I am simply a follower of Yahshua

Go Take Up This New Land

I was brought to the Lord by a man I would later marry. He would later cheat on me and leave after 3 years. I was sure that this marriage, this man, would be my entrance into ‘normal’, ha, whatever that is.

It was quite the drama, painful and pitiful. I fell into a deep depression and, even though they don’t call it this anymore, I had a nervous breakdown. It was hard on my daughter in 10th grade at that time.

One afternoon I was planting annuals in my little square foot garden. Gardening has always been a comfort to me and getting my hands in the soil is some of the best medicine for mental health.

The sun was warm on my back, the soil rich and black. “Go take up this new land I will give you.” I heard that just outside of my left ear. Peace flooded me.

I live in that new land now. I am surrounded by the grace, peace and mercy of YWHW.

You can have it too.

Just to set the scene: my boyfriend of a couple of years met me at the door one night after I got home from work. Behind him I could see a couple of suitcases. I walked in the door, barely entering the room because he had one foot out the door, and he said, “I’m going to go to Wichita to learn how to be a truck driver.” He picked up his bags and went out the door, got into his Corvette, leaving me his truck, and drove off. Done. Just like that.

Over the next few weeks I came down with a stress induced disease. Among other things my tongue took on a sick yellow carpet-like coating. I remember that.

Working as a bartender, I didn’t get off work until 2:30 am or so. By the time I stopped to pickup my little son from the babysitter and then got home it would be 3:30. Who can go to sleep when they first get home from work? I never could.

This particular night, after my son was tucked into bed I poured myself a drink and turned on the tv. I remember there was some kind of clunky remote control for the tv with buttons to push for each channel. As quickly as the remote would let me I clicked through the channels. Nothing to watch there, click, nothing to watch there, click, nothing to watch there, click. A man was saying, “there is a woman out there with a coating on her tongue,” his hand reaching towards the screen. “May she be healed.” At that word, the room filled with a light so bright that I could not take it in. It was blinding. My tongue was cleaned of it’s carpet. The light left as quick as it came.

After I got over my shock I picked up the phone to call the number on the tv screen. The show, the 700 Club, had been praying as the Spirit lead them to pray and I wanted to know what had happened. At that time in my life I had absolutely no thoughts whatsoever about Jesus or God. I dialed the number and a woman answered. I told her what happened and then demanded to know what had happened. She heard my story and began praying. Praying and praising God. It was annoying to me.

I went about my life for 3 days wanting an answer but never once considered asking God or even thanking him.

On the 4th day the carpet-like coating came back.

My Sister

In 1963, after a 3 year fight with leukemia, my 6 year old sister died. She was 3 when she was diagnosed with it, after a false diagnosis of mono. Danny Thomas himself came to our house to ask my parents if they would let my sister participate in a new treatment trial called chemotherapy. They’d have to take her to the Jimmy Fund in Boston, but all medical expenses would be paid for.  It was a hard couple of years, as you can imagine. She did have one almost complete year in remission where she could actually go to school. Being bald, my mother, ever the seamstress, sewed Linda a half dozen upside down flower petal hats.

Linda was smart, and knew much more than her 4 or 5 or 6 years. Once, Georgie asked her, bullyish, “When ya gonna die?” The other boys sharked around her, chanting it…when ya gonna die, when ya gonna die. My fists were balled up ready to take them all on. She looked at them, serene. “When God wants me.” It was deep.

Her last Christmas, D and I weren’t allowed to go to the hospital, no explanation that I can recall. The story my parents told was this:

Linda opened all of her presents, enjoyed them all. Looked each thing over and handed it to my father. “Give this to Joanna, give this to Billy, give this to Mary.” All children on the ward that she had come to know.

Mother asked her, “don’t you like your presents?”

“Oh yes, very much, but I’m not going to need them.” See, she knew.

The day Linda died, my parents came back from the hospital. D and I were in the kitchen with friends of the folks who had come to entertain us. My father stopped in front of us and said, “She’s dead.” They both walked back to their bedroom and shut the door. That was all they ever said to us about it. There were no more conversations, no help, no hugs, nothing. Being people who believe that death ends life and there is nothing more after that, what did they have to offer?

