Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Earthly Love of My Life

Twenty-nine years ago today I married my best friend and love of my life. I met him at a church function when I was 17 and he was 18. Casual friendship turned into best friends. After 4 years, best friends turned into husband & wife. We had a big church wedding on Saturday, June 21st at 5:00pm. It was a wonderful wedding. It was an anointed wedding. God's presence was there in a special way. We sensed the smile of God.

After a 5:00pm wedding, we had to be at the airport by 8:30 to catch our flight to Los Angeles, CA. We spent 7 glorious days on Malibu Beach in a condominium that one of our friends' dad owned. Free of charge! We were in a dream world and didn't want to come home, except for the fact that we had a cute little apartment in north Arlington and a bunch of gifts that we hadn't unwrapped yet!

Our marriage is and always has been a precious gift from God to me. When I was 16 years old God gave me a promise that He would give me someone far beyond my imaginations and expectations. Someone who loved Him more than life itself. Someone who would obey Him quickly and without question and would follow Him anywhere. God kept His promise. Gary is more than I could ever ask for. He is a man of integrity and man full of fiery love for His bridegroom, Yeshua. That's what drew me to him 33 years ago, and it still draws me to him today. He is a father that our kids can be proud of. He always put the kids over ministry or job. Time spent hanging out with them was the goal of his life, and they knew it. He loves them more than life itself. And he loves me more than life itself. It's obvious by his unselfish actions.

I love you to the sky, honey. You really do rock my world! I love being married to you. You bring joy and excitement to my life. Happy Anniversary!!!

We went out to eat last night at a restaurant in the King David Hotel called the King's Garden.

This is the view of the Old City of Jerusalem from our table.

We had such a relaxing and enjoyable time!

Our appetizer was "A Taste of Jerusalem". (As if we haven't had enough of this stuff already!)

We had a curious visitor who had an eye on our bread basket!

He gets bolder!
He was GOING to get a piece of bread! So Gary had mercy on him. He almost took it right out of his hand!
We ordered cafe lattes and the cookies came free. Yum. A wonderful end to a wonderful evening!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Erev Shabbat

Last Friday night we had a community erev shabbat meal on the patio outside of the prayer room at Succat Hallel. I and a few of the interns got there early to set up tables and chairs for the meal. Getting the chairs out of the prayer room while a watch was going on was a little tricky, but we did it.

After we got things set up, we sat in the staff room and talked for a while. I'm beginning to realize how lonely we were during our first few weeks in Jerusalem. It was just Gary, Preston and me for about five weeks. We loved being together, don't get me wrong. Our culture shock was not your normal culture shock. It was having to get used to not being around a house full of people all the time! At our house in Grand Prairie there was rarely a time that it was empty. We had young adults in and out ALL the time. Seriously, all the time. We feel so at home with tons of people. Yes, it's a lot of work, but the benefits far outweigh the work and extra funds involved. Community is such a core value to us. It's only in community that true discipleship takes place. It's amazing how people open up when they feel they belong, when they feel comfortable and at home. We have a rule at our house. Never ring the door bell. Just come in. I can't tell you the joy in my heart when I look up and see someone walk in the room who is just coming to hang out. It makes my heart smile. did I get off on that rabbit trail?! I remember... I was saying that we sat in the staff room and talked for a while after we got the tables and chairs set up. It's funny how the mind works...

After everyone gathered, Patti Ridings lit the shabbat candles and prayed, then Rick blessed the challah and Martin Sarvis blessed the wine.

We then sang Shabbat Shalom and started eating. The weather was beautiful, not too hot and not too cool. Of course we never have to worry about contigency plans in case of rain. Summer is the dry season in Israel. We have been here two months now, and it has only sprinkled twice. Israelis don't say "sprinkle". They say "rain". They were excited that it rained twice. Both times you could stand out in it without getting soaked, so that's "sprinkle" in my book! Anyway...we had wonderful fellowship and food!

