Monday, March 31, 2008

My first week as a married woman

Thank you all, dear ones, for all your kind wishes, congratulations and prayers on our behalf! I spent nearly an hour yesterday reading through all the comments you left for us, and they are so heart-warming.

There aren't any pictures yet (probably next week), but for now I just wanted to give you a little update.

My first week as a married woman has been absolutely wonderful so far. I must say I don't even remember much from our wedding ceremony; it was all so deeply moving and exciting that it's all coming back to me in bits and pieces. I remember most clearly the moment my husband put a ring on my finger, and then the moment when he broke the glass (on third attempt ;)).

We didn't even visit our home so far, even though we didn't go on honeymoon in the usual meaning of the word. We simply have been spending time together and with our families. Today will actually be our first night in our new (rented) home, and it will some months before we settle into our permanent dwelling.

Again, thank you so much, dear ones, for your support along this challenging and beautiful journey of ours in the past months. Hope to talk to you soon, and a wonderful day to you all!

PS: As you might have noticed, I removed the picture from my sidebar, and intend to replace it as soon as I can with a picture of me wearing a head covering.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mrs. T!

This will probably be the shortest post ever. I only have a minute - the entire account of the wedding + pictures coming as soon as possible.

Everything was beautiful and went just as planned. Thank you all for your kind wishes and prayers.

In the meantime... please welcome... Mrs. Anna T!

:-)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A prayerful bride

Dear ladies,

With only two days to go before the Big Day, what I mostly have in my head right now are incoherent bits of thoughts, such as "oh, my!"; "it's really soon"; "I can't believe it's actually happening"; I would love to take some time right now to dedicate to deep and serious thoughts about marriage - but somehow, words fail me. All I can do is pray, fervently pray for my future husband, myself and the new home we hope to build together; pray for love and kindness, faithfulness and devotion, good health and provision for us and any children God in His grace will give us.

An exciting part of our new life is moving away from the city into a rural area, something my dear chatan and I both look forward to. We rented a little home in a lovely, beautiful place, with future prospects to settle there permanently. Our home is still mostly bare and empty, and there is so much work to do before we can say we have really settled in - but I'm looking forward to every moment of it. What can be more exciting than a completely new and fresh start together?

I thank you so much, dear friends - those who have been faithfully visiting this little corner of the web ever since I started blogging a year ago; those who dropped by for the first time only a few months or even weeks ago; and all of you, who have been so kindly and generously thinking about us, praying for us, and writing to me to express your loving wishes! Thanks to all who offered their support and priceless friendship.

I do hope I will be able to get back to blogging (and upload wedding pictures!) soon enough - exactly when, I cannot say, since we don't have a computer and internet connection yet. Whether this takes a week, two weeks, a month, or more - I know I will dearly miss hearing from all of you. What a privilege it has been to share my joys and trials with all of you. I have been amazed again and again, seeing your sweet generosity and loving kindness.

I will finish for now with a liberal translation from Hebrew of the bride's prayer, which I will say on the day of my wedding:

"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. And it is said: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."
God, woman and man You created, You gave them a pure soul and wrote Your holy name in them. God, listen to the voice of my prayer.
I, the bride, stand before You today, ready and willing, in holiness and purity, to enter the chuppah by the Law of Moses and Israel; I raise my prayer before You, my God and the God of my fathers, who forgives the sins of His people of Israel, to forgive us all our sins and bless us, as it is said: "and He shall love you, and bless you, and multiply you, and blessed will be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your earth."
Let this hour be an hour of mercy and a time of willingness before You,
Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy Purim, y'all!

Since I'm not sure if I'm going to have the chance to blog tomorrow (probably not...), I wanted to wish all my Jewish readers a very happy and joyous Purim! I also hope that Fast of Esther goes easily for you tomorrow.

