Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What Is On Your Bucket List?

     Do you have a Bucket List of things you want to do in your lifetime?  How many things have you crossed off of your list? For many people traveling to a foreign country is one of the exciting things on their list. For many believers, traveling to the Holy Land, the Land of the Bible, is a big item on their Bucket List.
     The hubby and I lead tours to Israel. Since, many, many people have told us they have ALWAYS wanted to go to Israel, but can’t right now, I decided it would be fun to take whoever wants to go, on a virtual tour, while we are in Israel.
     I hope to be able to share with you the sights and significance of a Biblical tour of the Holy Land, to inspire you to one day take a trip for yourself.
     This will be our fourth trip to Israel, and our second time hosting a tour group. (It will also be our first virtual tour.)
     Why do we lead tours?
     A trip to Israel is exciting, and more meaningful than just a vacation.  The land is beautiful and unique, and even though it is cliche', it is true, the Bible really does come alive once you have been there. However, the main reason we can't wait to share this experience with others is we believe God has asked us to do this. On the first trip we took in 1996, we were sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, looking out at the lake and the sun setting, and we both thought, we have to come back and bring our kids and our friends. It was an overwhelming thought and desire. Our kids were five and seven at the time. It was another ten years before we would get to go back when our kids were teenagers. We took them and some friends, and their teens on a divinely orchestrated tour that was perfect for teenagers. By that time, we had two more kids at home who were too young to go with us to Israel. We knew, and promised our two younger boys,  they would get to go to Israel, the next time.  The hubby became a Pastor at our church, and we took a group of friends in 2011, and the boys were still too young. We knew there would be, yet another, next time for them. 2014 is their time. We thought this might be the last time, since we definitely aren’t having any more kids (!), and we will have taken all four of them, and a lot of friends. We believe God has different plans though. We put out an information card, and 150 people responded saying they would be interested in information about an Israel trip in 2016. Lord willing, we will lead a new group of friends on their trip of a lifetime to the land where Jesus grew up, and most of the events in the Bible took place.
     This year, for the virtual tour, I hope to provide pictures, commentary, and possibly some short video clips while we are touring with the group. If you would like to join us, virtually, please bookmark this page:, and check in everyday, starting June 5th, to see new sites, hear some teachings, and hopefully be inspired.
     After taking this virtual tour, I hope you say, like Jews and everyone who celebrates Passover every spring say . . . .
 Or if you want to join us in 2016  . . .
Journey to Jerusalem Tour 2011

To read about something funny that happened on our first trip to Israel, click here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Keeping the Laughter in Marriage

Pseudobulbar = Uncontrollable Laughter
          At one of our favorite weddings, the young groom accidently said the funniest thing. Instead of promising to “love and laugh with” his bride, he said he would forever “love and laugh AT” his bride. The beautiful bride, without missing a beat, also promised to “love and laugh AT” her groom as well. Everyone cracked up at this memorable moment in the ceremony.   Although my hubby and I didn’t make that vow during our wedding ceremony, there were a few years where it came naturally.
          Being the mature people that we were, the first year we were married we argued about where to put the leftover pizza.  If the pizza sat out all night, I wanted to throw it away. Hubby thought it was still perfectly edible and did not want me to throw it away.  I finally gave in and left the pizza, still in the box, on the counter. While hubby was at work, and I was about to leave the house, I opened the box top. It looked like it had black olives all over it, but we had not ordered black olives. It was little black ants, thousands of them, covering the pizza! It was gross. So, I threw the whole box in the outside trashcan.
          Later, when I came home, the pizza box was back on the kitchen counter. I opened the box and the pizza was gone. Hubby came in and wanted to know why I had thrown away a perfectly good half of a pizza. He had retrieved it from the trashcan outside and eaten all of it.  I died laughing! It was both disgusting and hysterical at the same time.

