I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.
I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
Celebrating a Festival Jesus Celebrated this Christmas Season
Never in my wildest dreams did I think our family would celebrate Hanukkah! Would you? I grew up enjoying everything Christmas and never gave Hanukkah a second thought. It was a Jewish holiday and so it didn’t fit, or so I thought!
I’m actually really ashamed to admit that all I ever knew about Hanukkah was that it had to do with lighting candles, a weird top called a dreidel, and it was filled “eight crazy nights” according to Adam Sandler. Yes, sad that most of my knowledge came from this song!
But what I found is that Hanukkah is really all about celebrating God’s miraculous ways and sharing it with each generation.
Then I learned that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah.
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.
John 10:22 (New Living Translation)
What!?! Did you know that? I swear I’ve read that passage a million times and never realized Jesus was ever involved in Hanukkah, not until I learned another name for it was the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Dedication. It’s also known as the Festival of Lights, Chanukah, and Chanukiah. It’s amazing once I started to learn about Jewish history and customs how the New Testament came alive even more, but that’s another post.
Once I learned these facts, my family and I couldn’t wait to celebrate Hanukkah. We love celebrating our Lord and Savior and couldn’t believe that Jesus celebrated it too!
When we started celebrating Hanukkah, our children were 6, 5, 3, and just over 1. I did not know what to expect from them but wanted them to be involved so we found a short book called The Story of Hanukkahto read about the history of what led up to the re-dedication of the temple and why it is celebrated.
If you don’t have time to get this book, here are some great videos to show that give a good explanation.
In a nutshell, the Israelites were under Greek rule. Under Antiochus III, they were allowed to worship God as they always had and lived in peace, but once he died and his son Antiochus IV took over, things changed for the worse. The Israelites were forbidden to worship their God upon penalty of death. The holy books were destroyed and the Israelites were commanded to worship the Greek gods that had been placed in the confiscated temple! Can you imagine!?!
An old priest named Mattathias led the people in a revolt, which turned into a war. Even when he died, his sons–especially one in particular named Judah–carried on the fight for religious freedom and miraculously thwarted the great Greek army. Judah was nicknamed Maccabee, meaning hammer, and all those who fought with him were referred to as the Maccabees.
But that wasn’t the only miracle. Once the Israelites won the battle against the Greeks, they returned and started to restore the temple. They rededicated the temple to God and lit the Menorah. As commanded by Moses, once lit it was never supposed to be allowed to go out. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it turned out they only had enough olive oil for one night and the process to make more would take at least eight days. Even though they only had enough oil for one night, God kept the Menorah lit those entire eight days and nights! So every year since then, Jews have celebrated this miracle.
The symbolism to Christ in Hanukkah
The Shamash Candle means The Servant Candle.
The Servant Candle is the one that lights all the other candles. This is the perfect parallel to Christ. He is the light of the world and calls us to shine his light too! We get our light from him!
When and How We Celebrate Hanukkah!
The Hanukkah celebration starts every year on the 25th of Kislev, which is a different time every year on our calendar. In 2018, it begins on the evening of December 2nd and will end on the evening of December 10th. Isn’t that exciting! We can literally kickoff this Holiday season by celebrating a festival that Jesus, himself, celebrated! I’m ecstatic!
This is how we added Hanukkah to our Christmas routine very simply. (Hint: It’s not overwhelming but one of the most peaceful things we have every done.)
After dancing and laughing to this song a few times, we would turn off the lights and light the servant candle. Then depending on the day we would light the corresponding number of candles, letting the kids take turns lighting the candles. (The first day, we lit one candle. The second day, we lit two, and so on.) As we lit the candles we recited the blessing then talked about how Jesus is the light of the world and we are called to be his lights too.
After lighting the candles, the first couple of nights we read through the book mentioned above, then prayed and sang some songs.
The following nights we asked the kids why we were celebrating Hanukkah and reviewed the story, then we would talk about some of our favorite miracles from the Bible and even the miracles our Lord has done in our own lives. We usually spent about an hour together focusing this way on God’s goodness, singing, and worshiping together.
It was one of the most peaceful, relaxing, joyful times we have had during the Christmas season! This year, when I pulled out the menorah, our children asked if they could light the candles immediately! I was thrilled!
Over the years we added a few more fun things, but didn’t want to miss the focus.
(This post contains affiliate links.)
For dinner together, we have tried some of the fried foods, which are the typical celebratory foods. They eat a lot of foods fried in olive oil to commemorate how long the olive oil lasted.
Here are a few recipes:
Latkes (fried hash brown pancakes) And just in case you need some inspiration in song form check out this video!
During our play time, we also play spin the dreidel.
We could add a lot of extras in there. Pinterest is full of ideas, but truly, I loved how we focused on God’s miraculous ways. We didn’t get overwhelmed by adding one more thing to our already packed schedule. Like I mentioned before, it was actually the perfect resting time…by celebrating Hanukkah we were resting and basking in God’s goodness. What could be better than that during a season where we are wanting to focus all our attention on the miracle of Christ?
