Lessons From Queen Esther

Chag Purim Sameach–happy Purim to you! Some of my most memorable synagogue memories are of this holiday! Something about going to church wearing a costume and eating Hamentashens is exciting to a little girl.

If you don’t know the story of Purim read the book of Esther. Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from being murdered purely for their Jewish blood.

Esther was a brave girl. She wasn’t someone to wait for someone else to take action, but rather stepped in herself. She was willing to sacrifice her own life for the lives of others. She used her beauty to her advantage and did what seemingly the impossible, and most importantly she was selfless.

Who is the Esther in your life? How would the world be different if everyone who claimed to know Christ took on character of Esther? The Jewish people have always been under attack how many are willing to fight for them?

Historically Irena Sendler is a hero for saving Jews. She saved over 2,000 children from Polish concentration camps. What kind of lives would those children have if none tried to save them?

In America there’s not much physical persicution of Jews, or at least not much that we here about in the news. It probably won’t always be that way however. What are you willing to sacrifice to save others?

Once Upon A Time

The world is obsessed with telling stories. In nearly every aspect of life stories are being told and heard. Television, books, art, social media, dance, plays, and performances. All of these elements of life are telling a story. We try to escape our own reality by living through someone else’s even if they are fictional plot lines.

I love to story tell by creating my own stories and retelling familiar ones. I do most of my original story telling through art on a canvas all through my emotions, use of color, and then portray my message through these elements. I also retell stories by my music. Vivaldi is my all time favorite composer. I am in love with his style of compositions. With my instruments I retell something that someone else has already written, within this I add my own interpretation of what I think the author originally intended the notes to be played. Or change it a little bit by using different dynamics and note variations. It doesn’t matter what instrument I use. It could be violin, or even my voice.

Whether you want to believe it, YOU TOO are a story teller. How you live your life is a reflection of your compositions. You have the power to make it a best seller or have it barely be read. However, so the unexpected is always listening to your stories you are telling. Your stories are compiled upon how you do the mundane in life and most importantly how you walk  the pages of life.

If your life was a reality TV show would others want to watch it because of the monotony or how you told your adventurous stories.

Be the Change You Want to See In the World

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Gandhi

This quote means more than words can express. This entire blog is based off of this concept. My entire life I have witnessed, learned, and experienced things about the world othat I would love to change.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you most likely have picked up that I am passionate about a wide variety of topics and subject matters. I have a tender heart and so sometimes things bother me that would not particularly bother others.

One thing that bothers me immensely are misconceptions of the messianic po. Christians can be cruel in their words and sometimes actions to Gentile messianic but paticularly the Jewish ones. I have gotten to experience first hand what the these are when my parents put me in a Christian school.

When I started attending this school I was the very first person that most other students and staff HAD met that has any knowledge of the Jewish/Messianic faith. When someone meets a minority it is easy to single them out/unknowingly bully them because they don’t know how to respond to someone of a different culture than they are use to. Some incidents that have happened I have not been sure if it was intentional or unintentional because my culture is completely different than the ones I’ve been around at school  (although this year another Jewish student came so that makes two in the school).

In hopes of changing misconceptions of the messianic faith, I have started to become more vocal about my faith over the years at my school. I answer questions my peers have and try my best to explain the differences between my faith and their faith. I am constantly inviting others to my Synagogue  (although only few have taken me up on my other) and I often write about messianic misconceptions on Lamaleah blog.

In my own school I am sneaky about witnessing to the staff. My mother and I are a team in this. My mom is extremely talented in the kitchen. She has few recipes that are flops and even when the recipes don’t turn out as intended she still rescues it and tastes amazing. 😊 Well, there are several biblical Jewish holidays and most of them involve traditional delicacies. For  every holiday my mom leaves treats in the teachers lounge. She makes something and I write  about the holiday and creatively display it.

By doing this I am ministering but I am not doing it in ways that will draw others away. Sometimes when you desire to make a change, you have to do it in quiet, peaceful ways.

Gandhi made changes in the world that he wanted to see. However, He had to do it in sutle ways in order to be successful. In my quest to Dubuque myths in the Messianic faith I have learned lots here are a few tips to be successful in making the  change  that YOU want to see in the world.

1) Be kind
This  is mandatory! None will take an aggressive person seriously.

2) Know what you believe and why
If you don’t know why you believe what you believe, how will you change anything?

3) Be open
Be open to discuss things with anyone and listen to differing opinions.

