"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Your Prayers, Please?

I would cherish--no, I think covet is a better word--your prayers right now.  I cannot be totally open on a public blog but suffice to say I am walking through some dark and difficult times.  I am trying my hardest to rest in God's hands and trust that God's got this, that God is walking beside me, that God won't let me fall, etc....but it's difficult.  Please pray for me? I don't ask often...

And of course, closing with a picture of handsome Mr. "Jacob":

Jacob sm

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"To tell of Your kindness in the mornings, and Your faithfulness each night..."

The above quotation comes from Psalm 72 and refers to God.  The idea behind it is that it is easy to thank God when everything is good (metaphorical morning), but we must praise God for sticking by us when times are bad as well (metaphorical night).

Recently I have been walking through some very tough times.  First I was coming to terms all over again with the fact that I will never have biological children, and then came the thing with my sexual orientation and identity last week, and now is something much worse than either of those that cannot go public, but suffice to say it's bad.

But you know what? I trust God, and I know that God has me on the path I'm on for a reason.  Even more than that, my trust in God lets me hold on to the knowledge that eventually, everything will be OK.  There is meaning in suffering, and it doesn't last forever.

All that being said, I would cherish your prayers.  Thanks!

And of course, a picture of "Jacob":


Friday, March 28, 2014

A Plea for Prayer

With all that is in me, I beg today for prayer for my Reece's Rainbow child, "Jacob."  I genuinely worry about him; he looks like he's starving and he has major heart problems.  "Jacob" will not be an easy child for whom to find a home--his pictures are not so cute and he is described as being restless and stubborn--but I am committed to "praying him home."  Come on, God, aren't You listening?!

My "Jacob":

Jacob sm

Two Big DIfferences Between Judaism and Christianity

First of all, in Judaism there is no original sin.  Plain and simple.  People are born pure, and one can never be classified as "a sinner."  One who sins is simply one who sins.  We always have the chance for repentance and return; God yearns for us to repent and return.  Every year, on Yom Kippur, our prayers and fasting earn us a clean slate for the year to come; God forgives and we may live.

Secondly: in Christianity, to the best of my understanding (and please correct me if I'm wrong!), people function as servants to a LORD or Master.  In Judaism, the metaphor (and I believe that our relationship to God is always and only a metaphor) is closer to partners continuing God's work in creation.  We arre God's hands in the world; we help God to do God's work.

Also, I took the GRE yesterday.  It went fabulously; thank you for asking.

And finally a picture of my "Jacob":


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dirty and Sinful, or Holy and Beautiful?

Last night, I was at an LGBT event, as I am every Tuesday night.  It used to be the case that every time I did something LGBT related, I felt my Judaism trickle through my fingers and disappear, as if I couldn't be both at once, but wearing arba kanfot fixed all that...or so I thought.

I don't know what it was about last night's event that triggered me.  I did not feel the old disconnect from God and Judaism; on the contrary, I felt very connected to God and my Judaism, and therein lay the problem. 

Intellectually, I do not believe I am dirty or sinful for being lesbian.  For I am fearfully and wonderfully made (that's a quote from somewhere, just can't remember where), made in God's image, exactly the way God wanted me.  God wanted me this way.  God wanted me this way.

I belong to God.

And of course closing with a picture of the most adorable kid ever, Mr. "Jacob!"

Jacob sm

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jewish Music and Liturgy

The following song by Debbie Friedman (now unfortunately deceased) and Psalm 23 keep me going through my grief:

L'chi Lach:

L'chi lach, to a land that I will show you;
Lech l'cha, to a place you do not know.
L'chi lach, on your journey I will bless you.
And you shall be a blessing;
You shall be a blessing;
You shall be a blessing, l'chi lach.

L'chi lach, and I shall make your name great.
Lech l'cha, and all shall praise your name.
L'chi lach, to the place that I will show you.
L'simchat chayyim;
L'simchat chayyim;
L'simchat chayyim...l'chi lach.

L'chi lach, to a land that I will show you;
Lech l'cha, to a place you do not know.
L'chi lach, on your journey I will bless you.
And you shall be a blessing;
You shall be a blessing;
You shall be a blessing, l'chi lach.

And you shall be a blessing;
You shall be a blessing;
You shall be a blessing...l'chi lach.