I'll be spending Purim with my chatan and his family, and this is to be my last Purim as an unmaried woman (yay!). Strictly speaking, traditionally we aren't supposed to meet before the wedding at all now, because there's less than a week left; but since we still have so many things to do and arrange together, following this lovely custom just doesn't work for us.

***

On another note: I noticed many of the ladies who visit me asked questions about the meaning of certain words in Hebrew, so I complied a quick glossary of (mostly wedding-related) Hebrew words:

Ketubah - the marriage contract which states the obligations of a husband towards his wife. Signed before the young couple stands under the chuppah.

Chuppah - the wedding canopy under which the actual marriage ceremony takes place and blessings are recited. Consists of a cloth stretched over four poles.

Chatan - groom.

Kallah - bride.

Tallit - a prayer shawl men wrap around their shoulders. Tradition says that a groom should have a new tallit for his wedding, bought by his bride.

Kippa - a small cap Jewish men wear on their heads. Religious men normally wear their kippa all the time, and men from a less traditional background wear kippas on occasions such as getting married, visiting synagogue, or on holidays. (PS: sometimes also known as yarmulka)

Mazel Tov!
- called out loud when the marriage ceremony is completed and the chatan breaks a glass by stepping on it, a symbol of always remembering the destruction of Jerusalem. There have been some embarrassing situations when the glass was too thick for the groom to break, or even nastier - shards of glass stuck in the groom's foot. So we'll need to make sure our glass is easily breakable. ;o)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unbalanced nutrition, unbalanced life - symptoms of a sick culture‏

The more I think about it, the more it seems that a large part of our health - and especially unbalanced nutrition - problems are rooted simply in not having enough time to eat proper, healthy, unhurried meals. We are so speed crazy that often we just quickly swallow something calorie-rich and with zero nutritional value, while we are standing or walking.

Ever wondered why being a nutritionist/dietitian is so popular in our generation? Note that obesity is a modern curse, as are obesity-related diseases. When wives and mothers dedicated the majority of their time to take care of their families, when houses were homes, with fresh, homemade meals on the table every day, and the family gathered for a slow dinner and relaxed conversation around the table, cases of morbid obesity were so much less frequent.

One might argue, of course, that in the past there were long periods when food was simply not as easily obtained as it is today. But that certainly doesn't explain the situation entirely. In my great-grandmother's home, they never went hungry, and they didn't limit consumption of cream and butter and fatty meats. And they were always fit and healthy. They ate regularly, and ate well.

And they were physically active. It came naturally for them. Today we are so obsessed with time-saving that we'll drive rather than take a walk, even if it only saves us five minutes and even if we know we have to spend money on gas. When cars weren't so readily available, exercise was naturally incorporated into people's lives and no one had to go to the gym in order to walk on a treadmill.

Today I observed a woman who came for consultation with one of my supervisors. She told she always feels tired and hungry and is constantly gaining weight. After a few questions, it turned out this woman doesn't sleep more than 4-5 hours every day. She comes home after a 10-hour-long day at work - and cooks, cleans, folds laundry, and checks her children's homework. Her husband, who works 14 hours every day, can't really help her much either. No wonder she can't get her weight under control - she hardly has time to eat, and she certainly doesn't have time to plan healthy and balanced meals!

So what was the advice this woman got? "Just let the house go. You can do everything during weekends. Why is it that a woman who works 10 hours every day comes home to take care of dirty floors and unwashed laundry?!"

I ask a different question: how come a wife and mother - and clearly a good, devoted wife and mother, who wants to take care of her family - has to work 10 hours outside the home every day? How come we are under the influence of the dangerous illusion that we must work ourselves to the border of exhaustion in order to "have it all together"?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Head scarves

Since there's only about a week left until the Big Day (yay!) - God willing, we are getting married on Tuesday next week - today I went to buy myself a couple of head coverings. At first I thought I would only buy one or two, since my dear chatan couldn't come with me and I certainly want to take his taste into consideration - but then I got a bit carried away and bought a variety of cute head scarves. Oh well, at least they aren't expensive. ;o) They are all made of cotton, very light and pleasant, so I think they won't add to the summer heat.

