Passover Song Tutorials

The songs of the Passover seder are near and dear to my heart. They remind me of lighter times. Our Passover seders typified everything I loved best about my family, before everyone and everything became complicated. No matter what happened around them (and I could tell you ten thousand stories involving everything from jello to Spice Girls to shovels to prove that point), we pulled together for the seder. We sang with reckless abandon, we banged our hands til they hurt and we smiled with mirth beyond our fourth cup.

For a while I’ve wanted to teach others to sing the Passover songs the way I sang them. Ironically, I’m doing it now when I am still not in my own home and cannot have my own seder and have moved away from the Messianic community in Sacramento who I really wanted to teach. Nonetheless, my mother asked me to sing through a few of them for her to practice and I took the opportunity to make these video tutorials.

If you prefer Facebook, you can also find them on my page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/GittelFrumaMusic/videos/

May they be a blessing to you and yours. L’shana haba’a b’Yirushalayim!

The Coming King: Time To Move Out

You may never have heard of the mythical album project I have been compiling for the last ten years. That may be because I am also hard at work on the book, finishing what feels like the hundredth revision. Constancy would not be the most applicable adjective here because I can’t seem to consistently work on it or tell anyone about it. Fun fact about thoughts in your head: Other people can’t hear them.

I could tell you a long story about California, Minnesota and Florida which involves a great deal of house-hopping, hopeful waiting and harried striving, but let’s skip all of that and stay in the present.

After a great deal of thought followed by a sudden epiphany, I am going back to the very beginning. As Julie Andrews sang, it’s a very good place to start. Ok, I lied, I’m going back to the past after all.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved singing. She had long, brown hair that would sometimes billow in the wind on the playground while she belted Disney songs at the top of her lungs from the jungle gym. The rabbi’s daughter used to call her Pocahontas, although she always fancied herself more of a Belle. “Madame Gaston, can’t you just see it?”

Every Saturday at the Chabad synagogue, she would sit on the women’s side of the sanctuary and sing the Hebrew prayers. She listened to how her mother would weave her voice through the low hum of the men and try to follow. After her parents’ divorce, she found herself alone in the women’s section and, as a girl over twelve years old, men were not permitted to hear her voice unless she was singing with them. She continued singing her mother’s harmonies and explored new ones.

In high school, while everyone else was obsessed with the latest hits, she preferred jazz and skilled lyricists. She read Chaucer and Gone With the Wind from the front row of her chemistry class until the teacher started lecturing. He told her she could pull up her grade if she read her textbook as much as she read Margaret Mitchell. She didn’t. It was the only C she earned in high school.

She never took chorus, opting instead for the clarinet and drama. After graduating her masters program, she taught herself how to play the piano. She played well enough to record melodies and write chords to the songs she wrote, but she felt clumsy in comparison to when she sang. Like the painter whose unskilled hand cannot translate his mind’s eye to his canvas, I could hear the arrangements in my head, but could not reproduce them on the keys.

While I have not given up hope that a team could come together in Florida, I have decided not to let their current absence be an impediment. Since it all started with my voice, that’s what I’m going back to. I never intended for the LONG awaited EP to be completely vocal, but that is what it will be. Someday, I will find musicians who are as excited about this music and, more importantly, the message, as I am. Until then, I am hard at work. More to come soon. For real this time.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19 NIV

The Revolving Door And The Open One

The last few years of my life have been a weary wandering. Suddenly, every blog or devotional I come across is speaking about waiting. I’m finally moving fast enough to hear. I’ve broken the sound barrier, but on this side of the noise, God’s the only One left to listen to. Physical barriers don’t apply to Him. He is without limit. I am painfully aware I am not.

I’ve always been drawn to the idea of God opening doors. It’s a Biblical concept, not just a trite platitude. We’ve all heard it at one time or another, usually when we’re least disposed to the idea, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

God created us to be creatures of change, as much as we sometimes fight it. We are wired to seek novelty. There are times and seasons in our lives. Beyond our natural desire for the different, God uses these variations in momentum to prepare us for what’s next. When a “door opens,” when an opportunity presents itself, we should be ready to walk through it if we have been sensitive to God’s direction leading up to it.

