Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I Love Passover

Passover began at sunset last night, and our family had a nice seder, where we retold the story of Passover and enjoyed a holiday dinner together.  This has become my very favorite holiday ever!  Since my family and I started celebrating the Biblical Holidays, we have learned so much!  Every year I learn something new.  At Passover, we eat unleavened bread (matzah) for seven days, so here are seven reasons why I love Passover:

1.  I love the miraculous Exodus story that we tell every Passover, about the Hebrews and their deliverance from slavery under the Egyptians.  This is found in Exodus 12-13. We remember how God sent 10 plagues, and with each plague, Pharoh still refused to let the people go so that they could serve God.  Then came the last plague, the death of the firstborn.  The Israelites followed God's instructions by sacrificing a perfect lamb and brushing its blood on their doorposts, and their lives were spared.  The Egyptians experienced death in every household, and Pharoh finally let the people go.  So they left in a hurry, just like God said they would.  They quickly packed up their things, including their bread dough which hadn't had time to rise, and they headed out of Egypt.  The Egyptians even gave them clothes and jewelry as they were leaving!  Soon after they left, Pharoh changed his mind, and sent his army after them.  God told Moses to hold his staff over the sea, and the sea parted so the Hebrews could cross over on dry land (the word "Hebrew" means "crossed over").  The sea closed behind them as the Egyptian army was following.  They were free!!!

2.  I love the preparation for Passover.  Passover is the beginning of seven days of eating nothing with leaven in it, but unleavened bread instead.  The days before Passover begins are spent cleaning the house and getting rid of anything with leaven in it.  We have a "bread hunt" the night before Passover, where we search for leaven.  I hide 10 pieces of bread, and my husband leads the hunt in the dark with a candle.  The bread is swept into a paper bag which is burned the next morning.  This is a wonderful illustration of getting rid of the sin in our lives.  The leaven represents sin, and we need to search our hearts in order to make sure there's nothing hiding in there that we need to get rid of.  God's light helps us in this search and reveals the leaven.  Then we need to get it out of our lives and totally destroy it.  It's really quite a job finding all the leaven and getting it out of our house.  There is leaven in the most unexpected places!

3.  I love the tradition and ceremony of the seder.  The word "seder" literally means "order".  The seder is a special dinner we have at Passover, when we tell the story from the Haggadah (the seder booklet) and eat symbolic foods from the seder plate to help us remember.   Our seder plate is pictured above (I forgot to take pictures during the actual seder).  This year the horseradish on the plate really did its job!  Our eyes watered as we ate and remembered the bitterness of the slavery and bondage in Egypt.

4.  I love the symbolism in Passover.  Every part of it, from the sacrifice of the lamb, to the traditions that are carried out today, is a symbol of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)!  In John 1:29, John the Baptist introduced Yeshua by saying "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world".  Yeshua is our perfect Passover Lamb, sacrificed on our behalf, who keeps us from spiritual death and frees us from the bondage of sin!  The matzah, with its stripes and piercings, is also a symbol of Yeshua. In John 6:35, Yeshus refers to himself as the Bread of Life.  In Luke chapter 22, Yeshua and his disciples were having a seder.  He broke the matzah and said it was his body, broken for us, and the wine was his blood, poured out for us.  There are many more symbols in Passover, and I am learning more every time we celebrate this holiday that is so meaningful.

5.  I love that we celebrate Passover in remembrance of Yeshua.  This is what he wanted us to do when he said, "do this in remembrance of me" in Luke 22:19. 

6.  I love the song that goes through my head every year at this time:
O, the blood of the Passover Lamb
is applied to the door of my life.
No power of darkness could ever withstand
the force of the blood sacrifice;
Though satan will bring accusations,
I let him know right where I stand,
For now there is no condemnation,
I'm under the blood of the Lamb!

I'm under the blood of the Lamb
that covers the guilt of my past.
By the mercy of God, holy and righteous I stand.
I'm under the blood of the Lamb
I'm safe and secure from the enemy's plan.
No weapon formed against me will stand,
I'm under the blood of the Lamb!