I also bought a kippa for my dear chatan, because I'm awfully behind on the one I started making for him some time ago, and there's no chance I'm going to complete it before the wedding - at least not when I'm so exhausted that I fall asleep immediately whenever I try to get hold of a crochet hook...

Yes, we are both absolutely wiped out. But this is the happiest sort of tiredness I've ever experienced.

Instructions for tying a head scarf can be seen here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A frustrated homemaker

Mrs. C, who contacted me by email, left the work force after many years of climbing up the career ladder to become a stay-at-home wife and mother. She now has a wonderful husband and two lovely children - but she finds it hard to adjust to her new lifestyle. Switching to one salary means that there is less spending money, and Mrs. C's home is very modestly furnished. Mrs. C is considering starting her own business, but wonders if it's a good idea with a small baby on her hands.

Mrs. C is delighted to have the opportunity to take care of her children, but at the same time she feels bored and lonely because her husband is busy working long hours, which leaves little time for him to pay attention to his wife's thoughts and needs. I also assume that the majority of Mrs. C's neighbours aren't stay-at-home moms - and thus have more time to spend doing activities without the children, something Mrs. C finds extremely difficult to arrange.

"I'm overweight and don't have time to go to the gym," - says Mrs. C, - "I don't spend time with my friends anymore. I'm neglecting my hobbies. I'm frustrated. I'm not good at all as a stay-at-home mother. What do I do?!"


Well hello there, dear Mrs. C, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important issue! Please keep in mind that my perspective is very limited, though, since I'm not a mother and I'm not even married yet - I'm a young, excited bride-to-be, thrilled with the thought of settling in our little home and making it a sweet and welcoming place for my dear new husband.

I'm so delighted with becoming the mistress and queen of our new home, however small and modest, that right now I can't imagine ever being bored with improving it and doing lovely things for my husband. Having limited financial resources only means I will have to be more creative. But this doesn't mean that a moment won't come when suddenly tiredness and frustration might challenge me. Maybe one hot afternoon, heavily pregnant, cleaning the floors or washing dishes, I'll let out a depressed sigh and think to myself - "I'm miles and miles away from the glamour of professional advancement my friends are living out. I'm not doing anything real with my life. What do I do?!"

I think that many people, when confronted with such a situation, would say - "Why, of course you're bored and unhappy! You're trapped in your home with no company but two small children you can't get off your hands. You aren't doing anything mentally challenging. You don't have time for yourself, and you don't have enough money to buy nice things which would fill your life and make you feel satisfied. Go out there, drop your children in daycare and get a job!"

... Go back to work. Sure, that's the easy, "obvious" solution. But it wasn't without a reason that you quit your career after so many years, was it? I'm sure you seriously considered everything when you made the switch from career woman to stay-at-home mother. You did that because you felt it was the right thing to do.

Why exactly? I don't know your situation well enough to answer that. Perhaps you felt God calls you, as a woman, to take care of your husband, children and home. Perhaps you felt it was more important to invest in what will last for eternity - the legacy of your family - than in temporary goods that could be bought with the income you would bring; or maybe your husband felt Mom is needed at home with her children. Maybe you felt pressured by the unbearable rhythm of career and longed for the peace and flexibility of a well-managed, orderly home. Maybe you and your husband even decided, after making the calculations, that your salary would be reduced to nothing or almost nothing, after considering gas, childcare and other work-related expenses.

Whatever were the initial reasons for your coming home, I believe you should take time to think about them all over again. Often the big decisions in our life become overshadowed by the endless flow of routine. Who knows, maybe after the n-th load of laundry I will forget for a moment that I'm making a haven for my husband. Maybe I'll pull my hair in frustration and exclaim, "there's nothing but dirty laundry in my life!"

