Monday, December 26, 2011

The Cracked Pot

I came across this fantastic little fable while I was cleaning off my desk today and I thought I would share it here with you, my blog friends in hopes that it will lift your spirits and make you smile.

"An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots. Each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.  For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.  But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.  "I am ashamed of mysel, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house." The old woman smiled and said "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always know about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the pat, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."
                                                                               - Author Unknown

I love the story this teaches. I definately need to hear this at this point in my life and be reminded that God is in control and that He has a plan. Each of us has our own unique flaws. But its the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. It's what allows God to work in our lives and show the beauty that can come if we trust in Him and celebrate our flaws as God-given gifts and use them to help glorify Him.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas morning and as usual it is the one day a year where I willingly wake up early. In fact, I am usually the first one awake and this year is no exception. I spent some time in my Bible, reading the account of my Savior's birth in Matthew 2. I am so thankful for this amazing gift that God has given to me as well as anyone else who chooses to believe in Him and His incredible saving grace. My LORD and Savior chose to come to this Earth as a little baby because He loved me so much. He was born in a manger in a little town called Bethlehem. Shepherds who were told of His birth by angels on the hillside, came and worshipped Him because they heard the Good News and believed. It truly was a strange, yet amazingly beautiful way for my Savior to enter this world. :)

Now I am waiting for the rest of the family to wake up, so we can head downstairs and see what Santa has brought us. This is one of my favorite times of year....uninterrupted time spent with my family, all gathered together around the tree, laughing and sharing gifts and memories from Christmases past, watching as each of us take a turn opening our presents. Around and around we go, until all of the gifts has been opened. I love doing presents this way. It makes it last longer and we get to see who got everyone what and it makes the gift-giving even more special.

Well, it sounds like people are up and moving so I had better go. merry Cristmas everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering To Be Thankful

I guess my gratitude posts are turning into more of a weekly thing so here they are from the past week.  

Thursday, November 17th - I am so thankful that Dad has a job where he can occasionally meet me for lunch. I love our little tradition that we have established over the years and how I can talk to my dad about anything during these times. It is time set aside for us and he is constantly encouraging me and lifting me up.  I know that no matter where we end up, I have my dad there to lend a listening ear and uplifting words. 

Friday, November 18th - I am thankful for my sister Renee.  She is so amazing and she loves me for who I am. We have grown so much closer in the past few years and I love her so much. I am so thankful that God made us sisters and I know that there could be no one better than her. :)

Saturday, November 19th - I am so thankful for my friend Rosalie for so many reasons. She is an amazing friend and I love getting together with her to just catch up on life. She was my support system for me during that last year I worked at Arcola and she is the only good thing that came out of that year. And ever since then she has been such an encouragement to me as I struggle with finding a teaching job. She is truly amazing and I am so glad that God has put her in my life. 

Sunday, November 20th - I am so very thankful for quiet days at home where I can relax.  Whether it be spending time in my scrap room getting creative, watching a movie, or hanging out with my family, I love days when I don't have anywhere I need to be and my time is my own. Today was one of these days and I loved every minute of it. 

Monday, November 21st - I am so thankful that God gave me the desire, ability, and talent to be a teacher.  To be able to positively influence a child's life is the greatest privilege in the world. 

Tuesday, November 22nd - I know this sounds kind of lame, but I am thankful for television. The ability to know what is going on in the world around me is fantastic, and I also love that I can get totally lost in a good show and forget the cares of the world for awhile. 

Wednesday, November 23rd - I am thankful for traditions. I am the sort of girl who likes tradition. They are a way to connect with the past and they give is something to look forward to. They are familiar and comfortable. Just like our annual day before Thanksgiving shopping trips. They have become one of my favorite parts of this holiday because I just love spending time with my family. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

So Grateful...

Still trying to stay caught up on the gratitude posts, so here are mine from the past few days. 

Saturday, November 12th - I am grateful for the beautiful weather and being able to spend time outside with my family. 
Chatting with my parents and playing frisbee with Bailey... These are the things that matter most. 

Sunday, November 13th - I am grateful for my church, Pathway Community Church. It is a place where I feel like I truly belong. I have so many friends there and I am fed and encouraged each week by our amazing pastors. 

Monday, November 14th - I am so thankful that God has called me to be a teacher. It is so worthwhile to be able to positively influence children and I know that He has a plan for me on this one. 

Tuesday, November 15th - I am so thankful that God has given me a passion and a talent for photography. I love being able to capture the world around me and show God's beauty in everything, whether it be a flower, an animal or a child. 

Wednesday, November 16th - I am thankful for technology that allows me to connect to those around me. Whether it be a text to a friend to see if they are feeling better or a log post to share what is going on in my world or a phone call with my dad when he is out of town, I can stay in touch with the people who are most important to me. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Week of Gratitude

I can't believe it's been a whole week since I posted! I guess life just has just been getting in the way and there is so much to do and be thankful for. So I am going to play catch up from the past week on this blog.  

Saturday, November 5th - I am so thankful for my family. They are so amazing and love me for just who I am. :)

Sunday, November 6th - Today on my birthday I give thanks to the one who gave me life, my birth mom. I may not know who she is but I am so grateful that she chose to have me instead of getting an abortion. I am also so grateful that she chose to give me up and that God placed me with the most amazing, loving, and supportive parents ever!