I kicked the shins of the funeral director when he wasn’t upset that my sister was dead lying there in that casket. I wish I could remember his name. I’d apologize for it all these years later.

So, with my sister dead and buried Mother had a nervous breakdown that lasted for years. Then it became the new normal.

In an odd family dynamic I’ll never really understand, it seems to me that Mother had 3 shares of caring (maybe it was love) and when Linda died she put that third share on my brother. All I really know for sure is that she started sending me to summer camp every year after that, for the whole summer. Six weeks. I never felt bad about it but always thought it curious that when I’d come home my bed would be filled with wrapped gifts of all sizes. I enjoyed the freedom of camp and after the first two week stint, since I knew the routine, I’d inevitability be elevated to helper or be given responsibilities. To this day I can still make a wicked one match fire and do other things from what I learned at camp.

For the first 4 years I went to Girl Scout Camp. When I was 16 they sent me to a horseback riding camp. Thus my love for horses.

I met a girl at that camp and we became fast friends. She lived in Pittsfield and we lived in Springfield. I took many two hour bus trips to visit her over the next few years.  (Again, see how times have changed? No worries then about being abducted.) Tawny’s mother would make the best shoe box lunches. Generally I went to visit over the Jewish holidays, so it was from Tawny’s family that I learned about Passover and Hanukkah. That’s why the shoe box lunches were so good. Feast leftovers!

When Tawny turned 16 she had a Bat Mitzvah. Of course I was invited for the weekend with it’s festive lineup of a pre-Bat Mitzvah slumber party, the Bat Mitzvah itself, and then a catered supper that would have put most wedding dinners to shame. The gift table filled an entire corner of the room, and there were more things at home that had come by mail or delivery truck.

A Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual. Usually they are done when the boy or girl reaches 12 (for a girl it is 12 and a day), but Tawny had her’s at 16. I was familiar with a synagogue having been in one before in the 6th grade Unitarian Sunday school. There is nothing in the Old Testament specifically about Bar Mitzvahs. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony involves the young man or woman being called to read the Torah, a Haftarah portion [links from Wikipedia].

I tried to learn Hebrew once, it is difficult once you’re set in your ways reading left to write. By the way, do you realize that all cultures on the left side of Jerusalem read left to right and all cultures on the right side of Jerusalem read right to left? Interesting isn’t it?

The Hebrew language was foreign to me then. I’d heard it once before but that was it. My paternal grandmother spoke Yiddish from time to time but it’s nothing close.  I was watching Tawny standing behind a pedestal called the bimah, where the Torah scrolls are placed when they are read. She had the pointer that they use to keep track of their place while reading. She began. A word zinged [as in an arrow zinging through the air] out from her lips and found my ears. Adonai. Pretty soon the whole of the synagogue was filled with just one word – Adonai.

I had no idea what it meant. Pretty soon the Bat Mitzvah was over, congratulations were given and we were in the car on the way to the celebration supper. Tawny’s mother asked me what I thought of the Bat Mitzvah. I only had one thing to know from her. What was that word?

God. Master. Lord.

Well, she only said God, but there is much more to it than that.

Read this if you want to know more, and I hope you will, of the names of YWHW.

Mother was brought up Episcopalian, Dad was an cultural Jew brought up in the depression. His family burned a candle on Rosh Hashanah.  That was it. I’m not sure why we went to the Unitarian church, but my guess is that it was for social climbing purposes. The rich from Wilbraham went there and my parents developed friends who had nice houses and could afford steak every night if they wanted it, not just on Friday nights.

Sixth grade Sunday school in the Unitarian church meant we would spend the year visiting different religions that were within driving distance. Catholic mass, a Quaker meeting, and the one I remember the best, a Mormon church. It was in the fall that we visited the Mormon church. How can I remember that so clearly? Well, I had a whole outfit that my mother had sewn for me, except for the sneakers and a purse, made from real Indian Madras. None of it matched, as was all the rage. A brand new, not even washed yet blouse and a wrap-around skirt.

