christian culture as a whole, I see many struggling but few talking about it. Whether the struggle is within (anxiety, depression, etc.), with work (work bullies, loss of job, finances, etc.), family (divorce, struggles with family, taking care of an elderly parent), or sin! I see smiling faces on Sunday mornings (figuratively; I go to Shabbat on Friday), but  hearts are desperately needing help. Typically, the more conservative the congregation is, the more plastered on smiles there are. Why do Christians do this?

I believe it is because we became uncomfortable with sharing that we need help, especially with sin! When it comes to sin we don’t want to admit that we struggle with a particular sin. Even though all of us struggle with sin in some form! I don’t know about you, but I don’t know one person who doesn’t struggle with something.

In fact, in the book of James this is addressed. James 5:16 says:
“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a rigous person is powerful and affective.”  

I don’t understand why many members at Church are not open about sin. To me, it is worrisome and alarming. Because if we are not open about our problems, how willing will a visitor, who is deeply struggling, be open to searching for Yeshua’s redemptive grace? Church is not for those who have everything together. It’s for those who don’t have everything together!

Now you may be wondering where I am going with the baby analogy that I started with. The screaming baby is extremely similar to the sinners in the church. Our sin starts to make some noise and we get embarrassed about it and so we leave. Sometimes we come back, and sometimes we leave. We feel as though everyone is watching when most of time others are not because We are self-conscious about it.

With the second baby it is similar to being caught in sin. We don’t think that anyone will ever know. Then…We get get caught in a big way. For a previous period of time our struggle is not visibly apparent. Then when you least expect it, G-d decides that this on- going sin has gone on long enough and you are exposed. You are exposed to the church and you may keep going to church but instead go to a different one where no one knows you.

I’m not saying to go up to alter of the church confess every sin that you have ever done to your church.   Though I do challenge you to find someone who looks as though they are struggling and minister to them. Share your testimony and struggles with them, pray with them, and form a godly friendship. Create a Church culture of openness and boldness. Instead of privacy and meekness.

“As it is written, none is righteous not even one” ~ Romans 3:10

Age Vs. Wisdom

If you know me personally, you know that I’m a “nerd.” I’m not a “nerd” in the way that some people are passionate about comic books, video games, or rock bands. I am very passionate about self educating myself, helping others, art, writing, making and listening to classical music, and I try to always find things that “cultured people” do. But in a sense, everyone is “nerdy” about something!

When I have free time, when I’m not making art (or sometimes when I’m doing art), I watch public speakers and spoken words being performed. These things highly interest me. One thing that I probably spend too much time doing is watch Ted Talks. Now, if you have watched many Ted Talks, the only requirement to make a talk is to have an idea.

Now, not every speaker at Ted is an adult. In fact, all ages speak! When I watch these child speakers most of them have done something for an audience to listen to (become a child prodigy, be accepted into Brown University at the of twelve, invent some life changing invention, etc.). This week in particular I have been meditating on this concept.

When I started to blog, my motivation behind it was to write about all of the concepts about life that I have; I knew keeping these concepts in my mind wouldn’t do any good. I kept this blog for quite awhile before sharing/advertising it. I did this because I never felt insightful or that I have a voice worth listening to. Why? Because many adults in my life have told me that I don’t know anything because I am young. Even though I try to educate myself (school doesn’t teach you everything that you need to know in life) my voice has never mattered and so I decided to make it matter.

I notice, in especially adults, that children are usually not heard. They are told that they don’t know what they are talking about because they are young. I have a really hard time with this, however. If you have ever spent time with young children before, you probably know that many children have big imaginations and creativity. The older the child becomes the inspiration dies. As they grow older, adults teach them how to think “practically.” Usually by discouraging different thought from their own. Elementary schools do not allow students to freely think.

From personal experience, by the time a child reaches an age that adults will listen to them, students are not confident to express themselves. However, this is dangerous. If adults gave children the chance to speak where could this world be scientifically, politically, and socially? I argue that this world would have less problems if we treated everyone as having an idea worth listening to. Children are great at thinking outside the box and can be great problem solvers!

