Friday, 29 April 2011

Mark and Laini Do the Royal Wedding Part Two

I made a point of looking and finding the sermon given at the Wedding of the now Duks and Duchness of Cambridge.
The Bishop captured the essence of what Mark and I believe marriage is.
If only someone had shared this with Prince Williams's parnets....

"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." So said St Catherine of Siena, whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one - this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.
A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.
It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.
You have both made your decision today - "I will" - and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.
We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.
Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:
"Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon
Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon."
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.
As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.
I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:
God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.
In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.
Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen."


Mark and Laini Do the Royal Wedding Part One

Like many around the world, Mark and I were up to watch the Royal Wedding.
It is during these times that I reminder of the following words; "there is a time to weep and a time to rejoice. There is a time to be born and a time to die. Sometimes it is all in the same day.

Yes, there is much sorrow and pain in life. But there is also much joy.
Friends of ours had their first born child this week, a boy.
Mummie told me of a friend of hers who passed away.
Winds and waves swept through the South, destroying homes and taking lives.
And amoung those rejoicing in the gift of Marriage this week is the Prince William and his beloved kate.
And G-d the Creator of Mankind was there with each, rejoicing and weeping with each.

So, at 4am, thanks to my beloved setting the clock, Mark and I were up.
Mark later said he was indeed glad he got up and watched the wedding with me.
So I would like to share some of the highlights of our morning...
My sweet Mark, as always, made coffee for us. At 4 am, we were going to need it. But he forgot to drink his....
So here I am, trying to take a picture of Kate's gown. Of course I should have known I wasn't going to get a full shot until she got to the church.
"Mark, check out the hat. Mark...."
"Yeah, sure baby..."
And then came that magic moment when we finally got to see the dress....

"Yeah, it's a lovely gown."
"Sorry, baby. She is beautiful, but not as beautiful as you were on our wedding day."
Nice save.
It was a lovely wedding.....
  ....soon I heard a sound from the sofa....

"I'm awake, baby, just resting my eyes..."

And then he stood up and came and sat next to me.
We were both moved by the service, the touching moments between the two boys, the bride and groom and of course who could not a bit sad that William's mother, Diana, wasn't there.
Mark thought the kiss was far too short and that it was cool William took his new bride for a spin in Prince Charles's car.
I even saw a few tears.
Yes, Vriginia, REEL MEN cry at weddings.
 Huge husband points, sweetheart.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Nation Weeps

Laili Tov:
It seems strange to write this post.
After writing about rejoicing with a bride and groom, to turn around, to remember that there are people in this country who have lost everything because of the storms that have ripped through the South.
I know, I am waiting to hear about family memebers and friends.
Some I know are ok. Others, no word yet.
The last count is over 270 people dead. Neighourhod wiped off the face of the earth. It is so hard to get ones mind around.
I remember standing in front of the TV, shaking my head; How do I even begin to pray?
For some, this is proof there is no G-d, because no loving G-d would allow this.
For others, it is thanks be to G-d because it could have been alot worse.
Right now, all I can utter is "Dear G-d!" And cry with the thousends of others who are at a lost.
"Blessed Art Thou O L-rd, King of the Universe, The Only Right and True Judge."

He Who Makes the Bride and Bride Groom Rejoice

"You are blessed, Lord our G-d, the sovereign of the world, who created joy and celebration, bridegroom and bride, rejoicing, jubilation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship.  May there soon be heard, Lord our G-d, in the cities of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of celebration, the voice of a bridegroom and the voice of a bride, the happy shouting of bridegrooms from their weddings and of young men from their feasts of song.  You are blessed, Lord, who makes the bridegroom and the bride rejoice together."

For many of us, tomorrow is a grand day.
Yes, I am a royal watcher. And like so many, I shall be up to watch and rejoice in the marriage of William and Kate.

I got up for Diana's wedding to the Prince of Wales, Sarah's to Prince Andrew and when Prince Edward married his bride.
It is far more than the fairy tale of happy forever after or the making of history. True, Diana and Charles divorced and Diana later died. Sarah and Andrew's marriage ended as well.

It is the risk we humans take when we join our lives with another.
But it is worth the risk.
My chief reason for rejoicing over the marriage of Prince William and his beloved Kate is more than being a sucker for romance. It has to do with the above: the making of the bride and groom rejoice.
In Torah, marriage is a commandment and there is a blessing in it. G-d is in the middle of every marriage whether the couple realizes (or likes it) or not.
G-d rejoices over every bride and bridegroom, yes, He dances at weddings.
Yes, there is alot of hype. Yes, many pounds are being spend by the royals on this wedding.
But then, I remember when Mark and I were planning our wedding; we heard the very same thing about our wedding What  big deal we were making, "how much are you two spending?" etc.
If Prince William and his bride asked me (and I know they won't) "don't sweat those comlaining about your big day. It is YOUR DAY. Go with the blessings of G-d and those who know you and live your lives. Love each other and make the world place through your marriage."
Many people told Mark and I on the day we were married, they would keep us and our marriage in their prayers. And knowing that people have been praying for us has made a huge difference in our lives.
I have an idea: how about PRAYING for William and Kate instead of complaing about the cost of her gown. Pray that they have a long and happy life instead of laying bets if the marriage with last or end in divorce.
Maybe if we start praying for folks insteand of running them down, we just might see the peace in the world we long for.
But then, I am a bit of a dreamer, aren't I?