The church was huge, with a main floor and balcony. Both floors were filled with people. We sat in the balcony, Mr. Leary, our teacher, and the 10 or 12 sixth graders that made up the class. Nope, I don’t remember what the sermon was about. What I’ll never forget was how they do communion. I’m sure you’ve seen them before, communion trays. They have inserts that can hold up to 60 little cups of liquid, which in the case of the Mormon church is water. (I don’t get that, nor do I get it that mainstream Christian churches use grape juice rather than wine. Allow me a little rant…first of all grapes by nature have yeast on them that ferment grapes. Secondly, at the wedding of Cana Yahshua himself turned water into wine. All the bible says about drinking is to not be a drunkard. end rant)

You might have guessed it by now. As the tray passed into my hands it tipped and the contents of 40 little cups of water dumped right on my skirt. I stood up fast, dropping the tray to the floor, where the rest of the water, and what hadn’t soaked into my now muddy colored Madras lap, made muddy splotches on my Madras sneakers. I was mortified of course. We had a good laugh about it though on the way home and Mr. Leary explained what happened to Mother so I would not get into trouble.

The Unitarian church was a good church to go to learn about things. It was for that reason I took my own children there when they were in elementary school. We had a really good guy as the minister, Kit. He was bright, creative, caring. He had quite the following and made the church a vibrant place. Then he got cancer. Once when he was very sick he wanted to know where the staff from the 23 Psalm was. Someone got him one. The last time I saw Kit was just before he died. He was standing in the sanctuary, all alone, and a glow seemed to encase him. Like a fog rolling in on little cats feet, if you know what I mean. He looked at me and smiled, then turned and went through the door to his office. He died just a few days after that.

Kit died in 1996 and later that year I was saved.

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

But more about that later. I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

 

 

I was in elementary school in the 1960s. Things were much different then than they are today. Each morning we’d read a Psalm, sing a song – I specifically remember singing We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder , and then say the Pledge of Alliance.  In those days they, being teachers and parents, made YWHW out to be a grumpy old man with a long white beard glowering down from heaven waiting, just waiting, for a child to do something wrong so that he could strike him or her with a vengeance. It kept us in line.

In junior high my mother put me in the Rainbow Girls and put my brother in DeMolay. She was a social climber. I also took ball room dancing. And we went to the Unitarian Church. The Rainbow Girls had a ritual involving reading Genesis 9:13 – 15 (KJV)

 13I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

I was starting to get interested in reading more about what the bible had to say. Interestingly enough, as I look back upon my early life I can see that as soon as I began drawing close to YWHW something would happen to divert my attention. For instance I was walking from the kitchen/dining room to the hall in order to get to my bedroom when I stubbed my foot on the baseboard (ever done that? ouch!). I was crying from the pain. Mother looked at me coldly and said, ” God just punished you for something you did wrong. I don’t know what that was, but I’ll find out.” She was mean like that.

(Sidebar: I had a rotten childhood with an abusive mother, but I got over it and forgave her, so don’t think that I am dragging the abuse around with me day by day like so many do.

A few months before my mother passed from this earth to the next place for her, she asked me, “Was I a good mother?” She had sadness in her voice, so she already knew the answer.

“No,” I said, “you were abusive, you beat me.”

Trying to justify herself, that was what she did justify her actions, she said, “But I beat D (my brother) too.”

“Yes you did,” I told her, “and you would look at him and say, ‘if you cry I’ll beat her harder.’ That answers the question, doesn’t it, of why we don’t like each other.”

I went on. “On the other hand, you had a daughter that died, and so, how could you know how to love when that hurt you so deeply.”

