Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's beginning to look (and smell) a lot like Christmas

Last year around this time I was not into the "Christmas Spirit" at all.  I had lost my last remaining grandparent who I felt the closet too.  Maybe it was because he was around the longest, but I was just out of it.  I did the bare minimum and pretended that I was happy and joyful. 

Well this year is the other end of the spectrum!  I got my Christmas tree last weekend with Jason and Bill and Holly came over and we all decorated it!  The tree makes me just happy!  Of course it has to be a live tree.  If I were to get a fake one, the smell would be missing.  That is probably one of my favorite parts of Christmas, the smell of a decorated tree. 

My other favorite part of Christmas is the baking!!!!!!  Man oh man, this year I am baking all sorts of goodies for everyone at work.  last year I did 4 types of fudges in multiples of 2 or 3 batches!  This year I am making a variety of my family favorites; Pumpkin bread (plain, raisin and chocolate chips), fudge (plain, rocky road, walnuts and chocolate with peanut butter), chocolate chip cookies with and without nuts, and finally oatmeal, with and without raisins!  Needless to say, my place is smelling incredible!!!!!  I don't want to leave, but it seems like I either bought too many ingredients or not enough (I HATE THAT!!!)  But I am finally on my last batch of oatmeal cookies, and then onto some simple cookies that I tested out last month at work and everyone loved them.  But then again, I might just stick to the stuff I have baked already.

The place is decorated with my nativity scene as well as my grandma's Christmas tree.  It is much more cozy and inviting than last year.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My weekend so far...


So this weekend was the dreaded "Black Friday" weekend.  I was a smart girl and decided to stay home on Friday!  There was no way I was coming out of my apartment except to take Hunny out for walks.  So what did I do.... I SCRAPBOOKED!!!!!!  I am way behind on the online course I am taking, and so this weekend while Jason was at work, I started getting caught up.  Yesterday I started working on the pages I already had pictures printed out for and I was so very proud of me.  I got 5 pages total done.

Today, I'm not too sure how many pages I will get done.  I have already started running into problems with what pictures and embellishments to use, but I just keep plugging along.  I also went to Wal-mart this morning.  Man, the employees looked drained!  I heard yesterday that there was a Wal-Mart employee who was trampled by the early morning shoppers and eventually died!  People are crazy this time of year.  So once again I will be staying inside scrapping to my hearts delight and just enjoying the time that I get to spend working on a hobby that I enjoy as well as looking through great memories that I have and finally get to put them on paper.

Week 2: Asymmetry


 This is a page I did for my mom (my favorite for week 2)


Close up of the journaling


This layout was about me making my cinnamon rolls...YUMMY!!!!

Week 3: Repetition


This was a layout using the same size squares on the layout. (Page 1 of a 2 page layout)


This page showed some of the memorable supporters that I encountered on the 3-Day. (Page 2)


This was supposed to be 3 different pictures where I decided to put the big one. (My Favorite of Week 3)

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Thanksgiving dinner

So this year my mom trusted me with making Thanksgiving dinner! I was informed of this a few months ago when the church announced that they were going to have a Thanksgiving dinner. It was mainly to benefit the homeless in our community but families from our church also showed up and had dinner with them. They also had a clothing store (of course at no charge) and mobile showers so they could clean up. Mom and dad left their house at a little after 9 so I was left to start the turkey. It took me a few tries but I tied the turkey the way it looked familiar from the way mom would tie the wings back in the past, and I started stuffing and greasing away!

After a few hours it started smelling good, so things were looking great! I have to admit, I was very proud of myself. The gravy was coming along, the rolls were raising and looking fantastic and I had the eggs all boiled. I started peeling the eggs for Deviled Eggs, and that is the only time I became frustrated all day! Go figure not the turkey, not the stuffing, nothing but these stupid eggs! They looked horrible! The whites were peeling away with the shells. I tried everything, putting them in the fridge, running them under water while peeling, no water, not a lot of cracking, pulverising the shells, NOTHING worked! Finally I got to the point where I just gave up and decided I could save some of the eggs for the gravy and then put the nicest looking eggs out.