Monday, November 7th - I am so thankful for the friends that God has placed into my life. They make me laugh and I enjoy hanging out with them so much. Thanks to each one of you who made my birthday so amazing with your birthday wishes. :)

Tuesday, November 8th - I am thankful for the substitute teaching jobs that I have gotten this year. When I am in the classroom, it just feels so right and I know that this is what God wants me to do with my life. 

Wednesday, November 9th - I am so thankful for my amazing friend Emily. God placed her in my life 21 years ago and she has blessed my life in so many ways. We have experienced life together and I am so glad that we are still such good friends. 

Thursday, November 10th - I am thankful that God gave us music so that we could express our love for Him with it. I was at a christian concert tonight and I love how a group of believers can get together and praise Jesus and have fun too. 

Friday, November 11th - today is Veteran's Day and I am so very thankful for our servicemen and women who have served our country and risked their lives to protect our freedom!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Ok here goes.  I have tried and failed to post this blog 2 times now and I am a bit frustrated with Blogger.  I get the entire thing written out and go to post...and poof! the whole post is gone! :(

So anyways I am going to sum up both Thursday and Friday's thankfulness posts.

Thursday, November 3rd - Today I am thankful for the young adult group at my church called Threefold.  It is a group specifically for those of us who are in our 20's and 30's where we can grow our faith and grow in community.  I love being part of this dynamic group of people every Thursday night and being challenged and fed every week.  I am on the leadership team and it is so great to see God working through this group to further His kingdom.  Every week our awesome youth pastor Nate Haywood teaches us about Christ and challenges us to be more active and involved in our faith.  We also have praise and worship which is such an intimate time with my Lord and it!

Another fantastic part of this group is the people that attend.  They are all so amazing and friendly and encouraging.  I have grown very close to so many of them and feel blessed that God has given them to me. :)  I love being able to be open and myself with them and we have so much fun together.  We usually go hang out somewhere after Threefold (usually Applebee's) and we have a ton of fun and laugh a lot too! This is why Thursday is my absolute favorite day of the week!

Friday, November 4th - I am so thankful for the gift that God has given to us, His children in creation.  Everything in the world around us whispers His name, from the warm sun to the falling leaves.  I love being able to revel in His amazing creativity and design.  It is all so perfect and it works together so perfectly....there is absolutely no way that it all happened by chance. And when I get a chance to see His creation and how perfect His plan for creation was, I am reminded that His plans for me are perfect too.  :)

I will be back later tonight with today's post...there is still more day to be reminded of all that God has given me! :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

Today I am thankful for the gift of creativity that God has blessed me with. I was able to spend some time down in my scrap room, playing with my photos, paper, and glue today and it was awesome! It is times like these where I can get lost in my own little world (literally!) and be creative. Here is where I can let go of the stresses of life and unwind and relax. I love playing with colors and textures and finding just the right things from my stash to help me tell the story behind the photos.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Month of Gratitude

Hello again my little blog. Long time no see. I have neglected you and let you sit idle and not taken the time to share my thoughts and makings with you and the world around me.

But no more. So today I embark on a month-long journey...a mission of gratitude, of remembering all that God has done for me, of all the wonderful people He has brought into my life, and of all the awesome things that He has done for me. Some days I will share pictures, and others I will just share my thoughts. I may even scrap about a few of them to share. So here goes...

Today I am thankful for my job at Archiver's. I work with some pretty amazing people and I get to share my love of scrapbooking and card-making with those around me. :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

** I ran across this today when I was looking for something on my computer and I thought it would be perfect to share here. :) **

1. What are your favorite scrapbook manufacturers?

-Right now I am really into Bo Bunny. Their stuff is so fresh and the colors are vibrant and fun...not to mention all the fun new accents. For cardstock, I am a Bazzill girl through and through. It is pretty much the only brand of cardstock I use. I love all the textures and I can always find cardstock to match my layout. I also use lots of Basic Grey, Hero Arts stamps, Tim Holtz products, American Crafts Thickers, and of course my Cricut.

 2. When did you start scrapping?
- I started scrapping back in 2000, when I was a senior in high school. I went on a couple of trips that year and I also had all of those high school memories to preserve. :) I went and visited my aunt and she introduced me to scrapbooking. That next week I headed to my local scrapbook store and picked up some supplies and created my first page. I was hooked!

3. How has your style evolved over the years?
-Looking back through my scrapbooks, I realize that my style has always stayed pretty consistent. Most of my layouts consist of multiple photos and each page has a story to tell. I like to use multiple patterned papers and a few key embellishments to tell my stories. Over the years, I have played with lots of different techniques on my scrapbook pages.  I think that this comes from working at various scrapbook stores throughout the years where I had to learn about all the latest and greatest.

4. How often do you scrap about yourself (or scrap pictures that you are in)?
-Most of the pages I scrapbook are about me. Since I am single, I scrap about my life. My family, holidays, travels, fun nights spent with friends, and even my dog. I try to hand off my camera to someone else or get pictures from friends and family to ensure that I am in at least some of the pictures. :)

5. Do you have any other crafty hobbies?
-I love to make cards. I make 75 cards a month for my church’s birthday card ministry, so that keeps me pretty busy. I also have dabbled in cross-stitching and miniatures but paper crafting has pretty much taken over my life.