Perhaps this is happening to you. Maybe when you were preparing to become a mother, you had a vision of your children growing happily at home, with Mom by their side. But after a long day of preparing meals, picking up and cleaning after your children, changing diapers and giving baths, you feel like wanting to get away.

You know it's said, "grass is always greener on the other side". Compare the frustrations you have now with the frustrations you would have if you hadn't left the workforce, for whatever reason. Imagine you would have to trust a stranger with your dear children's health, hearts and minds, every single day. Imagine you wouldn't have time to take care of your home. Maybe you would have had a bit more money to spend on furniture or decorations, but you wouldn't have time to enjoy them. As for spending time with your husband and communicating your needs - I don't think it's easier when both of you come back from work exhausted. By the way, this is something you might take into consideration when you think of starting your own business as well: working at home gives you flexibility, that's true, but talking from experience - it might steal quite a bit of your time, and you must think just how much you can give away at the moment.

I do believe you should find the time to have a calm and sincere conversation with your husband and let him know how you feel. Do it when you are both relaxed and unhurried, and without accusations ("You aren't meeting my needs!"). Let your husband know how much you appreciate everything he does to become a good provider for your family, and how much you value the blessed opportunity to be home for him and for your children. Tell him about your challenges - and how much you want to become happier in your noble vocation. Each one of you may give suggestions as to how make that happen. Perhaps just your husband's attention, understanding and appreciation would be enough to boost your confidence and give you a fresh shot of energy!

Consider the given situation (your husband's work schedule, your current financial resources, etc), and think of how you can work with it. If you haven't done that yet, start developing an orderly and efficient schedule for your household duties/taking care of the children/homeschooling - and it should also contain a window for your creative hobbies, however limited at first. Work on making a healthy, balanced menu for you and your family, and find creative ways to do your exercise without going to the gym (squatting several times when I have to mop, or lifting a light weight with my hand when I'm dusting with the other hand works for me!); browse second-hand shops or online sales for inexpensive items to decorate your home and make it more welcoming - or if you can't afford to spend anything at all right now, you can rearrange your furniture, pick some flowers, or dig out a centerpiece you haven't used in a while.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And remember that what you do is important; you are the heart of your home, and you are building it up, when every day you dedicate yourself to your husband and children over and over again.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Shabbat shalom

How are you, dear ones? I hope everyone are doing well. Things have been simply crazy around here in the last few days, and it seems that the tension is still building up, and will continue that way until the day of our wedding. It's hard to think about things other than the final fitting of my wedding dress; the decorations; the menu... and can you imagine that our home is still, well, empty. I mean completely! We just didn't have time to go out and buy things. We might have to kip on camp beds in the first day or two. ;o)

However, even in the midst of all the rush and craze, we do our best to find time to praise God for how abundantly He blessed us and how faithfully He has been guiding us through. I used to be worried about not "having it all together". Now I'm just concentrating on being thankful for everything I have.

This is just a friendly hello I'm sending your way, ladies *waves*. A lovely weekend to everyone and Shabbat shalom to all Beit Israel!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Friendly" disrespect

Today I will answer another interesting question from dear Margaret. Margaret describes the following situation: she has a male friend who believes all women are only after exploiting and taking advantage of men, and doesn't hesitate to say it out loud, together with expressing a disrespectful attitude towards women in general.

Margaret writes:

"For some time now, I have been reflecting on whether or not to bring the friendship to a close. Sometimes I feel that that would be too harsh an action to take, but on other occasions, I realise that he could be a bad influence, because he is always talking about how women are all liars, are all manipulative etc. My question is this: should I bring the friendship to a close, or keep it going, and practise ways of keeping the conversation away from these unpleasant subjects?"

Dear Margaret,

First, allow me to say I definitely share your concern. The situation you describe is disturbing, and I believe one question should be asked here in the first place: how wise is it really for a young lady to have a male friend? Please know I don't presume to say this is a black-and-white issue, or that I know the one and only definite answer. I'm just questioning something our culture marked as unquestionably obvious.

