Day 4 – Sunday, November 6th

After breakfast, we  started out our day going to Caesarea Maritima (Acts 10).  This city was built by Herod the Great in 21 BC and was one of the grandest cities in Israel.  It was built much like a Roman city and included a palace, an arena for chariot races and theatres.  This is also where Pontius Pilate ruled during the time of Jesus.  Peter spoke here and is where Gentiles were first able to be baptised without becoming Jewish first.  This is very significant for us because we are from Gentile lineage.  Paul also used the port here during many of his travels.   In Act 22:12-26:32, Caesarea is Paul was imprisoned.  Archeologists found in a lower room (dungeon) inscriptions with Paul’s name.

We passed by a rolling stone tomb on our way to Mt. Carmel.  I was able to get a great picture of it.  We couldn’t stop because it was on the highway and even here it is frowned upon to just stop in the middle of the road!  Mt. Carmel means God’s Vineyard and is where Elijah defeated the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). This is a great story and was amazing to be where it actually happened.  We learned many things about why this took place on Mt. Carmel.  For people to inhabit an area they must be able to grow three things – olives for oil, grapes for wine, and wheat or barley.  It is a very rocky area so wheat and barley would not grow.  This left the area uninhabited and not claimed by anyone.  This made it neutral land for Elijah and the Prophets of Baal to have a contest for who the one true God was.  Read the story, it’s pretty amazing!  (Spoiler alert: WE WIN!!)  From Mt. Carmel you have an amazing view of the Valley of Jezreel.

Next up was the Tel Megiddo, an amazing and fascinating place.  It is the ancient city used by Kings Solomon & Ahab and overlooks the Jezreel Valley.  A Tel means mound.  It didn’t start off as a mound, but the city was destroyed and rebuilt so many times by different people over many years.  There are 25 layers of city’s here!  So very amazing!

Our last stop of the day was to Nazareth.  We stopped at the Church of the Annunciation and Mount of Precipice (Luke 4).  Nazareth is a large city now, but back in the day when Mary lived there, it was very small – only about 12-14 families.  It is only 35% Christian and the rest is Muslim.  There are a lot of banners and signs that quote the Koran and how they claim to be the one true religion.  Imagine living in a city where you would see that everyday!  Anyhow, Nazareth is the childhood home of Jesus and where Mary was told by Gabriel that she would give birth to the savior.  The grotto that is believed to be Mary’s home when she was told this is inside the Church of the Annunciation.  We then went to the Mount of the Precipice.

Everything is so overwhelming!  We do a lot in one day, but if we spent more time at each place we would not get to see as many things.  One thing is for sure, I will never read the Bible the same way again!  I will have time when I get home to reflect on all these places and be able to picture them in my mind, so I’m glad we are going kind of fast to see everything we can!

So much more I could tell you, but it’s time for bed!  This is our last night in Tiberias.  Tomorrow we will be staying in Jerusalem and will stay there the rest of the trip.  Pictures are posted on Facebook.  I tried to label most but I know sometimes it is hard to know what you are looking at without the story behind it.

Until tomorrow. . .

Good night!

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Day 3 – Saturday, November 5th

What an amazing day today!  I really wish each of you could be here with me.  I don’t think my brain fully comprehends where I am, it seems so unreal!

Today started out with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  I expected to look up and see Jesus walking on the water!  Simply amazing to read scripture and think about these things really happening right where we were at.  We sang ‘Bless the Lord, oh My Soul’ and a couple other songs and just took the experience in.  The Sea of Galilee is not as big as you might imagine.  You can easily see from side to side and across.  20161105_072900.jpg20161105_072846.jpg

After our boat ride, we had quite a drive to our next location, but our guide talked about the meaning of Galilee and why it is important.  Galilee means the circle of Gentiles or the Galilee of all nations.  There are 7 important features of Galilee:
1. It is dependent on the Lebanese mountains – this is important for climate and agriculture.
2.  Abundance of Water
3.  Volcanic elements – this makes the soil rich
4. Great fertility
5.  Major International highways – Through Galilee is a main route to many areas and lots of people pass through Galilee.
6.  Great Prosperity
7.  No neighboring desert
These things are all important when considering why Jesus chose Galilee for his ministry.  Both Jews and Gentiles are here and it is a major passageway to many places making it easy to send his message to many people.

