Monday, January 29, 2018

Biblical Fruits Challah for the Shabbat of Song and Tu B`shevat!

Figs, raisins, dates, pomegranate, olive oil, honey, barley, and one special addition, the grapefruit from Israel!

As The Shabbat of Song (see post below!) was just a few days before Tu B'shevat, I made a Biblical Fruits Challah for this Shabbat!!
This was a very exciting Challah to make! The ingredients themselves are a song.  They are expressing the 7 biblical species, which are foods mentioned in the Torah and eaten in Biblical times as well as used or represented for various significance such as in the Temple.  I took the challenge of seeing if I could find them here in Oita, Japan.  


Tu B'shevat is a holiday celebrated in Israel as the New Year for Fruit trees.  The name  means the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is tomorrow on our calendar, from the evening of January 30 to January 31.  I first learned about it last year, and this discovery of a New Year, or Birthday for Fruit trees excited me.  It became a great delight-filled time in noticing the first blossoms on the fruit trees and gave me a new awareness of this season when the sap from underground begins to enter into the trees, renewing them, a time we don't "see"  much, but a time when much is happening to prepare for the first blossoms.

Blossoms appear in the land, the time for singing has come,
The song of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The green figs form on the fig tree,
The vines in blossom give off fragrance.
Arise my darling, 
My fair one, come away!

--Song of Songs 2:12~13

 Once I decided to make the Biblical Fruits Challah, I went Friday morning to gather the ingredients. I already had the Israeli grapefruit (famous post about the first Israeli Grapefruit HERE, and using it in the Challah HERE) And a pomegranate!!

There were dried fruits in the recipe and I also needed pomegranate juice for another recipe so I decided to go to a Department store I hadn't gone to for a while.  When I got to the food floor,  and was looking around at the dry fruits area a song came on the BGM.

Here we are preparing for the Sabbath of Song, I am in the dried fruits area, and a SONG comes to my ears, with words very clear, and in perfect English.

His Grace is enough.

I listened again,

His Grace is enough.

Oh my goodness, I am hearing this!

God I sing,  Your grace is everything!!

I was hearing worship music in our local department store food floor here in southern Japan.  Well, I practically hugged the store man, for playing such great music..

Posting note:   I didn`t realize at the time, but looked it up after from the words I heard, and it must have been the song by Chris Tomlin, Your Grace is Enough.  But how it came to our hometown Department store, ..Well, sometimes we don't need a reason.

God's Grace is Enough for me!!

Sustain me with raisin cakes,
Refresh me with apples,
For I am faint with love.

Song of Songs 2:5


He brought me to the banquet table 
and his banner of love was over me.

Song of Songs 2:4

Some notes on the Challah:

The dough was a very easy dough to work with.  Some of the fruity parts are that in the last stages you mix in the dried fruits--raisins and dates.  The recipe includes a fig filling that is rolled into the strands!!  You can find the recipe HERE-- Biblical Challah and Date Butter, and up on the sidebar at right.

For a perfect dish to go with this Challah for a Tu B`Shevat 'banquet`, see this recipe for Pomegranate Salmon

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Sabbath of Song

I will sing to ADONAI,
for He is highly exalted!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea.
ADONAI is my strength and my song,
and He has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will glorify Him,
my father`s God, and I will glorify Him,
my father`s God, and I will exalt Him.

--Exodus 15:1~2, begins The Song of Moses and Miriam

Blessings to everyone and Shabbat Shalom!!
The reading this week on the Parashat Cycle is from Exodus, it is a wonderful Parsha, Parsha Beshalach, where God brings the Children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Sea of Reeds. It is the Parsha where He gives Manna to them from Heaven, and establishes the Shabbat with the Double Portion!! There in this portion is the Song of the Sea, the Song of Praise by Moses and Miriam upon being set Free!!

Oh there is just so much and I could write a whole blog about this alone as I am bursting with things I want to express.  You can see in the readings below how the Song connects all the readings, from the Song of Moses and Miriam in the Torah portion, to the Song of Deborah in the Haftarah, to the Song of Victory in Heaven at the Wedding of the Lamb.  But it is Friday afternoon, and time to start preparing for Shabbat.  I will make a special Challah today because not only is it the Shabbat of Song, but it is also Tu b`shevat this week so I will make a special Biblical Fruits Challah!!