Rachel Baker and two of our interns, Stephanie from Denver and Maggie from Be'er Sheva.

Nathan Gathright, Preston, Hunter Ward, and my precious one, GB, waiting for the food line to shorten. I love these guys!

Afterwards we all met in the prayer room for a time of worship. Gary and our team led worship, and we had so much fun. It's so easy to lead worship in a room full of intercessors and worship leaders. You can play one chord and they are already in the Throne room!

Rachel took this pic earlier when they were rehearsing. (Oops, my songbook is in the window.) This is Mount Zion. Just to the right is the outskirts of the City of David. I'm still amazed every time I look out the window. I hope I never get used to it.

The only thing that would have made this evening better is if I had had my children and grandchildren around me. Some day we will all be together again....
Our times are in Your hands, O God. Your love is worth it all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Samarian Beauty

I have a weakness for taking pictures of flowers, especially when I find flowers in unusual places. I think what draws me to them is that they show up when you least expect them. All of a sudden....there's a flower. A flower? What's a flower doing there?

Like this beauty in the middle of a thorn patch. They were the only flowers in at least a 15-yard radius at the site of the ancient city of Ai north of Jerusalem.

There were thorn patches everywhere we stepped...long, painful thorns. Thorns that stick through jeans. Believe me...I can show you my battle wounds.

The gorgeous, delicate color in spite of the hot, dry Samarian sun really made an impact on me.

What would life be like without flowers? I can't even bear to think about that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Falafel prep 101

This came from a great falafel place inside the Old City. Falafel critiquing is an art. You won't ever find two falafel stands that make them the same way. Kind of like hamburgers. In the States Gary and I enjoy finding independent hamburger joints and critiquing their hamburgers and fries and onion rings. Well, it's the same with falafels. They are as varied as Carters has liver pills. (I don't even know what that expression means. I just heard about Carter's liver pills from my mom all my life!)

Three ingredients make falafels falafels: pita (nothing outside of Israel can ever compare), falafel balls, and hummus. Actually nothing can compare to all three of those outside of Israel.... The rest of the ingredients is left up to the artist creating it: cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, purple cabbage, green cabbage, tahini sauce, and on and on. Sounds good, huh?!!

We visited that falafel stand a few days ago when we took one of the house of prayer interns into the Old City. We also took her to the Western Wall and I just couldn't help myself. I had to take pictures of this man. He was fascinating.

And also of this mommy with small children. I study small children everywhere I go, because I miss my grandkids so much. These sweeties were adorable!

Ok...change the subject. I don't want to start the day off being misty-eyed.

Oh, btw, the Mexican food at the Intern dinner last night turned out great! Hard tacos, soft tacos, Gary's yummy guacamole, and we even had grated cheese! My next door neighbor showed me the closest thing to cheddar in the store, and Rachel brought me a cheese grater. Ahh, the joys of life.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Abraham's Well

Yesterday we traveled to Be'er Sheva in the Negev desert in order to take part in a worship/intercession meeting related to a court case that is taking place in the city this week. It's a landmark harassment case involving the believers there and an anti-missionary organization. We are praying that the judge will decide in favor of the believers, and that the organization will be held accountable for the severe harassment they have handed out over the last several years. Please be praying. The trial is set for this Wednesday.

We had an opportunity to go down early and visit the ancient city of Be'er Sheva before the meeting last night. This is the well that Abraham actually dug! (Genesis 21:22-33)

Of course, it didn't look exactly like this, because we're talking four thousand years ago, but the stones on the walls deep inside are the ones that Abraham and company put in place. It was very moving to stand in that place and declare that the wells in Israel be re-dug and that they would run with living water that brings revelation of Messiah Yeshua to His people. Wow!

This is a tamarisk tree standing right next to the well. (Can you see the birds? I love birds.) Now I know that this is not the tree that Abraham planted 4000 years ago, but it is pretty cool that it's the same kind of tree. This site has only recently been excavated, and there just "happens" to be an old tamarisk tree right by the well. Hmmm.
Gen. 21:33 "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and there he worshiped the Lord the Everlasting God."

