Jerusalem in Pictures: Mount of Olives & the Upper Room

Trip to israel

Jerusalem Part 1

This was a tour we took from our hotel in Tel Aviv. I have so much to show you that I’m breaking Jerusalem up into 2 separate articles. This one will take us to the Mount of Olives and inside the gates to the Upper Room, where Jesus had the Last Supper with his disciples.

Jerusalem in Pictures: the Mount of Olives &This the Upper Room

View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. You can see the giant gold-topped Mosque, right? That’s where the temple once stood.

Psalm 122:3-5 

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for[a] Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.

THIS is the Mount of Olives, also referred to as Mount Olivet.

There was so much I didn’t get to see, because Jerusalem is huge, and you cannot see it all in one day.

Thankfully, our tour’s very first stop was on the Mount of Olives.

I stepped out of our little bus and breathed in the holy air. Wow! The Mount of Olives! Wow! This is where Jesus hung out! This is where he came to pray. I think this was his quiet, sanity place.

Jerusalem in Pictures: Mount of Olives & the Upper Room

Jerusalem in Pictures: Mount of Olives & the Upper Room

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[a]                                                       

Luke 22:39-44

Would you like to see the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed that blood-sweating prayer?

They built this Church of all Nations in the midst of it, which makes it much easier to locate.

Jerusalem in Pictures: Mount of Olives & the Upper Room

Church of the Nations, in the Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

If you look in the very front of this picture, and also to the right of the church, you can see the olive trees and stones. This is the Garden of Gethsemane, located on the Mount of Olives. When I took this photo, I was just snapping. I had no idea what I was photographing, except I knew I wanted these beautiful churches. I went online and did my research to find the garden.

The oldest trees in the garden are much larger than the ones in the photo above. That’s only a sliver of it.

By the way, they built the church on THE ROCK they believe Jesus knelt on to pray.

According to this article, among many others, this site is proven to be the actual Garden of Gethsemane. These olive trees planted here are the oldest in the world. While most of them are not quite old enough to have been there when Jesus was, they were all carefully grown from the same tree, according to DNA research, to preserve a lineage of trees that was there when Jesus was.

Some sources report that there are 3,000 year-old trees in that grove that are not much more than stumps now, but still, pretty amazing.

I would have loved to have walked through that garden, but alas, it was not on the standard tour.

 

Mount of Olives

4In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east;and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

Zechariah 14:4

The Bible tells us that in the end times the Messiah, Jesus, will return on the Mount of Olives.

view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

Church of St. Mary Magdalene

Church of Dominos Flevit, built in memorial of Jesus weeping.

Jesus wept and lamented the future, “set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side . . . crush you to the ground . . . and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognise the time of your visitation from God.” (Luke 19:37-44)

Not 40 years later, the prophecy was fulfilled when the Romans burned the temple and destroyed Jerusalem.

Jesus wasn’t the only one to weep on the Mount of Olives.

David also went up the mountain weeping with his followers in 2 Samuel 15:30.

so much history here

Because the Bible says the Messiah will return via the Mount of Olives, many people want to be buried nearby for that day. This is a picture of the thousands of graves on the mountain, over 70,000 to be exact.

Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives

Some of my pictures are mysteries to me…It’s pretty though.

DaddyO did some research for me. It turns out this church is Church of Dormition.

 

outside wall of Jerusalem

I went into this whole thing expecting a moving, spiritual experience.

The thing was that there was an excellent tour guide to listen to, pictures to be taken, you are pouring sweat, and you have to stay with the group. Therefore, pausing for reflection or prayer? That didn’t happen much, I am sorry to tell you. We all piled back into our bus, made a stop by a souvenir shop, and then headed on over to Old Jerusalem.

 

a view of our touring group from the back of the huddle

Our group was a hodgepodge of folks from Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, and the States. Who knows where all we were from? Thankfully, everyone seemed to understand English.

This sign is for a school that trains students in the Torah.

Beautiful flowers abounded everywhere. That’s no small thing considering that when the great move back into Israel began, the land was desolate.

Normally, the standard tour includes a visit to the Holocaust museum. Unfortunately, we were there on Saturday, which is the holy day for Jews, so all Jewish establishments were closed, to include the museum.

We have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., which I am told is similar to this one, but I bet in Israel it’s even more powerful.