I have been somewhat fixated on these doors, of late. To my dismay, all the doors I thought I walked through seem to have spit me back out. Just when I felt the high of progress rising, I found myself where I’d started. Every door I walk through seems to be a revolving one, programmed to take me on a delightful merry-go-round of imagination and preparation, only to drop me back off at its entrance. Hope deferred stops my inertia dead in its tracks and I cannot maintain even a slow forward motion.

I am not one to shake a fist at God, but I am not afraid to bow my head in surrender and ask why. Why, God, can I not move forward? What am I missing? Where am I looking away from you? How can I move toward the plans and purposes You have ordained for my life? When am I to move?

Absurdly, the phrase that has assailed me this season is “be still,” in all of its Biblical forms.

God says Be Still…

The Lord will fight for you. (Exodus 14:14)

Wait patiently and fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way. (Psalm 37:7)

Know that I am God and I will be exalted. (Psalm 46:10)

Jesus awoke, rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace.” The wind ceased and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:39)

The more I despair over how I’ve failed God, He’s been speaking to me about rest. He’s been whispering to me, “Be still, child.” As a woman who searches for answers and seeks wisdom, this paradox threatens to drive me mad. Riding shotgun on this trip of existential uncertainty is the voice of doubt shouting, “You must have walked through the wrong door! You must have missed your chance!”

Yet, I’ve stumbled upon the most liberating plot twist in my series of unfortunate thoughts.

In all my searching for the correct door, I imagined a stage of life on the other side. The door I thought I was seeking held my steps on the other side. I had never considered the door would not lead to an earthly place.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)

I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Revelations 3:8-9)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelations 3:20)

Isn’t that what I’ve been looking for? What I’ve been told to find? Rest. Stillness. Pasture. But what use is a pasture without one to guide and protect the sheep? A great field is an open trap for wolves and bears to strike the sheep. Without safety, there is no rest. A fearful mind and an anxious heart are a recipe for misery.

Yet, Jesus is both the door and what lays behind it. The Holy Spirit binds me up and leads me where I need to go. He is the final destination, so why should I be surprised that He is my earthly destination as well? I have little strength and thin resolve, but He does not expect me to do more than open the door. He knocks, I open. Simple.

Stop looking for the door to your success. Still your restless ambitions. Halt your heavy steps. Seek the Holy Spirit and the door will be open. He Who holds the key of David opens the door that no one can shut.

For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:10-11)

Rest from your works, child of God. Listen for The Spirit of Jesus Christ to give you life, direction and wisdom. In doing His work, we rest from ours and find rest in obedience. Don’t be afraid of where He calls you. Rest in Him. Know that He will exalt Himself. Know that the wind will cease and calm will come.

Be still.

The Post of the Resurrection

In the room across from the one in which I sit lies a sick child whimpering in his sleep. I had an agenda this morning which did not include organizing my room and wiping a runny nose all day long, but the space demanded arrangement and my son was too sick to go to preschool on his third day. Life is often rife with intrusive spontaneity, especially as of late.

This little ship called life is being rocked by one of the most turbulent storms I’ve ever weathered. Its persistent waves are teaching me the limits of my innate stubbornness and my acute desperation for the strength of the Holy Spirit. My husband is 1500 miles and 8 states away from me, working day and night through his own tempest. This is not the first time our vessels have been so far apart, but it feels farther than it did last time. A couple of months ago, this saga hit the two-year mark on a date so conspicuous that no one marked its passing besides me. I celebrated it with the comfort that things might soon stabilize and the days of being gypsies would be over, at least for a while. We were so stagnant for so long, stuck in the apartment where God taught me gratitude for 8 years, and now we can’t seem to find a place to rest our heads.

