73 posts categorized "Encouragement"

I Don't Have Problems

Today I picked up a hitchhiker, which is something I normally don't do, unless it's a woman or a man with a child. But this guy was leaning on his cane and looked so desperate, that I felt compelled to stop. He took a good two minutes to get into the car, because it turns out he suffered some major bodily injury, though I don't know from what. He must have been in his early 40's but aside from barely being able to walk, his speech was severely limited and hard to understand. On the way to where he wanted to go, he told me about his near death experience, which was totally freaky and awesome.

Then, he took my hand and made me put it on his head, where there was literally no skull. There was about a three-inch wide circle with just soft mush under his hair. Totally freaky and not so awesome. He told me that his "white brain" had come out of his head. Is anyone out there squeamish? Sorry.

As he was struggling to talk to me, I tried to keep a normal face while trying not to get more freaked out by the second. I was still alone in the car with a strange man, and even though he didn't appear dangerous, I was getting seriously uncomfortable. When he finally opened the door, I got out of the car to help him leave, because he nearly fell. I helped him get onto the curb and thanked him as he gave me blessing after blessing. Incidentally, only in Israel will a hitchhiker bless you. Totally awesome.

So of course I asked Hashem why He compelled me to pick this guy up, and eventually He answered. The lesson was, that even though my husband has been away for nearly three weeks and it's been very, very difficult with my perfectly-behaved kids, I don't have real problems.

Yes, life is hard. Very hard. Yes, many are struggling with marital issues, child raising issues, sustenance issues. But if you have your health, believe me, you don't have problems. Can you see the screen on your smartphone? Can you walk without a cane? Can you breathe without a breathing tube? Can you eat without a feeding tube? Can you go to the bathroom normally? Can you listen to music or your spouse's nagging? Can you hold something with both of your hands? Can you hug your children with two arms? Can you speak clearly?

Then you don't have problems.

Everything else can be dealt with. But health - there is no greater blessing than good health.  

Wishing you all a wonderful, problem-free day!

Racheli


Hashem Made Me Do It

My husband was showing me a few adorable pictures he took of my two youngest boys, Nachman and Natan. These two are soulmates. Nachman is almost 5, and Natan is almost 3. Their birthdays are both in Adar, six days apart. They have the closest brotherly connection of all of my kids.

What's most interesting to me is that when Nachman was just 14 months old, I was suddenly seized by a desire to have another baby. It came out of thin air. And once I get my mind on something, that's it. I ain't gonna stop until I get what I want. 

I told my husband that I want another baby right now, and he told me that Amazon doesn't do Prime two-day shipping for these kinds of things. What a shame. B"H, one month later I was pregnant.

Now, looking back, I can see why I was so compelled to have another baby. It was because these two souls were extremely close, and they needed to be together. So I realized that it really wasn't my decision to want another baby. Hashem knew that this would be what I needed for many reasons, so He put that desire in me. 

How many times have we had an idea, or done something for reasons that we just can't explain? It's easy to accept that Hashem made us do it when the things that we have done were good. But, I have to tell you that Hashem also compels us to do things that seem to make no sense, either. We can look back on so many stupid decisions and thing, "What in the world was I thinking?"

Well, the good news is that you really weren't thinking anything. Hashem was influencing your thoughts in order to bring about a necessary soul correction for you. Sometimes we can see how it all worked out for the best; and sometimes, we can't. But we have to believe that the outcome will always be good. 

Therefore, let's stop beating ourselves up over our stupid decisions, and stop hogging all the credit for our good decisions. Hashem is in control, and will always be in control. Once we really internalize that, we'll feel so much better, and life will turn into a never-ending fairy tale filled with butterflies and sunshine and lots of money. Okay, so not really.

Have a wonderful day!

-Racheli

 


Hello, Kapparah!

Shavua Tov! I hope your Shabbat was great. Let's start the week off with a pop quiz. Doesn't that make you feel all nostalgic for school? Don't you just miss those dreaded days? So here goes:

In the past month, I have lost my:

a) house keys 

b) checkbook

c) brand new earrings that I didn't even get to wear yet

d) a large blue bag filled with all kinds of nice plastic table wares, such as plates, cutlery, napkins, etc. for Shabbat

e) all of the above

Now, if you may recall, if you don't know the answer, you're supposed to pick "c" for reasons beyond my limited understanding. But if you picked "c" in this case, sorry! You failed! The actual answer is "e!"

Yesiree. I really don't know what is going on with me. Why do I keep losing things?? It's so frustrating to not be able to remember where I put anything. Since I can't stand taking responsibility for anything (just ask my husband,) the real reason that things keep getting lost is because there is a secret black hole vortex somewhere in my house. I suspect that it's in the washing machine. 