Mom and dad got home from church, Jason's family arrived and dinner was done! It was incredible! I no longer have any fears about making turkey and doing everything. I told mom I knew that she was always tired after Turkey day dinner, but now I know why she is always so tired.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

As requested...

So here is an update with everything that is going on (per Cindy's request).

I am officially in a relationship (yes again!) but with an amazing guy, Jason. We have been together for a little over a month and I am now realizing what a true gentleman is. So many times in the past I thought I had found one, but they only turned out to be toads. Jason is everything, at least so far, I have been looking for in a guy. He is kind, sweet, caring, funny, opens pretty much every door for me, a true heart for God, we have so many of the same interests, understanding, a good cook, and if I need some time to take care of things he gives it to me. He treats me the way my dad and brother treat their wives, and that is something I have been looking for for a very, VERY long time. We have given our relationship over to God and ask Him everyday to allow us to keep Him in the center of it, and to continue to bless the relationship. Of course we are still in the total "puppy love" phase that every relationship goes through, but I am very much in LIKE with him, lol. I am holding on the the "L" word for as long as I can. It seems like every past relationship, it has come out too early on and then it sets the bar so much higher. So as things progress, I just pray that God blesses us and continues to shine through our relationship. We have a great support system in the church as well as both of our families, so who knows where this might lead.

My weight loss........I DID IT!!!!! I reached my goal of 200 lbs! I cannot remember the last time I was at this weight and was healthy! I got on the scale a few weeks ago and I was completely shocked. I had never seen that weight on my own personal scale before. I have dropped 2 pant sizes and I have lost a total of 30 lbs in 3 months. YEAH ME! This morning I set a new goal of another 30 lbs by Feb. 20. That would put me at 170lbs and with me being healthy this time, I think it is a good weight. Last time I weighed that much, I had recovered from getting so sick from my pregnancy. So, as things progress, I'll update my wonderful and trying progress.

And with Thanksgiving coming up, I am making it pretty much on my own. My parents are helping at our churches homeless outreach that day and so I get to babysit the turkey and finish up dinner. Thankfully mom will be there in the morning to help me get the bird in the oven, but I'm a pro at greasing him up an cleaning him. I've done that for as long as I can remember, and I cannot wait to show my kids how to do the same. And since I am dating Jason, I thought it would be nice to invite him over for dinner. But it would be a little awkward to invite him and not his sister and brother in law who are currently living with him and also his mom who doesn't really have anyone to spend the day with. So for my first turkey day dinner, I'm going to be cooking for 7 people, YIKES! I am almost positive funny stories and situations will ensue.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Long overdue!

OK so I know I said that I would blog more a few months ago, but it seems like I barely have ANY free time! I mean I have time to do the things that I have to do (not necessarily want to do) but I cannot believe it is almost the end of October.

So the things that have been going on:

  • I am still able to make time for me :) That was one of the things that I was missing out on over the past year. It seemed like I was always doing something for other people. I am still fully enjoying my scrapbooking class that I am taking online and this weekend I am going to try and catch up from last week and this week. The calls is a 12 week class that shows us different techniques for page layouts and I really need that since I feel like I get stuck in a rut with my pages so I am hoping that this class will get my creative juices flowing :) Here are my first few pages:
My cover page

