Israel...Day Four

Today began with a morning run through the city streets of Tiberias.  Again, I watched the city wake up.  On the docket today, a wooden boat, which reminded me somewhat of the smaller gullets we saw in Turkey.  The waters were calm that morning and our captain attempted to cast a net and retrieve fish from the water.  Similar to how Jesus and His disciples would have done it so many years ago.  I walked along the benches on the boat, pausing to peer over the edge, trying to look down into the water and imagine.  I allowed my mind to float away and picture Jesus on this very water.  Calming the waves.  Reaching out for Peter.  Standing on the water.  Alive.  Here, in this very place.  I mean, how does one even begin?  It was here, around this water that Jesus’ ministry began.  Tiberias, Capernaum, these cities were the hometowns of Peter, James, Andrew, John and Matthew.  They are described at great lengths in the Gospels.  And me, well I was able to walk there too.  I swam in the water.  I ran the modern day roads built upon these historical places.  When we crossed the lake, we went on shore at a museum, one that housed a boat they believe to be dated to Jesus’ time, over 2000 years old.  It had been found buried under water, completely preserved.  The entire process to excavate and rebuild the boat took over 9 years.  Remarkable.  And we were able to see it, walk around it and watch a video on exactly where this important piece of history was found, how they went about dating the wood and then the preservation of the vessel.  From here we traveled to the Jordan River where some members of our group were baptized.  I dipped my toes in the water and mostly just let the tears flow as I watched.  Never fails.  I was in the singing mood today, on the bus and at the river, I hummed worship tunes and clapped wildly as our friends emerged from the water a new creation.  We traveled to Best Shean, the place where King Saul was beheaded, a town where excavations have unearthed eighteen different cities and the place where in 749AD an earthquake completely destroyed the city.  We walked the streets, shouted in the amphitheatre and imagined what life would have been like with the shop fronts restored and open, the mosaics intact and the pillars standing tall.  Or at least that is what I did.  And I watched.  I watched the young adults run from ruin to ruin exploring.  Lunch was served by a small falafel stand nearby and today I distinctly remember ice cream treats following said lunch.  Maybe because it was especially warm this day or maybe because I love Magnum bars, either way it was enjoyable.  Again we had a bus ride to our next destination, Qumran, the desert mountains that hid the Dead Sea Scrolls until their discovery centuries later.  Never mind the heat, we saw the exact place where they were brought up into the light.  Let the weight of that sink in just a bit.  And then the Dead Sea.  Our hotel was gorgeous, more of a resort than a hotel.  Gorgeous grounds, a pool, gym and access to the Dead Sea, not more than 100 steps from door to sand.  The salt mounds that collect in the sea could be seen on our drive but I do not think that any justice was done to this body of water.  It is unlike anything I have experienced before.  Salty, yes, but the water was this mesmerizing shade of blue-green.  I stepped in and then turned and floated.  Yes, floated in knee deep, rather warm water.  Mud from the "floor" was strategically placed in buckets and quickly became something like war paint and then once photos were taken washed off and the floating continued.  This afternoon was filled with down time and journaling, quiet time and pool antics, a work out and moonlight walk.  It was this night that I witnessed an Israeli fighter jet pass over. Actually I heard it before I saw it and by the time I looked up I was just an afterthought.  At home I've heard it said that the sound of the fighter jest is the sound of freedom, here I'm not certain what the people would call that.  Later in the night I would be visited by Thing 2 and a group of her friends performing a Jewish dance in our hotel room.  That is something I won't soon forget.  Seems they made friends at the hotel and wanted to share in their joy!  And isn't that a piece of travel as well;  Experiencing life with the locals, learning about their lives, their celebrations, their routines and rituals.  I do believe so.  

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
Hebrews 6:19

View from the boat

2000 year old boat, excavated from the Sea of Galilee

Jumping for joy at the Jordan River

Beit Shean

Qumran

The Dead Sea...as seen from the bus

Floating!  