These pavement stones were right inside the gates to the city. Just thinking about who might have walked on these stones made my mind reel. Elijah fled from Jezebel all the way from the Jezreel/Mt. Carmel area to Be'er Sheva. I Kings 19:3-4 says he left his servant there and went farther into the wilderness about a day's journey before he stopped to sit under a broom tree. Elijah could have walked on these stones...and Abraham...and Sarah....and Isaac...Hagar and Ishmael.... Wow, my mind is totally blown now!

This is where the judges would sit in the gates of the city. "You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment." Deut. 16:18

Since the well was outside the city gates, they had to have a water source inside the city. These are the steps leading down into the huge water sistern in the city. The women would come down these steps to get water every day.

We went all the way down into the sistern chambers. This is the father of one of our interns at Succat Hallel. They live in Be'er Sheva and he was explaining the sistern to us.
We're so glad we had the opportunity to visit ancient Be'er Sheva. What a great place to start the Summer Internship. This is where it all began.

Here are a couple of pics of the worship/intercession/solidarity meeting we had last night. Because of security concerns, I am not posting names. This meeting was so powerful! We sensed such a unity and love among the leaders there. God's grace is on them. on to my next project.... We are having all the interns over for dinner tonight. The first thing on our list for House of Prayer Internship orientation this week: Mexican food! I'll let you know how it goes....

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm homesick....

This has to be one of the cutest pics in the world. Brand new shoes on the feet of a 5-year-old about to go to her first day of Kindergarten. This was taken last August ('08) of my oldest grandchild, Ashlyn Rose Watkins.

Here she is ready to walk out the door. Don't you just want to squeeze her?! seriously... this is the best. This was at the end of the day when we went to pick her up. Her sister Madysen just ran and fell in her arms. She didn't like being without her big sister all day! The look of relief is all over Ashlyn's face!

Here's Mommy with her two older girls. Ahhh....reunions are grand!
I want to tell Ashlyn congratulations for making it through a whole year of school. You did such a good job. You were a blessing to your teacher, Mrs. Summers. She really loves you. You are such an obedient girl and you love Jesus with all your heart. Way to go, Ashlyn!

Fast forward 8 months. This is our last shabbat meal with them before we left for Israel. I just can't contain myself they're so cute.

Lyric, Destiny, and Ashlyn posing. Hmmm. Who do they get the posing thing from? What I'd give right now for a big hug from all these adorable people.....

Well, this post has nothing profound written in it but VERY profound, beautiful, purpose-filled, and precious people displayed. I'm very homesick right now, so this is therapy. Please bear with me....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Serenity at Its Finest

Last shabbat Gary and I decided to get away for a few hours before our busy week started. Since we had rented a car to pick up Hunter from the airport a couple of days before and couldn't take it back due to Shavuot (Feast of Pentecost) and Shabbat, we said, "Hey, let's go to the Dead Sea!" The drive was about 1 hour and 15 minutes and was wonderful. We stopped at a public beach across the road from En-Gedi. This Dead Sea area was a refuge for King David. I can really understand why he loved it. The cave at En-Gedi is where David cut the corner of Saul's robe off. (I Sam. 24)
Notice how the mountain slopes down to the sea on the right. The picture below is a continuation of this mountain where En-Gedi is located.

The cave is hidden back in this mountain. It's a nice hike up there and a beautiful waterfall at the mouth of the cave.

We sat on a bench and read our books in silence. The Dead Sea is a picture of serenity to me. There is not an outlet for the sea, therefore there is no current, no ripples, and no waves. The salt content is 34% and it is 1240 ft. deep. The water is heavy and sooo blue. This was actually one of the world's first health resorts (Herod the Great)! The mountains of Jordan (Moab) on the east bank reflect off the water.

I absolutely love this place. We'll definitely be going back whenever we get the chance....