Week 1: Balance

  • I am working out more and getting so much closer to my goal weight of 200 lbs! Let's just say I've always liked buying clothes, but I've never HAD TO buy clothes so often! I only have 5 more pounds to loose and then comes my next goal of 170 lbs! I can do it!
  • (Oct 10-12) Women's retreat was last weekend up in Murrieta at the Calvary Chapel Bible College, and that is a beautiful campus! It is like a resort, I don't see how the kids there study! I would want to spend all of my time in the natural hot springs. The theme this year was Corinthians 13:13 - And the greatest of these things is Love! It was such a great and much needed time for me. I confessed everything to God and I know that He has forgiven me and I have finally forgiven myself for the things I've done over the past year that I was very ashamed of.
  • (10-4) And ironically the weekend of the retreat was the weekend Randy was supposed to come out to visit. But just like clockwork he called to tell me that he had to reschedule his trip out to tomorrow. He called the week before on the day my mom reminded me of the retreat. When she told me that the retreat was the same weekend I was honestly torn as to what to do. I had been looking forward to the retreat for a long time, but I was also looking forward to seeing Randy pretty much 1 last time. God showed me that he was not supposed to come out that weekend by Randy's phone call. He called to tell me that he needed to change the date because his cancer has come back. He told me that he moved his trip from last weekend to coming out tomorrow, but surprise, surprise, I have no idea if or when he will be coming. So I'm not planning on it at all and will go on with my life. If he does then the does. If he doesn't I will not be shocked or disappointed at all.
  • (10-5) And (I know repetition, sorry Cindy) the following day after Randy called, I went to church and was telling my parents what was going on with him. My mom got on her knees and asked God to forgive her of all of the mean things she thought about Randy. I also asked God to completely remove any sort of feelings that I might still have for him and only allow me to view him as a friend. After church I was talking to my parents and my friend Belinda about things, and I turned towards the front of the church and up comes a guy I worked with about 12 years ago at Lucky's.
  • (Still 10-5) OK, this one needs another point :) Jason is a prayer warrior at church and we kind of see each other each week at the end of service because I sit in the same spot and he stands at the same place each week and we kind of make eye contact, but I usually leave right after church. Last time I saw him he was dating someone, and honestly, I had a big crush on him when we worked together. Anyways so, I was talking to my parents and Jason comes walking up to me. We started talking and of course my wonderful mom notices that I am talking to a guy. At church. And we obviously know each other. What more could a mom ask for, lol. So I introduce my parents to him and mom asks if he was going to the worship service that we have the 1st Sunday of the month because I was going with my friend April. He said yes and that he normally goes by himself. Mom said, "Well now you won't have to since Ronnie will be there!" I blush, Jason blushes and my mom is beaming from ear to ear. So long story shorter...we went out to dinner after service with April and after we were done, he walked me to my car and asked for my number. YEAH!!!!! We have been seeing each other for almost 2 weeks (awww tomorrow) and who would of thought that we had so much in common. I mean even down to foods and our favorite amusement parks (Disneyland all the way). OK, I will stop there because I will just gush about him, lol

So that is pretty much what has been going with me over the past few weeks, since I last wrote, but it seems like it is all in a very small time frame.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Amazing Race

OK, so I am so excited that The Amazing Race is back on! I watch it and think, "I can so do that!" And now that I am getting into better shape, I see no reason I couldn't do it. Bill and I have been talking about doing it each and every year it comes on, but yet, we still do not enter in a video. We don't think we are that unique as siblings, and if we fight in the audition video, I am afraid it would set the tone if we were to actually get picked, lol.
I mean we couldn't get through a road trip when he helped me move back from Colorado. In Las Vegas we started getting on each others last nerves! And it was over rolling the windows down or driving with the air conditioner on. But once we got home and had some space (and he called Holly) we were good.
But trying out for the Amazing Race is definitely something that I have put on my list of things to do someday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why ask why

I saw this on a friend's blog and found it so very true...

Why, Why, Why???Do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting dead?

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an " S" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That hurt, you stupid idiot?"

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

And my FAVORITE......The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dog Beach

So I woke up this morning thinking that I really had nothing to do but go to the gym. And then an idea came to me that has been thrown around on the P1 web site about getting all of the listeners dogs together for a doggy play day. Well when I did the 3 day we would always walk past Dog Beach in Del Mar and I had always wanted to go there, so today Hunny and I did!