I am finally getting comfortable with expressing my opinions. I was told this week that I don’t know anything because of my age and that was hard to hear. Honestly, I didn’t want to write today because this person completely pointed out my insecurities. However, I am learning that actively expressing my mind and thoughts is what intelligent people do, and ignorant people listen to the ones tearing others down.

Red Light, Green Light

Red light, green light, have you ever played that childhood game? In my childhood I cannot tell you how many endless hours that I spent playing this simple game with my friends at ice skating lessons. If you don’t know what the point of the game is, it is to be the first one to race to a designated line and someone specifically is the stop light calling out if the light is red, yellow, or green.

Well, if you live in America you have encountered a stop light. But, equally, if you are a Christian you have encountered a green, red, and yellow light.

You don’t get into a car to stay in the exact same place that you are now. You start a car to go somewhere. In my short life I have never seen a car that is put into drive and it not go anywhere. It is going to go. But it’s how it is operated that makes a difference between you crashing or going on a road trip.

If you are on the road and encounter a road light, how good is that light going to be if you don’t move when that green light changes from red? Also, think of the dangers of running a red light. Your insurance will not have mercy on you. That road light is there for your protection.

In this life, this world is not our home, we are just traveling through. Sometimes in my own life He gives me green lights to help others, accomplish personal goals, and most importantly build His kingdom, but I’m not always willing to take that leap of faith. I confuse my own desires labeling them as, “The will of G-d.” But to a degree a lot of Christians do this too. I, and so many others, will see a red light and try to use it as a green one and then blame G-d when we fail. When from the beginning it is not what He wanted us to pursue.

If you are driving on a busy road what is it going to be like if you don’t follow any of the rules of the road? Then again, how is your life going to be if you don’t follow the rules and laws that G-d has given us?

Are you following the spirtual green, yellow, and red lights as G-d wants us to? Or are you letting G-d guide your car?

~Lama-Leah

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L.O.L.

Have you had your L.O.L for the day? It’s no secret that Valentine’s day is coming up. The national single awareness, cheesy chick flicks on Hallmark channel, and eat your emotions on overpriced chocolate day as I like to call it. Even though I say these things, it is still my favorite pagen holiday! I love the colors, the cards, the love in the air, and the chocolate, of course!

Valentine’s day is my favorite because it emphasizes love. I know what you’re thinking that I’m talking about romantic love but honestly I’m talking about many kinds of loving relationships! This new acronym may change the way that you look at this holiday.

Love
Out
Loud

In the end aren’t we all in need of a little L.O.L? As humans we crave love and acceptance. Do you know anyone who does not want to be loved and accepted?

As Christians it is our responsibility to God to love Him and to love our neighbors. We are not to take an eye for an eye but instead love your enemy. How crazy is that?

Christians need to be actively loving out loud. Not only to our friends and family but also the weird people, misfits, the strangers at the store, your enemy,  and most importantly God!

There was a phase in my life that God was determined to teach me something about Him and his nature before I really knew why. When I was in middle school anytime that I was at a religious event and a lesson was being taught, for at least a year, the lesson was ALWAYS love those who have hurt you.

Well, after God drilled that into my heart my life changed. Relationships broke and I started to become bullied. Before I knew it I had to make a conscious decision to love and pray for my enemies.

Loving those who hurt you is hard! However, it is indeed possible but it’s not possible without the agape of Yeshua in your heart. Yeshua is the ultimate example of loving the un-lovable. He was hated by many but never returned hate for hate.

In order to imulate the love of Christ, you must start to love out loud! Christians are known for being judgmental and hypocritical. Think about the impact that you can have by simply being kind to the everyone. That’s exactly how Jesus lived, and I don’t know about you, but his life is exactly who I want to strive to live like.

When was the last time that you LOL?

Mayim In The Desert

A dry hot, cracked, bare landscape waiting for water. Any guesses? A dessert! Just kidding a desert!

Last night at Shabbat my Rabbi’s closing words were, “G-d will NOT leave you in the desert.” And so Saturday’s post topic is faith in the desert.

In the Old Testament book of Joshua we read about the Israelites wondering in the wilderness for forty years.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m a phone GPS navigation kind of person. I cannot tell you how many times on family trips someone has handed me a map and has expected me to navigate without using my phone. And to add into that I cannot tell you how many times I have almost gotten my family stranded in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, my family has figured out just to tell me to put my phone GPS on. I am simply directionally turned around. I can get lost in my own hometown.