It was actually awesome to be in the Holy Land on the Sabbath day.

In Hebrew, it’s not “sabbath”, it’s “shabbat.”

It’s not just a nod to the law of Moses, either. They take this thing seriously. Everywhere you went, everyone would joyfully greet each other with, “Shabbat shalom!”

Shabbat is their day of rest, which is important, because they work hard the other 6 days of the week. On Shabbat, they are supposed to do no work at all, according to their tradition, not even to push a button.

Therefore, there was always one elevator in “shabbat mode”, which means that it automatically stops at all the floors.

Jerusalem wall with view of the bell tower on the Russian Monastery of Ascension in the background

We entered Jerusalem through the Zion gate. Our first stop was King David’s Tomb and the Upper Room, where Jesus and his disciples had the last supper.

And here’s the part that surprised us: the upper room is above David’s tomb.

My jaw dropped open when she told us that.

David’s tomb has rules. Men visit it on one side, women on the other, not together.

The Muslims liked the building, so they didn’t tear it down. They used it for a mosque instead.

Remember, Jerusalem has been sacked many times over the years, so these are not the same buildings as the ones standing during Bible times. You see these beautiful buildings? They were built by the Crusaders around 1099.

the windows to the upper room

 

People were leaning everywhere, praying, in groups and out loud. It was so noisy, I couldn’t carry a thought. Our tour guide couldn’t either, and she chased them all out.  Yep. It reminded me of Jesus chasing the money changers out of the temple, only she didn’t turn over any tables, and these people were only praying, though they were terribly noisy.

Our tour guide had a name that sounded like Molly. She was a former officer in the Israeli Army, and she was seriously awesome. Molly was sharp and quick, with an answer for any question about the Holy Land, past or present.

The excited crowd in the Upper Room

Alan in the Upper Room.

Me in the Upper Room

Notice my wardrobe.

If you are touring holy sites, be sure you have your knees and shoulders covered. It’s a matter of respect, but also rules. They will give you a shaw if your shoulders are uncovered, or a long skirt thing if you are showing too much leg.

In Jerusalem, the only place we went that was strict about it was the Wailing Wall. In Capernaum, only the monastery said anything to women with bare shoulders.

 

Our group in the upper room. Certain features in this room were added hundreds of years ago when the building was used as a mosque.

Upper Room

 

King David statue

These beautiful flowers seemed to be everywhere in Israel. I wanted to pack a few of these trees in my bag. Don’t worry. I settled for photos instead.

Building with the Upper Room. No, the original Bible-era building didn’t look like this. This is the Crusader created version.

The Zion Gate, with damage from war in 1948. This gate/wall was built in the 1500s.

War-worn Wall of Jerusalem

These are bullet holes in the gate from the war of 1948, between Israel and several Arab nations.

Our tour guide said that this is the truly ancient wall, from Solomon’s times. I got all giddy when she said that.

More ancient B.C. ruins

This was inside the Armenian quarter.

It was Shabbat, so the Jewish Quarter was silent, but you could tell that there are normally many shops open.

Also, this white tile is so prevalent because it is found in Israel. Therefore, they are able to build large cities with all matching buildings. It has a lovely effect.

See those columns? These are the ruins from an ancient Roman road through Jerusalem.

So exciting! We don’t have buildings in America that are that old! You can even arrange a tour, though don’t ask me how, to go through these tunnels that run under Jerusalem to see way more of the ancient ruins.

 

I wish I could remember what this is…

arches by David’s Tomb

The Upper Room

Zion Gate

Alan, in the Jewish Quarter, by the Roman road ruins

 

Hope you enjoyed the tour!! On the next post, we’ll see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Golgotha, and maybe even the Via Delorosa!

Shalom!

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Army Wives Series: The First Good-bye and Watching the News

Army wives series the first good-bye and watching the news

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last Real Army Wives series post, so where were we?

Oh, yes, Alan and I were engaged. The Army was starting to encroach on my plans and change my life. Hahahahahaha Oh boy, did I have no idea what was ahead or what!

Behind? You can catch up here with part 1, part 2,and the others weren’t exactly part of the story, per se, so we are really only on part 3 here.

Probably 99% of military couples plan their wedding date around a deployment, a move, a temporary duty assignment, or training.