It was a blast! Hunny was kind of scared at first and was glued to my side, but once we started walking and she was allowed off leash, she had so much fun. She would run ahead of me, turn around and then charge me, hahaha. She is not a huge fan of the water, but if I went out to my shins and no "major" waves came in, she would bound out to me leaping and frolicking in the water.

I sent a text to my friend Matt who is the junior high pastor at church, and we had a discussion while in Israel about how we need to get our dogs together to play (he has a weimeriner named Delilah). Unfortunately he had a church meeting to go to, but I told him that we need to get our babies together to play :)
Hmmmmm, what's this?
I'm gonna get you..
Then again........
Oooh, what's over here?
My happy puppy

Quiet car ride home :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

If I had a time machine.....

I know it is a far fetched idea, but right now I wish I had one so I could just go 2 months ahead. Right now I am so swamped with work that it is driving me crazy. Since our big business are the Halloween light sticks we have been getting "Host" orders for Lowe's and Home Depot. Now these host orders are for quantities ranging from 96 to 576 light sticks for stores across the country! It's insane with the ship dates they give me, "Here are 1,800 orders and oh yeah, they all need to ship out in 1 week."
It would be so nice if it was just 1 simple piece of paper, but NOOO! I have to print the invoice, the packing list and match those 2 pieces of paper up. But then the 2 companies have their own "special" way that they will accept the orders. Home Depot requires a stupid stamp on each packing list with our company name and if there are multiple items packed in 1 carton, I have to stamp it with a stamp that says "Multiple items in carton". You would think that they would realize that when they got the packing list or even opened the box. And then Lowe's needs a special label printed for each and every carton. The label printer is the most noisy and annoying thing!!!!
And then to make things a bit more stressful, if stamp or label is missing my company can get whats called a charge back which means that the customer charges us anywhere from $10.00 to $115.00.
So if I could just fast forward to the end of October I would be so very happy. Maybe I'll dream about things a few months ahead tonight :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Getting my life back

So I am once again single! And actually this time it is nice. I am on a mission to find out what I want to do again in my life. I know that I will be staying at my current job for the fact that it is semi-easy (accept until Halloween is over) and the hours are great! I would love going back to the veterinary field, but I don't know if I have gone soft. I used to be able to handle anything that would come through the door, but this weekend I watched ER Vets on the Animal Planet and found that I became a bit sick to my tummy. Makes me question if I could stand the stupid people or poor animals who came through the doors. It's going in my prayer journal that I got for my birthday (thanks Cindy!).
I have also made a promise to myself to start scrapbooking again! No ifs, ands or buts about it. I have put it off since the beginning of the years when I had the roommate and then with my ex and I'm not taking care of anyone anymore except my sweet Hunny, so it gives me so much more time. I just need to learn to make time for it.
And I am finally getting into shape! I started going back to the gym and I am proud to say that since June, I have lost 15 lbs and have dropped a full pant size!!!!! For the first time in a long time I am under 220 lbs (YIKES! I gave out my weight, oh well) and I am on my way to finally accepting me for me. It's been a long time. But I know I look good because I ran into an old ex last week and his jaw dropped! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Who knows, maybe next year I will be adventurous enough to get into a bikini.
I'm also going to get more involved in the church. This summer mom and I helped with the Homeless Outreach through my church and it felt great! To know that you are helping people who not only need food, but God is a great feeling. I have officially been recruited to be a food server for all future outreaches :) I think I am also going to get involved in the singles group. I am not too sure how I will feel going in there as a single girl, but you know, fellowship with other people who are in the same boat as I am will be a good thing. It'll get me out of my "box" and fellowship with other great people.
So that is what is going on with me. I am also going to make a point to blog more! Since I will be scrapbooking again, I will need to remember what has happened. Since I turned 28 it seems like my brain is getting more and more mushy. I am afraid to find out what happens when I turn 30! Well I have 2 more years to see how quickly my brain goes kaput!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How Hot?????