4) Be ready to stand alone
You will lose friends when you stand up for something.

5) Be a strong leader
Lead by setting examples of the change that you want to see.

6) Always love
Love everyone all the time.

7) Don’t settle for anything less than what your goal is.
Be bold and stand up for your beliefs. Ask yourself what you’re willing to risk by achieving your goal and remember the reason why you wanted to make a change in the first place.

Worthless Insecurities

Valentine’s day! My absolute favorite holiday. This is my last post about V-Day I promise! Well at least for a year. 😉

Yesterday I had a “Makeover day.” I was going to a school dinner with a honorable young man and went to a salon to have my hair and makeup done.

Well lets face it, when a girl walks into a room they compare themselves to every other girl in the room. The more confident that one is, the less need to compare themselves.  Every lady has insecurities about their appearance. It does not matter how confident one is, they will still have insecurities.

All of my life I have been insecure about my eyes. I have been made fun of for them for many years, and before others started making fun of them I was still insecure. Bullies have said lots of things about them. One year for a science project I made it all out of googly eyes, just to show it to the bullies in my class.

For my dinner, I asked the makeup artist to do smokey eyes. I am highly vulnerable about my eyes. Someone who influential in the modeling industry came over to talk to me. They started a conversation with me, and complimented on the very thing that I am most insecure about… my eyes! He told me that I have eyes and lips that models have.  My mother recognized this person and came over to join this conversation. To my embarrassment my Mother tells this person how bullies make fun of my eyes. In a nice way they told me that I am stupid if I believe them because I apreantly have good model eyes. I am not sure if they were just being nice or if he was genuine. However it was encouraging.

This really made me think about insecurities in general. Humans degrade ourselves and others all of the time. I will believe what bullies say about my eyes. This is not the first person, “In the industry” who has told me this a few people have in fact. However I still don’t believe anyone who actually knows what they are talking about if or when they say something positive about my appearance.

Ladies do this all of the time too.  G-D CREATED YOU IN HIS PERFECT IMAGE, AND YET YOU STILL BELIEVE WHAT OTHERS SAY INSTEAD OF REMEMBERING THAT G-D ULTIMATELY KNOWS THE PERFECT STANDARD. Why do we do this? You were created in HIS image then why does it matter what anyone else about your appearance? You are beautiful in your own way. Why don’t you believe it?

What good does it do if you listen to those who don’t know anything about beauty instead of the one who created beauty itself? HE created YOU and knew YOU before you were born. Isn’t that good enough for you?

Go Ahead and Call Me an Angry Feminist

I gladly call myself a feminist. To many the word feminist is almost a cuss word. After realizing that I am a feminist, my (former) friends first response was, “Feminist are annoying.” Honestly I had no idea how to respond to this comment. She went on to explain how if women were truly equal, men would not be “socially obligated” to do things such as opening doors or paying for dates.

Before you make any assumptions about me, I am a conservative feminist; I am not an advocate for abortion (although I have mixed views on it), I am not a man hater, I don’t argue that women are always physically stronger then men, I am not an agressive person about my options, and I know that I am not going to change anyone’s opinion about this topic who is already set in thier opinions, I just ask that you keep an open mind while reading what I have to say.

I think the word  appalled would be appropriate when I started to really learn how girls are treated differently then boys. I was in a new friendship with a male and was in a vulnerable frame of mind and was searching for companionship in the form of a friend. Well, this so called friendship did not go as I would have liked because he became angry with me. He wanted to do some things that I was not comfortable with and I let him know that I would not participate in those activities. Before I knew it he was saying things to me that were not G-d honoring. I told him to talk to me like a lady and he told me he didn’t have to do that. Then he is started dropping the f-word repeatedly and calling me a b**** because he didn’t get his way.

 At this point I knew that the friendship was over, but I wasn’t going to walk away after being spoken to in this manner. I told him to respect me and he told me that he doesn’t have to do that because I am a girl. That makes sense, right? Basically because I have different body parts I don’t have to be respected. What does it really matter? We are both human; we both have legs arms, eyes, and ears and so what makes one susceptible to harassment and one isn’t? It is kind of like saying one skin color has the right to bully another based off of something they cannot control.

The media portrays women as sex objects and these boys are learning patterns as to how to treat the other gender. Is it a horrible thought that ladies are more then physical beauty but are also intellectual beings? 

