The Voyage of Life: My Favorite Art Works in D.C.



We lived in D.C. (both inside and outside the Beltway) for 5 years, and during that time we always had at least 2 preschoolers, sometimes 3. If it wasn’t at the ‘Space Museum’ or the ‘Dinosaur Museum’, we couldn’t stay long. Art museums were terrifying to even attempt with them, so like most parents, we just didn’t.

One year I sent the boys to stay with their grandparents for a week, and I had the rare opportunity to wander the District alone. It was a BLAST!! I adored every minute of it.

That was the year I walked into a genealogy conference at the National Archives and became hooked. It was also the year that I discovered the under appreciated jewel that is the Smithsonian art galleries. My favorites were the National Gallery of Art, located on the Mall, and the National Portraiture Gallery, located closer to Chinatown.

While browsing through the National Gallery, I came across Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life Series. I was frozen to the spot, studying each individual painting. It’s a series of 4 enormous canvases, packed full of meaning and inspiration. » Read more

ALL the Israel Posts PLUS Our Best 10 Israel Photos

Trip to israel

Going to Israel this year was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. Yes, I know it’s a big statement to make. I like to make my statements GRANDE!!!

Other than my wedding day and the births of my children, this was the BEST!!!!!

I wrote, and wrote, and wrote about it, but I have yet to put all of that information into one source, so that’s what we are doing today. Below you will find links to every single one of my articles about Israel.

By the way, Alan went back over there again a few weeks ago. I could NOT wait to see his pictures because he travelled to a few places I had not, but alas, the man took almost zero pictures.

Don’t boo him, though, y’all.

Between the time he left, and the week he got back, literally EVERYTHING broke at our
house. It SHOULD have cost us thousands, and I do mean thousands of dollars to fix it all, but it cost only a few hundred.

How? Because Alan fixed our air conditioning unit, the fence that the storm blew over, and he replaced the dryer and the garage door opener, with help from DaddyO on the fence.

I even bought a dented dryer to save $500, and Alan opened up the dryer, popped out the dent, and BAM! We have a $1000 energy saving dryer that we bought for only $500 that works perfectly and has no dent.

Thank you, Alan and DaddyO!!

Now onto Israel!!!




The Jordan River

The Sea of Galilee

Capernaum (Our Favorite– It’s an open archaeological site.)

Tabgha (Near Sermon on the Mount and many miracles)


Old Jaffa (Joppa)

Shopping in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv: The Beach & The People

John the Baptist’s Birthplace

The Gates of Bethlehem

The Western Wall

Jerusalem: The Via Dolorosa

Jerusalem: Where Jesus was Crucified

Jerusalem: Mount of Olives and The Upper Room

Journey to Israel

And there you have it! 15 articles about traveling Israel, with about a billion photos!!



Don’t have time for all that? Want to just see our 10 favorite photos and maybe one story?

We got ya covered. 10 of our Faves (Okay..14…):

Looking over the ancient ruins of Capernaum to the Sea of Galilee.

The black stone wall on bottom is from the sanctuary that Jesus taught in. The white stone sanctuary on top of it was built in the 400s.

I just thought this was beautiful.

We went in June, and these flowers were blooming everywhere. I wanted to pack one of those plants in my suitcase!

Because photos of people sleeping in cars are funny…they just are..

House of Simon the Tanner….because you have no idea how many times Julie and I walked around Old Jaffa looking for this!

We walked the 3 mile beach-side route from Tel Aviv to Jaffa. THIS was our view.

Because everyone should have good traveling buddies!

The famous dome, right behind the Western Wall. Photos aren’t allowed past security, so I failed to get a good Wall pic.

Golgotha. That window is showing just a segment of the earthquake damage from the earthquake mentioned in the Bible that took place when Jesus died on the cross. You can actually look way down and see the split rock going deep down, when you’re there in person.

This enormous church stands on top of the place where Jesus was crucified as well as where he was buried and rose again.

King David’s Tomb!

Jerusalem, as seen standing on the Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives

So many stories from this amazing trip!

I hope you can take some time to click on the links and read and see more about this incredible country.