Last night after seeing Dave and Alyssa, I drove home around 8:30m and I passed one of those clock / thermometer things on the 78 and it said that it was 86 degress at 8:45 last night!!!!!

THAT'S how hot it was out here in Escondido!!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mt. Carmel, Megiddo and Nof Ginosar

So after we left Ceasera we started heading up to the Northern Golan Heights and our next stop was lunch at this hole in the wall place where you only had 2 choices, felafel's which is like a deep fried chickpea paste that is rolled into little balls or a schnitzel (I know I probably spelt it like a German word) which is a fried chicken breaded chicken breast and both of these were served inside a pita pocket type bread. There was a salad bar there where you could put all sorts of veggies in your pita as well (but like I was going to put anything like that in my pita, lol).

The restaurant

My schnitzel

Coke anyone?

Or how about a Sprite?

Ahhhh the sharing of the bathrooms :)

Yep a tomb along side the road

After getting our tummies full we started making the climb up to Mt. Carmel. In the Old Testament this mountain was where the prophet Ezekiel battled the prophets of Baal in a showdown between the false god Baal and the Big Man Upstairs! Needless to say our God is a Mighty God and showed them who was boss (Ezekiel 38 & 39). Now in the New Testament in Revelations, the Valley of Armageddon is where the huge battle will take place. It will be filled with blood (Rev. . The pictures are small and there is no way that they can do any justice to standing up there and to know how big the Valley really is.

Part of the Valley of Armageddon

In the distance is Nazareth

After leaving Mt. Carmel we drove down past Nazareth. It is quite a small town and is now mainly Arab. Its funny to think that the people who loved around Nazareth said that nothing good could every come out of there. But look at how many people make a journey there just to see where 1 person was from? We also passed Cana, the town where Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding, where he turned water into wine (John 2: 1-11)

Our next stop was the fortress of Megiddo. This was a major fortress in the time of Solomon because it was along two of the main highways. Israel is such an important place geographically. It was the only way during biblical days to get from Europe to Africa. Megiddo was along the main trading route and so who ever controlled Megiddo, controlled the trades! This was mainly a pagan fortress and Solomon built it for one of hie wives who practiced pagan rituals. It was interesting to see what still stood of the fortress. The entryway walls were still there and we even saw a manger. I had no idea that the mangers were completely stone! You know we have been brought up to think that baby Jesus was put into a wooden manger surrounded by a nice think pile of straw - WRONG!! this thing is hand carved out of stone and the stables are nothing like we have now or that are even depicted in the stories. The stables are on the outskirts of town and are very small. And of course all stone. It just makes me feel so humbled to know that He can into this world of sin into that type of place just to save me and everyone else. A very humble King!

The guard post (the black line shows what they found and what was reconstructed).

Mt. Carmel in the distance

A manger

Some stables

We then headed down to the Sea of Galilee. It is beautiful there. There are some big towns like Tiberius around the Sea, but the majority of them are kibbutz's. These are like communes where everything is every ones. They all have things that they are known for. Some tourism, some sell produce while others sell products like Epilady and in the Dead Sea, Ahava products. The kibbutz we stayed at, Nof Ginosar worked with some Messianic Jews (Jews who believe in Christ as well as keep the Jewish traditions. They are also known as "Complete Jews") and the Jesus Boat attraction. It was a cute little hotel where we stayed and honestly, I would not mind just going back there and staying again. The rooms were always clean and if you needed something they brought it to you ASAP. Better service there than I think at some high end hotels!
After we got in and settled down we grabbed some dinner and then headed out to the jetty as a group to talk about things that we had seen and done so far. It was so quite and cool out, it felt like home. We stayed there for about an hour and then some of us came back to the hotel (I was getting eaten alive by bugs!) We were told the next day we would be going to see the Jesus Boat as well as take a boat out onto the Sea of Galilee. We were also going to Capernaeum, the town where Jesus spent most of His time and there Harry and Linda would renew their vows (awwww). And to finish up the day, we were heading to the Jordan River to get baptised, or as a friend calls it, DUNKED!!!!!