Moon rise over the Dead Sea


The Baby is 15: This One's For Him

You've done it.  My boy has gone and turned 15, had another birthday and grown a few inches taller.  Five to be exact.  You're catching up to Dad.  Reminding me of your height at every opportunity.  Picking me up bending down when you give me my morning hug.  Tall and more man like than baby.  Shaving for the first time this year.  Camping out alone in the woods.  Landing a job at the local rock climbing gym.  That story is one for the books.  You were being you and helping a younger than you kiddo.  Your kindness was noticed and the next thing you know the  manager was handing you an application and scheduling an interview for you.  Well done.  That is character shining through.  This summer you were baptized.  In a lake at JAM camp.  An opportunity was given to you for a tryout with Sporting KC youth academy in Kansas City.  We spent almost a week there while you trained with the team, walked the locker room and stretched in the weight room.  Experiencing all the amenities of a top notch program.  In the end there wasn't an opening to be filled by you on the squad but you held your head high and allowed the experience to motivate and spur you on.  I'd be lying if I said my Mama's heart didn't feel that defeat every bit as deep.  I see you come alive on that pitch.  Leading and encouraging.  Learning.  I saw loads of that while you played your first season with Middle TN Fire.  Whenever I saw your teammates huddled with arms draped over each other's shoulders I knew you were learning a lesson far more important than any footie match could teach you.  I'm grateful for those moments.  Those boys that lead and taught you.  New friendships have been made in this last year.  You joined a new youth group, began a new discipleship relationship and started high school.  Still home schooling, for now.  Still training in the mornings, only now you drive away with a friend often times.  There are moments when I can not wrap my brain around that one.  You learned some magic tricks this year and at every family gathering you would perform for us.  Cards, straws, coins, you name it and it became a prop for your slide of hands.  I even considered giving you school credit for your newly learned skills.  Mostly due to the amount of time you invested in learning said tricks.  You also traveled to Cali for your week with Poppi and Nani, where you spent the week surfing, deep sea fishing and making memories with family.  14 was a big year for you.

Baptism with Pastor Travis- Summer 2016

On the pitch in Savannah, GA - Fall 2016

And yet, you are still just as tender hearted and silly as ever.  Thing 4, I pray this year of 15 is full of hope and wonder.  Adventures rooted in Jesus and chasing hard after His call on your life.  I pray for humility, you do know that is the mark of the best kind of leader.  I pray for love, big and bold and an attitude of gratitude for this one precious life you've been given.  I say it every year, it is a holy privilege to be your Mama.  Truly.  Fifteen holds so much for you, I believe that.  Let's walk this journey together. Sharing.  Communicating.  Laughing.  Finding the magic in the everyday and being present together.  Praying big prayers.  Standing in the messy and hard side by side, finding strength in Jesus.  You don't always like our reasons or answers but I promise there is reasoning behind it all.  Especially the "no's".  Our words hold weight and when we speak them I pray they bring life to you.  Encouragement.  Courage.  You are stepping into man-hood.  I pray that you understand the meaning of that.  You have had some great examples to witness.  I pray you know that it is healthy to cry.    Healthy to feel deeply.  Healthy to allow others to see that in you.   I pray that you live out Jesus' definition of man and not the worlds.  I pray fervently for your future.  For the responsibilities you have now and those that lie ahead.  I pray that you understand the value of every person you encounter.  I pray you know how to say no and when to say yes and you respect others' decisions for the same.  I pray that you bring peace and unity to your generation.  I pray that your strength continues to flow from the Holy Spirit within you.  I pray and prophetically speak discernment and wisdom to fill you.  At all times.  I pray for forgiveness and grace for you.  I pray that when you make a mistake you admit it.  When you fail, you remember that it is just the beginning.  And I pray your ears are open and your mouth closed when necessary.  I pray this year of 15 is remarkable in an unforgettable way, Thing 4.  I love you so much more than you know.

Happy, happy birthday Thing 4!

Machu Pichu xo