Next up: London! Alan is helping me put together a post from his most recent trip there. It was quite a day two weeks ago, waking up to news of a subway bombing in London…while Alan was riding the thing all day long. I told Alan before he left us that London made me more nervous than Israel, and yeah…that happened. But that’s another story for another day. He’s back safe and sound now, anyway. Thank the Lord!!




Israel Trip Photoblog: The Jordan River

Israel Trip Photoblog: The Jordan River

Sea of Galilee


Before we dive in to see the Jordan River, I found a few more beautiful photos of the Sea of Galilee on Alan’s camera!! I’m including those here because these showed the lake better than the ones I took!

Panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee

Jet ski riders, Sea of Galilee

After leaving the Sea of Galilee, it was finally time for lunch. Let me tell ya, I was STARVING. It was a good thing because lunch was fish caught in the Sea of Galilee, locally known at “St. Peter’s fish”.

And it looked like this……


The struggle was real. I’d never eaten fish prepared this way before.

One thing that was exciting about eating out in Israel is that the restaurants bring you several salads while you wait for your food. These aren’t salads like our little side salads. These are mixtures of different vegetables, dips, tuna salad, hummus with pita bread, all sorts of things! The “salad” phase of the meal was actually my favorite.

“Do any of you speak English?”

Our tour group was over 1/2 Americans and UK people and a little less than 1/2 French. That’s because our tour guide spoke French, English, Arabic, and Hebrew. Impressive, eh?

The English-speaking half all filled up a table before we could get to it at lunch, which left us at the French table. Alan asked if anyone spoke English. They did not.

We all attempted to communicate through our broken Spanish and English, as Alan and I have no French words whatsoever. It was futile. Mostly they talked, and we ate.


Our tour group, gathering to tour the Jordan River

The Bible verses describing the baptism of Jesus were written out in many different languages.

Technically, this isn’t the exact spot where Jesus was baptized, but that particular site is not solidly in Israeli territory anymore, so we do our best.

The Jordan River is not clean and beautiful like the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). In fact I was hesitant to even put my feet in. 


Alan put his feet in too.

The water was FULL of GINORMOUS fish. You could see them coming close to you and swimming around. There were also plenty of ducks. I guess it’s too dirty to drink but not too dirty for wildlife to survive in. Extremely green though–it was that green, if not more so, in person. *gag*

The ducks seem unbothered.

Was it a spiritual experience?

It was. You could look down river and see other people in white robes being baptized. That was a blessing to see, and you could picture where you were standing as holy ground. Plus, there’s always that sense of, “Wow, we are in the land of the Bible. This is where Jesus walked. The Israelites fought hard for this land, over and over again they fought for it. Still they are fighting for it.

I felt a deep sympathy here for the Israelite people. I want them to have their land in peace and see the temple be rebuilt.

Their land is beautiful, and the air is dry (except in Tel Aviv where the Mediterranean Sea did bring out my frizz). I loved being in Israel, where the patriarchs walked and where the Jews returned, full of hope.

Our Jordan River tour was our last tour day.

We knew we were flying out at 10pm that night, so that made this day extra special. Alan and I hung on to it as long as we could, soaking up our surreal visit to the Holy Land.

I still cannot believe we got to do this!! It was strange to leave my children for 10 straight days and travel so extremely far from them, but to experience this it was worth it. Besides, I knew they were in excellent hands.

Thank you to all 4 grandparents for making this possible!!!

“It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

[Deuteronomy 9:5]


“… you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.”                            [Joshua 1:11]

For a map to better understand the location and for more information about the Jordan River, click here to visit the National Geographic website article and Map.


Alan and I bought most of our souvenirs that last day at the Jordan River gift shop. Then we headed home…..a 10 or 11 hour flight across the Atlantic. By the way, it’s about impossible to sleep on an airplane. We saw some interesting things on that flight, but I’ll save that story for the round up post.


View of New Jersey from the airplane window


I chuckled when I realized how tall Alan is in the airplane seats. Poor fella. He was practically resting his head on the ceiling.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our Israel photos and stories.

I’m planning to do one last round-up of the trip to make it easier to reference all the different sites. For now, here are a few you may have missed:

The Mount of Olives: Jerusalem Part 1

Capernaum: The Jesus Synagogue that you can still see!

Tabgha Photoblog: Place of Miracles and the Sermon on the Mount


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