Psalm 23 (translation stolen from Artscroll):

A Psalm by David the LORD is my shepherd, I shall not lack.  In lush meadows He lays me down, beside tranquil waters He leads me.  He restores my soul.  He leads me on paths of justice for His Name's sake.  Though I walk in the valley overshadowed by death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.  Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in view of my tormentors.  You anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.  May only goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the LORD for long days.

And closing out with a picture of my "Jacob," in an effort to get him SEEN and ADOPTED!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Plan B"

For years, years and years, like fifteen years, I cherished "Plan A" for the family I would one day raise: four healthy, biological children.

In recent years, God has shown me that my "Plan A" is not God's "Plan A" by closing the door on biological children.

"Plan B"--adoption of a child with Down Syndrome and possibly other, neurologically typical children--can be just as beautiful and just as meaningful, but I haven't gotten used to it yet.  I'm still grieving.

Because this is "Plan B," and going with "Plan B" can be rough.

But you know what? God is leading.  God has me by the hand.  God will watch out for me, and catch me when I stumble.  This I know.

I believe that God has this, yet I am still grieving.  That paradox is where I am tonight.

And here is "Jacob" again:

Jacob sm

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Shabbat is [almost] Here, Shabbat is [almost] Here..."

To quote a song I knew as a kid, "Shabbat is here, Shabbat is here, aren't you glad that Shabbat is here? Candles burning bright, it's Friday night; I'm so glad that Shabbat is here!"

Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, comes every Friday night approximately eighteen minutes before sundown and lasts until an hour after sundown Saturday night.  On Shabbat, we are forbidden to work.  The labor from which we must refrain is not chosen because it is strenuous but rather because it is creative or destructive, changing the world.  Categories of labor from which we must refrain include, but are not limited to:
  • Cooking, or changing the nature of food (We can still chop things up, peel vegetables, etc. though.)
  • Anything to do with fire (Orthodox Jews refrain from using any kind of electricity for this reason; Conservative and Reform Jews do not believe that electricity is fire and continue to use it.)
  • Writing, drawing, etc.
  • Tearing paper or cloth
  • Tying knots
  • Building
  • Weaving
  • Braiding hair (This falls under either building or weaving, depending on whom you ask.)
  • Anything to do with business (For this reason, I do not use my computer or my cellphone.)
Additionally, our prayers on Shabbat avoid requests for anything; we try to rest and be peaceful and content in what God has given us here and now.  This aspect of Shabbat has become especially meaningful to me since I became a Reece's Rainbow Prayer Warrior as well as committing myself to praying for up to seven people or causes at a time.  Praying that hard is exhausting; I genuinely need the break that comes with Shabbat.

This Shabbat I happen to be home on Spring break, and I will be observing and celebrating with my family.  I will pray on my own tonight (I pray three times a day, but I think I'm the only one in my family who manages that), and then tomorrow we will gather together and pray as a family.  I think we might even have a family friend joining us tomorrow! (For reasons I do not wish to explain, we no longer go to the local synagogue.)  Tonight we will have a nice, festive meal, and after we eat we will sing and say grace--together!

Hooray for Shabbat!

And, of course, closing with a picture of "Jacob":


World Down Syndrome Day 2014

Today, March 21 2014, is World Down Syndrome Day, and I feel obligated to produce a nice meaningful blog post.  To be honest, my posting record since finding out about this observance has been somewhat abysmal: in 2013 I missed it completely, and in 2012 I just talked all about the Reece's Rainbow child I had then, "Rheann" in R*ssia.

Anyway...here I go, diving in in an attempt to produce something meaningful.  This post will probably evolve as I write it, because currently I have no idea what I am going to say.

At the risk of sounding trite, idealistic, or just plain ignorant, I will share that one of my life goals is to adopt and raise a child with Down Syndrome.  I don't know why; I just feel drawn to helping children with special needs, and Down Syndrome in particular.

I'm going to cheat on producing something meaningful myself and just share the link to a tear-jerking video, a reminder of what is possible for a child with Down Syndrome to achieve.  This video will also remind you that even if a child with Down Syndrome never achieves much by the standards of the world, he/she is still precious and important.

Here is the link:


And, as promised yesterday, I close with the other picture of my "Jacob" (who happens to have Down Syndrome, so ties in nicely with the theme of the day!)