Actually, I just came up with an even better possible answer. I think my husband is messin' wit' my mind. I think he hid everything at his office, just so he can see how frustrated I can get. Yes. This is definitely the reason. He's getting back at me for all those years I threw his stuff away without asking his permission. Most recently, he accused me of donating his Sukkot siddur to a local gemach, (a place where people can buy used stuff fo' cheap.) Of course I have no recollection of doing such a thing. 

One of these days I have to get over to the bank to check my account. I'm not in such a huge rush, because it's not like someone's gonna steal my millions. G-d willing, one day soon - like tomorrow - all of these things will just reappear. Until then, I have to accept all of these losses as a kapparah, a spiritual atonement for some transgressions that (fill in the blank) did. Like I said, I can't take responsibility for anything. Even typing that word hurts my fingers.

We should never think of our losses as random. Hashem has His own personal ledger, and He is keeping close track of what we owe and, well, what we owe. Because we really don't deserve anything. I'll share a little secret to happiness with you: consider whatever you get as a free gift, and whatever was taken from you wasn't really yours anyways. 

It's all for the best! At least, that's what I'm going to tell hubby as I steal some cash from his wallet to get me another pair of earrings. And while I'm shopping, I might as well look at updating my wardrobe too, no? 

Have a wonderful week!

-Racheli


Wrong Expectations

So a friend of mine (Racheli here) was telling me that she feels bad that she's not so into praying for long stretches of time and doing her "womanly" duties, such as baking challah, cooking, etc. Her comment made me think of my post from a few days ago, "High Expectations." 

Here's where I think many of us get a little confused. We all have greatness inside of us that has yet to come out. Hashem knows what we are capable of, and yes, we must believe in ourselves and our strengths. However, there can be a very fine line between being our very best and trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, we may lose sight of our strengths and instead focus on building other parts of ourselves that are really not top priority for us.

Take my friend, for example. She's highly in tune with others, very empathetic, has a background in addiction counseling, is a wonderful listener and is very encouraging. She can use her strengths to help others and at the same time, enjoy a successful and fulfilling career. Now I feel like I should get a commission for every new client.

So what if she doesn't like to pray for hours on end? And who said she has to bake challah every week? Sure, these things are great and very admirable. But, that's just not who she is. And that's totally okay.

Hashem has created each one of us with a certain set of strengths and priorities. He made us that way to help us achieve our God-given missions in life. Her mission is to help others; so why should she put extra pressure on herself to do something that's not enjoyable for her? As long as she's following a Torah-observant lifestyle, the extras are icing on the cake. 

Are there areas that you are pressuring yourselves into, just because you feel like that is what's expected of you? Then it's time to re-evaluate. What are your strengths? Your talents? Things that you truly enjoy that are productive? How can you best capitalize on them? Focusing on other areas when they are not necessary to your growth will only lead to disappointment, and that is an endless downward spiral. 

Talk it over with Hashem this Shabbat. I bet you'll come up with some wonderful insights about yourselves, and I'd love to hear them. Shabbat Shalom! 

 


High Expectations

Last week, I (Racheli) got one of the best compliments of my life. My new Zumba teacher said that I should be teaching Zumba! I was totally thrown off, and of course my first reaction was, "Are you crazy? I could never do that!" But, then the idea began to dig its tentacles into my brain, and in a few minutes, the idea grew on me. Yeah, I could do that! Why not?

In the end, I'm not going to pursue it because I barely have time to shower every day, let alone learn and memorize new dances. Obviously I'm not writing this to highlight my obsession with dancing. So what's the point?

Well, the point, I realized, was in my reaction. My first thought was "No way!" Why? It's because that's how we think by default. Usually, when presented with a challenge or an opportunity that is beyond our regular lifestyles or accepted self-imposed boundaries, we immediately reject the new proposal as out of hand. Maybe we feel it's too much for us to handle, or beyond the scope of our capabilities.

But I gotta tell you - you're so much greater than you give yourself credit for. Hashem knows that. That's why He has such high expectations of us. He knows what we're capable of achieving, and He's going to push us until we get there. Whether it's career, family, helping others, or expanding on our personal gifts and talents, Hashem knows that we have so much that we can accomplish.

The only caveat is that we need to believe in ourselves. Believe in yourself! Believe in your potential! Even if the opportunity seems crazy and totally impractical, why not at least try to accomplish it? Even if in the end you don't succeed, at least you can say you gave it your best shot. 

Believe me, I never ever saw myself living in Israel and being a mother of five children. But Hashem put tremendous opportunities before me, and after my initial rejection of those opportunities, I jumped in 100%. That is the secret of achieving your hidden greatness. And, of course, don't forget to ask Hashem to help you every step of the way! He certainly doesn't expect you to do it all on your own!

