"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. {He has made everything beautiful in its time.} He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it."
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Monday, March 12, 2012

Graduation Countdown//Life Decisions

I was in my Marriage and Family class this past week, when our professor, Dr. Ernie Baker, told us to read the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

A particular part of the statement stood out to me:

["With half of the world's population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies... that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor. 12:7-21)"].

With graduation almost exactly two months away, I have been thinking a lot about who I want to be and what I want to live for.

The future stretches vastly out before me, and I know that the legacy and impact that I will leave behind, will largely be determined by the decisions I make today.

Spring 2012 prayer: I pray that I will know the Lord's will, live for Him, and that my life will contribute to the advancement of the kingdom.

Lead me O Lord, in your righteousness.

The Lord knows exactly what we need. When we need it.

Sitting with my mom at tea today, spilling out my heart [like usual]...I was blessed by her wise and timely words:

"I think you need to stop worrying about the 'What-ifs' this year and truly use this time to focus on your walk with the Lord, and drawing closer to Him."


Monday, January 16, 2012

When the Clouds Compass You About

"Fear not because you sometimes walk in darkness and have no light. Remember that you cannot understand the mind of the Lord, nor the meaning of His dealings. But when the clouds compass you about, believe in God as Daniel did; trust in the Lord Jesus at all times; sing to Him in the dungeon, as Paul and Silas; sing to Him even in the fire, as the three Hebrew children did; be sure, be very sure, he who believes shall never be ashamed."
-J.C. Ryle

3 Days Until I am Back at School...//Senior Year Quote//

"Be faithful in the present and flexible with your future"
-Phillip De Courcy

Sunday, January 15, 2012


November 19th-26th. One of the best weeks of my life.
We were given one week [Fall Break] during our semester in Israel where we could go anywhere, with anyone! Quite the prospect to consider.
At first I really wanted to go to Greece...soak up some sun on the beaches, see the cute little villages portrayed in such movies as the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, see Athens, see the Acropolis, and the Parthenon...go back to some of civilization's earliest roots.
But alas, this was not to be. While we were considering Greece, overnight, the airfare skyrocketed. So it got ruled out....and Italy took it's place.
Now looking back, I can't imagine having gone anywhere else!
Then the Lord allowed our eclectic, but perfectly meant to be group to fall into place!
It started with Laurel and I wanting to be on the same trip from the get go. We then asked Nate and Ben to consider going with us (as we needed some strong, fun, capable male leadership in the group!) Then Rachael and Amanda asked if they could join us. And finally, Laurel convinced Kristyn to ditch her cruise idea and come with us. [Party of 7 complete].

[The team founders].

After all of these crazy decisions were FINALLY made: where we should go, with who, and when we should leave, we were enroute to ITALIA (driving to the airport at 1 am in the morning...a CRAZY idea, don't ever do it ;))!
After recovering from our initial sleep deprivation, and experiencing our first MAJOR communications barrier (at breakfast with a very confused waitress!)...we got adapted and Italy became our home for the week.
She met our expectations, and then some. Great food. Great architecture. Great fashion. Great culture. Great views. Lovely people. Rich history. And an exuberant atmosphere.
Some of the highlights for me were:
1. Meeting Damion and Magali Wallace, and Cesare Albanesi...getting to experience and understand the Italian church better, sharing sweet communion with these believers (who we had no previous connection with beforehand!)...They became like family to us. "POINTE DELUNGO!" "Right to left!" Their love, generosity, and hospitality blew us all away!

2. Hitting the town at night: almost every night Laurel and I would soak up the culture by getting some tiramisu or gelato or a cappuccino. We would then relax, unwind, and discuss the day while enjoying our Italian delicacies. Ben joined us for a few of our nightly adventures (the first time we almost got locked out of our hotel, the second time, we got lost outside of the city walls, and the third time, we were so poor we had to combine all of our money to order cappuccinos and then ended up sitting in a park at midnight sipping our beverages in plastic cups!) And Nate joined us on one nightly adventure too...and the next thing we knew we were all on the top of a shingled roof in Florence, looking out over the domes at dusk! :)
3. I loved the food. I could be Italian!! These people know how to live life! While we were there, I got to enjoy the most incredible, HUGE slices of pizza topped with every topping imaginable: broccoli, cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage, etc., the most foamy cappuccinos, amazing bars of dark chocolate, creamy slices of tiramisu, rich, cold scoops of gelato, every kind of pasta dish imaginable (they were INCREDIBLE), etc.