This time has been marked by an acceptance of things I did not ask for while God uses them to equip me for that which I did ask. It would be ironic were He not so faithful and so truly gentle. Concurrently, within this onslaught rages the deathless battle between the rational evaluation of my finite existence and my abject emotional wallowing. I know more about the inside of my head than I ever wanted to and, let me tell you, it’s not a space I was formerly unfamiliar with. The cynic within me rises up to begin a protracted commentary about the life of a self-aware Believer and is swiftly quelled. Let us not indulge that sort of martyrdom in the middle of this blog.

Why now? This is the overarching existential question du jour. Why is now the time? Why is now the time to chase after my dreams and work for their realization? Why is now the time to march around Jericho? Why is now the time to follow Elijah on one more errand? Lord, I am tired. Lord, you see my crazy life. Lord, how on earth is that supposed to happen right now? Why is now the time?

On few occasions do I ask the Lord, “Why?” It’s not a common question in my arsenal. I find it both irrelevant and presumptuous. To ask the question assumes I merit and would understand the answer. God owes me nothing and His answer would likely be beyond my comprehension. And in this particular instance, the question itself is redundant because the answer is obvious. Why now?

Now is all we have. If not now, when? Promises are realized in the now. Dreams are pursued in the present. The past has only lessons to be learned and every future we get in this life is a gift. Nothing is guaranteed except your chosen destination. I will be with Christ, I have chosen Him, but my reward is being constructed in heaven as I work here. I do not work for my reward, I work for my God, yet my reality in heaven is more concrete than that before my eyes.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a wicked heart of unbelief that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end the assurance we had at first.  – Hebrews 3:12-14

Unbelief is a sneaky beast. I could not honestly deny belief in Christ, although the enemy sometimes prowls the outskirts of my mind. But, if I took my eyes off Jesus, he would quietly unravel my faith in the plans of God for my life. He can’t take my salvation, but he would settle for my purpose.

So, here I take up the banner once more. Here I say, “I believe in what You said to me.” Here I take the first step. The road seems no shorter, but in faith, I am one step closer. I have to start somewhere, so I am starting with this blog. I have recording to finish. I have copyrighting to complete. I have musicians to find. I have provisions to wait on. This blog has been dead since last year, but I plant here the post of the resurrection.

Why now? Because it is called today.

Free to Worship by the Rocket’s Red Glare

Good evening, fellow Americans. Tonight, we are free. I can say, with complete and heartfelt gratitude, thank you, God for allowing me to live in this country. I have to tell you, sometimes I wonder why God gave me the privilege of living here. The United States in a truly amazing place.

My son has never seen fireworks before tonight. He heard the noise that reminded him of thunder and, not wanting him to be afraid, I stood with him by the window so he could see them. They really are beautiful. My hard-working compatriots bought them with their hard-earned money to celebrate the country where they live. I have seen my neighbors. At least half of them are immigrants, as are my in-laws. I have traveled little in my life, but I visited my husband’s homeland, Brazil, last year. I can tell you, this country is amazing. There are very wealthy people in other parts of the world who, with all of their money, cannot enjoy the same conveniences we do here. And by we, I mean the working middle class.

I asked him, “Do you know why there are fireworks tonight?” He answered confidently, “I don’t know.” I smiled and thought about my reply. How do you explain to a three year-old what independence means? We thank God every night for our food, our water, our house, our family, our Church, but not often for our country. Then, it hit me. That’s it.

“We are celebrating because we are free. We are free to worship God here where we live. We are free to celebrate Him.” My son’s face lit up as a whistling comet burst into green twinkling stardust. “We can celebrate God!” Yes, my son, we can. We are free.

There are a lot of people who do not appreciate the freedom we experience in this country. For many years, I did not fully appreciate it. I heard stories about Jews who hid in basements and attics to live and how our people once held secret services so our heritage would not be found out, but somehow it did not click that I did not experience that because I lived in America. I had thought everyone was free. Freedom was a gift of the present age, rather than my present location.

Today, Christians are murdered in every conceivable way you can imagine. They are not killed in secret, but in public squares. Their bodies are not given back to the ground, but left in dishonor on the streets, so the populace will remember the reality in which they live – they are not free. I use Christians as an example, but I acknowledge there are many other groups of people who will go to sleep tonight in fear for their lives, with no hope that their governments will give them solace.