We arrived in Caesarea Philippi, which is the capitol of paganism.  This is important though because some amazing things happened here and there is no coincidence as to them happening in a very pagan place.  This is where Jesus asks Peter, ‘Who do you think I am?’, and Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matt. 16:13-16).  Jesus goes on to say that upon this rock (Peter) I will build my church.  A living God in a pagan place where there was only worshipping of non-living gods, Jesus begins his ministry.

We ate lunch at a local restaurant.  Many of us ate tilapia, which is known as St. Peter’s fish.  I love tilapia, but not with the head on it!  It kept staring at me!  20161105_124003.jpg

We stopped at St. Peter’s Primacy Church which is right on the bank of the Sea of Galilee.  This is where Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection when they are fishing and he tells them to cast on the right side after an entire night of catching nothing.  (John 21).  We were able to get our feet wet if we wanted, but just looking out and imagining all these things in your mind is just, well mind-blowing!  No longer are you just reading a story about Jesus and his disciples, you are experiencing it in your mind right where it actually happened.

Next stop was Capernaum.  So much happened in Capernaum!  This is where Jesus lived 2 of the 3 years of his public ministry.  We read scripture at every stop that relates to the area we are, but here there is too many that relate to be able to read them all!  Absolutely amazing was the house of Peter’s Mother-in-law, where Peter lived too – the actual base of the house!!  Not a re-creation, not a replica, but the actual honest to goodness bottom part of the house that Jesus was in many times!  There were miracles performed here!  Also here was the original bottom part of the synagogue where Jesus was often, where he taught, where he walked, where he lived!  You can still see the dark stones of the synagogue, which had been destroyed and on top a temple had been built.20161105_142618

We ended the day at the Mount of Beatitudes (Matt. 5-7) which overlooks the Sea of Galilee.

Back at the hotel we had a little bit to rest before dinner and now I’m ready for bed!

Until tomorrow!

We have arrived in Israel!

We made it to Israel!  International flights are not fun!

What a long Thursday/Friday of traveling!  It is Friday night here as I write, but only about 1:45pm at home.  As soon as I post this I am going to bed!

From Lincoln, we flew to Minneapolis and then to JFK in New York.  There we boarded a 10 hour flight to Tel Aviv.  At first it seemed kind of fun.  We were greeted with a pillow and blanket at our seats, could watch a bunch of different movies or tv shows on the screens right in front of us, then after we took off they came around with eye masks and head phones for everyone and a warm toilette to wash your face with!   We were served dinner – a hot dinner – salad, dinner roll, and choice of hot chicken  or eggplant lasagna and a brownie.  I got the hot chicken and it was surprisingly good!  I tried to watch a movie and a few tv shows, but just couldn’t fall asleep and the longer we were in the air the more uncomfortable it got.  The seats hardly recline, you can’t really move much, but you are so antsy to get up and move around, or just get comfortable enough to fall asleep.  I finally was too tired to stay awake but think I only slept for about 15 minute intervals at a time.  About 2 hours before landing we were served breakfast.  We got a cheese omelette (nasty), fresh fruit, a croissant and orange juice.  We had about an hour left before we landed and it seemed to take forever!

Going through customs was pretty simple and uneventful.  No stamp in the passport!!  Bummer!  They give you a little ticket instead of stamping in your passport because believe it or not, if you go to some middle east countries, they will not let you in if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport.

Our guide, George, met us after we claimed our baggage and we boarded a bus and headed to our hotel in Tiberias – 2 hours away!  The sun was setting as we headed to our hotel.  It was strange to look at my phone and see the time at home was about 9am and it was getting dark here.  The plus of that was that it was night and we can sleep in a bed soon! Had a great dinner here at the hotel!

It’s 9pm here and our day will start at 6:30 tomorrow morning so I am ready for bed!

Good night!

The time is soon for the next Adventure!

My next travel adventure will start Thursday morning as I board the first of three planes headed for Tel Aviv, Israel!  I will be traveling with my Pastor, his wife and a small group of other Christians as we Walk in the Footsteps of Jesus!

Once in Tel Aviv, we will make our way to Tiberias and check into our first hotel.  Everyday is packed with seeing different sites in the Holy Land, including the Sea of Galilee (which our first hotel sits along), the Valley of Jezreel, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Dead Sea.

