Showing posts from November, 2009

Thinking about Criticism

I awoke this morning contemplating again the subject that has been on my mind and part of conversations recently. It is the idea of criticism - when is it appropriate, helpful or received, and by whom. I personally have a problem with criticism, as it has such a negative connotation in my mind. The idea of 'constructive criticism' is an oxymoron in my way of thinking. Constructive seems to indicate building up, yet criticism is a tearing down.

In my pondering abstract concepts such as this, I always like to start with definitions. Here are some I found on the web:
disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings a serious examination and judgment of somethingThe word critic comes from the Greek κριτικός (kritikós), "able to discern", which in turn derives from the word κριτής (krités), meaning a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation, or observationThe act of criticizing; a critical judgment passed or expressed;…

Where My Heart Lives

view from Mt. Carmel

My heart lives in Israel, especially on Thanksgiving. I pray that one day I will be able to return to my beloved Land.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my loyal readers - I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with family and food!

The Language of Love

My mom always said that, for women, the forties are a time of self-discovery. I think I have to agree with that. At the turn of the year, I will be halfway through my fourth decade, and I feel like I'm learning who I am all over again. I suppose there are a lot of opinions about why this is so, but I've not hit on a good one that I can verbalize yet.

Last Shabbat we were having a lovely sit-down with our dear friend Rebecca. Rebecca is a warm, welcoming, caring friend who I value highly; just being around her makes me feel like I've just received the best hug in the world. She also happens to be pretty astute when it comes to assessing others. Anyway, we were discussing love languages; you know, the Gary Chapman Love Languages that define how we all speak and receive love. My friends and I had all read this book - oh about a decade ago - and labeled ourselves appropriately. Or so we thought at the time. So, in our discussion, Rebecca matter-of-factly declares that …


"Our lives are frittered away by detail; simplify, simplify."
—Henry David Thoreau

Simplify: to make simple or simpler, to reduce to basic essentials, to diminish in scope or complexity.

As we quickly approach Thanksgiving, the rush of this time of year will overtake us all. With it comes all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, food planning and preparation, expectations, wishes - and inevitably - disappointments. I wish I could say that this is my favorite time of year, but I just wouldn't be honest if I did.

In anticipation of a higher stress level, I long for simplicity. My husband and I enjoyed a very simple Thanksgiving once, before we had children. We simply booked a hotel room in Cannon Beach, simply made reservations at a nice restaurant and simply walked away from the dishes afterward. Then we simply walked on the beach and enjoyed each other's company. It was simply lovely. *smile* A few years back I had the privilege and honor of going abroad, actuall…


Well, since I can't sleep and am up rather early this Shabbat morning, I thought I would respond to a reader's question about Havdalah. The rather simple ceremony of ending the Sabbath is full of symbolism and meaning for me.

Havdalah ending Sheminei Atzeret '09
If you are going to sanctify the Sabbath and attempt to keep it holy, you have to define the perimeters of the Sabbath. For us, that would be sunset to sunset, or Friday evening to Saturday evening for a weekly Sabbath. Since we begin the weekly rest with the lighting of candles and blessings, it is most fitting to end it in a similar fashion. Most are familiar with the twin traditional Sabbath candles, but the Havdalah candle is different. It is woven with multiple strands to make a much brighter flame; we read the blessings from it's light and thank G-d for His provision of the light of fire.

At sundown, we start the closing of Shabbat with a simple song,

Behold, G-d is my salvation,
I will trust and will n…

Open letter to leaders

Dear Leaders,

It has come to my attention that this letter is long overdue, as you have been laboring under the pressure of leadership for such a long time. It would seem that some are just chosen, as it were, to make the difficult decisions, deal with relational quagmires, and blaze trails through wilderness that few can know. You are one of those leaders.

I know you have spent hours humbly on your face before the Master, seeking answers and begging for wisdom. You have been prompted to say the hard things, to study into the wee hours and stand up against heresy; you have done this bravely and with resolve. All of this does not escape my observation.