For us, it was Officer Basic Course and my own college graduation. We could plan it for December or January, which was unstable because we were brand new to the military and didn’t know if that would work out…

Or we could plan the big day for August, exactly when Alan had about 10 days of leave between assignments.

So we went with the August plan.

Army wives series the first good-bye and watching the news

Picture of a picture….Yes, we got married before digital photography was big…Funny story….A guest that we didn’t know caught the bouquet. She said, “Wow! I don’t even know her!” So Alyson, Alan’s cousin, snatched it up. That makes me smile.

The first good-bye

I said good-bye to Alan around May 30 that year. He was off to Ft. Lewis, Washington, and I was headed down to my parents’ house to spend the summer working, planning the wedding, and taking Genetics via distance learning.

This was our first ever attempt at a long distance relationship. Two whole months–which sounds laughable NOW.

But, oh! The drama!

You would have thought it was World War II, rather than…..Tacoma. We hugged and kissed, and made speeches, and it actually makes me roll my eyes and shake my head now to even think about it. Gracious.

Two months of separation between Alan’s commissioning and the wedding.

But that was nothing.

Once we got married, in August, we celebrated with a honeymoon to Jamaica, and then we drove from Alabama to Oklahoma to settle him into his BOQ. (Batchelor Officer’s Quarters)

I rode out there with him, spent a day there, and then I flew back to Alabama to finish my own degree, at the University of Alabama.

Army wives series the first good-bye and watching the news

Yep. That was another 4 months of separation.

I don’t even think it’s that uncommon for military couples to spend the first months of their marriage apart. This has been a common theme throughout millenia of military couples.

As a newlywed 21-year-old young woman, it was agonizing.

How many times did I contemplate throwing it all out the window and moving to Oklahoma with my lieutenant? So many times! I could finish my degree anywhere, any time, why bother with all this? Ugh.

But my husband truly loved me, and was always looking out not only for his best interest, but for mine as well. Alan would not hear of me throwing away my degree only 4 months from completion.

Transferring to another college would have put all those credits at risk. I’d worked hard on this degree, and we both decided it would be best for me to stick it out and finish that last semester at UA.

…Even if I felt like I was the only married lady on campus. Actually, I wasn’t the only one, but I WAS the only married gal still working as a Resident Assistant, living alone, in the freshman girls’ residence hall, Tutwiler.

Army wives series the first good-bye and watching the news

My 3 closest friends junior and senior year: That’s me, Jennings, Leigh, and Chrisynda

But I was with my friends, and that made it doable. How many times have my friends kept me sane over all these years? Two things, y’all, there were two things that always got me through these obstacles.

  1. My faith in my heavenly Father. He’s seen me through too much for me to ever doubt Him.
  2. The support of my friends and family.

Around that time, speculation began to circulate about the possibility of war with Iraq.

It was the fall of 2002. We had troops in Afghanistan, not in Iraq, but the news kept building. I remember the day Chrisynda came to my room to tell me to turn on my t.v.

Army wives series the first good-bye and watching the news

Chrisynda and me, 2002

Chrisynda was one of my best friends, a tallish, slender brunette with straight shoulder-length hair, and a positive attitude. She was the Alan of my friends: super responsible, practical, level-headed, beautiful, kind, caring, and fun, but always well-balanced.

She’s just one of those people who seems to know things. She was the friend who would keep my favorite snack in her room. She’d come to my room with a Walmart bag containing batteries because she knew that if she wanted to watch t.v. in my room, someone would need to put batteries in my remote control. April did not have money to spare for batteries. For Guthrie’s fried chicken tenders? Yes, I had money for that. For batteries? Never.

I remember Chrisynda came into my room, and she probably brought food with her too, and she turned on the news. It is permanently lodged in my brain how she asked me about the Iraq news.

“Did you see this Iraq stuff?”

I muttered something about avoiding all that news and hoping it wouldn’t happen. I like to live happily in denial.

“Ehh…I’m pretty sure we’re going, April. It’s happening. Do you think Alan will go?” She was so polite, but she leveled the facts with me that I don’t think anyone else wanted to talk about.

Time stood still. Wait. What? I gotta start watching the news? The news….the news…

The news was suddenly intruding into my life. It was more than a channel to flip past. What we were seeing on t.v. was affecting me directly. It had always affected me, whether I realized it or not, but now I was in the front of the line of dominoes!!