I have a prayer, friends and dear ones, it is that God will bring me people to my community to celebrate Shabbat day with. Thank you to all if you feel led to agree and believe with me for this!! In my city and even Prefecture (State)  I have not yet met anyone who observes Shabbat.   I realize as it is January that this will actually be starting my third year of observing Shabbat!!  Thank you Father in Heaven for your wonderful and delight-full Shabbat, and for hearing our prayer, I send this prayer up boldly to the throne room in Heaven,  in Yeshua`s glorious name I pray!

Parsha BeShalach, Shabbat Shirah, The Sabbath of Song

The readings in the Bible are:
Torah Portion (from Old Testament):  Exodus 13:17~17:16
Haftarah Portion(from the Prophets): Judges 4:4~5:31
Brit Chadasha (New Testament)*:  Revelation 19:1~20:6

Note for the Brit Chadasha, or New Testament reading, I also see John 6:47~51  as a good connected reading as the Torah portion is about the Manna from Heaven and these verses connect the Manna to Yeshua who is the Bread of Life, the living bread, which came down from Heaven

Time to start the challah!!

Shabbat Shalom!!


Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Man in a Tree, almost TuB'Shevat!

I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.   ---John 15:1

This morning I said to my daughter, maybe I will take a walk to see if the buds have begun to blossom on the ume tree.  (Note:  Ume = 梅 = Plum, hence Ume Tree=Plum Tree; "ume" is pronounced "oo-may") Note: Plum trees are the first fruit trees to blossom here in Japan, several months before Cherry Blossom trees)
It's almost Tu B'Shevat! (The New Year for Trees!)
I want to see the first blossom this year!

I looked out the window to see if I could see if the ume tree was starting to bloom.
In my natural mind, I knew that there is no way that from six flights up  and what would be equal in distance to a few blocks away, there is no way I could see if a bud turned into a blossom, as they would just appear a tiny dot to the eye either way, but somehow I looked anyway.

Indeed I couldn't see if there was a bud or a blossom, but what I did see clearly in the branches was that there was a man in the ume tree!!

Just to confirm what I saw with a word spoken outloud, I said to my daughter, who was getting ready to go out,
"There's a man in the ume tree!".

She said "Oh" or something like that, though she didn't exactly jump from what she was doing to see the man.

But quickly I knew this was an adventure that was calling me to attend to and that I had better get dressed and up and out quickly, as one doesn't know how long a man will stay in a tree these days!!

I grabbed the second challah that I made for Shabbat, sensing I might have found the one to give it to this week.  (Note: in all the excitement of seeing fruits in season this month, I forgot to mention something, which is that this year I decided I want to give a challah to someone each week at Shabbat, as a way to begin sharing the Shabbat. Even if no one around us knows what Shabbat is. I received a great Challah book from my sister for my birthday in the end of the year, and the writer said she always makes extra challah to give away to someone each Shabbat and she prays about who to give it to.  As that is something that I had been thinking about too, I had a challah ready to give).

 Ok, back to the Ume Tree and the Man.  I ran down the back way six flights down and into the Castle grounds---of course, all adventures God sent are in the Castle grounds, as He is the King!---excitedly making my way past some construction workers with flags,  and around the corner and stone walls, into where I could see--- the tree, a truck, and indeed, a man!! But he was no longer in the tree.  He was standing back some meters away from the tree, checking his work.

From the truck and the tools and the rake, it became clear that he had been pruning the tree.

(Yes, daughters of the King, pruning! take note! John 15, our King is also a great Gardener!)

I tried to look casual, and not let on that I came here to see Him.  Though of course He knows everything, so that was a pointless thing to try to hide.

I smiled and said something about the buds almost blossoming.

He smiled with his head in a humble bow and continued his work of loading the discarded branches onto his truck.  I looked in the branches and saw a few had buds, and asked if I could have one of the branches .  He said, sure, and looked thru them but said none were flowering.  Then he looked like he had an idea.

"I will cut one for you!" He said.

He went to the tree, and looked for the right one, cut it with a swift and knowing hand, and handed it to me.  A light from heaven shined on the moment of his handing it to me.  I received it with thanks.

He told me to put it in water, and the flowers will open.