6. Where do you get your creative inspiration?
- Most of my creative inspiration comes from sketches and other people’s layouts.  I usually end up altering some part of the design but it gives me a springboard for my ideas. Then  I am free to plug in my own pictures, patterned papers, colors and embellishments to create my layouts. Sometimes I will design my own layouts from scratch but most of the time I just want to concentrate on capturing my memories in a stress-free manner. 

7. What size pages do you normally scrap?
- I am definitely a 12x12 scrapper. Many of my layouts are double-page layouts. I love having the larger 12x24 inch space to play with and scrap multiple photos.

8. Do you have a favorite technique that you use on layouts or something that you think of as your signature?
- I love experimenting with different techniques on my layouts but a few of my favorites are using lots of photos on a page to tell my story, using border punches to add pizzazz to a strip of paper, and the ‘rule of 3s’ which is using 3 clusters of like objects on my pages, such as flowers, circles, or other embellishments. This technique is on just about every layout I make and I love how this look completes my pages.

9. Are you on any design teams?
-Currently I am not on any design teams. I was on the If It’s Groovy Blog design team from September 2009-May 2010 and I loved being challenged every month to create new layouts for the team.

10. Where is your favorite place to scrap? Is there a certain time of day that you prefer to scrap? (or when do you get the most scrapping done?)
-My favorite place to scrap is my scraproom because everything that I could ever possibly need (literally) is down there. I can go down there, turn on my favorite tunes, and get lost in my own little world. Right now I scrap whenever I have time.  Since I work retail, my hours are a bit crazy so some days I am working in the afternoon while everyone else is at work and other times I am working late at night when everyone else is asleep.

11. What does your scrap room/area look like?
- My scrap room is located in the finished portion of our basement. I have basically taken over and turned the space into my giant creative space. My desk sits facing another desk and a table so I can invite lots of people over to scrap with me. To the side of my desk is my computer and printer. Since I print all my own photos I use this quite a bit.  Then behind me is shelving that stores all my supplies, including patterned papers, stickers, ink, stamps, flowers, letters, chipboard, and my scrapbook albums.

12. Any tips on keeping all those scrap supplies organized?
-Organize the way you think about scrapbook supplies. For me I know my companies, so I tend to organize the bulk of my supplies by type and then by company.  If you scrap by color, then organize by color. If you scrap by event, organize by events. For example, most of my patterned paper is organized by company, but I do have some that is organized by event (holidays, birthdays, Disney, etc) and a little bit of it is organized by color.

Also always be on the lookout for new ways to organize your supplies. You never know where you will find the perfect organizing solution. For example, I keep all my border strips organized by color family in silverware keepers that I found at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  And compartmentalized tackle boxes hold my ribbon, eyelets, and brads.

13. Why do you scrap?
- I scrap because I love to preserve my photos and stories for me and my family. Before I started scrapping, I took lots of photos but they were always just sitting around in boxes or in photo albums. I never actually got them out or looked at them. When I started scrapping, I got those photos out of the boxes and added my personal story to them. I also love playing with paper and being creative. Scrapbooking has been a wonderful outlet for me to share my thoughts and feelings.  I am able to put what is in my heart onto my pages and record and remember the little things that make me who I am.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Long time, no see...and some favorite websites and blogs! :)

Wow! I am embarrased about how long it has been since I have posted on sad!

So today I just have a few quick shares with some of my favorite websites and products that I just shared with a friend of mine and I thought I would send it out there for all of my blog readers....if I still have any left!

This is Nichole Magouirk’s website. Amazing scrapper and stamper!  Lots of awesome tutorials on scrapbooking and stamping and the Silhouette.  You will love this one!

This is the home of the Got Sketch blog, sketches, and sketch classes. I get TONS of inspiration here and I have taken every.single.class that she has offered! The best part for all of you is that you can get her classes in instant download form. 8+ sketches, directions, multi-photo, a mix of single and double pagers, and lots of inspiration and extra tips. :)

Throwing this one in here because some of my favorite fonts are on here.  And the best part is that some of them match the fonts from like Doodlebug and KI Memories. J

Link for my camera bag! J It’s called the Crumpler  5 Million Dollar Home. It is awesome for those of us who need a camera bag that holds up and protects our camera but doesn't slow us down. :)

These are pre-made Disney kits from Andrea Deer. They are so stinkin’ adorable! I definately reccomend if you have Disney pages to scrap!

One of my all time favorite blogs by Jennifer McGuire. I give her the credit for making me fall in love with stamping and Hero Arts. There are some awesome tutorial videos on here with Ranger and Hero Arts products.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last day in Israel....catch up

Hey there my blogger friends. I cant't believe it, but in the craziness of being home, I forgot to post about our last day in Israel.

It was a slower day compared to many of our other days but it was one of the most impactful by far. Our day started with a view overlooking Bethlehem and the shepherd's field where the shepherds saw the star and were surrounded by angels singing "glory to God in the highest." We didn't actually go to Bethlehem because like I said in an earlier post it is in the West Bank and it is entirely under Palestinian control. So definitely not very safe. There was this huge, imposing wall surrounding the city...freaky kinda. It reminded me of like a high security prison and people choose to live there...crazy if you ask me.

Then we headed out to the field where David fought Goliath and the Philistines. Tyler read us the scriptures and we walked along the path, picking up stones and imagining what it would have been like to be there. It was so awesome to be in the place where David and Saul would have been and be reminded of how great our God truly is.

