Sunday, February 28, 2010

A bigger purpose

I have felt for a few months that there is more to life than what I/we have made it. With my trip to Israel, some changes at our church, and a marriage conference we just attended, I know there is a much greater purpose and being a Mom with small kids is not a reason to cop out. This season of life isn't a time to hold my breath and wait for a better time to give. It's a time to breathe in God's mercy and grace and breathe it out to those around me. Please pray for us as we try to discover what God has for us. I really enjoyed listening to Francis Chan. He said it's not enough to memorize and study God's commands, we have to do them. His example was telling his daughter to clean her room. Later she comes back and says, I memorized what you said and I can also speak it in Greek. My girlfriends and I are going to get together to discuss what it would look like. Aren't you proud of me? Well, no b/c her room is not clean. At the end of the day we have to put feet to what we know.

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Steve's new lease on life

Many of you know that Steve got a new job. We are very excited about this change. It has been wonderful to see him come back to life before our eyes. Please pray for him to "carve a new groove" and leave any bad habits (over-working himself and the resulting stress) behind. We get to have 2 weeks together of some much needed fun family time before he starts. I praise God that He provided this opportunity for Steve. We have missed him so much.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Israel-Final Thoughts

At the beginning, I tried to soak in as much as I could on this one time trip, but halfway through I knew I had to come back. It was an amazing place to visit on so many levels. Just to give you an idea, I would move there in a heartbeat. The only other place I visited where I felt that way was New Zealand. Thank God the New Jerusalem will be there. I am so excited about that now, but I do hope to get back before then! I never felt unsafe. Maybe it was God, maybe it was because it felt so much like the US-familiar. It's a melting pot like the US. I couldn't tell who lived there b/c they speak American English. I only ran into one person who didn't speak English. Most of the immigrants are from America.

We are asked to pray for the peace of Israel. Which seems silly if you've read revelation. But peace means something different than what we think. Peace means fullness, completion, restoration.

It's an extremely kid friendly place. I saw parks everywhere and of course chicken nuggets and french fries. Kids and kid noises are very tolerated.

There's always something I experience in a different culture that I wish we had here in America. That one thing was how the older kids watch out for and take care of the younger kids. It was so neat to see them holding their hands and leading them around. We separate so much here. Lake has his own 3 year old class at church and gets little exposure to bigger kids. Yes, safety is an issue, but older kids can learn to be mindful of little kids as I saw in Israel.

I'd say the one disappointment in the trip was how little time we had to sit and soak it in. I mentioned how we whizzed through Israel. I would really have enjoyed a day to wander in the hills by the Sea of Galilee (they just call to you to walk and walk on them), or sit on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, or take a boat out and float around for awhile. Shoot, I would have been happy to wander in the desert. We did have some time once we got back to the hotel but that wasn't the same as being at Peter's Primacy.

The last day was my toughest day. We didn't go at our normal pace and I was REALLY missing my family. Up until then, I did great. We were able to communicate through the week a lot more than I anticipated and that helped.

So, should you visit? YES! And take me with you. :) It was nothing like I imagined and I couldn't even begin to explain it to you (though I tried). The pictures I took won't help either. You will be amazed at how God's word comes alive with new and deeper meaning because you get more of the context. I loved seeing where places were in relation to each other. It makes reading/studying the Bible so much more fun. One word of warning, if you visit Israel and are not a believer, please don't visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and think that's what it's about. Instead, know that believers REJOICE that he is risen.

God bless you and thanks for reading about my adventure!

Israel-more random pictures

About the 9th day, I was getting the hang of taking notes while walking. Our guide was always on a mission and I never knew if I should take pictures or take notes. I was always missing something. We weren't given any time for reflection out on the sites.

Young soldiers. Aren't they so beautiful? People asked if seeing people with rifles was scary. These were the people you saw most with rifles and the other ones were assigned to watch over school children. It wasn't scary at all.

My late night group. If you were wondering what I did after dinner, this is it. All the married couples would do their married thing and us w/o our spouses/girlfriend went out for some cultural enhancement. :)

Our amazing guide. Thank God she answered His calling. She was the best way to experience Israel in such a short time...if you could keep up!

My wonderful roommate, Roberta. We took good care of each other. She reminded me a lot of my mom.

Israel-Random pictures from friends

Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

Our pastor's granddaughter, Hannalee. The only one to go in the Sea of Galilee.

Thorns for a crown perhaps?

The whole gang in Capernaum.

Admiring the sunset on the boat on the Sea of Galilee.

Israel-Day9-Garden Tomb

About 200 years ago, there was doubt that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the place Jesus was crucified and buried. Golgotha means place of the skull. The picture in the picture shows what this hillside used to look like-kind of like a skull. Currently it is a bus station. Romans liked crucifixions to take place where many could see (a busy place) and accessible so it most likely would have been at the bottom of the hill. This site was used as a place of execution (stoning) from an earlier time.

The entrance to the tomb which is a short walk from the first picture. You can kind of see the channel in front of the wall where the stone (shaped like a thick disc) would have been. The channel is for ease of rolling the stone back and forth. The area surrounding the tomb is a beautiful garden. I had fun taking pictures of flowers, cactus, pomegranate trees, etc while I waited to go in.

Where Jesus would have lain in the tomb. He is not here for he has RISEN.

An interesting tree outside of the tomb. BTW-(Completely unrelated to this tree) I learned earlier that for crucifixions, the accused would only carry the crossbeam. They would crucify them on an actual tree that they nailed the crossbeam to.

We took communion in a little chapel outside the tomb area. I couldn't help but hope this was the place rather than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I guess I just want it to be a beautiful garden-like place rather that an overdone shrine.

Israel-Day9-Garden of Gethsemane

Entering the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before he was arrested. Gethsemane means oil pressing.

There is an olive grove in the garden. The olive tree is the sign or symbol of Israel. The menorah is lit from olive oil. You can cut down an olive tree but it will grow back. The shoots that grow from the bottom of the tree are called nozrim. Another meaning of nozrim is christian (gentile believers) and another meaning is watchmen. How you graft a nozrim into the tree: cut one off, make the cut in a cross shape on the tree and stick the nozrim in. It is very easy to graft. The tree tends to rot from the middle so it needs the shoots to hold up the tree. The tree is very easy to transplant. It can be abused, cut, etc. and it will still survive. Jesus of Nazarene is translated Salvation of Christians.

Inside of the Church of All Nations they have the exposed bedrock where Jesus is believed to have prayed. You'd think I'd have taken a picture of that!.

Outside of the Church of All Nations.