Ever since, I’ve never been able to form a non-partial opinion on anything politically related. I always think, “Wait. How will this affect me? Or this friend, or my parents, or my children?”

Some people remain objective much better than I do, but I cannot do it.

So there we were…..young newlyweds…we’d been apart for 6 months, with short breaks in between, and now there was talk of war with Iraq.

The questions swirled around me, but what could I do? How could I know anything?

All a person can do in any situation at all is to put one foot in front of the other. Do the next thing. What needs to be done today? Do that. How do I stay spiritually and physically fit to handle all this? Do that too.

Pray. Hope. Love. Cling to the good. Always hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and life went on.

Army wives series the first good-bye and watching the news

Come back next Monday for the next installment!

Every Monday: a new installment of The Real Army Wives blog series on storiesofourboys.com

 

 


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No, I couldn’t possibly go to Israel next week.

Trip to israel

Trip to israel

“No, I couldn’t possibly go to Israel next week.”

I told my possibly off-his-rocker husband on the phone a couple of weeks ago. Who was this crazy, spontaneous person, with the wild ideas? I had a full calendar of first-week-of-summer events planned, followed by an even busier 2nd-week-of-summer.

The boys had a dozen places to be, and it is my job to get them there while Alan is the one who takes the exciting trips.

Not me. I’m the dull one.

Ha! Yeah, right. Me, dull? No. Just heavily domesticated.

Our first trip to Israel

crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea

But all of my protests were met with answers. Real, feasible answers.

See, Alan had been planning to go to Israel for a while. It was only at the last-minute that he convinced me to go with him.

Mom’s graduation? I wanted to be there so badly! Well, she was super understanding and said I should go to Israel.

The kids? Well, they are out of school, and both sets of grandparents are available both of those weeks that we would need help.

Camp? Nonna and DaddyO will take the boys to camp. My parents and Alan’s parents took turns keeping the boys.

Expired passport? You can renew it in Atlanta in 1 day, if your trip is within a small window. Mine wasn’t, but I was able to drop off the paperwork and return to pick up the passport 4 days later, in plenty of time for my trip.

The expenses? Cash in all those airline miles we have saved up with Delta and crash in Alan’s hotel room that’s already booked.

Past that, just let it go. When else is all of this going to align so perfectly for ME, a regular old stay-at-home, sometimes work-at-home, mom to get to go to ISRAEL???

…..So I discussed it with my mom and with Alan’s mom, and I slept on it……..

Our first trip to Israel

coast of Jaffa, Israel. Jaffa is where Jonah went to flee from doing God’s will. It was also home to Simon, the Tanner, from Acts 10:6. In the Bible, they spelled it Joppa.

Then I texted Alan first thing the next morning to tell him to count me IN!

Israel was such a grand adventure. It’s going to take me probably 7 blog posts to show you what all I saw, but I can’t wait to share it with you. I want all of you to experience it, as if you were there. A tall order, but I will do my best.

I’m going to break it up with Real Army Wives posts in between the Israel posts because I already missed last week’s, thanks to the traveling, so I need to get back on that!

Our first trip to Israel

not a bad place to work

Trip Preparation

Ya’ll!! I wasn’t super prepared for this trip, but I knew just enough that it wasn’t a total disaster. I literally found out I was going to Israel only ONE week before my departure date. It was insanely last-minute.

This felt like a gift straight from the hand of God himself that just landed in my lap.

Honestly, the scariest part of the ENTIRE trip was having to brave downtown Atlanta alone TWO times to get my passport.

I should explain that I had to prepare for the trip and fly to New York City by myself. Alan had a work trip before the Israel one, so I didn’t meet up with Alan until we were both actually in Israel.

I’ve lived all over the U.S. of A., but Atlanta makes me nervous. There’s a billion ways to get lost, and believe me, I will find them.

I parked right beside the passport office, but I didn’t realize it, so I got lost on foot. A nice man on the street helped me, but then he asked me for money. Homeless men seemed to be at every corner. Sort of reminded me of my California days, only I was accustomed to the ones in California enough that they didn’t make me nervous.

The second day, I got all turned around, couldn’t even find the passport office, and ended up  walking, lost, in downtown Atlanta. This time I made eye contact with no one, but also that meant no one helped me. I hiked back to my car and drove until I found the parking lot from day 1.

Yeah, I have no sense of direction. How did I ever survive before GPS? I cannot remember!