I am a feminist, but I know that there wouldn’t be a need to be one if our views of each other hadn’t become corrupted. If both genders genuinely respected each other in godly ways. G-d created men and women to be different but we set man made limitations on each gender. In the Christian culture, we label men and women and put limitations as to characteristics in each gender. Men are not suppose to show emotions and are to be physically and emotional strong leaders; women are suppose to be physically beautiful, good cooks, and a soccer mom. While there’s nothing wrong, per se, to have these characteristics the Bible does not explicitly say that two genders are suppose to have these in particular.

I am for women rights and for women to be portrayed for more then just a sex object. You call that being an angry feminist, I will take that as a compliment. 

HE Completes Me

Ladies, it’s that time of year again! Valentines day! As I have mentioned earlier, this is my favorite non-Jewish holiday. This holiday features some of my favorite things: chocolate, the color pink, and red, and lovey dovey stuff. Oh, it’s my favorite time of the year. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to the Valentine’s day section of Target in anticipation and my home was decorated for this before New Years; I decorated on Christmas eve day because what is one who does not really observe Christmas suppose to do on the awkward days of Christmas eve and Christmas day? All of the stores are busy, it’s cold outside, and many places are closed and so I find pleasure in just staying at home during those retail oriented days in December.

For me, Valentine’s day is an exciting time of year. Growing up my mother always attempted to make heart shaped pancakes for breakfast and my family would have a little celebration in the morning at home.

Well, as I have become older the whole Valentine’s day thing has gotten less fun and games and more serious. I am in the awkward stage that Valentine’s day is no longer just fun. It is romantic  for many in my age group. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of romance but sometimes I think it becomes overrated to a certain degree.

As Valentine’s day comes closer, I, and probably everyone reading this, will see or hear someone proclaim that their relationship completes them. Isn’t that special?

This saying comes from the understanding that soulmates exist, no one can ever be complete without being in a emotionally and sexually satisfying relationship. Everyone is walking around with a puzzle piece trying to find someone that the piece can fit with. Sometimes around Valentine’s day people walk around trying to force that puzzle piece to fit and by the time that Purim comes around those are just two puzzle pieces all alone without having a fit. To my readers, what is the point of forcing a relationship to work for the holidays if you don’t think that the relationship with last in the long run?

Let’s pretend that it is Black Friday. You have been shopping all night and you finally purchased an iPhone 7. You have wanted this item for months since Apple has announced it. You have been dreaming and planning on buying it for a long time and you simply cannot wait to play with your new device.  You already know what apps you want to add and have a case picked out. The moment of purchasing it has come. You are extremely excited to open the box and play with it. Several hours into playing with the phone the battery is dead and you are bored with it. You hoped that it would satisfy your desires, but instead put you in line for the next apple device. The longing and expectations that you had for being satisfied did not last more then a few hours. You ended up disappointed and just wanting something else.

I used this analogy because this society seems to do this with relationships. We count on a significant other to fulfill and satisfy our deep emotional needs. However, when one person or one item does not do this, we continue to search in new relationships or toys and eventually have too much stuff that we don’t know what to do with, or single and just more hurt than you had been because in what you were hoping to become complete in ended up not doing for you what you hoped for.

Relationships are great. Whether it is in a form or friendship or romantically. I truly believe that sometimes romantic relationships do not always work out but were still meant to happen. Sometimes a significant other can teach you life lessons about experiences and cultures, even if it does not end with a wedding ring. The same goes with friendship.

However, healthy Christian romantic relationships should draw you closer to G-d than to each other.  It should be challenging each other in your faith and testimony. A relationship will have a hard time surviving if you truly believe that your significant other will complete you because you will end up emotionally empty at the end of the day.

BEFORE pursuing any kind of romantic relationship, you need to discover who you are in Yeshua and that HIS BLOOD is the only thing that will TRULY complete you!

Men and women were created for each other, but in the unity of G-d. When Adam and Eve took G-d out of their plans that is when they sinned. So how is that different from modern day boyfriend / girlfriend relationships?

G-d creates in HIS image so how does that not make you special in HIS sight, let alone anyone else’s? If you completely believe this, then why are many of my generation still searching for fulfillment outside of HIM, because that’s clearly not how life is suppose to be?

As Valentine’s day quickly arrives, I challenge you who are or desire to be in a romantic relationship to SEEK your identity in Christ – not in any thing, position, or anyone. If you truly do this, your life will drastically change.

 

 

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?

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

Community

Community, does it exist in this modern age?