A Night to Remember Always

Boker Tov;

Well, I'm back.
First, thanks to all for their birthday wishes to my son Aries, my sister and my beloved Mark. I shall be posting pictures of his birthday cake later.

Passover and the Feast of Unleaven Bread ended Tuesday evening.
So sad :( We already miss it.
It was such a joyious time. As anyone who reads our blog knows, The Feast of the L-rd are just a taste of heaven. Yes, they teach heavenly truths and a wonderful way to share our faith and past it onto our children.
But is not the main purpose. The main purpose is worship.
Ever wish you had more time to study Torah (the bible) to sing and dance before and with the Holy One? That you could spend time in prayer, time with family and friends without looking at the clock?
That is the purpose of Shabbat and the High Holy Days. This is what it means to "taste and see the L-rd is good." This is what it means to "rest in the L-rd."

I work like the dickens for thirty days for that when the Feast come, I don't work. We put money aside so that we don't have to worry about bills and such. We are "away with G-d."
How often I have heard folks complain about not "getting to eat pizza, bread, pie, cake," or my favorite: "when do you get to eat 'real food'?"
Well, we do eat "real food." As the weather permits, Mark grills lamb or chicken, we have spring greens and veggie salads, fruits, etc.
But I don't find the commandments of the Holy One a bunden.
The Torah says "return the leaven from you home." So I remove the leaven. He says to "eat matza, unleaven bread for seven days."
This is not a suggestion, but a commandment. It reminds me that on the night of 14 Nisian, The Angel of Death "Passovered" our doors and G-d freed us with His strong right arm.
Matza was and is a poor man's bread. As I eat the matza, I am to remember that there are people who are hungry and work to help feed them. Can I truly feed every soul in the world?
No, but the ones I can, I do.
We are to remember we were once slaves and work to see no man, woman or child is ever enslaved again, working to free those bond now.
We are now a free people. Free from the chain of spiritual slavery and offer that freedom for others.
As I relive those days of old during the Feast, I am once again humbled by what G-d has done in my life.
That's why it isn't hard to give up the pizza for eight night.
So now back to my putting away the dishes and such for another year. And sweeping up matza crumb. I keep finding matza in some of the strangest places.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Two Birthdays and a Little Laini

Boker Tov;
This month is a special month:
Next week we celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleaven bread.
Last week was my sister younger sister's birthday.
And this week there are two more.
My son Aries who birthday was yesterday and my beloved husband Mark, which is tomorrow.
As everyone who reads our blog knows, in the Reel house, birthdays are a big deal and we celebrate the whole month long.
You don't need a lot of money, just a good imagintion and planning skills.
When I recieve my allowance from Mark, I sit down and write out my budget for the month. Something I learned from my mother. Since this is Mark's birthday month, I began planning a few months ago for this. That way my beloved would have a grand bithday celebration.
Monday, I gave my beloved a peanu tbutter truffle. Next to chocolate, Mark loves peanut butter. So I went and brought Mark his own truffle.
I remember a time he use to look at me like that.
Tuesday, after a visit to my mother's (she had a birthday gift for Mark) I took my beloved out for a surprise birthday supper.

Saffron Indian Bistro is about a year old, I think. We have been about three time already and Mark loved the food.
We had the Mango and spice curry with salmon. Yum.

And yes, there was enough to take home for lunch the next day.
And yesterday, needing a grill to roast the lamb and Mark has been wanting a grill, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Since we have such a small space right now, this is the grill we settled on. As Mark walked away, I called "Mark!"
He turned around.
"Happy birthday, dear." I believe the big smile on his face says it all.

But before we went shopping, a beautiful bit of sunshine filled our home.
My friend Lily had her fourth child, a precious little girl. Lily and her husband asked Mark and I to be g-dparents and if anything happen to them, would we look after their girls.
Of course we would.
And then Lily asked if the baby was a girl, if she could name her little Elayne.
So yesterday, on the same day that years before I held my son for the very first time, I held our g-ddaughter and name sake, Elayne.
I haven't included pictures of us because I don't have permission of the parnets.
But Lily took pictures of Mark and I together with Elayne, which I am having framed this afternoon after hebrew class.
It has been a hard few months. There are things I really wish to write about and one day I shall find a creative way of doing so, and not have to worry about walking about on eggshells.
But holding that wee bit of heaven in my arms, turned sorrow into joy, giving us hope and in a small way, giving us some reasons why we have gone trhough what we have.
So now it is time to finish my coffee, review my hebrew lession and prepare for Mark's next gift.