The passport office closes to walk-ins at 3pm, and it was 3:05 ish when I finally made it up to their office complex. I stood there, all defeated, too intimidated to ask for an exception. My passport was ready, and all I needed was to pick it up, so when they opened the door for some other guy, I scooted right in. I explained to the security/lady-in-charge what I needed.

“Is that all you were doing, waiting out there in the hallway?”

“Yes,” I admitted sheepishly.

I have told you all before that I am a shy, shy person.

Our first trip to Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel

These Atlanta mishaps reminded me that when I’m in Israel, I need to be vigilant, not roam around looking like a happy-go-lucky easy-target like I usually do. While I was overseas, I stuck with my friend Julie, or a group of people, so there was no wandering the streets of Tel Aviv alone.

I actually felt very secure the entire trip. Downtown Atlanta was literally the scariest part of the whole thing. Plus, I chose not to drive in Israel, so out went 90% of the stress potential.

Our first trip to Israel

Tel Aviv

Late Thursday morning, I began my journey to Israel.

I flew from Atlanta to New York City, met up with friends that were also going on this journey, waited 5 hours for our flight to Tel Aviv, and then we made our 10 hour flight across the Atlantic.

It was an overnight flight. They expect you to sleep. But who could sleep??? I was sitting between two Israelis, I was excited enough for everyone on the plane, and there was no way I’d ever be able to sleep.

Not wanting to bother people with my reading light or the t.v., as I was in a middle seat, and folks on every side of me were sleeping, I just turned out the lights and PRETENDED TO SLEEP…….for like 8 hours.

Also, it was kind of hard to wake up the dude in the aisle seat, when I needed to use the bathroom.

But who cares? We are going to Israel!!!!!

According to my Fitbit, I slept 2 hours, and when we landed in Tel Aviv it was about 4pm the next day, but it didn’t matter. I was still so ridiculously elated, I couldn’t sleep that first night either.

Y’all, I was like a child on the night before Disney World. I gushed to the nice Israelite lady beside me on the plane, “I’m sort of a Bible geek, so this is like how regular people feel when they go to Hollywood!”

Our first trip to Israel

This is on the Mount of Olives.  *All photos in this series were pictures we took ourselves.*

 

Israel Day 1

The guy at customs in Israel chuckled at the very sight of me.

The middle-aged, partially balding man smiled, “Let me guess. This is your first time in Israel.” (I loved the thick Israeli accents!)

“Yes!”

“How long are you staying?”
“A week!!”

“Who are you here with?”

“My friends.”

He looked up questioningly. Granted, I’d zipped out of that plane so fast, none of my friends were in sight…

“You are with a group? What is the name of your group?”

Panic. My group has no name. What do I say? What do I say? So I didn’t say anything, I guess for too long…

“You don’t remember?” He seemed to chuckle again. I mean he didn’t laugh, but his face and voice seemed to laugh.

“Oh, no, it’s just, there’s no name really, of my group, it’s just my friends…”

“Where are you staying? Can I see your reservation?”

Now I was getting nervous.

I handed him my phone with the hotel app opened. I had no data service yet, but at least he could see that I had made a reservation.

Phew! He let me in. I don’t think he was actually all that concerned about the dorky, happy, red-headed American lady. But let it be known that Israel is thorough.

Thankfully, some of the men in our group had arranged 2 cabs for us, and I got up to my hotel room, opened the curtain, and saw this:

our first trip to Israel

Our first trip to Israel

Yeah. I had a good feeling about all this.

An actual balcony in my room!!!??? With THIS view??? I would never have dreamed. When you opened the balcony doors, it was always comfortably warm out there, with the breeze coming off of the sea. Cats meandered around freely down in that park. Runners, walkers, bike-riders, and sun-lovers galore were strolling about all those pathways. And there was that beautiful water, as far as your eyes could see!

Alan arrived about four hours later, at which point he found me collapsed on the bed in my sleep deprived state. It was a great relief to have Alan there.

There were so many things to see in Israel. We didn’t do it all, but we did see Jerusalem on day 2, so be sure to come back on Tuesday for the Jerusalem article, which I may have to break into two posts.

I hope you’ll come along for the journey! See you in Israel! Shalom, y’all!

