Easter : For He Has Risen



Risen.

There is no sweeter word to celebrate this season of resurrection and redemption.

"And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquakes and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said,

TRULY THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD!"

But wait. 

The Father and the Son were not done.

The angel of the Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and said, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

He is not here, FOR HE HAS RISEN, as He said."

Matthew 27:51-54, 28:5-6

Not only did He rise from the grave... He walked back to Galilee to chat it up with the disciples and a few other folks. Well, "chat it up" may not be the best phrase to describe His conversation with the disciples, but you get the point. 

Jesus is. 

No word could possibly convey
 the greatness
the love
the character
the justice
the wisdom
the sweetness
the compassion
the grace
the power
the Truth
of Christ.

We pray that we are all able to grasp a mere portion of the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice and atonement for His children this Easter. 


Check out our post about walking the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross or Way of Suffering) in Israel here

Thanksgiving Rummaging and Reminiscing

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!

Most of you have probably had five blog posts since Thanksgiving Day but we wanted to share our weekend with y'all anyway. :) I cannot wait to spend a couple of hours delving into your blogs, checking out your holiday happenings thus far. 

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. As much as I love giving gifts (and let's be honest... receiving gifts), Thanksgiving is one of the rare holidays that is all about family and friends. No tangible gifts. Just the gift of community. How awesome is that?

We spent the weekend at JD's parents in West Alabama. As some of you may know, JD's dad celebrated his eightieth birthday in October. Yeah - celebrate good times! C'mon!

He kicks it better than any eighty-year-old man we know. He walks about seven miles every day... after breakfast, after dinner (and probably most days after lunch). 

So we joined in, walking sticks and all.


And it was such a blessed time. 

There is just something so special about Thanksgiving walks with the fam. I'll never forget one Thanksgiving Day I spent walking under the amber trees at Lake Oconee (aka The Bungalow) a few years ago with my sweet Gingin. She shared with me how crucial it is to savor every moment, because you really never know when it will be the last. You think you know that until your grandmother reminds you. Then you realize you really don't know much at all so you better soak in every ounce of wisdom she has. JD and I are both thankful for the wisdom and lessons our precious parents and grandparents have taught us.

Back to the weekend....

JD's childhood room is still decked out in baseball posters. Stacks of baseball cards (with chalky gum still in the plastic wrapping of unopened cards) line the walls. Random Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figurines can be found in drawers and high school and collegiate awards still hang proudly on the walls. Needless to say, I love sleeping in there. It makes me feel like I can share a special part of him that I never had the chance of knowing. 

We spent the weekend trying to clean it out but had trouble since so much held a special place in JD's memory. Obviously, we had to share a few of our favorite finds with you...


The American Gladiator soup thermos. The black slanted writing is none other than the names of each gladiator. What!?


We rummaged through old papers and sermon notes. The ones above and below were favorites of mine. 

Why?

Because it proves that opposites truly do attract. 

JD's occupations of dissimilar interests include all but one of the things I wanted to do in life. When I was young, I spent every day in the basement teaching an imaginary classroom while writing lessons on several chalkboards for my "third grade students". I started college majoring in Radio, Televison and Film to be a News Anchor / Reporter - and switched halfway to finish my studies in Public Relations instead. And now... I would love to teach an art class. 

My only non-interest was a medical illustrator.

At least we agreed on one area of dissimilar interest.


However, my favorite find was this: JD's written testimony from high school (pictured below). Even though our stories of salvation never change, our testimonies of God's goodness and mercy are ever-changing in such a beautiful way. It was so awesome to read about the place God had JD in that season of life. 


And then we found this... a poem JD wrote in college that made goosebumps pop up on my arms. 

My sweet husband is such a humble man. Reading things like this make me fall even deeper in love with him and Christ. I am thankful for him.


Unbeknownst to me, JD set up my new sewing machine and all of my supplies in front of the TV (so he could watch football while I sewed) while I was sorting through his childhood room.


Thus goes the weekend: Walking, Turkey, Walking, Sewing, Football, Eating, Cleaning, Organizing, Sewing, and Walking. :)


What was your favorite Thanksgiving memory from this year??


Linking up with Molly & Carly for #YOLOMondays! Please go check them out and show some love! :)



Welcome Home, My Love...

Maybe you noticed these pictures on your Instagram feed yesterday?


And then you thought, "Wait. Where did he go?!"

Well, I can't tell you his destination but I can tell you that my husband has been in another country for THREE AND A HALF WEEKS!! If you were to compile every single day that we had been apart since dating, prior to this trip... it would still not add up to three and a half weeks - 25 days - that we were away from each other at this one time.

If you're new to our blog, I'll fill you in on a few key details...

  • JD travels for business pretty frequently.
  • Thanks to his gracious company, I am allowed to travel with him unless security/safety issues arise.
  • We choose not to post any real-time information when traveling.

I picked him up from the airport with this tears, bright green sign, tears, a box of Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its, tears, and Mama E's pecan mini muffins. Did I mention a terribly dreadful amount of happy tears!?

So we packed up the car, headed home and unpacked the bags. A few minutes after JD said, "I'm going to try to stay up late so I can get re-adjusted to central time," I found him sweetly sleeping with his new business class eye mask covering his eyes on the couch. Hey, he made it to 5 p.m. That's better than I would do. 


We woke up at 7:30 in the a.m. and started sorting through his foreign treasures...