He finished his work and strapped the ladder onto the back of the truck. He said goodbye to me.
I was about to say goodbye to him, when...

I remembered the challah! I had prayed before for the right moment to give it to him, and it looked like this was my chance.

I went around to the side of the truck where he was getting in.   I asked if he would so kindly accept this bread. At first he said, no , no, please nothing is necessary to give him.  I said, I know, but is a very special day where I am from, and I wanted to give it to him.

He accepted it, and reached out his hands to receive it,
I brought my hands towards him to give it.
In that moment, both of our hands were on the bread,
and for the second time a divine light shone on the moment.

He got in the truck and drove off with the pruned branches and the challah.
I turned back to sit a little longer and held the little branch he gave me, and went to finish my drawing. I saw that the branch he gave me echoed the tree itself.  It was like a little cutting from the big tree.  Then I heard the voice of our Father in Heaven.  He said, it is.  Because we are from Him, and we are created in His image.  And the one who shows us this, the one who is the ladder from Heaven and Earth, is always wanting to show us that.

"If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.  In this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you.  Abide in My love!"  

---John 15:7~8, 9

I held the branch.  And brought it home, put it in water.

And propped up the drawing with the words,

"Thank you Father"


When I saw this photo after I took it, I noticed the way the curve in the tree echoes the curve in the man the way his pose was!  Like in a Van Gogh painting!
the Gardener and the Ume tree

He said He would cut a branch to give to me

The little ume branch is on my Shabbat table today.

 Happy almost Tu B"Shevat!!

PS NOTES: For other posts on the Ume Tree and Tu B'Shevat on this blog, see HERE

Thank you Father, Love Shayndel

The land brought forth grass, green plants yielding seed, each according to its species, and trees making fruit with seed in it, each according to its species.  And God saw that it was good.

                                                                    ---Genesis 1:12
 Shabbat Shalom!
Happy (almost) Tu B`Shevat! 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Way

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.    --John 14:6

There`s been a lot of construction around here lately---at the Castle, on the roads.
Workers  waving flags and directing pedestrians where to go.

I came upon one such worker who waved his flags and indicated the sidewalk was blocked.
He smiled and said in English,
"No way"
There was no way through that street, and what he wanted to tell me was that we had to find another route to get where we needed to go.  But the way  he said  `No way` he seemed to be playing with me by using this phrase in English.  Note, that it is very unusual in our small Japan city that a construction worker would use English.  It gave the scene a kind of Holy Spirited feel.*

I was feeling particularly confident that morning anyway and even a little giddy and light-hearted,  as the LORD had met me on something and set me free in a matter I had been struggling with.

So in my confidence, I responded and said,
" There is a Way "
He seemed curious so I continued, in very clear English.
"There is a WAY, and a Truth, and a Life.  Only one way, one truth, and I know what it is," I said.
His face was lit up and seemed to be enjoying this.
He said,
"What, what is it?"
And  I said, with an even bigger smile than his,
Again he smiled, his face lit up and, hearing the name Yeshua, he said,
"Yes, sure!"
I agreed, Yes, Yes.
He repeated the Name, and waved his flags.

I waved too, praised God, and rode

Blessings to all,
and to all
a Good Day!


*PS photos are illustration only, they are not the actual place or person who I encountered.  As you know from other posts, when I get into those encounters of the spirit, it is advisable not to take a picture.  It is advisable in those times to remain  in the experience.  These photos are from the Challah and Cherry Blossoms archives. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


"For I know the plans that I have in mind for you," declares ADONAI, "plans for shalom and not calamity---to give you a future and a hope.

"Then you will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me, when you will search for Me with all your heart.      --from Jeremiah 29:11~14

you may recall this Second Challah Cover, for the book of Exodus.  In  Hebrew it is  the book called Shemot, which means Names.  I took it out again to use as we are beginning the book of Exodus.

My name, Shayndel, is there in pink under the pink dalia

On a white cloth, I put my name, Shayndel, in the middle of the names of the twelve tribes.  There beneath a pink dalia and between it`s green leaves.

When I read all the names of the tribes in this weeks Parsha, I think of each blessing that Jacob bestowed upon his sons in the ending of the book of Bereshit.  Each one so different, yet each with a specific purpose. 

For we too each have a name that is precious to God, and each of us a unique purpose in His Kingdom.