          A few years later, Hubby was running through the house (!?), and tripped on some newspapers on the floor. I was sitting on the bed as he raced by, slipped on the newspapers and skidded across the floor, crashing. I died laughing! I am not sure why. It wasn’t funny. He was hurt, but I could not help myself. I laid down on the bed and pulled the covers over me, so he wouldn’t hear me laughing. Apparently, he could see the covers shaking up and down and knew I was laughing. He did not think it was funny, as he ended up getting a rug burn that peeled off his skin, and twenty years later still has the scar to prove it. The madder he got at me for laughing, the more uncontrollably I laughed.
          During this same time period, he went on our two-story roof to replace some window shutters on the second floor. The wind was blowing and one of the replacement shutters was sliding down the slanted roof. He reached his foot over to step on the sliding shutter. Instead of stopping it, he slid on the shutter, like a snowboarder and flew off the roof, landing on his back in our front yard. I fell on the floor laughing! It was so funny! Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt.
          Another time, he fell off the roof when he was on our cheap aluminum ladder. He and the ladder ended up in some bushes, with the ladder permanently mangled. I had to go in the kitchen so I could laugh, without him hearing me. But, he had seen me and knew I was laughing. He could not believe it. “I could have been seriously injured!” he yelled to me. “I know. I am sorry. I don’t mean to laugh. I can’t help it,” was all I could manage to get out between fits of laughter.
          At another house, we had carpet (possibly the slipperiest carpet ever, so I’ve been told) on the stairs, but hard ceramic tile at the bottom of the stairs. Several times he slipped and fell on the stairs. Then he would yell, “Don’t laugh. It’s not funny!” The more he said that, the funnier it was to me, and the more I laughed.
          The worst one was when he slipped on the first step at the top and tumbled all the way down, crashing on the tile at the bottom. I had heard him bump, bang and crash against the wall. I knew he was badly hurt. I lost it! – (I have to stop here and apologize. I am normally a compassionate person. I don’t usually laugh when bad things happen to people. I think I seriously had that disorder called pseudobulbar, where I could not control my laughing.)
          Our daughter, who was upstairs with me, heard all the commotion, and ran out to the hallway. Between, bursts of howling laughter, I told her Dad had fallen down the stairs and she needed to go check on him. She was about ten years old and looked at me indignantly, “Mom! Stop laughing. Dad is really hurt.”

          Tears were streaming down my face as I ran to my room, shut the door, ran into the tiny bathroom and shut that door, hoping he wouldn’t hear my obnoxious snorting and side splitting cackling! What was wrong with me? I could hear him moaning and complaining and still saying loudly, “Stop laughing!” What was I, a three year old who had no control over my emotions?! The more he said stop laughing, the more uncontrollable it was. I finally tried to pinch myself and bite my lip, hoping to invoke some type of pain in myself to stop laughing. It was terrible! And, really, really funny!
          Thankfully, in the last twenty years hubby has become more sure footed.  I have also finally matured enough to use self control and show genuine concern without giggling when something funny, someone has an accident.
                                 I hope you are keeping the laughter in your marriage. 
                                      Laughing together that is, not AT one another.

           Need more laughter? Click  here funny 1 or  here funny 2 or even  here funny 3 .
                                 Laugh on!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Confessions of a Baseball Mom: Looking Back

Looking back at our kid’s time in sports is eye opening. There is a nine -year difference between our older two, and our twin boys. When our older son was in sports, especially baseball, everything was so important. It was important which position he played. How many innings he played was important. Whether the team won or lost was important. If he made it on a club team or the varsity high school team was important. I hate to admit it, but at times we were consumed with our kid’s sports.
Years later when we were, again, sitting on the sidelines at our twin boy’s soccer games, it did not seem so important. What position they played, how much playing time they got, or what the score was at the end of the game just didn’t matter anymore. We would sit in the shade in our folding chairs and watch as the other parents stood and paced up and down the sidelines yelling at their five year old to kick the ball into the goal. We looked at each other and admitted how foolish we had been to act like that. At the end of their time with us, after they moved out of the house, it did not matter how many games they won or lost when they were five or fifteen. It is amazing how a few years and (dare I say it?) age, can change your perspective.
Our older two are married and have been out of our house a few years. We were given the privilege of a ‘do over.’ We made it through the toddler years twice. We went through the preschool and elementary school years twice. We are watching our boys play sports, and sitting on the sidelines, again. We are also in the home stretch of getting two, soon to be young adults, through middle school. It has not always been easy, but we have enjoyed every season. We love our boys and are thankful we get to continue parenting after our older kids left the nest.
Because we had a different perspective and the advantage of experience, we decided to do some things differently.
This time around we decided to:
Look for the good, instead of pointing out the things they needed to work on.
Instead of teaching them about God’s rules for life, we would teach them more about how much God loves them.
Instead of focusing on their report card grades, we would focus more are how much they are learning.
Instead of trying to have a spotless house, we (I) let them play in the mud, get dirty, take apart old appliances and have a million nuts, bolts and tools spread on their floor.
Instead of admiring animals from a distance, we let them catch and keep every kind of lizard, frog, tarantula and snake they wanted to. (The snakes have to stay outside though!)
Instead of striving so hard for the end result, we are enjoying our boys and the journey more. Four more years and our parenting will be done. They will always be our sons, but we won’t always have the influence we have with them now. Having experienced the high school years before, we know that time flies by. In the blink of an eye they will be finished and moved out. I will have plenty of time to have a clean house then.
It is fun to look back, but we are also enjoying the present season. How about you?