Monday, 11 April 2011

How do you know you are married...

Most joggers during their runs have to worry about...getting mugged, being chased by a dog, getting soaked by a get the picture. The one theme is all of these occur outside... My mugging occurs before I even get out the door!
This morning I woke up, got dressed, and spent time saying my prayers. I had just finished that wonderful time and was getting ready to go for my jog when my wife came out of the bedroom. She was talking to me about something else when she stopped, looked at my shirt, my new shirt that I had not even gotten to wear once, and said it was a nice shirt that would look better on her than me... Guys, you know how it goes... your wife sees the shirt, and smiling sweetly says, “That's a nice shirt--It would look better on me... (smile)” What can I say; she flashes that beautiful smile and hypnotizes me with those beautiful brown eyes... Before I knew it, she stood there with the shirt on. She said, “See, it does look good on me—see how it fits,” as she modeled it for me.
 I mumbled, “Yes babe, it does…” Now of course I could not go outside without a shirt, so I headed into the bedroom and put another one on. Now off for my jog, before I lose any other pieces of clothing...

My Little Buddy

This afternoon, I had to go and check on my little buddy Koda and his family.
For those who don't know, Koda is a Corgi; his mummie has a whole blog about him.
I met Betty and Koda when AOL still had their Journals. I had just started this one to keep family and friends inform about Mark's incoming deployment.
There have been another since.
This is when I found Betty's blog about Koda and we became friends. Betty and her family prayed for Mark and I, even send special homecoming gifts when Mark came back.
We love to read Betty's blog and find out what out little buddy is up.

So imagine our shock to learn several weeks ago that our Koda has Lymphoma and was now recieving chemotherapy. I remember trying to get the words out and Mark coming over and reading the rest of the entry for me. Our Koda had cancer.
Since we ourselves have faced this battle, we are standing with Betty and her family, praying for our little guy's healing.
I know to many that it sounds strange that G-d would heal a dog, that He would even care.
Well, G-d cares for all of His creatures. If we love them so much, I can only imagine His love for each dog, cat and pony.
Though I still have a problem with pet snakes.
So, if you think about it, please for Koda and his family
And Koda, we love you :)

And A Child Shall Lead Them

Boker Tov:
Last week, on the 6th of April, many of us stop to remember a precious little boy by the name of Noble Anthony.
I  was there to celebrate the wedding of his parents on a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend and rejoice with the birth of each of his siblings.
I remember the day of his birth and receiving the phone call to pray for this little guy, that something was wrong. The prayers that went up for him those first weeks.
I remember the day he was to be baptised.
 His grandmother handed me the camera and asked me to get pictures, but the pastor kept getting in the way and I couldn't take any pictures. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been a little bolder and got that picture.
I remember that morning how Tiffianee shared how she came to name Noble; that his name comes from Philippians 4:8 "Whatever things are true, what ever things are NOBLE..."
What a powerful statement.
True, it is hard, even impossible to understand how a loving G-d would take someone so young. It is times like these that people of faith draw on G-d. I repost something I wrote awhile back that gets me through moments like this:

In Judaism, death is not a tragedy, even when it occurs early in life or through unfortunate circumstances. Death came to the world because of sin, but one day, through Messiah, that shall be removed. Our deaths, like our lives, have meaning and are all part of G-d's plan. This does not mean that G-d condones to actions of murders; they shall indeed face judgement, in this life and in the next, for their crimes.
In addition, we have a firm belief in an afterlife, the world to come, where those who have lived a worthy life will be rewarded. Knowing that G-d has created a place for the rightious, while our hearts are ripen open with the death of a loved one, we know where they are and one day, we shall join them.
Times like these do not make me question my faith in G-d or doubt that He is. It enforces it. For only G-d can make sense out o fall of this.
I am reminded of quotes from two of my favorite books: C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle J.R.R Tolken's The Return of the King.

From The Last Battle: There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
(C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (HarperCollins: New York, 1956) p. 228.)

And from The Return of the King:
Gandalf: " Farewell, my brave Hobbits. My work is now finished. Here at last, on the shores of the sea, comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say "do not weep", for not all tears are an evil. It is time, Frodo."
Sam: What does he mean?

Frodo: We set out to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me.

Sam: You don't mean that. You can't leave.

Frodo: [hands Sam the RedBook book] The last pages are for you, Sam.

Frodo: [Voiceover] My dear Sam, you can not always be torn in two: you will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy, and to be, and to do. Your part in this story will go on....