As we enter a new year on the calendar year, and read anew in the book of Exodus, which in Hebrew is called Shemot,  and means Names, I wonder what that special purpose is for me and how it will manifest in this year.

And what it is for you.
As we exit from Shabbat into a new week, may the purposes that He has for each of us become a little clearer.  May we experience God's great Love for us and and believe in the plans He has for us.  May we give that love back out into the world through our lives.

Shavu'a Tov! Have a great week!
PS related posts HERE.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

JOHN 3:16

Thursday, January 4, 2018

First Sunrise, Second Sunrise, and Sunlit Bush

Now Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.  So he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, came to the mountain of God, Horeb.  Then the angel of ADONAI appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush.  So he looked and saw the bush burning with fire.  Yet it was not consumed.  Moses thought, "I will go now, and see this great sight.  Why is the bush not burnt?"
                                                                                                              ---Exodus 3:1~3
Every year since I came to live in Japan and since my daughter was born 18 years ago, we have always gone to visit my husband`s family on the New Year, and every year I always get up to watch the first sunrise of the year.

This year, the 18th year, was no exception.

Each year the number of people who gather to watch the first sunrise--a tradition on New Years day in Japan--- gets smaller and smaller, and this year I was surprised there were just two other people, a couple there.  I asked where is everyone and they said, its cloudy so everyone probably already went home, or saw that it was cloudy and didn`t come.

Then once a tiny piece of sun peered out from a cloud, they too left, and it was just me.

I too got a little discouraged for a moment by the clouds, but then told myself, you know Shayndel, God speaks to us in those times.  Those times of cloud are times when he desires to meet us.   Those are the times when we can call out to Him and say, Please O God, please move the clouds and reveal more of Your light!

With all the people gone, I felt even more His presence and that is when my eye caught the `bush` and I remembered where we are in the Torah readings, in Parsha Shemot, where Moses first encounters the Angel of God at the burning bush.

When ADONAI saw that he turned to look, he called out of the bush and said, `Moses, Moses.`
                  ---Exodus 3:4

 That was the amazing beginning of their encounter, when Moses turned to look, and the `negotiations` between God and Moses for Moses` assignment to deliver the Children of Israel and bring them out of Egypt.

So then I watched the green of the bush and the drama of the sky behind it and the way the streak of sun lit it from behind.  Even though on the first sunrise the perfect round ball of a a sun that we `expect` to see didn`t appear, God manifested His light in ever dramatic ways and He reminded me of stopping to observe, of turning to look, and of seeing His consuming power in the miracles that we see as they are in front of us.

The next day, I did something I haven`t done in all my years of watching the first sunrise.

I got up and went out to watch... the second sunrise!

Amazingly the couple from New Year`s day was there too!

And there God gave us a sunrise, a perfectly round ball of sun appeared over the horizon.

Again I looked at the bush, and stayed a while, as the sky was lit up and revealed the brilliance of the Great `I AM`.

 Blessings and Love!


God answered Moses, "I AM who I AM."

--Exodus 3:14 

The Torah portion readings this week are in the first chapter of the Book of Exodus.  If anyone is resolving to start in this year, or for those who are continuing the Torah readings, referred to as `Parashiot`(plural), or Parsha (single)these are the readings --Torah, Haftarah, and Brit Chadashah---for Parsha Shemot:

Exodus 1:1~6:1
Isaiah 27:6~28:13, 29:22~23
Jeremiah 1:1~23
1Corinthians 14:13~25

Related post on this blog:
HERE, Parsha Shemot, Burning Bush, Daffodils and Ume Tree

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Let`s Go Fly a Kite ---2

 He rode upon a cheruv and flew.
He soared on the wings of the wind.     ---Psalm 18:10

He brought me out into a wide-open place. 
He rescued me because He delighted in me.    ---2 Samuel 22:20

Indeed He gave us great delight this day.   It was so much fun to fly a kite!  The kite flew and danced on His wind and we had to hold on tight to the spool of string.  Your turn!  The little girl , M-chan is the same little girl HERE!  Her joy inspired me to bring a kite this time. 

See related posts 
HERE (Let`s Go Fly a Kite--Part 1) and
HERE (Wind, from last New Year)

Blessings and Love in the New Year, Happy 2018!  ♡ Shayndel