(Under the Blood, by Martin J. Nystrom and Rhonda Gunter Scelsi)

7.  I love the seven days of unleavened bread.  It takes a lot of creativity to have a variety of food during this week.  It's a time to try new foods and recipes so that we aren't eating just matzah crackers every day.  And homemade matzah is much better than the kind in the boxes! 

Passover is a time clean out the "leaven" in our lives.  It's a time to remember the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb.  It's a time to celebrate our freedom! I love Passover!      

Little Lambs

I made these sweet little lambs for my daughters as Passover gifts. I made them from a vintage baby blanket I found at a thrift shop and pink felt, using the "Lambkin" pattern I found here.  My first attempt was a complete failure, because I tried to use the baby blanket fabric for the whole lamb, and it was too thick.  So, I tried pink felt for the underside, and that worked much better. Unlike real Passover lambs, they are not perfect, but I think they turned out pretty cute!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review: What the Bible Says About Healthy Living

How is it that this book was published in 1996, and I am just now reading it?  I'm not sure how it escaped my attention, but  What the Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russell, M.D. is a must read for anyone interested in being healthy.  Dr. Russell begins by telling us a little about himself; he is a diabetic (juvenile onset), and he and his family were generally just not in good health.  He came to the realization that the Designer of the human body must know how to keep the body healthy, and that Designer even left instructions for us!  He takes his three principles straight from the Bible: 
  • Principle 1:  Eat the foods God created for you.
  • Principle 2:  Don't alter God's design.
  • Principle 3:  Don't let any food or drink become your god.
He then explains the benefits of keeping these principles, and the consequences to our bodies if we fail to follow them.  This book is concise and easy to understand.  It is full of interesting and useful information.  I have been attempting to change the way my family and I eat for a while now, and this book reinforced what I already knew and also gave me some facts and information that I didn't know.  I am now motivated to be much more careful about what we put into our bodies, and I'm ready to go turn my back yard into one huge garden!  This book has a companion cook book, which is now at the top of my book wish list: What the Bible Says About Healthy Living Cookbook.  One of the authors of the cookbook, Hope Egan, also has a book out called Holy Cow! Does God Care About What We Eat?, which I have also read and highly reccommend.
Now, as soon as the weather starts cooperating, you will find me and my family in the back yard...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cherry Blossom Festival

I've always heard about the beautiful cherry blossoms inWashington D.C. in the spring, but I've never actually seen them.  So, yesterday we took a little family day trip to go see the cherry blossoms.  They were absolutely gorgeous!  Do you know the history of all of those cherry trees?  In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave a gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington D.C.  First Lady Helen Taft and the wife of the Japanese ambassador together planted the first two trees on the North Bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park in March of 1912.  Today, there are thousands of these beautiful trees blooming around the city.  Most of them are along the banks of the Tidal Basin.  Each year in Washington D.C., there is a two week festival commemorating the gift of these trees and the friendship between the United States and Japan.  You can find more info about the National Cherry Blossom Festival here. 

We enjoyed walking along the Tidal Basin and looking at all of the blossoming trees. 

We thought about trying to rent a paddle boat, but, although it looked like a lot of fun, we didn't want to spend our day standing in line for the boats, so after we finished taking in the beautiful blossoms, we spent the rest of the day exploring the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum.  Fun day!

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Design!

This week I made some cute little bags from my newest pattern design.  I just love this wristlet clutch design!  They are small (about 9" wide and 5" tall), and a perfect fit for taking along only what you need.  A wallet, cell phone, ipod and lipgloss will fit in one of these, with a little room to spare.  These bags are small enough to toss into a larger bag, like a beach bag or diaper bag, so you have all of your important stuff together when you need it.  The first one of these I made was for my daughter.  She wanted a little bag to take to a formal event and to match her dress. It turned out so nice, that I HAD to make more in different fabrics!
You can find them for sale in my etsy shop.