Due to the number of places we will be visiting, I plan to write every day so I don’t forget any of the details!  Pictures will be posted on Facebook, so make sure you friend request me.  If I have time, I will post some pictures here.

Israel is 8 hours ahead of the time here.  We are set to arrive on Nov 4th at 6:30am our time, 2:30pm Israel time!  So grab a map and follow along with me!

Colorado Part 3

I’m on day 79 and am so excited to be heading partway home tonight after the Adele concert!

What a whirlwind this last 11+ weeks has been! I’m ready to start being able to reflect back on all the memories I made during this time!

Wednesday morning I went to a glass studio and did a couple pieces of fused glass. I picked them up today and am so happy with how they turned out!

Thursday I visited the Molly Brown house. She was a pretty remarkable woman. I really only knew about her from the Titanic movie, so learning more about her life was interesting. That evening, I went to a concert at the Pepsi Center. It was Chris Tomlins Worship Night in America. Lots of great music and the speakers were Max Lacado and Louie Giglio. I love Max Lacado’s books, but had never seen him speak live before so that was pretty amazing. He is so gifted with words! Writing this blog for the last few months has given me a new appreciation for writers! Louise Giglio I had not heard before either. He is a little firecracker! Such a good night and so amazing to kneel before God with so many other believers (probably 15,000 people there) and pray for our nation.

Friday morning I got up early to go to a StandUp Paddleboarding class for beginners! It was so much fun! You might remember I tried SUP in Oklahoma City, but never stood up and only kneeled. I was determined to get there this time! After falling in a few times, I finally did it!! Logically you want to just take your time to stand up and you kind of want to be still when you do this, but that is not how it works! The more speed you have and the faster you stand up the easier it is. Totally counter to my natural thought process, but it works. They said it is kind of like trying to balance on a bike that is not moving – that is harder to balance standing still than when you are actually moving. Now I am not the most athletic person to begin with, but imagine kneeling on a small bath mat and then trying to stand up smoothly to your feet and fast all while standing on that small bath mat. Ok, now imagine if that bath mat was moving side to side. Could you do it?  Once you get stood up, you can’t really adjust your feet much at all, so you have to be kind of precise on where you stand too!  I’m sure I’ll get better with practice, but it was so much fun and I DID IT!  Falling off a few times was actually beneficial.  I learned so much about what to do and not do each time I fell.  UNL rents paddleboards, who wants to go out and try it with me??!!

Today is the Adele concert!  As much as I would have loved to be home a few days earlier, I’m so glad I decided to stay for the concert.  I think it will be worth it.  I figured I won’t be able to sleep right away after the concert so I would head part way back yet tonight and then arrive home sometime tomorrow.  Can’t wait to be home and hug my kids!!

It’s been an amazing adventure and I am so blessed to have had the time for this journey.   I will post some “Interesting Facts” sometime after I get home – like how much gas I used, etc.  I am really curious about that!  I have gone just under 13,000 miles, so I should have a little over that by the time I get home.   Thank you to everyone who has followed along with me on this amazing journey!

Tootles!

Colorado Part 2

Sunday I arrived in Denver and went downtown.  I’ve gotten spoiled with visiting areas during the week when the crowds are limited.  Downtown Denver was a zoo!  They had a festival going on as well, so that probably added to the congestion, but after trying to find parking for about 15 minutes, I decided it wasn’t worth it and I got on Interstate 70 and headed West!  Such a good decision!  I drove as far as Glenwood Springs and the landscapes are so massive and have such beauty it is really incomprehensible!  I was so taken while driving through the mountains.  Going from mountains that have lush greenery to desert type mountains and then into canyons . . . it was amazing to see.  And the colors, every color you can imagine are in the mountains!  Such grand beauty.  I felt like I had discovered a whole new part of the country, which for me, it was!  I literally drove up, around and through the mountains!  There are tunnels right through the mountains!!!  As I got closer to Glenwood Springs, it is a canyon area and these massive rock formations just envelope you.  It was so cool!  I would catch myself with my mouth just hanging open in awe!

Tuesday I went to see Red Rocks.  There was a lot going on there because there was a concert that night.  But still amazing to see.

