Thursday, 27 November 2008

You Look Like A Woman Loved

As we went about our wedding plans, an amazing thing happen.
It was as if Mark recieved permission to express what was truly in his arm. Always the gentleman, Mark could now be found holding my hand, playing with my hair, or holding me in his arms. He said one of the nice things about holding me; I didn't pull away, but would just allow him to hold me. His lips would often brush against my cheek or forehead.
And he allowed me to love him. He would rest his head upon my shoulder, alow me to rub his shoulder. He began open and laughed easy and often.
Between the Cancer and allowing love into his life, Mark was born anew.
I remember one day while having lunch with a friend, she said to me, "you looked like a woman who is loved."
I smiled and nodded. "I am.
We prayed together. Studied together. Worked on our wedding together and fought his cancer together.
There were times I thought this was nothing more than a dream.
But then I would look into thoses beautiful blue-green eyes and realize it was all real.
Mark loved me. And this summer, we would be married.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

So The Reel Work Begins

It is now March, 2005
We have survied our first two weeks of our engagment.
We had started talking about waht kind of wedding we wished, but also the hopes and dreams of our lives together.
This included children. Mark was still going through Chemo and then there is this called my age. So Mark had asked if I would be willing to adopt a child, even if G-d willing we had our own. We both love children, so this was not a problem.
Since we had chosen our theme, for the wedding, we began to make plans.
I had been part of a Worship team before I came to Temple, so I wanted to include dance and Banners in our wedding.

Mark, being Mililary, felt it would be cool if his best man wore his Army Blues. Since our backgound is Sephardic, we wanted to add much of that tradition to our service. And more importanty, we wanted people to see the Love that Messiah has for His Bride in our wedding. Just as one day Yeshua is coming for His bride for the Huppah He is preparing for us, so Mark and I wanted people to see G-d in our wedding.
So the first step; set a date.
August 26, 2005. I would have preferred June, but agreed to August.
Next, picked our wedding party. Mark's best friend Sam was chosen as Best Man and the little girl who prayed for "Mark to safty return to Laini," Elana would be my flower girl. We wanted the Huppah to be hand held so, we picked Tony, Josh, Paul and Buddy. They would serve as our witnesses.
Menu: MiddleEastern of course; Azar's
Sarah recommneded a florist.
I knew where to get the cake: Naa's
I had brought a beautiful, simple ivory dress I thought would be lovely, but since Mark wanted a formal wedding, Sarah and I set a date to visit David Bridal.
Rabbi Joe would of course perform the ceremony.

The only problem was the place. Mark wanted at Beth Messiah.
I didn't.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Planning a Jewish Wedding Part 2: Tradition!

A Jewish wedding in Spain....
An Moroccan Jewish wedding.....
From Yentli.....
From Fiddler on The Roof...
When we think of Jewish weddings, movies such as Yenti and Fiddler On the Roof , often come to mind.
But there is no such thing as a 'traditional Jewish Wedding."
Yes, we have wonderful, beautiful traditions that makes our wedding beautiful and spiritual. But each wedding also reflects the style, taste and spirit of each couple being married.
There are different traditions between the Ashkenazic (Fiddler on the Roof comes to mind) and Sephardic Jews , which takes on a Middle East, Mediterranean, North African flavor.
I have attended a Jewish wedding that was a military wedding and one at the beach. I also knew a couple that blended their culture of Jewish and Hindu.
Every wedding should-no must! be an expression of the couple. It reveals not only their faith, but who they are as a couple and taste of what their lives may be like.
During the time of our engagement, Rabbi Joe was teaching on the Book of Revelation. It is the Wedding of The High Priest (Yeshua) to the daughter of the High Priest (we the community of believers). This gave Mark and I the Theme of our Wedding; A Royal Wedding.

Planning A Jewish Wedding

Funny how life is:
Mark had been so scared to marry me. Then when he found he had cancer, he told me that it helped him to see what was important. That I was the woman he loved and wanted to spend the rest of his life with. No matter how long or short.
Now that he truly allowed himself to feel the love in his heart, there was no doubt that I was the woman of his heart.
And he wanted our wedding to be his love gift to me: a celebration of our love.
As we began to plan for our upcoming wedding and marriage, I was reminded of a verse from one my flavorite songs, All Night Long, By Lionel Richie.
"Life is good; it's wild and sweet."
That has my life with Mark has been like since I'd met him and that is what planning our wedding was like.
By the time Mark and I decided to wed, I had already knew what kind of wedding I wanted;

A Jewish One. One that affirm our faith in Yeshua and sweet with the traditions of our Jewish faith.
It really began with a sermon I heard in 1995 (and I still have it) called Preparing for The Wedding Feast. Based on Matthew 25, it outlined Yeshua the Jewish Messiah returning one day for His Bride. It is a most beautiful teaching and frankly, you can only understand Matthew 25 is knowing the traditions of a Jewish Wedding.
In 1999, several things happen.