Yes, I have gotten many people lost in the car, however, I have never led someone astray for forty years! Well, the Israelites were in the wilderness for a long period of time!

For the Israelites, I am going to make the argument that was an issue of faith in the L-rd’s provision. Their faith was running out that they would find their way out. I mean, think about it, how would you feel if you were lost and you felt as though you have lost G-d down the road while trying to find your way? In the book of Deuteronomy G-d says that He will never leave you, but how often do we believe that?

I often see in my own community that so many times when we are walking through a desert that we to lose faith. Are we tired, worn out, emotionally drained, and are we tired of waiting for G-d’s provision? We are the Israelites.  Our faith runs dry and we try to find alternative solutions for shalom: talk to others instead of G-d, read Facebook rather than the bible, and go to the movies instead of church. But how good is that truly? If we embraced faith in Yeshua fully we should be striving to search harder for Him in the dry, cracked, bare piece of land looking for Mayim Chaim (water with life).

This morning I was made aware that Pastor Saeed has been relessed from prison. Praise Yeshua! What I find especially amazing about this is that my congregation has been praying for him over of the course that he has been arrested for his faith. Many times when I teach the children one of them mentions to pray for Pastor Saeed. Saeed had been in prison for three years. I’m not going to lie, I can see how many of those praying for this Pastor had faith going dry. However, what would have happened if EVERYONE stopped lifting him up in prayer?
Would he have hostage for 12 years?

There is no doubt that you’re going to wonder through the wilderness at some point in your life. But it makes a huge difference in perspective when you start searching for water instead sand. What are you searching for?

If I won the Powerball…

“If I won the powerball I would…”
January 13, 2016 the powerball is up to $1.5 BILLION dollars.

With all of this money up for grabs this country has mentally prepared to be a billionaire. I have heard dozens of individuals publicly fantasize about being wealthy.

Yes, it’s fun to think about this but how profitable is it do that?

If I won I’d give most of it to charity.”

If I won it I’d change the world.”

If I won I would support missionaries.”

Do you notice a lot of the word “if” ? My question to all of you anticipating the Powerball, what are you going to do if you don’t win? If you stay in the same financial position, how will you impact the world then?

Although money helps, you can still make an impact on the world without having a dime. The simplest things will change the world. Martin Luther king Jr, Jesus, Ghandi, all of these men were not rich by the world’s standards, however, they did make a huge impact on the world.

Are you going to wait for your financial situation to change before working to make a positive impact on the world? Or are you going to be the one who made a difference in spite of your financial situation?

~Lama-Leah

Dear Teacher, Please Let Me Be Creative

Adult coloring books are “the thing” right now. For Chanukah my mother gave me one of these. Now my mother NEVER let me have a coloring book growing up and so this was the first one I have ever owned.

Because I have “learning disabilities” my brain simply gets tired faster then most other people’s brain. I decided to bring my coloring book to school this week for something to do when I have study halls and when my brain needs a break. For an entire school week now, I have colored in my book at various times for long and short periods of time and I have yet to complete one page!

On Monday when I was coloring a memory from junior high haunted me. One day in junior high I was in my study hall, and that particular day the teachers had “overdosed my brain on information.” My brain was tired and I could not focus on school work and I pulled out my loved sketch book. After only a few moments of sketching, the teacher supervising me noticed. When the teacher noticed, they “suggested”/ told me to work on something profitable. This disturbed me emotionally. I put away my sketch book and pretended to study for an upcoming test while trying to hide my tears.

Now to most people this doesn’t sound like a big deal. However, to me it was. I felt punished for my brain not having the compacity of my peers. I pretty much wasted the entire class period because I was staring at my book being too upset to study.

Telling a student to put their sketch book away isn’t a big deal; however, to a dyslexic student it is so much more. Generally, people who have dxylixia are creative. Therefore, we need a creative outlet when our brains cannot handle academics. I’m not a trouble maker at school but I do need to use my creativity in different forms every once in awhile. I am a musician, writer, and artist and I use these forms of art to relax and distract myself from the world. It’s no wonder why I need to occupy some of these elements during school.