Being in Denver has been somewhat of a challenge for me.  Not that Denver is the challenge, but the timing.  For the last two and a half months, I have had different places to go or have found places along the way, but once I have completed the things I wanted to in that area I was on to the next city.  Most places I only stayed a maximum of two days.  Because of the concert on Saturday, I will be in Denver for a week!  That is the challenge – how do I entertain myself for a week!  And, to add to that, I don’t have anyone else to ask what they want to do!!!  It took me a couple days to figure out how to fill up my time but I think I’ve got it now.  It was a stumbling block for me though.  Sure, I’ve done this whole trip and been able to entertain myself, so I didn’t think this would be a problem, but I’m at the point where I am ready to come home and am kind of tired of going to see places, so it has made it hard to figure out what I want to do with myself for the week.

Tuesday afternoon, I found the perfect place to cure my burnout – the Upstairs Circus!  It is a new concept similar to the Corky Canvas, but in my opinion, so much better!  They have a menu of projects to pick from that include everything from jewelry to concrete coasters to leather items to nail art! About 30 different projects to pick from.  I picked the nail art project!  You could do just about any shape, but I chose the USA one.  The idea was to have a heart over your home state and then the entire shape is filled with the string so you just see the heart and the outline of the USA.  I modified it to just be an outline of the USA and then show the route I have taken in my adventure.   It turned out so neat!  It will be a great keepsake of my trip!

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5 days left!  I’m counting down!

Tootles!

Colorado Part 1

Near Canon City, I stopped at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.  Little did I know how much adventure awaited me there!  It is a beautiful park that has just been recently rebuilt after a major devastating fire in 2013.  You ride the gondola across the gorge and then walk back across the suspension bridge.  There is a zip line across the gorge and a skycoaster that is called Royal Rush and named the world’s scariest skycoaster!  It swings you at 50 mph over the gorge and you hang 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River.  I had no intention of doing this when I arrived.  When I got to the area where they have the skycoaster, I watched two kids do this together and the boy was almost in tears saying he changed his mind and didn’t want to do it as they were hoisting them up.  To late!!  I saw a sign that said the skycoaster was as close to skydiving as you can get without actually skydiving!  Hmmm.  I have always wanted to skydive.  Fear and adrenaline went through my body as I was considering doing this.  I walked to an area where you can get a really good view of the canyon and contemplated just how brave I felt, or didn’t feel!!  I figured if I couldn’t do this, there is no way I would ever skydive.  My left brain kept saying ‘No, don’t do it, that is just to daring!’, but my right brain would say ‘Go For It!  It will be exciting!  You are on this huge adventure anyhow, why not?’.  My right brain won out and I just stopped thinking all together as I approached the entrance.  They strapped me in the harness and took me out to get me all hooked up.  I literally felt like crying!  It was a surreal moment that I almost felt completely detached from just so I could face my fear.  They told me since I was by myself I would have to pull my own rip cord.  What?  I have to make myself fall once I’m up there???  No way.  I wondered if I would be able to actually do that.  As I lay face down hanging in the air, they roll the platform away that I had just been over, now there was no turning back!  They start to hoist me up and I had to close my eyes.  I couldn’t watch the ground get further and further away.  I was scared!  I would briefly peek and when I could see how far up I was I would close my eyes tight!  Briefly the thought ran through my head that God has kept me safe this entire journey, why would this be any different.  I felt myself start to slide forward in the harness, to the point where you feel like you are going to fall out.  The upward motion stopped and I heard them say three, two, one, fly!  I instantly pulled the ripcord because I wanted down so bad!  Those next few, long seconds of free fall were indescribable.  I felt my harness catch me and then saw the edge of the gorge coming and then it was gone and I was over the gorge.  I swung so high up I can no longer feel the harness holding me and then I started to free fall again . . . the harness would catch me and I swung back, again, no longer feeling the harness, free fall, and forward.  I would say for about three full swings you would free fall at the peaks, after that it wasn’t high enough to feel the free fall – that was good!  Continuing to swing, I couldn’t believe what I had just done.  The most daring and adventurous thing of my life!  I did it!  Feeling proud and thankful that God gave me the courage to face the fear and survive!  As I came down, I shook!  So much adrenaline!    After that, the walk over the swaying suspension bridge was nothing!  Such a gorgeous place!

The rest of Friday and Saturday I spent in Colorado Springs going to Seven Falls, Garden of God (yes, I changed the name from Garden of the Gods), and on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.  Pictures are posted on Facebook.  Such beautiful places that you can’t describe, you just have to feel them!  Amazing!

Tootles!