You can say a great many things about the wrongs this country has committed. You are free to say as many of them as you wish because someone died to give you that right. Tonight, as I write this post by the light of the rocket’s red glare, there are men and women all over the world, on the ground, underground, on the sea, in the air, who wear a uniform and fight for my freedom. Sadly, disgracefully, many of my countrymen malign them even for making the decision to put the uniform on in the first place, but I thank God for them. I am ashamed to say I do not often think to pray for the military that keeps me safe or their families who sacrifice, not just lives and limbs of their loved ones, but time away from family members, sleep while others lay with their loved ones beside them, and peace of mind knowing their loved one is out of harm’s way.  May God bless you and your families – truly, may God bless each and every one of you who served, serves and will serve. You give me this gift of freedom that can never be paid for. You pay for it so I can have it for free.

It’s loud tonight. I pity the dog. But it’s safe. I have never been so proud to hear so much noise outside. I’m surprised at myself because I am normally quite miffed about noise late at night. Maybe this is God’s gift to me on this Independence Day. Gratitude is a gift. I thank God that what I hear are fireworks and not gunfire coming for my village. I thank God that the rocket’s red glare tonight is a firework and not a missile. I thank God tonight that, while I have it, I can enjoy freedom.

The future is uncertain. Nothing is promised. Tonight, your soul may be required of you. Let us thank God that we are here. Let us ask Him to bless our country and give our leaders wisdom, for this is what God has charged us to do in the land where we sojourn. Let us show gratitude to God for allowing this to be the country in which we live.

Thank you, God, for this, my country. God bless America.

Photo credit: http://www.unsplash.com – Ryan Wong

Kill the flesh – kill it stone dead!

I just finished creating the “Official” (oh, the irony) Facebook page for my music. I know God has been leading me on this journey and I have been praying for wisdom because I am not interested in doing anything, at this point, unless I am really, 100% about giving glory to God. However, I am finding self-promotion to be very anxiety provoking.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16

This world is what it is. Yeshua didn’t send us into an “already changed” world, so to speak. He had entered it, so the world was irrevocably changed – Glory be to God! – but the world did not yet know it. When He sent out the 12 disciples, He gave them material instructions about what (not) to bring and where to go. He also warned them of the coming persecution and, in doing so, gave the above warning.

We are called to preach the Gospel of Jesus’ death, resurrection and salvation by any means necessary. Our lives are the greatest tools we have by which to preach this message – i.e. not just the words that come out of our mouths (although I don’t know how people who love Yeshua can help but talk about Him all day long), but with our actions. Wisdom governs actions. Actions are the physical, tangible, observable proof of our faith. They do not save us, but they do speak.

The Holy Spirit started speaking to me about recording my music about a year ago. My son was about to turn a year old. I had always wanted to record an album – since way before I was saved – but since I had been saved, it had seemed like a really self-serving thing to do. I say this realizing the spectacular paradox I create for myself by saying it because, while I feeling self-aggrandizing for promoting the music I have written to worship and praise God, I am also HUGELY blessed and exhorted by the music that others have written to worship and praise God.

I thank God for artists like Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Fernandinho, Kari Jobe, Aline Barros, Cassiane, a million others I won’t list, all of whom have profoundly moved me with their words and brought me into a place of intimacy with God. These are the well-known examples, but I’ve known others like Josh Rubinstein and Aaron Taylor, who have written songs that moved me and haven’t recorded anything (yet). I still feel really “look at me! look at me!” while I am doing this. I’m sure it is a smoke screen of the enemy, because I don’t think other people are coming from that place. Maybe, I’m having a total Paul moment: I just know my own heart and, man, it is dark in there. Chiefest of sinners, here I am.