I live in the suburbs of a small? but spread out city. I love my current location, but I would be willing to move to a big city in a heartbeat. When I go into the tiny town where my school is located, the sense of small town community is evident. Yet, the more I explore bigger towns and cities the more evident that community is going away.

In this day and age as a society, we are losing the effort to get to know your next door neighbor, the members of your church who aren’t in your “group” of friends, and the people who are around you on a daily basis, but don’t even know your name.

Over my holiday break I had the privilege to spend the afternoon at a dear friends house. Now this friend knows what it truly means to embrace, connect, and expand the community around her. When I arrived at the house I came to have coffee with this friend; something that’s not unusual for me to do. Over the course of the afternoon, others kept arriving to this home. If I counted right, at the peak of guests arriving, twenty people where at the home. People were just dropping by and they knew that they would be welcome.

As I reflect on my visit I wonder, what has happened to true community? Has society became so industrialized that we don’t try reaching out to others?

My answer to this are two simple words — “staying comfortable.” We create our little group of friends and get comfortable in it. They laugh with us in good times, and cry with us in hard time. Often times these people look like us, maybe have the same occupation, or religious beliefs. I mean this is great to a degree, however, when one tries to join your community, are you willing to let them in? If they don’t look like you or have the same social status. For anyone, this generally can be uncomfortable to do.

In the end, we are all the same. We are all human, we are all sinful, and we all have hidden stories that haven’t been told. Why do we not embrace each other as children of God? How are you going to make a difference to embrace those who are not in any community? Will you stay comfortable, or make a difference in another’s life?

Baby, It Says It’s Positive

“She is so young.” “She is a good girl. Good girls don’t get in trouble.” “She should take care of it.” “She made a mistake.

Well, if you haven’t figured out this weeks topic is teen pregnancy. Gasp! And no, I’m not making a pregnancy announcement.

I love others! G-d has given me a heart for teen girls who are struggling with consequences of their own actions and the consequences of others actions. I, as has everyone, in some form have dealt with both. Naturally, teen pregnancy is an area that is in this wide variety of topics.

Recently, a friend introduced me to the television show“Once Upon a Time.” In one of the episodes one of the Princess’ was pregnant at a young age. In one scene her boyfriend’s father did not say nice things about the her bring with child. This particular scene bothered me.

Society says that expectant mothers who are not in ideal situations made a mistake. This is a stigma that I believe should be changed.

When you call these ladies as “making a mistake,” the child will believe that they are a mistake. Biblically, the Bible never says a baby in- or out-of-wedlock is a mistake. Even though in some instances once the child comes into the world, loved ones will see the situation different; children who are born into this situation will one day hear unplanned pregnancy as being a mistake. By association,  when you say this about one expectant mother who is not in an ideal situation, you are saying this about any mother who has ever walked in the same or similar shoes.

Think about it, G-d said that He knew you before you were born! Notice He didn’t say that “I knew you before you were born if your parents saved their virginity for marriage.” He said I knew YOU – not giving any conditions on the way that you were conceived.
Also, He said that He knit you together in your mother’s womb, does that sound like a mistake to you? He knew you! And He knew the situation that your birth parents would be in when they conceived you.

This Christian culture points out teen parents and yet says that they are pro-life. This is extremely hypocritical. If Christians were truly pro-life, they would embrace rather than judge; offer to help instead of offering certain passages of the Bible: and lastly, love instead of hate. If we truly believed that babies were created by the heavenly Father, Christians wouldn’t be as quick to judge.

I simply do not understand this. When a woman finds out that she is with child, she basically has four options: she can keep the child, have a closed adoption, open adoption, or abort the infant. Christians judge if they choose the fourth option and yet continue to judge if they choose the first option. Christians do not remember that G-d’s son who came to save the world came from an unwed teenage mother.

Think about it, when Mary found out that she was pregnant and not married, she was probably a social outcast. The fact that she said that was a virgin, too… she was probably seen as a crazy person! Today, in some cases someone such as Mary would be a social outcast. Two hundred years ago someone who was not married and pregnant would be a social outcast, let alone
two thousand years ago! 

Mary did amazing amazing things for her times. She did amazing things for any time period! In this Christmas season, I challenge you to reflect not only on Yeshua, but also on Mary. She was given a task by G-d that was not easy by any means. A young virgin gave birth to a Son who came to save first the Jews and then the Gentiles. How’s that for a positive pregnancy announcement? Who would ever say, “She made a mistake” after that?