You have carried the burdens of others with, what would seem, little effort. Always self-controlled and measured, you have been a guide and comfort to those put into your care. Directing and teaching, hoping that you can impart the wisdom that has been gifted to you in an effort to make the lives of others sweeter. Valiantly, yo…


Do you have a celebrity twin? Apparently, I do.

All my life, perfect strangers have commented that I remind them of someone. I can't imagine that this does not happen to others, too; it's just that it happens to me frequently. Some of them just can't seem to put their finger on who, and others are quick to call out a name. When I was younger, folks said I looked like Olivia Newton-John.

Within the last few years, it's been a lovely young woman named Ashley Judd. Since I'd never heard of her, I googled her. Yeah...I can see some resemblance, to be sure.

I obviously need to tossle my hair more and get a make up artist, eh?

I take it as a compliment, really. The Ashley comments seem to be getting more and more frequent, sometimes even twice in one day. Strange. I wonder if Ms. Judd ever gets asked if she knows she looks like a Jedi named Hendel D'bu...

I like this shot of her. I'm rather partial to turtlenecks...

If I was to pick a celeb to resemble, I'…

Who needs sound, anyway?

Is it allowed to just say that I hate computers? Well, that may be a bit 'bout I hate computer problems?

After a couple of unexpected short power outages, it would seem that my sound card is no longer among the living. Yeah, that's right; no welcoming tones, no "oops, you can't do that" warning beeps, no video sound, no music...NO MUSIC??

I have attempted loading and reloading updates, ran diagnostics and prayed, all with the same result: bupkis. Thankfully, I am still able to get on the internet. So, I guess I unplug the silly thing this weekend, haul it in to my favorite computer geek and beg for mercy. What a hassle.

In the meantime, any suggestions, sympathy and prayers would be welcome.


Quiet and dark, but getting lighter.

The wind is playing, making the last leaves dance once last time before taking their final flight down to a soggy rest.

Geese chatter in the distance, and the wind chime dings out a melancholy randomness that speaks to my soul. It's clear notes remind me of all the other times I've visited with the wind, letting it blow through my hair, meander through my soul, revitalizing my mind with some sort of wild freedom that is only a whisper.

Yeah, it's quiet on my balcony as the light's rays struggle and weakly break through the thick blanket of clouds, lightly touching the tops of the giant firs swaying along with the wind's song. The branches have a music of their own; it is recorded in the stormy parts of my mind, mimicking the rhythm and intensity.

The wind carries with it the waves and misty shadows of the ocean - my old friend calls to me from the distance. My mind is carried along like a lone gull riding the current, only margin…

This Jedi reviews The Men Who Stare at Goats

Just the title of this post alone makes me want to laugh! We just came from viewing The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring George Clooney and Ewan McGregor. All I can say is...HAHAHAHAHA!

Yeah, we thought this movie was an absolute hoot! My Padawan and I, as you may already know, are AVID Star Wars fans. And boy did they reference our favorite obsession in this movie. It's the story of a special ops group within the military specializing in psychic abilities - super soldiers, at it were...Jedi Warriors. The story is told through the eyes of a struggling journalist (Mr. McGregor) who is following a fantastic story about these US Jedi Warriors. It is loosely based upon a true story taking place in the late 70's-early 80's. George Clooney plays a very believable 'super-soldier' with psychic abilities who takes our humble journalist on an incredible journey in the middle east.

I have read several reviews of this movie, and it would seem that my buddy and I are defi…


Days have interesting personalities. Some days are stressful and horribly busy - those types go by so fast that they are a blur in the memory. Others are just the boring, mundane type where the same old chores and conversations occupy the day making them easy to forget. Then there are the ones that are highlights, memory-makers - the fodder for stories oft repeated by our elders.

But it's the waiting days that I dislike the most. Well, dislike may not be the right word, really. They are the hardest for me; the wait-and-see has always been like a weight sitting on my shoulders, whispering in my ear, distracting from everything else.