Our next stop was at the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. We spent a few hours there, taking it all in and remembering the horrors and injustices that were done to the Jewish people during World War II. It was very moving, especially seeing the room with the names of all the known people who died during the Holocaust. Row upon row of books filled with page after page of names in a room 2 stories really hit home just how many lives perished in that awful stain on our history. There was also a memorial set up for all of the children who died during the Holocaust. It was a set of three lights that were reflected around the room by mirrors, making hundreds upon hundreds of lights. The room was completely dark and silent, except for a voice reading the names of children who had died, with their country of birth and ages. That was probably the most heart-wrenching part of the whole thing. Innocent children who hand't done anything to hurt anyone were murdered just because of who they were by birth. It was awful. Afterwards we all just spent some time processing all that we had seen and heard and remembering those who had died.

Our next stop was one of my absolute favorites of the trip. It was the Garden Tomb, one of the traditional sites where Jesus was said to have been buried. This site seemed much more authentic and lined up with the gospels much better than the other place we saw. First we sat in a little alcove and just sat and remembered what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross for our sins and then raising again to live with God the Father. We took communion together and spent time in prayer. We then walked around the garden with our guide and she showed us the things that make this a good candidate for the crucifiction and burial of Christ. First we saw the side of the cliff that looked like a skull, and in the scriptures Golgotha means "the place of the skull". Then our guide explained to us that the place that we were at was a garden in Jesus' time, which was basically a walled-in place where they grew crops. There was a giant cistern and a winepress, so they probably grew grapes in that garden. Then there was the tomb, the only one built there and carved out of the rock. We were able to go inside and see the tomb and on the inside of the tomb in really old writing there was a symbol that said that meant Jesus, the son of God, the Messiah. It was really cool to be there and I think we were all overcome with emotions at being at the actual site where our faith became so personal and where Christ died to save my sins. Nothing on this trip can could ever come close to topping this experience and it is one that I will always carry with me.

Finally to celebrate the end of our trip Leor treated us to a fabulous dinner at a little restaurant on our way back to Tel Aviv. We feasted on chicken kabobs and these delicious french fries, along with some other more traditional dishes. It was my favorite meal of the entire trip and we all had a great time reminiscing about some of our favorite parts and relaxing around the table with our good friends.

Sunday, March 13, 2011



Hello again my blog friends. Today was probably the most intense and grueling day we have had on the trip so far, but also one of the most powerful. We spent the entire day in Jerusalem following Jesus' footsteps during the Passion week.

We started our day at the top of the Mount of Olives, looking over the city and the Temple Mount. Leor explained the general layout of the city as well as a brief overview of the history. We then headed down the Palm Sunday Road, which is close to the path that Jesus would have taken on Palm Sunday into Jerusalem. It afforded some beautiful views of the city. As we walked, I remembered how the Jews cheered for Jesus and shouted "Hosanna!" and then a week later turned on them. We then stopped at a chapel commemorating where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem.

We then continued down the road into the Garden of Gethsemane. Inside the garden are these ancient olive trees that are believed to be dated to the time of Jesus. It was so special to be there and know that this is where Jesus prayed and wrestled with what was going to happen, but knowing that it was God's will. It is also the place where Judas betrayed him. Next to the garden is the Church of All Nations, which commemorates the betrayal and arrest of Christ. It was very beautiful inside and it was the perfect place to sit and reflect on all that Jesus has done/gone through for me, a lowly sinner.

Then we headed to the Temple Mount and entered through the Joppa Gate. We wandered through the old city and the bazaars. It was so fun to see the different shops and all the unique wares they were selling. I loved the colors and textures there. It was super busy in the marketplace and so our group got separated for a bit, but we eventually found the rest of the group. We then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the more traditional churches' view of where Christ was crucified and buried. It was a nice site, but I didn't really enjoy it. There was a lot of ceremony with it and it didn't have the authenticity and realness that so many of the other sites that we have visited have had.

After that, we headed to the Wailing Wall which is probably the most recognized site in all of Jerusalem. The wall was separated int a men's and a women's side, so the group separated and us girls went to tour side. We worked our way up to the wall, passing many different people praying. Some were sitting in chairs and many were at the wall praying. There were lots of Jewish women there praying with their Hebrew prayer books. Laying my hand upon the wall was special, knowing that this was one of the places that Jesus taught and prayed. Being there among so many people who do not have a personal relationship with Christ, who needed a book or the wall to pray, made me realize how special my relationship with my Savior is. I can turn to him with my thoughts worries, prayers and concerns whenever and whereever I need to and He is always there listening and loving me. There is nothing I have to do or say, or a specific place I have to go to talk with Him. It was a sweet revelation.

Then we toured the Rabbi's Tunnel, which is a series of underground tunnels below the Temple Mount, where we could see some of the original foundation stones from the Second Temple. It was a series of small tunnels and at times they were vey small, which brought out the claustrophobic in me, but it was definitely worth it.

We then stopped in a small church, which was the site of one of the stations of the cross, which remembered the beating of Jesus before He was crucified.

After lunch, we continued our sightseeing with Saint Anne's church, which survived the destruction of Jerusalem. This church was plain and mostly unadorned but it had beautiful acoustics. We were able to have the church to ourselves and so we just started singing different songs, praising God. Now if you remember from a previous post, our group is not the best at singing but in that church with our voices amplified we all sounded beautiful. We sang songs like "Amazing Grace", " Holy, Holy, Holy", and "Jesus Loves Me". It was such a sweet time and we all were moved by what took place In that small, unadorned church. Then we visited the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a lame man on the Sabbath in John 5.