Neither am I saying that a young lady should never be friendly with a young man. When I see a male co-worker, I'll definitely stop by for a friendly conversation. But my own experience made me very cautious about being bosom friends with a young man. I know many would disagree with me, but I believe many such friendships are based on concealed attraction from at least one side, which can lead to an unhealthy situation.

What you describe sounds disturbing for another reason: it certainly seems as though this young man has a very unhealthy, disrespectful attitude towards women. Now this is something we might ask ourselves as well: why is it that an entire generation of young men are women-haters? I believe this is another devastating effect of our culture. It was drilled into men's heads that women don't need them, that women can get along just fine without men, and that it's better if no man stands in a woman's way to progress (as in, for example, marrying her, providing for her, and giving her children...). Is it any wonder that the noble, protective side of men's nature remains undeveloped?

I'm not saying that's an excuse to behave like this young man does. It really isn't enough to justify what he says about women. But I do believe it's interesting to take the time to think where such attitude is coming from.

The bottom line is: only you will decide, of course, whether to stay in touch with this young man or not. Nevertheless, I believe that the very fact you asked yourself (and me), means you find his attitude uncomfortable and disturbing (and rightly so!). It is, of course, possible to reason with him and most importantly, give a real life example of what a good woman should really be like. But first, I believe you should make it very clear that you will not tolerate this kind of behavior ("I will not hear comments that are disrespectful and derogatory towards women"). I think I would also suspend all contact until your friend learns to be respectful towards women.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Perfect?

A couple of days ago, I had a conversation with a friend who shared her thoughts about her relationship with her live-in boyfriend. They have been together for several years now, and are in general happy together. And now, my friend confessed, she is feeling pressured because she realizes it is time to make a decision – but she isn't quite sure he is "the perfect one".

She knows she doesn't want their relationship to drag on and on, without progressing towards marriage and family. She doesn't want to split up, either. Yet she hesitates, not knowing what she will do if her boyfriend proposes, terrified of lifetime commitment.

I think that's so terribly wrong with the way relationships "normally" work these days. Of course, I believe that having a physical relationship before you are married is wrong in the first place, but I'm not even talking about this right now.

Everything becomes a routine before a couple even reaches their honeymoon, before a true level of intimacy – the one that can only be found in marriage – is achieved. And then, disappointed, people move on to the next relationship, which proves to be just the same after some time goes by and the fireworks of novelty stop shooting into the air – the same, because there is still no real commitment, no stability and no dedication to a lifetime together.

Another friend asked me today whether I think my chatan is perfect. To which I responded that my very dear, sweet and much loved chatan, of course, has his flaws, just like me and like every other human being. I don't need perfection. I need someone who is good and right for me. Once we are married, it is a match made in heaven and we have a lifetime to develop our relationship and deepen our closeness and oneness.

People are chasing an impossible dream of "perfection", not realizing marriage isn't a ready-to-consume product you get the moment you meet your Prince Charming. True intimacy takes years and lots of hard work to develop. I don't think it depends on just how perfect and flawless your husband is. It's more in what both of you are willing to give.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

With wishes of a blessed and happy week

Yesterday it escaped my attention that 99% of those who visit this blog can't read Hebrew; and so, to satisfy the curiousity of those who asked, I'm translating the text of our invitation for you:

" Yet in the mountains of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem...

will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom.

We happily invite you to celebrate our wedding

Which will take place, Lord willing, on Tuesday

18-th of Adar Bet (March 25-th)

Yitzhak with his beloved, Anna

Please confirm your participation until March 18-th."

***
And some more clarifications:

*... A wedding cannot take place on the day of Shabbat. However, many couples decide to get married on Thursday, which is closer to weekend (most people don't work on Fridays). I don't remember exactly why we aren't getting married on Thursday, but there definitely was a reason. *smile*

**... We won't be going on a honeymoon in the traditional sense of the word, both because there are still so many things to arrange in our new home, and because expenses are kind of high right now. I don't mind, though. Just starting our new wonderful life together is an exciting journey in itself!