And in that exchange forgiveness was given and received. )

I was 3 years old, so this would be in 1954. My bed was next to an interior wall, and the foot of the bed faced down the hall. The only window in the room was on the opposite side of the room.  I don’t know what time it was when I woke up, but it was in the middle of the night. A bright light coming in from the window caught my attention. I rolled over quietly to investigate it without getting out of bed. Mother did not like me getting up at night. It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the brightness. There, coming in through the window, a hand. Not just a hand, but a giant hand. Bigger than my bed.

“Come here, child.” Without any hesitation, or fear of Mother hearing me put my feet on the floor, I got up. The hand was so big and took up so much space in my small bedroom that it just took me a few steps to get to it. It was a left hand. I grabbed onto the thumb and climbed up into the giant palm. I do not remember the words of the conversation we had, me sitting there in YWHW’s left palm. What I do remember was a feeling of complete safety, love, caring. How long I sat in his palm that night, I do not know. What I do know is that I have been in the palm of his hand ever since. He told me so 6 years ago.

This part of the story I chronicled in the historical fiction novella I wrote, First They Came for the Cows; An Activist’s Story.  A friend and I were driving home from a garden club meeting when a wicked spring snow storm dumped a couple of inches of snow in an hour. She lived on the other side of the mountain, where a snow covered dirt road falling apart from spring thaw equals nasty driving. Like driving on confectioners sugar covered chocolate pudding. Just like that.

I dropped her off at the bottom of her driveway, could hardly see the porch light she had left on so I waited letting my headlights be the light for her walk up to the house. Slowly I backed out of her driveway once she was inside, put the car in drive and continued on my way home.  A few minutes later a voice filled the inside of the car. “I’ve got you in the palm of my hand.” I was startled but I’d heard YWHW’s voice before so I wasn’t scared. Or fearful. My first reaction was to start praising him. Next then I knew my car skidded on some ice, took a 45 degree spin and was coming up on a 6 ft culvert that Vermont dirt roads can be famous for. It would have made for an awful inconvenience trying to get it out dressed in springtime footwear and clothes at night with no cell phone service.

But here’s what happened…the car came to a feather-light stop at the very edge of the culvert.

I threw my hands up in the air and really started praising YWHW. He said, “Will you do as I ask?”

“Send me, Lord, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 – Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.)

“Tell them it is the mark of the beast.” For context, I was working to fight off the National Animal Identification System at that time, a calling I felt from YWHW, and worked hard at it for 5 or 6 years.

Everyday, and especially when I feel low, I only have to remember that He’s got me in the palm of his hand and he’s never, ever, ever, ever going to let me drop.

Stay tuned…there is more to come.

 

Haven’t posted here in a long time because it felt prideful to write about myself. In the last couple of weeks an idea has burbled in from the quiet place in my mind, where the Ruach Hakodesh (who the mainstream, lukewarm church calls the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost) resides. Time for me to write my testimony, the full thing from when I was a little girl to present day. The purpose? Besides glorifying YWHW, it will tell the story of how He has been with me since the beginnings; before the earth was created, before I was in my mother’s womb, and since I was a little child. My memories begin there, as a 3 year old girl. That’s where I am going to start, but first a word about names.

What are the names of God and Jesus? The real names? We are to call upon the name of the Lord, but what name do we call him by? I am no biblical scholar but from what I have researched the letter J wasn’t even invented until 1540, so the Name Above All Names cannot be Jesus. You will see that I will be referring to Him as Yahshua. You may find this link interesting as it describes the way the names of God have been changed. It isn’t the be-all-end-all of information, just a place for you to start your own study.

So, a cheat sheet to the names which I will rightly use in any following posts:
YWHW = I AM WHO I AM, ELOHIM – the world calls him God.
Yahshua = Jesus

Ruach Hakodesh = Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost (for a study on how the names switched over 300 years read here.)

For the record, I am not affiliated with any religion. Not a JW or a Mormon or even a Baptist, and reject Calvinism.  I am simply following Yahshua, call me Sola Scriptura. 

Again, the purpose of these posts are to give my testimony for those who might find comfort in knowing others have had trial and tribulations as they have, to give hope that YWHW, once he pursues you he never lets go or stops trying to bring you into right relationship with him. 



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