We then walked around the Temple Mount starting at the Lion's Gate. We stopped at the Temple museum and we learned about how the ancient Jews made sacrifices at the temple. What really struck me there that like those ancient Jews, we Christians now travel to the Temple Mount as pilgrims, wanting to draw closer to Christ. But unlike the Jews, our sins are already forgiven by the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb, who is Jesus.

We also stopped at the Southern Gate, which is where the steps going into the Temple Mount are and sitting there imagining that this is where Jesus walked. It is an actual recorded event in the Bible and we were sitting on those very steps almost 2,000 years later. That was so incredible and it has been moments like these that have brought the Bible to life for me on this trip and has helped renew and strengthen my faith.

Well, I am signing off my friends. Tomorrow is our last day in Israel and we will be boarding our flight home tomorrow night so my final Israel post will actually be from home, although I will probably write it on the plane. So shalom to you my friends and I will see you all soon. :)

The Lowest Point on Earth

Good evening again my blog readers. Today (Saturday) our group headed out to the region of the Dead Sea to explore. First up was our baptism on the Jordan River. The spot we went to today was much more secluded and far less touristy feeling. Plus it is most likely closer to the actual spot that Jesus was baptized in. It was a sweet time to be together in the Lord's presence and remember our faith and be baptized in the same waters that Jesus was. Everyone agreed that it was the highlight of the day.

Then we headed to Masada, which is this giant fortress built on the top of a mountain by Herod the Great and it was later used by the Jewish during the revolts during 70 A.D. To get to the top we had to ride cable cars like the ones you see in the Alps. I am not a huge fan of heights, and Adam and Alan found about it when we were driving through the Golan Heights the other day and kept teasing me about it...good-naturally of course. :) it was really interesting to see and once we got to the top it didn't really seem so high up so I was great.

Then we stopped at Ein Gedi, which is the site where David and his men sought refuge when Saul was chasing them. David also used these settings as inspiration for many of his psalms. It was a beautiful nature park with walking paths and waterfalls. It was at one of these waterfalls that we stopped to read about David and Saul and also to read some psalms. The psalms really do come to life when you can actually see and experience the things that David is writing about.

After that we stopped at the Ahava store, which is the maker of all the Dead Sea skincare products. We bought a few things before heading down to the Dead Sea for a swim. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and is over 30% salt, compared to only 3% in the oceans. Swimming in the Dead Sea was on my bucket list and today I accomplished that. It was awesome to get into the water and without even having to try, be completely buoyant, floating in the water. The edges of the shore are also extremely cool with salt formations along the edges. The only bad thing is that the shore is extremely rocky and it kinda hurts getting in and out of the water. We also slathered ourselves in the Dead Sea mud and took some really fun pictures. The mud is right there along the shore. It is super rich in minerals and is so good for your skin. It was an adventure getting it off though and we had lots of laughs as we played in the mud.

Then our last stop of the day was Qumran, which is where the Dead Sea scrolls were found in the 1940's and 1950's. The park was officially closed but since Leor is so well known they let us in to explore a bit. (well I guess we kinda jumped the gate....:)  There were caves built right into the sides of the cliffs  which is where the scrolls were found. We loved just getting the chance to explore this awesome place that is so important to our history.

Back at the hotel, we headed to dinner and also visited a little grocery store in downtown Jerusalem before heading to our beds for the evening...which is where I should be so goodnight!

Heading South

Hey there blog readers! I didn't get a chance to update my blog yesterday because we signed into our new hotel and it costs $9 an hour for Internet. Boo.... So here goes Friday's activities.

This morning, we packed up and said goodbye to the beautiful Ma'Gaan resort at the Sea of Galilee. I have absolutely loved staying there with it's spacious rooms, gorgeous grounds, and amazing lobby that we hung out in. We then began our trip south to Jerusalem and we stopped at many places on our way there.

Our first stop was at Gideon's Springs, which is where the story from Judges 7 takes place with Gideon and his army being made smaller by God so that God could be glorified when the Israelites won the battle. It was very pretty there and we took lots of great pictures.

Then we stopped at an oasis and hot springs in the middle of the desert. It was beautiful there and the water was so clear and blue. This might have been a spot where Jesus stopped to rest on his long journey from Capernium to Jerusalem.

Our next stop was at Beit Shean, which is one of the oldest Roman settlements in Israel. The city was buried in an earthquake and many of the structures were left unharmed. It was Fun to explore, with ancient marble mosaics and huge limestone pillars. It was a major metropolitan area in Jesus' time.

Then we headed into part of the West Bank. It is divided into 3 zones: A, B, and C. C is the safest and is controlled by the Israelis so it is pretty safe. We drove pretty close to the border of the country Jordan and in the buffer zone between the two countries we did see some mine fields with active mines...from a bit of a distance. We were safe, don't worry. Our tour guide is exceptional and knows where it is safe. We actually might end up not going to Bethlehem because it is in the West Bank in zone A which is under Palestinian control. I would love to go, but definitely not if it isn't safe.