We all are authors in this jounral called life. Our stories interwine and weave into the tapestry of the universe, of heaven itself. The black threads of pain and sorrow are those that bring out the bright, rich colours of joy. Those who have passed on to the afterlife, either heaven or hell, have set down their pens. Their portion, as Frodo stated, is complete. Just Frodo passed the RedBook onto Sam, for he had many pages more to write, so do we, who are still walk upon this good earth.
And one day, we too shall hear the crash of a train and find ourselves in Aslan's Land, where He shall begin to tell us The Great Story, the Story we, ourselves are part of and that goes on forever

Noble has finished his portion of the book. We are left to finish ours.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Greatness of America

Boker Tov:
I have always been proud to be an american. Not because of who sits in the White House; but because of the american people. We are not a perfect people; but we are good. And our greatness lies in our goodness. As long as amercia remains good, she shall remain great.

I recently wrote this on my facebook page.
All week long, like most people, we have been following the war over the budget; will it pass or will the govenerment shut down. We watched the debates, the buck passed around and final in that final hour, the bill finally passed.
And as a military couple, we even posted a picture, expressing our feelings over the matter.

The above picture says it all: my beloved will continue to do his job whether the government pays him or not. That's the kind of man he is. G-d will continue to meet our needs. Thats the kind of G-d we serve.
Now don't get me wrong, I think it was shameful the way both parties used the military as a pawn. How can you demand men and women continue to put their lives on the line and yet not pay them. The same men and women crying about caring for the health of women, making sure women don't go back to using coat hangers for abortions, gave no thought the women who's husbands are serving this nation and telling us, "well your paychecks are going to have to wait, but we get ours."
A nation that fails to care for those who protects them, fails.
Ah...but the amercian people! The amercian people stood up and made their voices known. They made it clear that this wasn't right. That both parties, yes, even our President, get their act together.
This is the greatness of our nation. The goodness of the amercian people. This week, our goodness showed. Now if that can just spill over into Washington.
So to quote both Alexis de Tocqueville and my beloved friend Pastor Ina (of blessed memory):
"We are not a perfect people; but we are good. And our greatness lies in our goodness. As long as amercia remains good, she shall remain great."

Saturday, 9 April 2011

A Quiet Shabbbat

It is evening now in the Reel house.
Mark is sreading over one of his beloved science books. He is now tutoring two students in sciences and he loves it.
I am catching up with some blogging. Events of the past several weeks have left  me with a hit and miss and I hope to correct that.

Today Mark and I attended services at Temple Isreal here in Norfolk. The service began at 9:30 am and we sat right behind my hebrew teacher. Four of her students showed up for service and she was thrilled. Her father is the rabbi and he welcomed us all.
The service was wonderful and moving for me. While the service is often at parts in english, it is mostly in hebrew and frankly is helpful in learning of the holy tongue. The air was filled an awe, an holiness; you knew where you stood was holy and not to be taken lightly. I don't mean a quaking in your shoes and your going to be striken with death if you smiled, just an awareness, you knew beforw Who you stood.
After lunch and a nice talk with friend, Mark and I came home and took a nice long nap.
The house was quiet, peaceful.
My soul was quiet. I laid with my head upon my husband's chest, listening to his heartbeat. That is shabbat.
Mark began to stroke my hair and said: "These are the moments I like for."
Me too.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Spring: A New Beginning

I know I haven't on for a while.
Needed to do some housecleaning.
It is that time of the year: Preparing for Passover.
This means going through the house, room by room, finding all the crumbles and forgotten goodies, ridding the house of leaven before we can partake of the Passover lamb.
We are buying a grill this year, so we can roast out leg of lamb.
Now, if we can only find a place to do so. Our beloved landlord doesn't permit grilling or cook-outs.
Since is one of the many reasons why we are looking for a house of our home.

As we clean the house, few week ago, I saw G-d doing an interesting thing in my personal life.
There were relationships that had to go as well. Toxic relationships. Relationship that served no purpose; not even friendship. Relationships that drained me, that drained Mark and I of time and emotions.
I saw as I grew and change, there were people in my life who could not handle the changes; they shook up the false imagine they had of me.
Having been abused and bullied when I was growing up, as an adult, wtih couseling, I recieved the help and healing I needed and found my vvoice.
And there are those who don't like it.
Get over it, Cupcake :)

Even Mark and I have sat down and had a very long talk about how we have changed and grown. How we as a couple are stronger, even healther than we were six months ago.
And that is what this time of the year is all about. With the passing of winter into spring, we open our windows (if it is warm enough and there is no snow) and allow the fresh air to blow through the house, airing it out.
In our souls, we allow the Light of G-d to shine into us, allowing His breath to blow through air out our spirits until they are fresh and new.
Passover, like Spring itself is a new fresh, new beginning.
Spring: a gracious, loving gift from the Holy One.