How cool is this engraved scroll-holder? JD got our last name engraved in English and Arabic. He suggested we write our vows in calligraphy, age the paper and store them in here. ;) He's awesome.


JD received these tiny houses on his KLM flight. All business class passengers get to choose one on each flight. I'm thinking: Christmas Village material. 

Normally they store potpourri in the houses, we think, but they didn't for these because of Customs regulations. 


We love collecting things from other countries, especially when they have English on one side and the country's language on the other. Thus, we have a wonderful collection of Coca-Cola products. JD also brought back some Tabasco, Colman's Mustard, Ketchup and Jelly jars. Yum!

And then he pulled out a grocery bag of... chocolate bars. Snickers, Mars, Kit Kat, and Twix bars all with Arabic writing on the sides. Room service would leave them on his bedside table. It will take us at least a couple of months to finish these off, but I was so glad he saved them and brought them back to share with me!! 

What did we do to celebrate his return??


We shaved his beard off, devoured Five Guys burgers and fries, and...


we counted / rolled the coins from our finally-filled-up coin jar. And we had so. much. fun! Honestly. We sat there, laughing and talking with music playing in the background, simply counting coins. No TV. No distractions. Just spending the day together. Pure bliss. JD decided we should try to find all 50 states for the quarters and a penny for every important date in our lives year.  The only state we couldn't find was Colorado. We're hoping we'll find it eventually though! 

Oh - and we found four "Jesus Christ" coins. "Good For One Dollar In Trade" Haha! We were pumped each time we found one in the jar. Praise the Lord that we do not get into Heaven based on how many Jesus coins we have stashed away in an old coin jar! 


Come back Thursday to see how we remained intentional in our marital encouragement during each other's absence. 

The Rock Where Jesus Wept: Church of All Nations

Maybe you were a little baffled at the fact we didn't post photos of the place Jesus actually prayed upon while Peter, James and John were snoozin' against the olive trees. After a few steps through the garden, it was hard to miss the quick transition back to reality. Would it surprise you if we told you they built an actual church around the rock where Jesus fell on his face and cried out to his Father, "Not as I will, but as you will!"


The church was pretty epic. Elaborate murals consume the walls and ceiling while flags represent each nation. The Basilica of the Agony is the original name of the church. It was built from 1919-1924 with funding from twelve different countries, thus giving it the nickname, The Church of All Nations.

In the center, the high altar overlooks a large slab of rock, which is said to be the rock on which Jesus prayed in agony the night of his betrayal. 



We were just about to leave when we heard a group of people singing hymns beside the rock. They had just begun a church service. Hearing the angelic voices echoing through the church built around the rock and upon the Rock sent chills down our spine. 




When you're standing at the Garden of Gethsemane, this is the glimpse you get of the Old City in Jerusalem (where the Via Dolorosa is, etc.). The particular part of the Old City Walls is the Golden Gate, a closed gate located above ground level and below the Temple Mount. It is only visible from outside the city. 


According to Jewish tradition, when the Messiah comes, he will enter Jerusalem through this gate. To prevent him from coming, the Muslims sealed the gate during the rule of Suleiman.

As Christians, all we can say is, "Praise God that the Messiah has already come and defeated the grave! Now we wait eagerly for his glorious return." 

The "Way of Suffering" or Via Dolorosa: The Last Steps of Jesus' Life

I'll be completely transparent with you on this... I've had a bittersweet dread towards writing about our trip through Via Dolorosa. First off, an entire blog could be dedicated to the Via Dolorosa, Jesus' suffering and His death. To merely dedicate one post on a blog to this journey deprives the multitude of truth there is to these steps. If you don't have time to read it all, just skip to the bottom and at least watch the video at the end. :) Secondly, I am in no way a theologist or biblical scholar. However, I will attempt at describing each section of the pathway with as much truth from Scripture as I can. 

Via Dolorosa means Way of Suffering or Way of the Cross. The sign below marks the beginning point of the route Christians believe Jesus started carrying his cross from his trial to the place of his crucifixion and burial.



The guide told us that this is believed to be an imprint of Jesus' hand. It is located at this point, as a dedication to Simon, who helped Jesus carry the cross. "And as they led him away, they seized on Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus." Luke 23:26

We just had to get a snapshot of JD touching the same spot where Jesus touched. :)


This landmark is dedicated to the woman who wiped Jesus' face. "And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him." Luke 23:27


This is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, also known as the location of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. The entrance, specifically, is the place where Jesus was stripped of his clothes... "And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take." Mark 15:24 The church was actually destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The building standing today was built in the 12th century. 


Inside of the church, this marks the site of where Jesus died on the cross. A silver disk with a central hole, underneath the altar marks the spot where the cross stood.

Christians lighting candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

This was the best shot we could get...

"So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews" (John 19:40). The body of Jesus was laid on this stone after being removed from the cross. Most people present were stretching out with all of their power to simply touch it, kiss it and pray to it.


And this is the actual burial site of Jesus. "Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there" (John 19:41-42). 

Because of the masses trying to enter into the tomb, we were unable to go inside of Jesus' tomb. We went into another one. It was about what you would expect when entering a tomb: dark, cold, eerie and small.

THEN... the best part (which we obviously do not have a photo of)... "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" says Jesus to Mary Magdalene. Eventually, Mary becomes overwhelmed with excitement, tears, joy, and awe... "Rabboni! I have seen the Lord!"

HE. HAS. RISEN!!
PRAISE JESUS that He continuously claims victory over all things, including death!... 

Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him!
That's my King!
Do you know Him?