Then we stopped at Leor's house on our way into Jerusalem to meet his family and have some refreshments. He actually lives in the West Bank: zone C.
We then drove through the Jordan Valley and the regions of Samaria and Judea. We drove through the desert and saw lots of beautiful things like camels, rocky cliffs, and cacti. Then we stopped for lunch at Abraham's Tent. We dressed up like they did in Abraham's time and rode camels to fet to our destination. Riding the camels was such a new and different experience and we all had so much fun trying to get on and stay on our camels. At the tent, we ate lunch. It was delicious. They had chicken with a date honey glaze, rice, and many other foods. The chicken was so yummy that we all had seconds. It was a ton of fun to eat in a tent reclining on cushions around the table and the view outside the tent was spectacular. It looked out on the mountains of Judea and out the Jordan River Valley.

Then we drove into Jerusalem for our first view of the Temple Mount from the mountains. Then we wove our way around the city until we reached our hotel. It is much more fancy than our other hotel, but I don't like it as much. It is interesting though. In order to turn the lights on, you have to insert your room key into a slot. I guess it saves them money and electricity, but it is kind of a nuisance. Then we also arrived on Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) which started at sundown. Dinner was a grand feast, all kosher of course. Lots of salads and weird Israeli and Jewish foods so I didn't really eat much.

After dinner we all hung out in the lobby,  just chatting about the days events and bantering with each other. This is probably one of my most favorite things about this trip, just hanging out with our group. I have gotten to know all of them so well and I know that I will be sad to see the trip come to an end in a few days.

Well, I gotta go. See you all soon. :)

Note: This post was from Friday, March 11th.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Change of Pace

Hello again blog readers. Today's post will be a little more laid-back than the previous few posts. We headed north into the Golan Heights area which encompasses most of the northern part of the country. Our first stop was Dan, home of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. We saw some ruins as we drove but since it was still raining we weren't able to go see them. We did stop briefly at a nature preserve there and saw one of the springs that feeds into the Jordan River. It was super pretty.

Then we started our ascent up into the Golan Heights. Leor explained about the 6 day war in Israel as we drove and showed us different places of interest. We then stopped at Caesarea Phillipi where they had another natural springs and ruins of a pegan temple. The place was interesting but I wasn't very fond of it, it was where Jesus Called Peter a rock of faith and said "Upon this rock I will build my church.

After that we Drove along the Lebanon border. It was quite menacing with electronic security fences and a guard there watching. There were also mine fields everywhere. They were fenced off of course  but it is just a completely different world over here. Until now I really hadn't seen much evidence of it, but today was definitely different.

Then we stopped at the Nimrod Fortress and explored a bit. It Wes pretty slick because of the rains but it was fun to see this huge fortress up on top of the mountain. I stayed to the outside of the fortress but everyone else went inside and explored. It was just a bit too slick for me.

Then we drove up to Mount Herman, which is where many believe that Jesus was transfigured on the mountain. We didn't actually stop because at that high of elevation the rains had turned to snow. There was probably at least 2 inches in some places which made the roads kinda slick. It was funny because everywhere we looked there were people outside throwing snowballs, sledding, or making a snowman. There were even people who had pulled off the roads in order to play in the snow.

Then we headed off to lunch at this little pizzaria. The food was delicious and I had been hungry for pizza for awhile now. :)

After that we continued down the Golan Heights to the valley below. Leor told us of the stories about when the Jews returned to Israel after WWII and the only land left was not suitable for farming, but through their faith on God, the land became the most prosperous in the nation. We also saw our 6th rainbow today as we were driving through the mountains.

Finally we stopped at Leor's cousin's house to visit. We were able to see what a typical modern family house looks like in Israel. We also learned that at the Jewish feast of Purim the children dress up in costumes similar to our Halloween costumes.

Then back at the hotel I headed down to the shores of the Sea of Galilee for some quiet prayer time. I came away feeling so refreshed and rejuvenated, even though most of the time it was raining.

After we ate dinner, we all hung out in the lobby for awhile because that is the only place we can get internet access. This is without a doubt one of my favorite times of each day...just relaxing, processing the day, and teasing and joking with one another. I really feel like I know each of my traveling mates so well and many of them I only met on this trip. Everyone is so completely awesome and I feel so comfortable with is truly amazing!

Well, off to bed so I can rise early I. The morning. We are packing up and leaving the Sea of Galilee for Jerusalem and all the awesome things to see at the southern end of the country. And I get to ride a camel tomorrow...should be fun. :)

Oh and I forgot to post this earlier but the Internet is pretty slow here so I haven't been able to upload any pictures...we are hoping the speed in Jerusalem is faster and I can upload them then.

Until my next post, see you all soon!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On the Sea

Shalom and good evening to you my friend. Today has been my favorite day of our trip so far. We spent the day touring around the Sea of Galilee. It was a beautiful day and it was amazing to truly walk where Jesus walked and experience the things that He did.

We started out at the southern shore of the lake and started traveling around to the east. We stopped briefly at the location where Jesus cast the demon out of the man and into the pigs before heading over to Capernium. This place was amazing. This was the main place where Jesus did the majority of His ministry. capernaum is no longer a functioning city but it is full of artifacts. We visited the archaeological site of Peter's house where his mother was healed by Jesus. But my favorite place today had to be the temple at Capernaum. The original foundation from Jesus' time is still there and a newer version (still really old) is built on top of it. It is built of limestone and it stands out beautifully against the black lava rock. This place is full of history and life and it spoke to my heart about who Jesus was on Earth and how out of this humble place comes our faith and what we believe.

