Monday, March 24, 2014

Give me a break

Today is the first *official* day of Spring Break '14.  Steve and I went round and round on going away for break.  Some friends of ours graciously offered us their beach house in South Carolina for the week.  Although we have been back from overseas only a week, we were vacillating on jumping in the van and heading to the ocean.  The weather report was the only thing that kept us in Ohio.  South Carolina's NOT Ohio's!  It is 32 degrees here and will be again tomorrow.  Shoot.  But the forecast wasn't all that much better at the beach.  55 degrees and rainy just wasn't worth the 9 hour drive.  So, we're having a "staycation."  Which, I've decided, is a really creative way to say, "Nope, we're not going anywhere... how 'bout you."

Two kids have their 6 and 8 year well visits and one kid has a cavity that is scheduled to be filled all on Wednesday.  We went to the Y this morning and swam.  Tomorrow we're headed to the Children's Museum.  I cleaned my house on Saturday and we watched Basketball and cheered on the UD Flyers to victory.  Pretty much the same as every other week around here.

One of the souvenirs we picked up for the kids in Israel was a Monopoly game in Arabic.  This is our first set of Monopoly and the kids have been obsessed.  If we can get a few rounds in before school and after school, they've been very excited.  I've been excited too, because I've been smoking them!  (Oops, was that out loud?) But seriously, Quinn is one shrewd business man so I should be proud.

After all of our appointments on Wednesday, we will be shoving off for two nights at the Great Wolf Lodge.  Lucky for us, we have one about an hour from our house.  If you've never been to a GWL, it is a super fun and very elaborate hotel/water park.  Thanks to the generosity of Aunt Debbie and Uncle Mike's thoughtful Christmas gift, our staycation was able to get a bit more exciting.  We have not told the kids yet, because, really, who could stand the questions of "Is it time yet?" for the next three days.  Needless to say, they are going to be very excited when the find out.

Although we don't get a warm sunny beach vacay this spring break, it's a little hard to feel sorry for myself when I close my eyes and remember the ONE sunny day we had in Israel.  This is us at Capernaum on the Mediterranean Sea.  Oh, my!

Take that, South Carolina!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The lighter side

A subtitle for our trip to Israel might be "Expect the unexpected."  Although when you've never been to a country before, it's all pretty much unexpected.
I wanted to include some of the odder, more bizarre moments of our trip.  There were plenty of amazing, interesting and God-sized moments during our travels, and I'll get to those.  But we also laughed.  A lot.  Most of our laughs came from this guy: Arez.  He is an Israeli (having spent some time in the States... which was totally reflected in his humor.)  He has equal *opinions* of all people groups and what rubbed me the wrong way at first, became very endearing and helpful during some heaviness throughout the week.  The fact that he looked like a young Paul Simon made me chuckle at times too. 
I've never traveled as part of a tour group before.  We went with about 15 co-workers from AIA and another 25 co-workers from our parent organization, CRU.  It was a large group.  Have you ever traveled in a pack of 50?  Honestly, its the only way to see a place like Israel for the first time.  But oh my, after 7 days of waiting on *someone* to finish up in the bathroom or buy *another* souvenir or take *one more* photo in front of some old (really old) rock... I was a bit ready to independence.

 Steve and I found ourselves wandering around Jerusalem on several occasions (see the above about traveling in a herd.)  We came across this poster in the Jewish quarter of the Old City.  It made me laugh.  Really hard.  Oh, the irony!

I'm sad that I don't have a picture of this one, but it was BY FAR the most bizarre moments of my trip.  We were able to take a short boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  We rode on a small boat that was a replica of a fishing boat that would have been used during Jesus' time.  As we shoved off on our short trip, all of a sudden the "captain" hoisted an American flag at the front of the boat which flew next to the Israeli flag.  A nice gesture, I suppose.  But then, from a loud speaker on the boat, began to play the Start Spangled Banner.  Okay?  And then we all stood and crossed our heart and began to sing the national anthem.  I don't know why but it just felt odd. Maybe a touch wrong? To be on a fishing boat, in the middle of Israel, reflecting on the life of my Savior, and singing to America.  Weird!  It made me giggle.  Hard!
You want to know another irony?  Or perhaps it's not exactly ironic, more like, just plain sad... Apparently it *never* rains in the desert.  Except the week we were there.  There was a record setting rain. And cold. The most rain in a few day period in 30 years, actually.  Lucky us.  It was 48 degrees and raining/hailing for most of our time in Jerusalem.  And guess what?  When you travel 1/2 way around the world to tour an ancient city of ruins and places that Jesus walked, you're going to walk.  Come hell or high water.  And higher water.

Speaking of high water, Steve and his buddies went for a float in the dead sea.  It was 55 degrees... there is no floating ANYWHERE that would be awesome enough for me to get in my suit and freeze.  So I took pictures.  Secretly, I'm totally jealous.  Oh well.

 And this sign?  Well... it's funny. 

Ps... we may be the only couple in history to have a marital spat at the entrance of the empty tomb.  We were waiting in line to enter the tomb that historians believe to be the one that Jesus' body was placed in after his crucifixion.  It's basically a small room carved into the side of a rock.  They allow six people into the tomb at a time.  The line was long as many people were taking a picture on their exit of the tomb.  Just before our turn to enter, a worker asked that, for the sake of time, people no longer pose for pictures as they enter or exit.  The long and the short of it - I am a rule follower.  We were asked to NOT take a photo.  Steve, REALLY wanted one of us to have a photo at the entrance.  We *might* have argued for a few moments about what to do.

 Guess who won? 

Our claim to fame.. the fighting couple at the sight of the resurrection.  Awesome.

In spite of the long travel, terrible weather, and rule breaking husband, it was an amazing trip. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Back and giddy with thankfulness

It may appear that I have allowed my blogging to once again fall by the wayside. 

Yep, pretty much.

But wait... I can explain.  I've been a bit busy.  And out of town.  As in REALLY out of town.  Since January, I've been to Atlanta, GA.  Los Angeles, CA.  Tucson, AZ.  NY, NY and just last Sunday, Steve and I got back from a 9 night travel to Israel.  As in Israel, Israel.  I hope all of that does not sound like bragging.  Seriously, this amount of travel is totally unheard of for me.  Most of the trips were for work, but naturally, they were all peppered with incredible pleasure!

To be honest, there have been points in time over the past several months that I have felt a touch of guilt.  The opportunities that I have had to travel and see the world lately are some that few people will have in a lifetime.  That humbling truth has not been missed on me.

God has graciously blessed me.  I have stories and pictures that I am dying to share.  I NEED to share.  For my own heart and memory.  Spring break began 20 minutes ago and I'm hoping this week affords me some time to collect my thoughts. 

In the meantime, it is also a different kind of celebration day around here.  I had my 6 month check up with my oncologist today.  I am once again *officially* declared cancer free.  In case you are keeping track, that makes nearly 3 years (June 1st ish will be 3 years).  I got a little *off track* with my every six month check ups because we were in NYC and had to cancel my appointment back in January.  It was an enormous growth step for me to cancel that appointment.  Normally, I would have been beside myself "needing to know" everything was well.  Could it be that I might be moving out of the crazy, hypochondriac state I've been living in?  It would be awesome to be a sane, normal person once again.  Time will tell. 

So, join our family in celebrating today another clean bill of health.  Between traveling the world and feeling amazing, I have much to be thankful for.  If I seem giddy, it's because I am. 

And I'll take it.