One, our new Pastor began teaching on Convenat, including the Convenat of marriage.
Two, during a rehearal for a Passion Play, I slipped on a grape and broke my ankle, so I had plenty of bedrest that gave me time to catch up on prayer and study.
Three, several friends of my were getting married, two of them Messiniac Jews and I wanted to make something special for them. Since I was recovering from an broken ankle (another story) I had plenty of time to research the traditions of Jewish wedding and found a treasure chest of jewels. Taking what Pastor Nate was teaching on the Convenat and what I was learning, I made samples as wedding gifts that were Covenants.
For my Messianic friends, I made a Ketabuh, which is a Marriage Covenant. While it is often signed, I did my in cross-stitch and the Rabbi who perform the ceremony approved of it. So, it began part of the marriage ceremony.
The Ketubah is not spiritual, but legal document. It spells out the rights of the wife and the duites of the husband. In fact, that is why Shavuot is such a big deal. For this is the time we celebrate G-d "marrying Israel" the Torah is our "Ketubah. As believers in Yeshua, as His Bride, the Torah (The Bible) is our Ketubah, laying out Yeshua's love for us, that He will meet our needs. It contains all His promises to us. In a Jewish Wedding the husband gives the ket to his bride, thus confirming his promises to her. Yeshua gave us His Word. Do we accept it?
So by the time my ankle healed, I was able to dance at my friend's wedding. And I also knew if G-d did indeed mean for me to marry, I already had a pretty good idea what I wanted my wedding to look like.

The Ring

Well, as you know by now, Mark did not have a change of heart. It was a big change in his life, a huge decision and of course the doubts would come. It was my own unfounded fears that was caused sleepless nights.
There had been a Man's Retreat and I felt maybe Mark would have a long talk with Rabbi, come home and say "Laini, I can't do this."
I confess, that was the fear of my heart; that Mark would feel he had been pushed into something he really didn't wish to do. I always felt that they would be some one out there trying to talk him out of marrying me. Several weeks later, I would learn a few people did try.
But Mark assured me that I had nothing to fear; it was me he loved, he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
A friend of my from the Church I use to attend owns a jewelry store, so of course that is where I wanted to go get my ring. And off we went. I really don't care for the modern look, I prefer the more Victorican settings. That is sort what I had in mind. Mark had once worked in a Jewelry store, so he knew what to look out for. After a while, I spotted IT. A very simple, but eloquent, what is known as a european setting. It was one dimand (large of course) of the old gold and not the modern white gold. The funny thing is;
1. Mark spotted the ring and asked if I liked it. Turns out, this would have been the very ring he would have chosen.
2 as Mark would later say:"You would pickthe one that cost the most."
As you can see, the Chemo was beginning to take its toll on Mark.
It is'n the best shot of my ring, but trust me, it is beautiful.
Our announcement went through arrange of emotions. From; "I didn't know you were even seeing anyone" to "well it's about time!" to "I thought you guys were already married; your so perfect together!"
I did fuss Mark for not telling Paul and Sarah sooner. She was alittle upset that she wasn't called straight away, but quickly got over it.
What upset me the most was the family. One of Mark's sisters didn't even know Mark was engaged until she heard folks talking about my wedding dress. When she asked who was I marrying, she was told, "Your brother."
What a way to find out!

Who Are You And What Did You Do With My Markie?

From Feburary 14th, 2008:
After Mark dropped me off from the dinner, I called my mum to tell her Mark and i were getting married. But we waited a few days before the announcement was made.

Mark had mid-terms that week and I wanted to wait for mark to tell his parents.
Frankly, I knew he was working up the nerve; they weren't going to take this bit of news well.