Our next stop on the tour was the Mount of Beattitudes. It is the place where Jesus most likely gave his famous sermon on the mount. I wasn't as impressed with this site because it was a modern day chapel of sorts and it seemed more commercialized than other places we have visited. We did head down to a small pavillion to gather and reflect on Scripture, which I really liked. Standing there looking out over the Sea of Galilee I was able to see the connections to the surroundings that Jesus used to help his audience understand what He was teaching them. Like the fertile soil, the birds and the flowers, and the mustard seeds. Mustard grows like wildfire here and it is almost everywhere you look. The parking lot had amazing views of the Sea of Galilee and it was a very beautiful place to visit.
On our way to the next stop, we sang worship songs. We all laiughed about it afterwards how terrible we all were, but it really was a sweet time spent praising our God as we drove around the Sea of Galilee.

Our next stop was the boat ride on the Galilee. There is a museum exhibit that is part of the experience that is all about a 2,000year old ship that they recovered from the Sea of Galilee. It was so interesting to see what a fishing boat looked like in Jesus' time and to learn how they preserved the boat for us to see today.then we headed out onto the sea. It was an amazing experience to be on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. It was pretty overcast today but we got really lucky with the rain. For the most part, it only rained in between our stops or when we were inside. On the boat, we were paired with another group, so we spent a lot of time at the front of the boat experiencing this special time together. Tyler talked to us about how Jesus walking on the water had even more meaning to the people living in Jesus' time because they were afraid of large bodies of water and were superstitious that demons lived in the lake. So Jesus was showing them that faith is about trusting in Him and knowing that He will take care of us and also that He is bigger than anything in this world. These words just resonated with my heart because I feel as if these words were aimed directly for my heart and God is telling me to trust Him in all of the unknowns in my life. He has it all under control and I just need to trust Him.

Then we headed to another small town named Migdal for our lunch. The restaurant is famous for serving St. Peter's fish, basically a whole breaded fish caught in the Sea of Galilee, eyes, fins, tail and all. Only Adam was brave enough to get the whole one, everyone else got it filleted. I got the chicken and it was delicious. I am glad I didn't get the fish because they don't have tartar sauce in Israel. Lunch was great fun and we all had lots of laughs.

After lunch we went exploring near the cliffs of Arbel on the Nazareth Path. We hiked along the trail that Jesus would have taken to get from Capernium to Nazareth and Jerusalem. It was absolutely gorgeous and we loved hiking and taking pictures of God's country.

Since it rained so much today, we saw 5 different rainbows. Each one was more beautiful than the last and the last one was a double rainbow. It was almost as if God were smiling down on us and reminding us of his majesty.

Then we headed over to the Jordan River baptism site. We did not really like the atmosphere, so our guide Leor set up for us to get baptized in another less commercialized place. It was kind of sad to see such a special spiritual time be so affected by commercialism. It reminded me of when Jesus got angry with the sellers at the temple for disregarding the holiness of the temple and for not having right hearts about it. So instead we took some really pretty pictures of the river and stopped at the edge to reflect and touch the water.

We also stopped at a specialty market that sold all sorts of produce, spices, and other Israeli specialties. It was fun just to explore this place and see the unique items in there.

Tonight after dinner at the hotel we all met in the lobby to process the day and discuss what we had seen. This is probably one of my favorite parts of the trip and why I love our small little group. With only 9 of us, I feel like I have known these friends for much longer than it really is. Our group dynamic is so special and I look forward to spending more time with them throughout this trip. :)

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

touring Israel

My friends I am writing you from the lobby of our hotel on the shores of the Sea of Gallilee. Today is March 8th. I am telling you this because it probably won't make it onto the blog until at least the 9th because when I tried to log into Blogger, the screen would only come up in needless to say I couldn't log in. :(

The past 48 hours have been crazy, busy, and fun. As you know from my previous post, our flight to Tel Aviv was delayed overnight so yesterday morning we headed to the airport around 4:00 a.m. to head out on our flight. The flight was super long...we took off at 6:30 a.m. our time and landed in Tel Aviv, Israel at midnight their time. The only saving grace was the in-flight entertainment system. There were over 100 movies to choose from as well as movies and games. So I slept a little on the flight but most of my time was spent watching movies. I saw Tangled, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince part 1, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Bride Wars.

We stayed overnight at Tel Aviv and in the morning we headed out to begin our sightseeing. Our first stop was at a museum that described Israel's fight for independence in the 1940's. It followed a group of young Israelis who were key players in the story. Their tale was told through documentary and theatrical films as well as life-size dioramas with special effects. At first I really didn't enjoy it, but as the film progressed I was able to appreciate the struggles that the Israeli people have gone through to get to where they are today.
Then we journeyed on to Cesearea where we saw the theatre there and were able to explore a bit. It was on the Mediterranean Sea and it was truly beautiful. It was also great to see some Roman architecture from the time of Jesus. It was quite blustery and it rained on us at the beginning but we managed to enjoy ourselves and have fun exploring this historical place.

Then we headed north towards Mount Carmel. We stopped for lunch at the home of a family whose son was killed in a suicide bomb while serving in the Israeli army. The food was delicious and there was TONS of it. My favorite was the chicken....oh so delicious and just the right amount of seasoning. Then the family told us the story of their son. This was so meaningful and heartfelt and It brought the story from the museum to life even more.