May we all use this coming year to accomplish beyond what we thought was possible, and as a result, enjoy every blessing, both spiritually and physically, Amen! 

p.s.- If you're in Miami, check out Rav Brody's post below! You don't want to miss an awesome night with him and Rav Wallerstein! I'm so jealous!


The Month of Tikkun

Hi! Racheli here. I don't know about you, but I find that this month of Elul is full of tikkunim, or soul corrections. Every day something happens. Yesterday, a tree managed to jump in my way as I was backing into a parking spot. I don't know how it did that. I think it was a suicidal tree. In any case, it broke my rear tail light, and made a nice big dent in the corner of my back bumper. 

Even though my husband wasn't driving, I'm still convinced that it's his fault somehow. The weird thing was that my sensor didn't beep when I was backing up. Usually it beeps to warn me that there's something behind me. But it could be that the tree was off to the side before it decided to jump in my way. The other weird thing is how my car managed to back up onto the sidewalk itself. It's a situation full of mystery.

In any case, my car backed up into a tree. On the sidewalk. Obviously this was a necessary tikkun for something hubby did wrong. You know? I just realized what it was! I now remember having asked him many times to take the baby to school, but he came up with all sorts of lame excuses, like he had to pray and get to work. See? I'm also full of excuses.

I was about to get upset, but as I surveyed the junkmobile, I realized that there were so many dents, scratches, and missing tail light covers, so what was one more dent? Thank God I own the car and I'm not looking to sell it any time soon. At the end of the day, better the car get banged up instead of something worse happening. 

That's how we need to look at everything that goes wrong in life, and especially during the month of Elul. Hashem is doing us great favors by sending us one tikkun after another this month. It means that He wants us to have as much of a clean slate as possible going into Rosh Hashana. If you're experiencing a crazy month of, well, craziness, thank Hashem for it. He obviously loves you very much and is doing everything to insure that you will have a year filled with blessings. Now if a tree happens to jump in front of my car when I'm driving, I'm gonna have to get my eyes checked. Have a great day!


What Wedding?

Happy week, all! It's Racheli, and I hope you enjoyed a relaxing Shabbat, because I sure didn't. All in all, though, it was very nice. We actually spent Shabbat in Jerusalem, celebrating our dear friend's son's first Shabbat as a married man. His son got married earlier in the week, and I actually got to go to the wedding! Well, at least a part of the wedding.

I had planned to bring all five kids with me, because I don't have a regular babysitter that I leave them with. As many of you know, it's not so easy to leave your kids awake and let the sitter put them to sleep. Who knows what time they would actually fall asleep? So, I decided that I would pick the lesser of the two evils and bring the little ones - ages 4 and 2 - with me. Somehow, word got out that I was planning on bringing my little boyfriends to the wedding, and a certain close family member twisted my arm through the phone until I promised that I would leave them at home.

In the end, I did end up leaving them, and I was sure glad that I listened! I got to have real adult conversation, dance, and enjoy the awesome spread of food that could have easily fed a thousand people, instead of chasing two little monkeys around the wedding hall and driving my husband crazy. Anyhow, I managed to drive him crazy, because it's my favorite past time. No matter what the situation, I always find something to annoy him about, and I'm proud that I'm so darned good at it. I'm rambling now, right?

At 11:00, I had scheduled another sitter to come and switch with my first one, who couldn't stay later. And what do you think happened at 11:00? Right! No sitter. Turns out she went to sleep! Can you imagine how mad I was? I was in Jerusalem, having a great time, enjoying being all dressed up and dancing, and my three older ones were having a blast scoring beer and XL energy drinks from the bartender.

In the end, we had to leave during the height of the party. I don't know who was more disappointed. I can tell you who was not disappointed - my darling husband, who was so happy that he would be getting a decent night's sleep. And to make things worse, he kept on chirping, "Hashem is doing this for the best!" So not what I wanted to keep hearing all the way home! Couldn't he just leave me alone with my bad mood?

Well, it turned out he was r-r-r-ight. I hope he doesn't read this. As soon as we got home, both kids woke up. It wasn't from the noise, because we were super quiet when we walked in. I quickly got them back to sleep and that was that. The next morning, I realized that they could have woken up when I was still at the wedding. Wouldn't that have been so much worse? I would have had to rush home totally stressed, knowing that they were crying hysterically because there was a strange girl in the house and I was gone in the middle of the night. Now that I think about it, that's pretty scary for a little kid.

So, Hashem saved me and them the drama and made me come home just at the right time. In this case, my beloved (yuck!) was right - everything Hashem does is for the best, whether we see it or not. If any of you speaks with my husband this week, please don't tell him what I wrote, okay? Have a great week!