The Joys & Challenges of Jerusalem | Faith

Here’s where the dead things come back to living
I feel my heart beating again
Feels so good to know You are my friend
-Communion, Maverick City Music

My dear friends,

It’s been too long since I’ve written. I say that nearly every time I post anymore, but it’s true. I want to be more consistent with it than I am, and I hope to write more this year.

Since I last wrote, I left my job at Vineyard Cincinnati and moved back to Jerusalem. The story of returning is a long journey on its own, but that’s a story for another time. Being back has been wonderful in so many ways, but it’s also been so incredibly challenging. Challenging in a much different, holier way (thank God for that), but still something I wasn’t prepared for.

Emotionally, I knew the return would be difficult. I was expecting this season to be a time of healing from multiple past friendships/relationships, and that certainly has happened. There’s been a lot of redemption and restoration that’s happened – places that once brought me bad memories I can and have now filled with new memories. I’ve had moments where I’ve gone to certain places around the city and prayed for God to redeem that area, and He has. I’ve run into people I tried hard to avoid, and it led to more healing. I’ve had scary encounters with a crazy neighbor (which have since been resolved). I’ve had moments where I erupted in tears while simply texting a friend and end up crying for an hour. I’ve struggled HARD with certain friendships I thought would be easy and lifegiving that just haven’t turned out how I’d hoped. I’ve felt more alone and lonely than I ever have before in my life (can any other enneagram 3s out there relate?!). I’ve spent multiple nights parading around my apartment, anointing the doors and windows and rebuking the devil.

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Some friends & I at a cookbook photoshoot at my studio apartment

Physically, I’ve struggled with debilitating constant back, knee, and feet pain since the moment I announced I was returning to Jerusalem (January 2019). That’s led to weight gain and an inability to be active, which has led to me being unable to run the Jerusalem Marathon or hike the Jesus Trail. I also nearly had a bunch of my stuff stolen when I was moving into my current apartment. Financially, I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make it here. Every day I wonder how I’ll be able to stay for the two years I initially felt called to fulfill. I just don’t have it. It doesn’t make sense, but daily I depend and trust in God to provide. And to be totally honest with you, recently I struggle to find the joy of living here that I had for the first 5 months or so.

And yet.

God is so, so good. He has grown me so much in the short 8 months I’ve been back, and I’m so thankful for it. There IS joy and abundant blessing, although some days I struggle to see it. I’ve started a jar of thankfulness that I keep on my desk, and whenever something happens I’m thankful for, I write it on a Post-It note and throw it in my jar. So today, I choose to be thankful for the blessings God has given me in these past 8 months. I’m sharing some below.

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Hiking at Timna National Park

THANKFUL FOR…

// the gift of a photographer friend willing to help me accomplish a lifelong goal of becoming an author and co-creating a cookbook with me. Thank you, Jenna – forever grateful for you and your friendship.

// a friend who donated funds for me to visit my chiropractor 3 more times after falling on the way to work and reinjuring my knees & back. Thank you, you know who you are.

// my amazing financial supporters who support me monthly and allow me to continue to be here, for as long as I have been. Thank you for believing in me and the work the Lord has called me to do in the Land.

// God providing healing for a situation I’ve been praying about for 6 years now. Hallelujah.

// Feeling a release to be able to freely date again after 6 years of feeling like I wasn’t allowed (although I rebelled during that time and dated anyways, and nothing ended well. Always listen to God, guys. Don’t choose your own path. It hurts more than you think it will.)

// The ability to get certified in holistic nutrition, something I’ve longed to do for years. The ability to do this in conjunction with my injury and learn about what I’m experiencing through school has been amazing.

// Learning how to “work as for the Lord and not for man” when I REALLY hate doing something specific. Like, I literally get nausea and get headaches from it and get crazy stressed out. BUT what God has shown me is that 1) I struggle when I have to do things I feel are useless or unvaluable [not that they are – but that I perceive them that way] and 2) I need to find a way to make seemingly useless tasks feel useful. This strategy has helped me to create purpose in these tasks and helped me more joyfully dedicate these tasks to God even when I dislike doing them.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
Colossians 3: 23-24

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Helping with a birthday party at a home for the elderly, Ezrat Avot, in Jerusalem. Many of the women are Holocaust survivors.

// Constantly putting death to my flesh and learning to choose God’s desires over my own. It means taking stabs to my pride, and that’s been a big struggle.

// God’s knack for showing up and providing at the last minute when I don’t know how I’ll make it financially. Thank you so much to the people who have surprised me this year with your donations. You’re such a blessing to me.

// Continual revelation for what He wants for my future and how I can be preparing for that now.

// Friends who are getting married that I can help with graphic design needs.

// Finally getting into essential oils. Long story, but I felt God tell me specifically to do this a couple years ago, and I did it very half-heartedly. It’s been a fulfilling experience dedicating myself to it completely this year as I learn how to use plants God gave us to heal naturally and clean naturally.

// Revealing that singleness is a gift that I don’t often receive well. But it’s a time to devote to getting to know Him and His heart and the flexibility to go wherever He wants, whenever He wants, with ease. I pray that I will utilize my remaining time as a single person to do just that.

// A continual stripping of things and people I’ve held too dear for too long. He’s been eliminating the things and people that make me feel tied down to a certain place, and I think that’s so it’s easier for me to move outside of Ohio whenever I return home. I’m not sure where I’ll end up when I go back to the States, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Ohio for the long term. Prior to this year, that would’ve been a big struggle for me.

So, there you have it. I’m thankful for so many things and I’m thankful that I get to experience the challenges and joys of living here and serving God’s people in His Land. It’s by no means easy, but it is fulfilling. And He is good, no matter the circumstance.

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Working at Bridges for Peace HQ

Would you like to support my work in Jerusalem? If so, here is how 🙂 Thank you for your support!

DONATION INFO [Preferred choice is Venmo :)]
Venmo @rachael9109
PayPal – HarrisERachael@gmail.com
Bridges for Peace – CLICK HERE and choose “Support Rachael Harris”

📸 by Jenna Solomon

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