Then we stopped at Mount Carmel, which is the site where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal in 2 Samuel. It was so high up in the mountainous region of Israel and it looks down upon the Valley where Armageddon is. We got some awesome pictures on the lookout before we headed into the chapel at the monastery there and read the scriptures. I was once again reminded how great and awesome my God is. Just as he showed up for Elijah in his situation, God will also show up for me in my situation, no matter how impossible it looks. I just need to have faith and trust that He can and that He will.

Our next stop on the journey was to Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus. The town is built into the mountains and it is truly a site to behold. We went to the highest spot in the city to take in the view. This spot is also one of the places that Jesus preached the Word. to stand on that mountain and be where Jesus walked and to see what Jesus moved me and made me all the more excited to explore more of this beautiful land.

Our final stop for the day was our hotel on the Sea of Gallilee. We checked into our rooms then we all headed down to the shore to see this place where so much of Jesus' ministry happened. It is so beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by huge hills and with palm trees and flowers everywhere. We will spend much more time exploring here tomorrow...I can't wait!

Well, I am off to is almost midnight here unlike back home where it isn't even 5 p.m. yet. :) So I am signing off...see you all tomorrow!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stuck in New Jersey...

Well blog friends. It has been a VERY long day of traveling and I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Newark, New Jersey. It is currently 1:36 a.m. And after a shower I am feeling much revived. And with Internet access I thought I would update you my blog followers with the trip so far.
Our trip started very normal with a fairly uneventful drive to O'Hare airport in Chicago. When we arrived we found out that our flight to Newark had been delayed by 30 Minutes so we grabbed some dinner at the airport...nothing fancy but filling. I also spotted a Garrett's popcorn shop so I had to get some of the best cheesenpopcorn on Earth...heavenly! Finally we boarded our flight and took off. We ran into some bad weather near Newark and our 1 hour and 52 minute flight turned into over 3 hours. Our connexcting flight was scheduled to take off just 15 minutes after we landed, so we got a ride on one of those fancy carts to our terminal. Well, almost all of us...Clint and Adam ran the whole way and I got pictures of Adam running through the airport. :) when we arrived at our gate, however, we found out that our flight had been delayed to 6:30 a.m. And this was just after 11. So they got us set up with meal vouchers and we each also got a voucher for our own rooms. But since we have to leave here in about 2 hours to head back to the airport I decided not to go to sleep. We have a 12 hour flight ahead of us so I am going to sleep on the plane...I think I will be tired enough!
Well, I think that's enough excitement for today so signing off and the next post will be from Israel. Good night!
P.s. - if you want to read more about our trip and see more pictures, visit our group's blog at

Sunday, March 6, 2011

World Traveler

A passport is a wonderful thing. It literally opens up a world of travel to a person. Europe, Asia, a remote tropical isle....they all become possibilities when you own a passport. So many people have never left the United States, but in my little passport lies proof of the wonderful adventures I have taken. Britain, Mexico...and in just a few short hours I will be heading to another new destination. Israel: another place to explore, to experience, and to be.

I will be chronicling my journey through this little blog as I explore this ancient and holy land, the birthplace of my faith. So stay tuned, my blog readers, and experience the Holy Land with me as I go on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cleaning the Cobwebs

Man, it's been awhile since I have been on here. I am almost ashamed to say it but I have been neglecting my little blog. So it is time to 'clean out the cobwebs' and start afresh.  So much has been going on in my life lately....

  • Crazy snowy weather, which has definately slowed down my subbing schedule. We have had almost 50 inches of snow this season....and our average is 35 inches. Just in February alone we have had about 30 inches alone! This shot is from a hike I took with my friend Emily after the last round of winter weather.

  • Busily getting ready for my trip to Israel with my church. We leave in just over a week and we will be traveling all over the country - Jerusalem, Bethlahem, Capurnum, the Sea of Galliee, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and many more places. I am so excited to be traveling to the land where my faith originated and to walk in the places that my Savior, Jesus, walked. I think it will be the experience of a lifetime and I get to enjoy it with some of my really awesome friends. :)
  • Playing with my new ipad, which I just got today to take with me on the trip. I am hoping to update my blog while I am there and this guy will help me do just that.
  • Welcoming Zach home from Iraq. He got home earlier this month and we are all so glad to have him back!
    This is Renee and Zach with Luke, who is Renee's godson.
  • Lots of scrapbooking and card-making. Here are just a few of my favorites.

I love this layout for so many reasons. This was the first time we met Captain Hook and Mr. Smee and the photo is so bright and fun. The papers also complement the photo perfectly. And I was able to create the fun skull and crossbones accent with some grungeboard and crackle paint from Tim Holtz.

This page uses the brand new "Campfire" line from October Afternoon. This is one of my favorite companies. Their papers are so fun and versatile and the accents are adorable! These photos are of the cabin we stayed in at Fort Wilderness on our trip in 2008. The colors and accents just work so well together to help me tell the story of our "Cabin, Sweet Cabin".

This was another one of those layouts that I just fell in love with while I was creating it. All the pieces were coordinated from a set of chipboard ocean elements that I had from Heidi Swapp. Everything else is a mish-mash of products from different companies but the colors are beautiful together and they really show off the great photos I got at Epcot.

This page is so bright and fun and totally compliments this awesome photo of my dad and I on the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom. The papers are for a summer line and they were just perfect on here. The blue paper is my own creation because I couldn't find one in the collection that I liked. So I made my own with some fun stamps from KI Memories and clear embossing powder.

Well that's all for tonight. I am gonna go play with my new ipad and all of its fun features.

Until next time,
Janeen :)