Tiberius at night from the jetty

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What was left out....

Well after I just posted the previous blog, I realized that there were part missing *tear.

What is missing is:
When we were in Ceasera, we saw the influence of the Crusader period. As we walked deeper into the city we came upon a Mosque and the tower which they would call people to prayer.

The stone work was incredible! To know that all of these stones were laid here by hand and let alone cut and chiseled out of huge rocks by hand is amazing. The evidence of the religious battles that happened here still stand. You start out in the old city with the theater, then as you come in closer to the harbor, you see the Muslim influence then you turn a corner and there is a Gothic style castle with the double gate and the 90 degree entrances.

The double gated entrances were imperative as while the invaders would be trying to break down the door, the people who lived inside the walls would pour feces, decaying animals and other wonderful things onto the people below (yummy!)

WATCH OUT BELOW!!!!!! To the right is the entrance, the left is the first wall.

Once you would step inside the gates there is a 90 degree entrance. What I found incredible was that you could see which way the entrance to the city was by looking at the corners of the walls. Over time with the people rushing in and the carts all turning one direction, the corner of the wall has wore down smooth. So above the middle section and below the middle it is still a perfect corner, but in the middle it is rounded.

As we left, I saw a sign that I just needed to take a picture of:

I mean come on, how often do I see my name, let alone in another country (well OK this was my first time out of the country) and spelt that way :)
OK so that is what was cut out of my other post. Next one will be the Mt. of Beatitudes, the Valley of Armageddon, Megiddo and our home for a few days, Nof Ginosar.

Friday, May 30, 2008

My life changing experience

So after being back for a little over 2 weeks, I finally have some time to work on my blog about my life changing Israel trip! I have been thinking about how I want to go about putting it all down as to everything that happened along with pictures, so I think I will put it in "chunks". Sound good??? That way it is not too overwhelming.

Before hand:
So to get started, I have wanted to go on this trip for the past 3 years, but something was always coming up. OK to be honest it was mainly me being scared of leaving the country and not knowing what would happen to me. We I finally grew a pair ad realized that I needed to grow both as a person and as a Christian (YEAH ME!!!!)

As time went on and as I went to the meetings I came to know some of the people I was going with. I knew a few of them from my parents and from being involved in the women's bible studies and the scrapbooking group at church. I was so excited to get the itinerary and to see everywhere we were going! OK to be honest once again, I had no idea where or what the significance of a lot of the places we were going to be visiting. I just knew that they were in the bible and incredible things happened there. I mean why would we be going all the way over there to see some place that had no significance? Never the less, I was stoked.

April 30th and the trip:
I was so excited to go that it took me 5+ hours to pack. Yes that is right! I laid out everything that I was planning on taking only to come to find out that once it was all packed, my bag weighted 58 lbs! We were only allowed to take on 50 and no extra bags going over there. The reason was because we were taking over humanitarian aid to some missionaries and I had put my name down to take a bin. So after the 5 hours of packing, weighing, repacking, reweighing (etc.) I finally got it down to 48 lbs. I called that it! I was done lifting and moving things in that suitcase!

May 1st rolls around and after a night of only 2 or 3 hours of sleep it was time to get up and head to the church. Once we were there I needed to reweigh my bag.....53 lbs, NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I was not the only one though and luckily there were only 19 bins and 20 people going to me and the other person, Lala, were able to throw our extra things into the bag, and we were off.

Organized chaos
Our pimp ride!
The group from Calvary Chapel Oceanside

We saw our ride to the bus and it was a marine bus! There was not enough room for all of the luggage as well as the bins, so one of the pastors from church offered to take the bins down with us. Once on the bus, the butterflies started fluttering. I am not the biggest fan of flying and since I am a huge fan of Lost I just kept thinking to myself, "Well everyone who ended up on the island was not planning on crashing." I know I'm crazy, but hey I have an active imagination.