***... And no, it isn't "traditional" to hand in the invitations such a short time before the wedding. The ones we are sending by mail will probably reach the guests only a week before. It happened simply because of our very short engagement. I wouldn't want it any other way, though. :o)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Exciting updates

Dear ladies, I don't have too much time before Shabbat, but I just had to give you all a little update.

First, to those who have been worried about us after hearing about the recent terrible slaughter in Jerusalem: me, my family, my dear chatan and his family, and everyone we know, are all fine. May God's peace and faithful guidance be with the families of the innocent murdered children at this dark hour.

My wedding ring is ready; as required, it was bought by my dear chatan with his money, and will be kept in his possession until the chuppah.

Our invitations are ready as well (see a sample below; the blank spaces contain details which I removed for security reasons) and we already started giving them out. So I can finally reveal that the Big Day will be, God willing...

... 18-th Adar Bet, 5768

... a date which is known in the non-Jewish calendar this year as

March 25-th!!!
I wish everyone a wonderful weekend; a blessed and peaceful Shabbat to all house of Israel.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The trap of ambition - frustrated, exhausted, torn apart... no thank you!‏

Those of you who kindly visit me often probably remember that a few months ago, I started a professional training program in clinical nutrition, considering it less money- and time-consuming and more practical than continuing to MSc like my mother suggested at first. Some of you might have been wondering how it's all working out with our wedding plans and moving out and the general pre-wedding state which is a blur of action. So I decided to fill you in.

First, I must tell you that right from the start, it was much more of a strain than I thought it would be. Even before I met my dear chatan, I already saw how the few pleasant and interesting hours in the morning stretched well into the afternoon, forcing me to cut back on translation orders which have always provided a nice source of income. Of course ever since we started planning our wedding and house hunting, I didn't take any more orders.

Even as it was, I found that the best part of my day is occupied, leaving me with very little time to relax, slow down, enjoy the last weeks I have at home with my family, and spend peaceful time with my chatan, rather than rushing from errand to errand. Of course, when I started working here in the hospital, I had no idea that very soon I will meet my beloved and start planning my life together with him. Otherwise there's no way I would have decided to conform to this madness of rush! But as it is, since I'm already here, I figured I might as well finish the training program rather than just drop it and walk away.

I seriously started doubting the wisdom of this decision after the interview with my supervisors last week. Here's just a short summary of what I was told:

"We feel we don't have your full concentration. You aren't motivated enough. You aren't ambitious enough. You don't do enough study and research on your own. We don't see initiative on your part. You made a very promising impression at first, but now we believe you are neglecting your work!"

You think it escaped their attention that my wedding is scheduled approximately in three weeks? Not at all.

"We know you are getting married. It doesn't make any difference. While you are here we expect you to be fully concentrated on work. Just like we expect L. (L. is currently 7 months pregnant with her second child) to dedicate all of her attention to her work."

You could say, of course, that they could have been more sensitive regarding individual circumstances; I could have defended myself; I could have appealed to their consideration, telling them about our recent problems, our challenges, my sleep deprivation (which makes me act like a zombie most days)... but when I looked at them, I saw a pair of middle-aged career women, hardened by years and years of working two or even three shifts outside their home every day. Women who don't know what it's like to be relaxed and unhurried, able to give your all to those you love the most.

And I decided to remain silent.

It all comes, again and again, to the following: our time and energy aren't endless resources. When you have too much on your plate, something will undoubtedly suffer. And then you will have to make a choice: what will remain in its place of honor? What will have to move and make room for the truly important things in your life?