Since God started speaking to me about this, I started writing songs again. There have been few times in my life when I’ve written because I wanted to write. The words just comes from somewhere and I need to get them out, so I write a song. They come when I’m doing dishes or supposed to be making dinner or vacuuming the floor, because this is my life now. After my son came down with a crazy immune condition, I pressed more into the Holy Spirit than ever before. The reality that the Breath of God is lifeblood to this mortal flesh came crashing down upon me. Then, God started speaking to me about the novel, Taking Form. I proceeded to write the first draft in three months… with an eighteen month old… It was completely God.

I believe that there is power in our testimonies (Revelation 12:11) and in the corporate worship of our Creator (entire book of Acts…). Yet, to tell my testimony and to lead others in worship requires a bit of “self-promotion.” I can’t sit on a pew at Church or stand in line at a supermarket or talk with relatives at a family reunion and expect the Holy Spirit to do all the work for me. The Bible says that He will give me the words (Luke 12:12), but it doesn’t say He will speak them for me. Don’t get me wrong – He can – but He put us here to be His witnesses, not to stare at people willing the Spirit to share our testimony through a word of knowledge. Now, comes the part where wisdom steps in.

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise.” – Proverbs 11:30

There is wisdom involved in the giving of a testimony. Jesus said to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” We need to act in a way that shows us to be “living epistles” (1 Cor. 3:1-3). We should not live our lives with the appearance of evil and we should exalt God above ourselves at all times because we are nothing. This was Paul’s greatest boast – that above all, He endured all things to bring glory to God and preach the Gospel (2 Cor. 11, 12).

We need to realize that our lives are being constantly examined by those around us. Everything we do as believers in Yeshua is scrutinized. And yet – in a the glorious upsidedownness – we are to live with the fear of God, not the fear of man. Providentially, it is the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Wisdom is what is to guide us in our testifying as disciples of Yeshua and there is no lack of it for those who ask (James 1:5).

I find myself here in this bizarre disparity of wanting to shout from the rooftops that YESHUA IS LORD OF ALL AND THE ONLY MEANS BY WHICH MEN ARE SAVED, and yet, I want to stop drawing attention to myself as if I’m this great someone. I assure you, I am not. This is another upsidedownness of the Kingdom in which we find ourselves citizens.

The solution to this seeming contradiction is to kill the flesh.

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” – Romans 8:12-14

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.” – Colossians 3:3-10

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:19-26

We renew our minds in the Word of God – both His Bible and the Words that the Spirit speaks individually to us. Thus, we crucify the flesh and become more like Him. It’s not the other way around. You don’t get your life right and then start listening to the Holy Spirit. You come as you are and humbly recognize your inability to renew yourself, and He renews you as you walk with Him. Slowly, as you are sanctified, you become more like the new self, more like Jesus, and the things of the flesh are choked by His Holiness in your life. You have to want Him more than “the new self”, more than “doing the right thing”, more than you want anything else, and He will do the work as you surrender.

The longer I walk with God, the more I see of myself and, frankly, the less I like it. I had an epiphany in September that truly revealed such depths of my wretched heart, I wanted to eject myself from my own presence. So, as believers, we endeavor to walk with humility and ensure that the Light of Yeshua is the greatest brilliance about us.

Giving glory to God is not an afterthought or a way of exalting ourselves because we know the Truth – it is the only way we can truly walk with the Spirit. To glorify the Father and His Risen Son is to welcome the Holy Spirit’s Presence, in Whose wisdom we are to continually walk and in Whose friendship we are meant to live. To call Him a friend does not denote casual camaraderie or indicate a debasing of His Holiness so He may come down to our level. Rather, it indicates the awesome gravity of Yeshua’s sacrifice, that it gives us the ability to approach and commune with God without us being consumed by His wrath. We can see God face to face and live.

As I draw nearer to Him, my prayer becomes ever more fervent. Please, Lord, help me to daily crucify my flesh. I so desire to know you and love you. I yearn to shed this cumbersome mortality and live only in Your Presence. There is nothing in this life that I want more than I want you. So, Lord, I pray – with every fiber of my broken being – kill my flesh, Lord. Kill it stone dead.