We arrived at Lindbergh field and got all checked in. Once we were at the gate, I crashed! Wonderful Lala came and woke me up to check on me to see if I was OK and to let me know we would be leaving soon. This made me feel so good! Knowing that we are only a few hours into our 2 week trip and I already have someone watching out for me. So onto the plane we go and we fly to Atlanta. My seat was a window seat which I was pleased with, but I was not pleased with the person that was sitting next to me. He was a very large man who kept leaning into my space! I had no where to go! I was literally between a rock and a hard place. Once we arrived in Atlanta we were on our own for dinner. We go in around 6pm their time and were not scheduled to leave until 10:45pm. The Jr. High Pastor Matt and I decided to venture out to grab some food and see what all was going on. We were 2 of the youngest going from our church, Matt 24 and I 27. It was nice to get to talk to someone who was kind of on the same page as I was age wise. Well we grabbed some food and then sat down with a few other people from our group along with our very free spirited Pastor, Mike Reed. This man is a kid trapped in a grown mans body! He was a youth pastor for quite a few years and last year was named as the head pastor at Calvary Chapel Oceanside. So as to the incident that happened at dinner. We noticed another group of tables with other people from our trip. Mike slyly said in a low voice, "Hey watch this." He wadded up a small bit of a straw wrapper and then shot a spit wad at the other table. No I have never really spent a whole lot of time with Mike, but I fell in love with his personality at that moment. Here is the spiritual leader and guide of our large church shooting spit wads at some of the elders and deacons of the church! At this moment I knew I was going to have a great trip!

May 1st- May 2nd
So we all got onto our flight without any hassle and we began our 13 hour flight through the night towards Tel Aviv! The only major thing that happened was that I realized that the seats on these long flights are so not meant for tall people! I finally got comfy, but in all honestly I probably only got about 4 hours of sleep on that flight, combined with my 5 or so hours of sleep the previous day. I tried my best to be cheery but in all honestly when we landed I was a total grouch!

Once on the ground and after we got all of our luggage and met up with the other people that were going on the tour with us we all headed out. We met up with Debbie from church (my roomie), Joe and Lucile (Andrea's uncle and aunt), and Reg and his daughter Sara from Canada.

We were starting to head out of the luggage claim area and I was stopped along with 6 other people in our group by an Israeli security guard who started barking at me in Hebrew. One of the guides who picked us up at the terminal started talking to her, and then she looked at me and in a very stern voice said, "What is in the box?". Now mind you these are large bright orange Rubbermaid containers that are screwed shut and have humanitarian aid in them. Vicky the leader told us that if we ever got stopped and asked what was in the binds to tell them that it was humanitarian aid and to show the person asking us the list of items that was in our specific bin. Well this lady was having nothing of it! I told her that it was humanitarian aid and started showing her the list. She told me to tell her everything that was in there and to tell her how much the entire bin was worth!!! All I knew was that there were socks, sporks, cold medicine, and some other items in my bin, and all of these items were donated! I had no idea. The other people who got stopped with me said to tell her that the bin had about $50 in it. We all had bins that all contained different items and I started having a mild panic attack. I was thinking, that my first time out of the continental US and I will not be let out of the airport. I haven't slept and this lady was very large and very intimating!!!! Luckily for me the guide stepped in and talked to her and then he told me very quickly to go! I wanted to run outta there as the rest of our group was way ahead of us. We caught up with them and were taken to our bus. There we met our guide Tesha and our driver, Shy.

On our way to our hotel, The Dan Panorama, we were able to watch the sunset into the Mediterranean Ocean! It made me miss home but at the same time, I was so excited to be seeing the sunset in a foreign place!