Dear Teacher, please let me draw during free time. My brain functions different then yours. I cannot be fed information for seven hours a day and be expected obtain what you have taught me. There comes a point when I cannot soak in what you are teaching me. My belly gets full when I am fed; my brain does the same thing. Please let me be creative and encourage me to pursue my creative outlets during the little bit of free time that you give us. Yes, my grades probably suck but studying when I’m “studied out” will not do any good for me. I do not draw during class, I do not work on Lama-Leah during class, I don’t write poetry or short stories during class, I study and listen to you during class. However, during my study halls or free time, I sometimes simply just need a break. What is so bad about that?
~Lama-Leah

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Ten Reasons To Stay Away from Porn

Porn, something that consumes time, money, and resources of millions of boys, girls, men, and women around the world. Statistically nine out of ten young men are watching it and one out of three young women are watching it.

I am not going to tell you and say that Christians do not watch porn because that is simply not true. In about every walk of life, whether religious or not, this is an impending problem. To me it is sickening to know that many who are around me have watched porn and/or are addicted to it. In response, I am going to tell you, not just for biblical reasons,  but also practical reasons as to why I make an effort to keep this out of my personal life.

  1. It is addicting – I make an effort to not be in the large statistic of porn users. I have enough problems as it is. I don’t need to add something else.
  2. It puts dirty thoughts into your mind about someone else. I absolutely hate it when others have sexual thoughts about me. I don’t want to put dirty thoughts into my mind about someone else.
  3. It supports the sex industry – that is an entire topic in itself. In the sex industry men and women are often times exploited. As is true of many industries, it has a hidden side that is kept from the general public and its users.
  4. It creates unrealistic ideals of what intimacy is. It’s all fake. They are actors performing in a fake bedroom scene.
  5. I don’t my future husband being involved or participating in it. I want him to be living a pure life so I should be doing the same.
  6. In the sex industry, women are sex objects – NO ONE should ever be a sex object. They should be seen as a human being, not as an object.
  7. Sex is special and not for everyone to watch. G-d gave His children sex as a gift between spouses. By watching porn you are abusing the gift.
  8. He instructs His followers to remain pure. Philippians 4:8 says,
    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
  9. It causes more emotional heartache then what has already existed. When I have had conversations with my brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with this on a constant bases, many of them tell me that they wish that they had never started because now they are full out addicted to it.
  10. I don’t have a desire to participate in it. I am fortunate enough that I do not have a desire to start trying it. But I know that this is not true for everyone. If you are struggling with this, I encourage you to take to heart the points mentioned above and do some research of your own of the truth about the sex industry.

If you are struggling with an addiction and you are ready to get help. You can call the Hopeline at 1-800-394-HOPE (4673).

Dear Bully — An Open Letter

Dear Bully, how are you doing? I want to thank you. Thank you, my dear, for helping me become a strong person, for pointing out my best and worst personality and physical traits to me. Even though I am now thanking you, I will not let what you did to me change me for the worst. I am not going to let your opinions about me change myself. You told me I am fat; I’m not going to lose weight for you. You told me that I’m weird, well, I’m just going to embrace that. You told me that I’m ugly. I don’t put makeup on for you every day. I put makeup on because I enjoy doing it and love playing with different colors. You told me that I’m stupid; I’m smart in my own ways. Your words won’t change me, but instead will strengthen me.

It is obvious that you are hurting, yourself, and you find it easier to bring others down then lift them up. You are insecure, have low self-esteem, and have probably been hurt yourself by someone else. However, though, I feel sorry for you. While I make a choice not to hurt others because you hurt me, you did not make that same decision. I want you to know that you are precious in G-d’s sight. I want you to know that I’m praying for you.

I also know that I will not purposely surround myself around people who bully me because I’m tired of being hurt. I am tired of the little comments, and the rumors. We both have been hurt by different people and we both have a choice — we can choose to continue to hurt others or we can lift others up. Both of us are doing one of those options.

In the end, no one will remember who was the smartest, funniest, made the varsity team, or had the cutest outfit. Others will remember you by how treat others and how you treat yourself.

With Shalom,
Lama Leah