Coach Dad and our 14 year old soccer sons.

For more lessons we learned click here.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Heeerrrreee's Your Sign

Don't you love those ‘Here’s you sign’ jokes?  Like when the man lost his luggage and went to the lost luggage counter. He told the lady the airline had lost his luggage and she asked, “Well, has your plane landed?”  She had her sign but she missed it.

I love the story about Elijah for several reasons, but especially because of the sign that he did not miss.  Elijah was an ordinary man who did many extraordinary things for God. One of the most amazing is when he called down fire from heaven, and God rained the fire down and consumed Elijah’s offering in front of the false prophets of Baal, King Ahab, and all the people. It was an epic duel on the top of Mt Carmel.
After that awesome display, Elijah was not through. The people of Israel had not had rain in 3 ½ years, because of their idolatry and lack of belief. After God rained down the consuming fire, the people cried out “The Lord, He is God!”  So, because of their belief, Elijah went to the top of Mt Carmel and began to pray for rain.
Elijah knelt down on the ground, and put his face between his knees and prayed to the God of the universe to send rain on the earth. When he was finished he asked his servant to go and look out toward the ocean and see if there was any rain. Nope. Only sunny skies. Elijah prayed again. And again he sent his servant to go and look to see if there was any sign of rain. Nothing. Elijah did this seven times. He kept praying for God to send rain, and he kept sending his servant to see if his prayers had been answered.
How long would Elijah have kept praying? All day? All night? God told Elijah he would send rain, He just didn’t say when. Then, out of the clear blue sky, the servant sees a small cloud, the size of a man’s hand. Very small. Very far in the distance.
Elijah jumped up and ran to tell the king! He was so excited. He told the king that a torrential downpour was coming, and that the king should race his chariot back to the palace before the floods prevented him.
Elijah got excited before even a drop of rain fell. All he saw was a wee small cloud in the distance. That was enough of a sign for him. No rain. No thunder. No dark sky. How could Elijah be so certain the rain would come?   Faith.  Not faith in faith, but faith in God.  God told him he would send rain, and all Elijah needed was a tiny distant cloud to know that his prayer had been answered.
As believers we are called to a life of faith. We have been adopted into the family of Abraham, and he is one of the pillars of faith. God told him to leave his homeland and travel with his family to a foreign land that God would show him. Abraham had no idea where he was going. But he had faith in God, and so he followed Him.
Noah had never seen a boat before, or rain. Yet, he had faith in God, that when God told him to build a huge boat, he did it. For 120 years he built the boat.
We would prefer to have a sign from God, wouldn’t we? The burning bush that Moses saw would be great. When God parted the Red Sea for the Hebrew people to cross over, they had faith, but they also had a sign. A giant ocean parting down the middle so they could walk on dry land was a huge sign. When we are trying to make a decision about which way to go next, wouldn’t it be great to have a special cloud during the day and a cloud of fire at night to guide us step by step to the next place we should go?
Sometimes we have to walk completely by faith, without seeing anything, trusting God that we are going the right direction. Sometimes we get a huge sign, or an open door, that we know we are supposed to go through. But sometimes, all we get is a tiny cloud the size of a fist, far off in the distance. And we ask,  “Is that you Lord? Or am I making this up?”  
Unlike the comedian who tells the ‘here’s your sign’ jokes, we don’t always know what our sign from God is. We are looking for a huge billboard sign, and sometimes, God gives us a little tiny cloud, in the distance, and we have to trust that is our sign and act on it.
Faith is the strong belief or trust in someone or something. Believing something we can’t always see. Sometimes we are busy looking for the burning bush from God, or as my friend says, a sticky note from God, that we miss the small distant cloud. Our sign may be small, but that is part of the faith process.

Next time you are praying for something, take time to look for the small sign from the Lord. Have faith that He will reveal His plan for you.