 

 

 

 

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The Thrifty and Sunburn Free Trip to Miramar Beach

The Thrifty and Sunburn Free Trip to Miramar Beach

The Thrifty, Sunburn-Free Trip to Miramar Beach Florida Destin area

 

Alan and I are always dreaming up fun things to do together as a family, and our efforts are often met with …….resistence.

One of these fellas actually lamented, “I don’t want to go to the beach. I just want to stay home and hang out at the house.”

Sigh. Well, perhaps we were hasty in taking a beach trip the very second that school let out, but that’s life. Children are still at the mercy of the parents’ summer schedules. We are at the mercy of their’s the rest of the year.

When I was a child, I would have never said, “I don’t want to go to the beach!” I don’t think I ever did go to the beach until I was around 13 years old, and it was something I was exceedingly grateful for.

That just goes to show that the more accustomed to wonderful things that a person is, the less we appreciate those wonderful things.

John David was not the beach-resistor. He couldn’t wait to go, but once he got there he was soon disenchanted and ready to head to the pool.

Have no fear. The moment the reluctant boy sat foot on the beach, he never complained again. In fact, Alan took all the other boys to the pool after an hour, while I stayed at the beach with Joshua until I began to worry about our sun protection.

Look closely to see a small boy in a yellow shirt, stealing a float from an older brother. He made the snatch, and he fled the scene. Joshua and I sat and laughed.

To be fair, it wasn’t stealing exactly. We share the floats. He decided it was his turn. Caleb, who was using it as a basketball net, but was pausing to fetch his ball, didn’t notice until JD was safely on the opposite side of the pool.

I was extra careful about sunscreen this year, and it paid off. I brought 0 sun-burned people home from the beach. Hallelujah! 5/6 of us are as fair as fair can be. This was an accomplishment.

My strategy was simple.

  1. Try to keep everyone indoors between 11am and 4pm.
  2. Re-apply every 1.5 hours.
  3. Wear a cover-up as much as possible.
  4. I wore a seriously ugly hat, and so did Alan.
  5. Put swim shirts on the kids.

Egypt wasn’t built in a day, so we settled for the Sphinx and a pyramid.

WWII airplanes flew over in honor of Memorial Day.

Our other big objective this year was to spend as little money as possible on the vacation.

I think that’s always been a goal for Alan, but in the past I secretly didn’t care. This year I cared just as much as Alan.

Our strategy for this was also simple.

  1. Our condo was free. Alan’s grandparents let us stay at their place, and that’s why our family has gotten to go to the beach so frequently over the years. (Gigantic thank you to Alan’s grands!!!)
  2. Only eat out once, and that will be a lunch.
  3. Buy enough groceries to have plenty of snacks and easy to assemble meals so that no one will even ask to eat out. Success!
  4. The condo has a pool. The beach is right across the street, so there is no need to pay for any other activities.
  5. Rent a Redbox movie instead of going to the theatre. (Remember, we have to hide from the sun for several hours/day.)

Joshua and Daniel were all about the net fishing. They caught quite a few tiny fish and crabs.

 

Would you like our meal ideas that made this possible? It was so simple it’s almost embarrassing to list them.

Breakfast

cereal, eggs, and Pop-tarts

Since they are normally not allowed Pop-tarts, this is a humongous treat. I was curious if pop-tarts were any better than donuts, so I looked it up……They aren’t better, just different.

By the way: 1 Krispy Kreme glazed donut = 22g carbohydrates and 11g fat

1 Blueberry Pop Tart = 38 g carbohydrates and 5g fat

Cocoa Pebbles cereal =  25g carbohydrates and 1g fat

Eggs                    = 0.6 g carbs and 5 g fat

……Sooooo that’s why we don’t normally do pop-tarts. One of my boys gets crazy hyper from all that sugar. At least with the cereal, they get the protein from the milk to help my conscience. There’s no way I’m COOKING 3 times/day. Breakfast has to be easy.

Eggs are the clear winner, but not all of us can eat the eggs. I have a son with an egg allergy. Sad, right?

This one is allergic to nothing, and he likes his eggs dyed green and served with sausage.

Lunches and Dinners

Micro-wavable hamburgers. We are sort of fanatical about these because they are delicious, they are real, and they are brain dead easy to make quickly.

We also served egg sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and hot dogs while we there. It was only a 3 night vacation.