That is today. And it was yesterday, too. I am just waiting to see how things are going to turn and evolve within my beloved congregation. Will we be able to handle the issues that are confronting us, or will we choose to ignore and allow things to get out of control? I am hopeful, but ready...and waiting.

Another situation has presented itself that involv…


O Adonai, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues.With words of hatred they surround me;they attack me without cause.In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.
~Psalm 109
King David had a lot to say about others saying inaccurate things about him. The psalms are filled with emotional outcries to his LORD, admitting his faults and begging for mercy and protection.

I'm so thankful that we have his words, as I feel as he did so long ago. Haven't we all?

I have to be honest, the current situation looks pretty bleak. I have been accused, by those I thought of as friends, of judging harshly their use of Scripture as a weapon. It has been suggested that I must have hidden sin in my life, and that is prompting my defensive return attack. I have been buffeted with arguments that one should …

Meditation of the Day

O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!

Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.

Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.

When their judges are thrown over the cliff,
then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.

As when one plows and breaks up the earth,
so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!

Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
and from the snares of evildoers!

Let the wicked fall into their own nets,

Another American Tragedy

Bow your head for moments of silence for the souls of the servants lost to anger and selfishness.

Shake your head in disbelief at senseless violence, feel the shock settle into your bones.

Say a prayer, cry out...beg for protection, guidance, understanding.

Cradle your head in your hands at the knowledge that somehow we can't defend ourselves from ourselves.

Shed tears, share the agony of the families, friends and loved ones that are now grieving, sorrowing their loss.

Hug your children closer for those that will no longer have the opportunity.

Feel the righteous anger at the one responsible who still has the luxury of breath in his lungs.

Furrow your brow with helplessness and sadness.

Allow yourself another heavy sigh.

Watch, reluctantly, as yet another tragedy brings America to her knees.

Important Safety Tips

This is crucial.

Because of recent abductions in daylight hours, refresh yourself of these things to do in an emergency situation. This is for you and for you to share with your wife, your children, everyone you know. After reading these 10 crucial tips, forward them to someone you care about. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do; the elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tour guide. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you...chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a ten…


My dear friend is going through pre-menopause. I hate it for her. She says she feels like she falls into a deep pit and can't get out - suddenly, without warning. It's awful; foggy brain, tunnel vision, roller coaster mood swings, hot flashes, sudden sweats, tears...this sucks. It must be some sort of cruel joke. *frown*

It would seem that pre-menopause or peri-menopause consists of the actual symptoms preceding a cessation of monthly menstruation. So, menopause is when it's all actually over...which is where we are all pretty eager to get to, especially when experiencing the dreadful roller coaster to get there.

And the worst part for my dear friend is that she feels awful that she is causing irritation to those closest to her. In reality, those who love her the most just want to help her feel normal and part of life again. Her hormones have taken her hostage and won't let up. Ack!

Oh yeah, there are lots of treatments and opinions out there. Talk about feeli…

Thought for the Day

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is the meaning of success.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Day No. 1,825

That's how many days since we started this interesting and addicting hobby called letterboxing...well, actually that's a guess. Our first day of actual 'boxing was July 5, 2004, so you can figure out how many days that would be!

Yesterday, Padawan and I ran away for a day of letterboxing. It was gloriously sunny, albeit a little on the chilly side. Equipped with cameras, snacks and a longer list of hidden gems than we could ever hope to snag, we set out for Vancouver...Washington, that is.

We decided to tackle a park that seemed to hold the highest number of 'boxes for maximum efficiency. Vancouver Lake Park is a beautifully manicured and maintained park on the edge of the serene Vancouver Lake. We had never had the pleasure of exploring it before, so this was a real treat. The colors of the trees, the freshly mowed grass and the blue, blue, blue of the sky mimicked in the water was breathtaking. In the distance we caught glimpses of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and,…