4. I loved reading portions of Acts and Romans while in Rome, and Hebrews while in Vatican city ["Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when THIS PRIEST had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy," Hebrews 10].

[The Vatican Take 1].

[The Vatican Take 2].

5. I loved the ancient, towering architecture (see pictures below!) It was crazy being in the city that has held such an important place throughout history (especially in ancient history...the Caesars, the Roman empire, the Tiber River, the Colosseum, etc.) and I loved being in Florence, the "Seat of the Renaissance" for that reason too. It was particularly neat visiting Rome, however, as I was taking "Second Temple" with Benj Foreman at the time, and we spent several class periods discussing the Caesars and Roman history (as it so directly ties into the Intertestamental Period and the New Testament).

[The Tiber River: what Rome was founded on].

6. I loved soaking up the sites, beautiful Siena and Florence, and Rome, a city you could spend weeks upon weeks in and only begin to explore. I loved Siena with its Christmas decor hung everywhere, and its large town square, its scenic parks, its hidden cistern, its good deals on boots, its amazing pastry shops, etc. I loved Florence with its open-aired shops (silk ties and leather gloves and cashmere scarves!), artistic heritage, and its lovely river: so clean, and calm, and romantic, reflecting the glow of the street lamps and the shedding autumnal trees, with its bridge of locks, and its graceful kayakers. I loved riding the public transportation in Rome, and being thrown all over the bus and awkwardly having very little personal space. And I was enthralled by the Colosseum. So many stories I will never know took place in her stands. So much spilled blood contaminated her sands. So many people who died as animals tore off their flesh or as they were speared simply for the enjoyment of the crowd...for no noble purpose...just to appease the bloodlust of the mob.


[Florence...I was a little in love with the river, in case you couldn't tell].

[Roma: the Colosseum].

7. But honestly the highlight of the trip for me was just being together: [creating memories & inside jokes], [growing closer through conflict], [laughing], [crying], and [learning] together! We definitley had many bumps along the way (mostly having to do with transportation...not knowing which station to get off at, meltdowns, getting on the opposite train as the boys, losing each other, etc.) But looking back, these were the moments that bonded us together...and the moments that we now look back upon and joke about. Ironically, I wouldn't have had it any other way. One of my favorite memories was riding in our own little compartment (in true Harry Potter style!) on this posh train (which we had to pay more to ride on!) on Thanksgiving Day...playing Mafia and the "Who am I?" game (where you write down some famous person's name, then pass it to the person next to you, and they have to lick it and put it on their forehead without looking at it, and guess who they are), as Christmas music reverberated from the speakers of Amanda's iPod. We got embarrassed whenever someone would pass outside of our window (no doubt imagining what they must be thinking about the seven crazy Americans inside!) I also will never forget my very first Thanksgiving apart from my family...stuffing my face (until I couldn't walk...no joke!) with pasta, bread drenched in olive oil, and a cheese, tomato, and spinach salad...cherishing the company of my [second family].
Despite our budget crunching here and there, it ended up being a very expensive trip...but well worth every penny. Friendships. Memories. Experiences. A trip of a lifetime. Some things are worth splurging on. ♥

Grazie di tutto Italia!
("Thanks for everything, Italy!")