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Six years ago, a few minutes after we ate lunch my husband started getting an upset stomach, hives, itchy eyes, and his throat started swelling shut. He was having an allergic reaction to something he had eaten. I drove him very quickly to the emergency room. By the time we arrived, he was unrecognizable from the swelling. They quickly went to work to stop the reaction. We answered all of their questions about what he had eaten and that he had no known food or drug allergies.
After several hours of treatment, we were told to keep a food diary, try food elimination, follow up with our primary care physician, and return to the emergency room if he had another reaction. And so began our journey to a miracle.
He did not have another reaction for several months. Suddenly, we were on our way to the emergency room again. Food elimination did not show anything. There had been nothing new added to his diet either time.
We once again followed up with our physician and he decided to do a lab test to check for common food allergies (IgE). He was tested for around 20 different foods. A few days later we were called with the results that he was allergic to gluten, not just wheat. Gluten occurs in many grains. Ironically, the call came as I was putting spaghetti on the table for dinner.
Living the Gluten Free Life
He started on a gluten free diet but was so sensitive to gluten that the smallest amount of cross contamination would send him to the emergency room. His sensitivity was so acute that after drinking iced tea from a pitcher that had previously been washed with a sponge, which had also been used to clean out a wheat-flour based batter, he ended up in the emergency room. This was the third and worst reaction yet.
He was so sensitive that he ended up in the emergency room after drinking iced tea that had been in a pitcher, which had been washed with a sponge, which had also been used to wash out a bowl that contained a wheat-flour based batter in it.
Through the years, we got more careful and there were fewer trips to the emergency room. We removed all gluten based flours/powders from our home. I mostly quit baking. All “regular” desserts and baked goods were now store bought. We still had pasta but it had to be prepared in pots and pans that I bought specifically for our children and me to use for “gluten foods”.
We even had a counter in the kitchen designated for gluten. Even everyday condiments could not be “contaminated”. There was no spreading peanut butter and jelly on regular bread and then putting the knife back in the jar to get more out. There were even certain items that we had one for my husband and one for the rest of us. We would put an “X” on the lid so that he knew he could not eat it. Even eating out was difficult because so many people did not understand that it was not celiac but anaphylaxis. We went to the emergency room after one such incident.
One Year Before the Miracle
About a year ago, I started investigating food allergy desensitization. Unfortunately at the time, the closest facility that treated wheat was three hours away and the treatments are bi-weekly. This was just not feasible. I kept googling every few months and finally found a clinic a little over an hour away but they were building another office 30 minutes from us. Just after they opened, I called and they agreed to see my husband.
At our first appointment, we were seen by a Physician’s Assistant (PA), who did not give us much hope. We were told, he would probably not be a good candidate because of his history of a heart attack. The best that they could do was make it to where cross contamination would not send him to the hospital. After receiving his medical records, she also ordered a long list of blood work and scheduled a meeting with an allergist.
When we returned for his follow-up, we were told that the only lab that was abnormal, other than his IgE level for gluten, was his Vitamin D level. It was almost non-existent. This “could” lower a person’s immune response and make an allergic reaction more severe. He was prescribed a Vitamin D supplement and scheduled for a monitored “food challenge” test.
My Prayers Changed
I don’t subscribe to prosperity theology. But, I do believe that God answers our prayers and gives us the desires of our heart.
Before his first appointment I had already been praying. Of course, I had been praying for years, but my prayers changed at this point. I earnestly began to pray for healing. I KNEW God was going to heal him. I was claiming healing and I refused to believe otherwise. I would talk about each doctor’s visit and test and where we would eat WHEN he was healed, NOT IF!
My husband started to believe also, but he was nervous.
Almost exactly six years after this ordeal began, we went for his food challenge test. We bought the softest, most wonderful loaf of multigrain bread for this test.
We were taken into a room marked “Emergency Room” along with several syringes of all the medications he would need for any allergic reaction. He was brought a carefully weighed out bite of bread to start. My husband told her that if anything was going to happen, he would start having symptoms within ten minutes. She chit-chatted with us for about fifteen minutes and left the room with the instruction to let her know if we needed anything.
This continued every 30 minutes in increasing doses followed by vital signs until he ate an entire slice…with no reaction.
The PA that administered the test was surprised and at a loss as to what happened. I told her it was a miracle! His IgE level still shows that he has an allergy to gluten. The only slight explanation she has is the Vitamin D level. But, we know that it was all God.
We are slowly returning to a normal life as per the PA’s instructions. As of this writing, he has eaten donuts, pizza, and biscuits. Every “new food” is an exciting experience.
We can now accept dinner invitations without hesitation or bringing food for him. Vacations will be less stressful.
This has been life-changing! It will take us some time to quit doing some of the “odd” things we had to do before to prevent cross-contamination. We do not know why God has chosen him for this miracle at this time. But, we do know that God has given us a true miracle!
Have you experienced a miracle?
FREE "Gifts from God" 5 Minute Devotional Ebook
It contains 10 devotionals with thoughts & prayer pages, Bible Journaling pages & Memory Verse Cards.
You have Successfully subscribed! Check your email for your encouraging Ebook.
You will be signed up to Creating a Great Day. We promise not to spam or sell your email. It's all about encouraging you!