So the morning of Chemo, after Mark told his Dad, I called my mum and gave her the go ahead to to tell others. And I am sure the phone lines were burning because that was news she had been dying to hear and tell. Then, we told the staff. No big shock there either. Except for those who thought we were already married.
The day after Chemo was Friday and as usual we got together to have Shabbath supper before we went to the Temple.
Mark started asking me is rapid form: what type of wedding did I wish, where did I want to go on a honeymoon, where did I want to live, how many children did I want.....
I just looked at him in shock. Who are you and what did you do with my Markie. The cold feet had totality defrost and I now had Groomzilla on my hands!
Amoung the questions was my engagement ring. Mark asked if I had any ideas or just trust him. I have always wanted to pick out my own ring, so it was decided I would go with him. But until then, I wore his class ring from West Point. But we had to put tape in the center because the ring was too big for my ring.
Friday night Mark went to tell Rabbi: "Rabbi! We did it! We are engaged!:Rabbi said "Mazol Tov! Did you tell Laini?"
For you see, Mark's announment sounded like he had told me we were getting married: it didn't sound like he had asked me.
One sister (who wasn't at the dinner) when I told we were engaged I had to catch before she fainted; she was ready to shout and start dancing in the aisles. I told her that Mark wanted to wait until the next morning to make the announcement.So, just before the end of the service, Mark made the announcement we were engaged.
Part of his statement was: "I always thought I would chose my wife; but G-d found her for me."
Now this goes against our western concept of love and marriage. In Biblical times and even now in observe homes, it was the parents that arranged their children's marriages. In our faith, just as G-d brought Adam to Adam (her name wasn't Eve then) so we trust G-d as our Abba to find and bring us our spouse. And since we both sought G-d as to who to marry, our Heavenly Abba brought us together. Yes, there were a few who thought Mark was saying; "G-d told me to marry this woman and he did."

Well, G-d did tell Mark I was the one for him. But G-d gives wonderful gifts. We ask His guidance for jobs, schools, cars. Why not the person your suppose to spend the rest of your life with? Why not pray for one of the most important descision in one's life?
I remember the look upon his face when he sat down. He was in shock. That "I set my course and I can't turn back" look.

I was beginning to wonder if I should let him off the hook and give him back his class ring......

Thursday, 20 November 2008

It Rained That Too

Picture of Mark and I, Blessing Dinner, 2006

From 13th 2008
When: A Sunday.
The place: Beth Messiah Synagogue.
The Event: The Blessing Dinner.
For several years, the men of our Synagogue got together and made dinner for their wives, daughters, mums as well as the single, divorced or widowed women of the congregation. The Sunday chosest to Valentine's Day was picked. It was called Blessing Dinner to bless the women in the men's lives. It was a potluck meal where the men did the cooking. Roses and other flowers were brought for the evening. For woman who were Bat Mitzvah (over the age of 13) she would recieve a rose. Girls under 13 recieve another type of flower.
The men setup, serve the meal and clean up. After dinner, first the husbands, one by one would stand up and play tribute to their beloved and afterwards, represent her with a rose. The men would also pay tribute to their mums and daughters. Rabbi would give roses to the women who, for whatever reason, was without a mate. This way everyone recieved atleast one flower on Lovers Day.
Mark and I were courting at the time. For several weeks we had talked about marriage. And Mark by his own admission suffered from a serve case of cold feet.
We were suppose to meet earlier in the day, do a little shopping and then I woud dress at his apartment.
But he forgot and was several hours late. We exchanged words and almost did not go to the dinner.
But we went to his apartment so I could change. I wore a studding midnight black dress that had ripples at the hem and moved every time I did. I took my braids out and let my wavey hair fall down my back and laced in it little hairpins with pearls and dimands. I was looking good.
Mark looked up when I walked out and then looked back into his book! My heart sank. He then stood up, placed his hands on my shoulders and asked; "excuse me, who are you and what have you done with my Laini?" That made me smile. He really did notice. According to Mark; "she looked gooooood!"
Like tonight, it was pouring down rain and since I was wearing heeds I wasn't use to, I had to hold onto Mark's arm.
Heads turned when I walked in. While most were used to seeing me dress for the services, no one had seem me dressed to the nines.
Until tonight.
After the meal, Mark wondered out loud: "I wonder what I am going to say about you."I said: "Just ask the Holy Spirit. And the words will then come."
He did and they did.
At one point I notice Mark had left the table we were sharing with friends. I thought he had gone to the bathroom. And then I heard his voice. Up front. Now you have to understand, Mark didn't wait until all of the husband had spoken, but picked up and rose and began to tell everyone how I had prayed for him, cared for him, how I supported him while he was in Iraq and now during his cancer treatment. That G-d had truly blessed him when He brought me into his life. He spoke of his love for me and said everything but; "will you marry me?" He then came over and handed me the rose. He asked if I liked what he said. I told him; "I love every word, and you have no idea what you just did.""What did I just do?""You just asked me to marry you in front of almost 130 people."
It took a few moments, but when Rabbi asked: "you didn't see that coming did you?" Mark realized what he had done. To say the room was abuzz was an understatement.
On the way home we talked about what he had done. And when he came to a red light, Mark turned to me and said; "well, you want to set a date?"And that is how is all began.