Saturday, January 14, 2012

There and Back Again...an IBEXer's Tale part 9

[Trying to hold on]

How I miss it.
Walking her streets at least once a week [every Saturday], she began to feel like home to me.
I miss the sight of stray cats.
I miss the Citadel or Jaffa Gate, aglow at night. I miss the busy scurrying of men with carts, conducting their daily business, outside of Damascus Gate.
I miss seeing bread vendors and their braided loaves piled up high on carts.
I miss seeing jingling skirts and shimmering scarves and plush camels and carved figurines displayed outside of a hole-in-the-wall shop...that beckoned one to come inside.
I miss how people would rudely (at least according to my culture) rush by, brushing up against you, or bumping you.
I miss the sometimes hilarious, sometimes annoying cat calls of the shopkeepers to get us into their shops ("You dropped something-my heart").
I miss that old, often putrid scent that infused the Old City, and became one of its signature features.
I miss the smell of hookah.
I miss the colors everywhere...the colors of the sunsets, the colors of the bedazzled pillows and carpets and purses, the colors of the graffiti etched onto the walls.
I miss the healthy, endearing body of believers that comprise Jerusalem Assembly (I miss Meno's excited gestures and facial expressions and funny jokes...his passion for the things of the Lord!)
I miss walking out of Mamilla Street with it's shops, and lights, and modern styles, and then going, as if through a time machine, centuries back and entering the Old City.
I miss our shopkeeper friends, whom we knew by name...and who offered us discount deals or hot cups of soothing tea (or sometimes, even offers of marriage!)
I miss seeing Jewish families...little boys wearing little tallits and kippahs and sporting the signature Pe'ot (curls down their sideburns). They were so dreamy with their dark hair and big, curious eyes. Or married women with their head coverings- hiding their shaved heads. A difficult lifestyle, I imagined.
I miss the smell of strange spices.
I miss Shabban and his shop. That man could give us any piece of information or help us find any kind of trinket or get us any kind of deal our hearts desired.
I miss Emperor's Shawarma- where we would pile our plates high with hummus and onions and beets and pickles. Where the owner knew exactly who we were, since we became such regulars.
I miss Aroma's- and the feeling of a blended, iced coffee slipping down my throat...or a piping mocha and it's complementary chocolate. An Aroma's coffee always tasted so good because it was paired with the company of good friends.
I miss the little grocery store, where we would stock up on such essentials as pita bread, peanut butter, and hummus, among other things.
I miss seeing crowds of soldiers- just going about their everyday duty.
I miss the spiritual wake up call that occurred after passing men praying on their mats to Allah...so much passion, for what? or passing Eastern Orthodox processions...so much pride, for what?
I miss the sight of men holding dangling, silver trays filled with tea, or Turkish coffee, or smoothies.
I miss all of the twists and turns of the Old City. The ancient, bumpy cobblestone, the stone walls, the various quarters. Even after three months of exploring the city, there were always new finds to discover.
I miss being able to go into such historical landmarks as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher whenever I wanted. The kind of places I had only read about or seen in movies before. I miss the sensation of having history-everywhere!-at the touch of my fingertips.
I miss the panoramic view from the Mount of Olives-especially breathtaking at nightfall.
I miss seeing the Dome of the Rock gleaming majestically in the light of the sun.
I miss seeing the crowds of people accumulated around the Wailing Wall- bowing, praying, crying, beseeching, leaving their hand-written notes within its crevices...so much emotion, so many pleas for hope surround that wall.
I miss New Jerusalem- Ben Jehuda Street with its candy stores (filled with every size and kind and flavor of colorful, American or non-American, candy a person could want), and all of the quaint coffee shops and little boutiques elsewhere.
I miss riding the tram, rubbing shoulders with many faces I had never seen before, and never would again. People to whom Jerusalem was simply their home. I miss engaging in random conversations with the locals.
I miss plopping down at Christ's Church, after a long day of walking and exploring...to study, chat, or simply take in a delicious, warm cappuccino and a hot, melting chocolate croissant.
I miss the wind whipping about my shoulders (and most of the time, threatening my skirt!), or the rain soaking my skin, or the sun causing me to break out into an intense sweat...these were the feelings that assured me that I was really here. That this was really happening. That it wasn't all just a dream.
Which is what it's beginning to feel like now...

אני מתגעגעת לך ירושלים
("I miss you Jerusalem").

"Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem."
—Talmud: Kiddushin 49b

“Without Jerusalem, the land of Israel is as a body without a soul.”
—Elhanan Leib Lewinsky, Hebrew writer and Zionist leader

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
—Psalm 122:6

**Photo Credits: the majority of these photos were taken by my friend, and photographer extraordinaire, Richard Dewey**