Jacob sm

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flooding my Blog with Pictures of "Jacob"

From now on, I will try to post on my blog every day, and every day that I manage to post, I will post my "Jacob's" photo.  This way, more people will see him, and the hope is that someone will offer a prayer, or drop some money in his grant account, or maybe even step forward to adopt him.

"Jacob" has two photos posted on Reece's Rainbow, and because I cannot decide which one is cuter and will tug at people's heartstrings more, I will simply alternate between them.

So here is "Jacob" for today:



Literal tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day, and I will be doing a blog post.  I hope and pray for eloquence, that I may have the right words and deliver a good, strong, effective message.

And figurative tomorrow, perhaps ten years or more down the road, is me adopting a child, perhaps that little girl with Down Syndrome whom I mentioned in a previous post.  I know it won't be easy.  I know I have a hard journey ahead.  But this is a dream of mine, and I will make it come true.

To quote a song my mother sang to me when I was a child (sorry don't know the singer), "Tomorrow, tomorrow, we'll start the day tomorrow with a smile...or two!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heartstopping News

Russia has taken over Cr*mea, we knew that.  But now they are halting in progress adoptions and families must leave without their children! Please join me in prayer.  I am going to compose a prayer here and now and post it below; please add your own.

Dear God,

The situation in Cr*mea is a mess and I'm afraid it may get worse.  I don't want P*tin to go farther but we all know he probably will.  My heart aches for those children who are having the doors slammed on their futures; my stomach is sick for them as well.  Please help them, and us, to see the light in these dark and terrible times.  Keep faith with us as we try to keep faith with You; help us to understand Your ways.  The Earth is under Your control; You know each person on it.  Please keep these children safe and well.  Please God.

Your Girl

God's Beautiful Plan

More and more, I can see God's hand in my life, leading me to adopt a child or multiple children one day.  For as long as I can remember, and possibly even before, I have wanted to be a mother, mothering my baby dolls and coming up with elaborate schemes for their lives as my children.

I always wanted to get pregnant and give birth--after all, wasn't that how one had children?--but as soon as I was old enough to understand adoption, I started saying that I would do that too.  Then, as I began to scratch the surface of the challenges that go along with adoption, I knew that I would either give birth or adopt, but not both; I firmly believe (and readers, you may feel free to disagree) that doing both is not fair to either set of kids.  In a home with both adopted and biological children, nobody quite gets the attention they need in the way that they need it.

In recent years, God has closed the doors on pregnancy for me.  I am on a certain medication that I cannot go off, and it is one of my central medications; it causes no side effects in me but would do great harm to a developing baby in the womb.  Also, bipolar disorder gets statistically worse with every generation, and I have to take into account not only myself but also my older brother who is actually even worse off than I am.  So no thank You, God, the genetic dice stop here.

Which brings us full circle back to adoption.  I will be a mother one day; I will do whatever it takes.  I would actually particularly like to adopt a little girl with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe, because those kids desperately need out of those hell hole mental institutions and the barely better orphanages.  In short, those kids need me; I need a kid.  God's  plan is going to be perfect.

"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."  In all this storm of not being able to have biological children, and the natural grief that comes with that loss, I believe in God and God's beautiful plan for adoption in my life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yelling, Shouting, Screaming, Breaking Down Doors

Today I told five new people about Reece's Rainbow, as well as writing a letter to God (when I really need the God-connection to happen, I write letters) that touched on "Jacob" twice.  While I am home for Spring break, in between homework assignments, I am making it my mission to be a Reece's Rainbow advocate and raise as much awareness--and perhaps recruit new Prayer Warriors--as possible.

Also, Friday is World Down Syndrome Day, and I will most likely be doing a related blog post.  I am already forming ideas in my mind, but I really don't know yet exactly what I'll say.  Good thing I have a few days! And yes, I'm almost sure that 3/21 is World Down Syndrome Day because the most common form of Down Syndrome is Trisomy 21.  Someone was very clever--or not, as the case may be.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Yelling for "Jacob"

Jacob sm

 I would like to introduce you to someone very special.  I think I've posted about him before, but it never hurts to post again in these types of cases.  Anyway, this is "Jacob." "Jacob" is my Reece's Rainbow Prayer Warrior assignment; every day and night I pray that he will find a home.  Finally a little "voice" in the back of my head nudged me to go do something practical.  So here I am, raising awareness.