I already made my choice. After my relationship with God, preparing for marriage and being there for my future husband is my first priority. Had I decided to put the wedding off for a few weeks, and get married in April rather than March, after I have left the hospital, I would probably have had less clashes with my supervisors. But I wouldn't think of delaying the wonderful life I'm going to have (God willing) with my new husband - not even for one day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A lovely idea

Hope chests aren't a Jewish custom, as far as I know, but I must say I simply love this idea of planning, thinking and preparing for your future marriage. A hope chest is a wonderful symbol of that.

If only more parents cared for their young daughters to be marriage-minded from the start, rather than carelessly allow them to get hurt again and again in a series of casual relationships! A hope chest can be such a wonderful source for romantic dreams...

***

Yesterday I had another appointment with the seamstress. Now I feel as though I can already see what the final result will look like, and I'm so excited! You won't believe how difficult it is to find a simple, modest and elegant wedding dress. I'm so glad I have the opportunity to custom-make it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

When Mom challenges modesty

Today I will try to answer another question from dear Margaret. This young lady's mother insists that Margaret should wear a skirt which Margaret finds just a bit too short to feel entirely comfortable in. Margaret's mother isn't pleased with that at all, and it seems as though a conflict is about to arise. What should Margaret do?


Dear Margaret,

I have been in the same situation before - having a skirt which is lovely but a tad too short, and not knowing what to do with it. Normally I do one of the following:

1. Sew a small addition onto the bottom of the skirt, for example a wide strip of lace or another ornament which makes the skirt a bit longer, and adds a softer and more feminine look at the same time. Of course this option can work only if you have the skill, time and energy to do it, and if it doesn't clash with the style of your skirt.

2. I might also wear two skirts, one on top of another, for an interesting, hip look. Again, this doesn't work with every style of skirt, but mostly with flowing, feminine fabrics. Some wear pants underneath skirts, but this isn't my style.

3. Don't forget that modesty is also a matter of height and size. I have a friend who is shorter and thinner, and skirts that are too short and tight on me look very modest and pretty on her. If you have a friend who could "borrow" your skirt for an extended period of time and feel comfortable wearing it, it might be an option for you as well.

Whatever you decide, I think you shouldn't confront your mother directly. Be gentle and respectful, and know that what seems natural and right to you might seem strange and extreme to other people, even someone as close to you as your mother. I have experienced that, too (even with choosing the style for my wedding dress!). The solution here isn't found in arguing, but in a sweet, tender heart which is seeking to please the Lord in whatever you do.

Blessings to you, and the best of luck!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A blur of preparations for a season of joy

This is the wedding ring which is currently being made for me, only in yellow gold. At first I said I want a very plain and simple wedding band, but this one looked so pretty and special that we decided to go for it. An additional bonus is that it is handmade by someone observant, so we can be certain it won't be made during Shabbat.

For those of you who asked, the wedding I attended on Thursday was absolutely stunning. I was so excited for the young couple, an excitement that was strengthened by the thought that soon it will be our turn to stand under the chupppah and be united in marriage. Our wedding will probably be more modest, with less guests and less fancy food and drinks, and no fireworks, etc... but I don't mind at all. I know it will be a very dear and special day no matter what the outward details look like.

Actually for someone shy like me, it could have been very comfortable to have a super simple wedding ceremony, with only family and closest friends invited, but that's rarely an option with Israeli Jewish weddings. Extended families tend to be big, and our number of approximately 150 guests is considered a small and intimate circle.

I hope everyone had/are having a lovely weekend. Shabbat was beautiful and relaxing, especially in contrast with the mad rush of every week that passes by. Around here, you can already feel that spring is in the air. The air is warmer and sweeter with every day, and it feels like it's hardly going to rain until next winter.

Dear ones, there is so much I would love to talk about; so many interesting articles to review; so many questions to answer. However, at this moment I have only wedding plans on my mind - as I'm sure you understand, with the Big Day looming closer and closer (I do hope I can reveal the date soon enough... ;)). It was lovely to pop in for a little hello. A wonderful day to all of you!