Next year maybe we’ll do a no-eating out at all policy because that would have saved us another $90, believe it or not. $90 was how much we spent on the groceries for the whole weekend, and yet that’s what it costs to take our family to a restaurant, other than fast food.

“I don’t want to swim with the seals and the sea lions.” I reassured them the gulf is much too hot for the seals and the sea lions. Swim away. “Are there sharks?” Well…

And by the way, it was a free of incident beach year too! There were no ER visit, no jelly fish stings, no rain days, and no sunburn. Ah, yeah. We fall more in love with Destin every year.

Caleb earned these green sunglasses as a reading prize.

our dare-devil. He will go out as far as you let him.

I’m 1/2 daredevil like Caleb.

I used to swim to the sand bar, and I CANNOT go to the beach without getting drenched from head to toe. It’s not possible. I don’t know how you do it. Moana was right. It DOES call you.

…..but I’m now 1/2 skiddish. I’ve been stung by jellyfish a few times, and y’all, that HURTS. Plus, I see fish and shadows, and I start to panic. Ah, if only I could have stayed young and dumb.

 

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

 I hope your summer is off to swimming start as well! God bless!

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5 Steps to Focus on Prayer, Rather than Letting Your Mind Wander

5 Steps to Focus on Prayer, Rather than Letting Your Mind Wander

***This post does contain Amazon affiliate links, for which I earn ad fees.***

I don’t know about you, but I have always done some of my very best thinking during prayer time or listening to a church sermon. It isn’t on purpose. It’s just that it can be frustratingly hard to focus.

Prayer is something I start with the best of intentions. Like this….it’s funny…..

“Dear Lord, thank you so much for this day, and my husband and children, and this house. You have been so good to me……Ugh, it’s a lunch-packing day, and I forgot to buy bread. What is that brown smudge over there? I’m going to have to clean that up. Oh, Lord, do help Gracie with that problem she’s having. I meant to pray about that. Sanctify her heart. My bra hurts. My pants are hot. What did I set the air conditioner on? This summer I’m going to save $250 by not joining the neighborhood pool…Oh yeah, please help Gracie. Give her wisdom for this.”

Yes, it’s that bad. No, all of those thoughts are not prayer thoughts, or even related thoughts. This is how brains sometimes work!

We have to INTENTIONALLY find a way to focus on our prayer, and I recently came across a plan that smoothed out that jacked up roller coaster ride that used to be my prayers.

I found it in this book:

 

I’m reading this book with a small group of women at my church. Page 15 had the prayer-changing-strategy that I found so helpful.

First, the authors, Ralph W. Neighbor, Jr. and Bill Latham, take you through the Lord’s prayer to remind us how Jesus said to pray. Most of us are familiar with that.

But then, they actually break it down to prompts that you PERSONALIZE for your life on that day.

5 steps to more focused prayer, rather than letting your mind wander

These are the questions they ask you to fill in:

  1. “What will you say to God to show how you respect and honor him?” Then they give you space to write out what you are actually going to say.
  2. “What part of your life and your world do you need to commit to God’s control today?” ____________________________________________
  3. They ask you what you need to ask forgiveness for. Ouch. Yep. Be honest.
  4. “Where do you need God’s protection in your life today?”  I love that we have this sort of heavenly Father. He WILL give you protection where you need it, when you ask him.
  5. “What can you say and do to recognize God’s rule over your life today?”

 

These 5 simple, PERSONAL, questions provide you with an outline to focus on your prayers.

It’s not just a list of gimme, gimme, gimme either. It’s a true heart check and conversation starter.

Yes, many of us keep a prayer list of names and needs, but this is better than that alone because it changes everyday, and it encourages you to give God glory and thanksgiving, rather than just a list of requests.

I found it much easier to FOCUS on what I was praying, using this guide, than my typical mode of just letting the words flow from my mind and heart with no aforethought. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as I showed at the beginning, I simply have trouble FOCUSING.

Many people use a 5 step outline for prayer, but I found this to be even better for my mind-wandering because it required me to write down what I wanted to say on this particular day, what was relevant at the moment.

I hope you find this useful. I think it would be wonderful to fill up an entire notebook of prayer outlines like this, all filled in.

 

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed by your name.

Your kingdom come, 

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, 

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.”

–Jesus, in Matthew 6: 9-13

 

I hope you all have a wonderful week. It’s the first week of summer here! Time to have fun with the kids!

 

 

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