Three years ago tonight. Around 7:00pm.

The Moment Of Truth

I would learn later that others had been pressing Mark about his relationship with me. He would say "we're friends."
I remember one day Rabbi quoting something I had to Mark. "Mark talks a lot about you." He stated.
It was clear to most who knew us that Mark loved me, but that he was also afraid of marrying me.
Or anyone esle for that matter.
One Shabbath I remember a story the Rabbi told. There was a man who loved a woman, but had cold feet. He could not bring himself to marry her. It was also feared that when he finally decided to wed, he would leave town before the wedding.
So, the Rabbi and the elders of the commuity decicded that the couple should marry on Shabbath. We don't do weddings on Shabbath (no work) since he would not be able to travel, he would have to go through the wedding. So the wedding went off and they lived to have a long, happy life.
I was sitting there thinking as I listening to this story: Mark would be the second groom married on Shabbath.
Funny; Rabbi thought the same thing.
One afternoon we went out to lunch. Mark told me: "I love you very much, but I must tell you Laini; I have cold feet!" Laater that evening, we went to a concert and a friend stopped to tell me: "Laini! G-d really has me praying for your husband!" Knowing Mark was close, I told her to keep praying.
I said: "I know you have cold, you have cold feet. All G-d's Children know you have cold feet. We are praying for those cold feet."
A few days later, we threw a small birthday party for my mum. She had a great time.
I had set the date; if Mark didn't ask me to marry him by the 14th , I was gone. I would continue being his caregiver, but when the cancer treatment was over, so was the relationship. It was a hard decicion and I would need G-d's strenght to see it through.But then, Feburany 13th, it all changed.....

Mark Gets Honest

He did.
It was that night that Mark got honest, with himself and with me. I could hear the pain in his voice as he remembered.
A memory he had to let go.
I say; "but I'm not...."
"I know," Mark answered.
What shocked was his next statement; he never thought anyone would ever love him, that he wasn't worth of being loved. And that knowing that I truly card for him both delighted him and frighten him. For he didn't know how to handle it.
I told Mark you don't handle love; you just accept it.
I saw a new light come into Mark' s eyes that night.

I smiled. Mark knew i loved him and he was willing to accept it. And that moment, Mark took me in his arms and held me for a long time.
I could feel his heart opening up to me, receiving my love. And loving me back.
AmberJade (a reader) asked why didn't I kick Mark to the curb sooner.

Simple. What stood before me was a tall, big man with a sweet face and gentle spirit. A strong person. But I could also see his soul: G-d showed me his soul and it would take some time and love-my love to heal it.
And in doing so, Mark's faith and encouragement gave me the courage try things I never would, to step from out of the shadows and even risk loving another person.
This is how G-d loves us. He doesn't 'kick us to the curb' when we don't respond to His love the first 50 times He reaches out to us. Yes, there comes a moment where we need to face the fact we might have to cut our loses.

But knowing the things Mark had gone through, dealing with coming home from Iraq only to find he had cancer and had to fight to get his health benefits, wanting to marry me and yet not sure if he could not only support me, but live long enough to even marry me.
Plus, let's be real; ours isn't your normal relationship. His family was still having a hard time understanding this Messianic Jewish stuff and being in love with a Jewish lady of colour who is older than he wasn't helping.
Whatever normal is.
While Mark worked all of this out in his soul, I prayed, asking G-d to give me the patience to wait.
Unbeknown to me, others were beginning to speak to Mark as well.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Purity Ring and Remaining Tidy Part 2

I have a funny feeling that my Poodle ring got lost in the move to the new apartment. Maybe it is for the best; letting go fully of the past.
I received a few e-mails about the Purity Ring.
Mostly good.
Can we be sure if our teens remain tidy? I think it boils down to with one: how you raised them.
two: do you trust them.
three: do you practice what you preach.
I know friends who have wore the Purity Ring and remain virgins until their wedding nights. I trust them enough to believe this to be true. And then there are those like myself who chose after being sexuality for moral and biblical reasons to remain celibate until we are married.
It is not an easy choice, not one everyone would chose or understand. One some would even call this way of thinking insane or extreme. That as a Modern woman, I need to "get busy." But it is the choice we made.
And I have never regretted it.
This evening, my husband and I were asked to share about our courtship with a group of teenagers. We did not have to say "do as we say, and not as we do," because we chose to wait. Later, I would recieve a call from one of the teen's mums.
She asked her parents for a Purity ring.