"Jacob" is almost four and is diagnosed with Down Syndrome and heart problems. (All of the children listed for adoption via Reece's Rainbow have "special needs," as we would call them.)  If you go to the Reece's Rainbow website (reecesrainbow.org) and the Down Syndrome--Boys 3-5 page and scroll down, he has the most adorable description! And--best of all--"Jacob" has over 2000 dollars in his grant account! To the best of my understanding, all of that money would go to an adopting family.

I close with another picture of "Jacob" (all photo credits go to Reece's Rainbow), and a plea that you too will sign up to be a Prayer Warrior (It's really extremely simple!), and that God Above will hear our cries.

Oh--and for those of you who have been following my blog long enough to know about her, "Tatiana" has a family.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Really Happening

My mincha minyan is really happening.  We have a day and time (Mondays, 5:15), a Facebook event, and eight committed people.  Two more and we're there! This is real.  This is big.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Minyan Man (or Woman)

So I am trying to start something new: an egalitarian (men and women together, on equal footing) mincha (afternoon service) minyan (prayer quorum of ten).  So far, I have found a day and time that works for four people including myself, which is Mondays at five, but I am also free Tuesdays and Thursdays at three or Wednesdays at five.  If you are a Jewish student at my college at this interests you, please PLEASE comment here or Facebook me or SOMETHING letting me know which of those four times would be best for you!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A vcery interesting social phenomenon...

...is taking place in the Orthodox world on campus.  Socially, not during services but after, slowly but surely I seem to be becoming a guy.  The guys talk to me and include me in their conversations over bagels after minyan.  It is as if I have crossed gender lines and putting on tefillin publicly in the morning makes me a man.

The girls, on the other hand, are lost and confused at best.  They don't understand why I need to put on tefillin at all, let alone in public, and some of them are getting...I think awkward is the best word, and distant.

I honestly don't understand what the big fuss is about.  Everybody knew that I put on tefillin in my room.  Tefillin in my room, tefillin with a minyan; what on earth is the difference?

One of my roommates commented last night that she just didn't understand why I felt the need to do this publicly.  So I stared her down and asked, "I don't know.  Why do men need to do it publicly?" Her answer was that you "need a minyan for so many things," so I simply responded, "Exactly."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


This morning was just fantastic.  Today I could navigate the entire prayerbook and--guess what?--after the service, when we were hanging around eating bagels, the guys really treated me like one of them.  They like me, and they're glad I'm there.  I find that to be just fantastic.

Monday, March 3, 2014

I Came, I Saw, I Conquered.

I woke up one day last week with the deep desire to pray with a minyan.  (A minyan is a prayer quorum of ten Jewish adults--Orthodox Jews will only count men.)  My problem was that I wanted to wear my tallis and tefillin, which in Orthodox circles are only worn by men, and the minyanim that meet daily on campus are both Orthodox.

But I didn't let that stop me.  I went to the Rabbi of the Orthodox minyan at Hillel and asked permission to pray with them wearing tallis and tefillin.  This morning I got an official yes! I was so excited, happy, and triumphant.

My experience this morning was an intimidating breath of fresh air.  Intimidating because I was the only one on the women's side of the divider (!) fumbling around in a prayer book with which I am not very familiar.  (I know Sim Shalom, the Conservative movement's prayer book, like the back of my hand; this one, however, was published by Artscroll, an Orthodox publishing company, and the layout is very different.)  The breath of fresh air part came because I am fed up with praying in my room, as if I have something to hide or of which to be ashamed.  It was so...nice to be with a community.

And you know what? Those guys really are community.  Several of them made a point of saying good morning to me afterward.

Veni vidi vici.  I came.  I saw.  I conquered.

Jew-Girl for the win!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rosh Hodesh Adar II

Tonight begins Rosh Hodesh Adar II, the beginning of the month of second Adar.  This year we have two months of Adar because it is a leap year, and during a Jewish leap year we add an extra month.  This month we will be celebrating the very exciting holiday of Purim! The Purim story is full of intrigue, danger, suspense, and plot twists.  In my opinion, it is the most fantastic story anywhere on the Jewish calendar.  Fun fact: God is never mentioned in the Purim story, which is known as Megillat Esther.

The holiday of Purim is celebrated with costumes, feasting, public readings of the Purim story, and gifts of food to the poor and to friends.  I'm excited!


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About Me

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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!