Sunset on the Mediterranean Ocean

View outside of our hotel room

Once in the lobby we were greeted with a grapefruit type of drink and were assigned to our rooms! Debbie and I ran up and saw that we had a gorgeous view of the ocean! We quick grabbed our cameras (as we are both scrapbookers) and started snapping away. Once we got that out of our system we headed down to dinner. For Friday nights after sundown is Shabbat. This is the end of their work week and they go all out for dinner. They stay up until 1-2 in the morning partying and celebrating. At dinner we had this great bread called Hala bread. It is a very light egg bread that is braided. We came to love it and looked forward to it each and every Friday night.

After dinner Debbie and I decided to venture out into the city of Jaffa. Jaffa is one of the world’s oldest cities, and its ancient harbor has been in use since the Bronze Age. The city’s history is that of successive conquests through the millennia. In antiquity, Jaffa was under the rule of Ancient Egypt, and in Biblical times, as mentioned in the Book of Joshua, Jaffa was noted as the domain of the Tribe of Dan, and its descendants lived and engaged in the maritime trades along the coast. (Yeah I'm not really this smart, I copied this from a website, hehehe. I just thought you all might like to know a little bit about Jaffa.) Anyways, Tesha told us as we were pulling into the hotel that Jaffa was only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Debbie and I felt like a nice short walk after stuffing our face on Hala bread and everything else that they had to offer for dinner. We set out and a nice 10 minute walk turned into a nice 30 minute walk where we had no idea where we were going or what part of the city we were in. Once it looked like we were in the main area, we settled down and did not feel so "lost". Walking around we saw some mosques, the tower that calls Muslims to pray through out the day. They had some green lights on them and were actually quite pretty. There was a clock tower in the middle of the street and it had some stained glass on it. I am not 100% sure of what it was depicting, but it was very interesting. But I will have to say the highlight of the trip for Debbie and I was a game we saw on the sidewalk by a store. It was one of those claw games and it read "Baby Party". It had Pokemon all around the outside and was very kid oriented. But once we looked inside, there was nothing but packs of cigarettes in it!!! We could only laugh.

May 3rd:
The next morning, we woke up early and headed down to the beach to put our feet in the ocean and collect shells. It was so beautiful! The only way to describe it was a combination of a lake and a harbor. There were no big waves like the Pacific Ocean, but there were little waves like at a large lake. All along the walkway there were people camping or what looked like living there. When we got on the bus we asked Tesha if the people living on the each were homeless and she replied that on Friday afternoons when they are all finished with work, they start getting together and that more than likely they just spent all day at the beach and then stayed there overnight.

Our first stop for the day was Ceasera. This was a roman city that was built be King Herod to be a busy harbor city. He built a huge palace on the ocean and had fresh water pools on top of the ocean! He also build a harbor that allowed him to compete with other ports in Israel. And his spot was very strategic! He was only 3 days away from Rome by boat. But besides how smart and how grand his city was, the major significance there was that this was where Paul visited and stopped here on 3 of his 4 missionary journeys (see Acts 15:36-18:22, 18:23-21:16, and 21:17-28:31) and was also the place where Paul was held and tried. In Acts 23-26 it talks about the capture and trial of Paul. To actually be standing where he was tried and held was an overwhelming experience! To see the things that were there in his time, to be sitting in the theater looking down onto the floor where he would've stood talking up to King Agrippa telling him about his trip on the Damascus Road and confessing that he was in fact a Roman citizen, made the Bible finally jump to life! I had read this scripture many times before and even sat in sermons on Sunday mornings, but nothing like sitting there could have made it so real!

The outside of the theater

Some statues standing outside the theater

The cut out area is where King Agrippa sat while Paul was telling him about trip. Also where any royalty sat during plays or trials.

The theater. During the time when the city was still alive, this had 2 more stories on it full of seating!

Walking along into the actual city was great! Man, this is the place I would've wanted to live if I was around in those days! It was beautiful. The ocean is so blue and I can only imagine what the palace and the city looked like in it's glory. As well as to be there when Paul was around and just to listen to him.
Walking into CeaseraWhere King Herod's palace once stood

This piece of stone states that Pontieus Poilet lived here at King Herod's palace