Totally Awesome Tuesday

Today being Tuesday, I had another opportunity to take my grandson Miles out to lunch at McDonalds....but while there I told him we were going to a special place after lunch.

It was a bit of a drive, but we headed over to EnterTrainment Junction at Tylersville Road and I-75, which boasts an enormous display of trains throughout history. Each display had numerous red buttons, which Miles enjoyed pushing, to operate a train or turn on sound to the display.

Once through the first labyrinth of trains (there were many), we arrived at the play area, where Miles got to serve as engineer (he was unanimously selected by the railroad officials) of a life-size and very realistic train:

There were some interactive train displays in the play area, which Miles took to immediately, and quickly mastered all relevant railroad (and helicopter) techniques:

And, of course, the toy train table garnered some attention:

But the bulk of the time we spent there (at least an hour of the 2+ hours), surprisingly, was not directly train-related. It was a large (and still being added to) climbing playground, which Miles was a tad too small to conquer on his own. But a couple girls (at least THREE OR FOUR YEARS his seniors) helped him up the big steps, and persuaded him to go down the long slide, which he did numerous times. He loved every minute of it, and I couldn't stop smiling and even laughing at his adorableness (it's a word). You can't really see him, but the photo below shows him entering the mouth of the slide for the third or fourth time.

However, all good things must come to an end. We had another appointment, so we threaded our way through the rest of the lengthy train displays and train museum and into the gift shop, where I bought him a couple trinkets. Then we headed to Kenwood, and met his father for pizza. On the way home, all that activity caught up to him, and while I managed to stay awake, he did not:

This boy, like his sister and cousin (like his father and aunt, my children), brings me soooooo much joy. On the way from McDonald's to EnterTrainment Junction, we just talked, and I watched him in the mirror, all the way laughing and smiling much so that I'm sure anyone who passed me in traffic must have thought I was thoroughly addled. Which is true enough. But beside the point. I think.

Anyway, it was a lovely day with a lovely boy.

360 Degrees of Awesome

Having just been there slightly less than two months ago, I was so excited to discover this 360 degree (in all directions, too!) view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Bible Come Alive (Pt. 5)

Continuing a series of photos captioned by a verse or two of Scripture referring to the place I experienced on my most recent tour of Jordan, Israel, and Egypt:

"He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there" (Mark 14:15, NIV).

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26, NIV).

[ Gethsemane ] They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray" (Mark 14:32, NIV).

He [Peter] began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, "I don't know this man you're talking about" (Mark 14:71, NIV).

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled (Matthew 26:57, NIV).

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots (Luke 23:34b, NIV).

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull) (Mark 15:22, NIV).

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away (John 19:38, NIV).

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24:6, NIV).

Bible Come Alive (Pt. 4)

Continuing a series of photos captioned by a verse or two of Scripture referring to the place I experienced on my most recent tour of Jordan, Israel, and Egypt:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat (Matthew 23:2, NIV).

Woe to you, Korazin!....If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matthew 11:21, NIV).

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons (John 2:6, NIV).

"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours" (Matthew 17:27, NIV).

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them (Matthew 5:1, NIV).

When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified (John 6:19, NIV).

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake (Mark 5:21, NIV).

I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves (Song of Solomon 3:2, NIV).

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades (John 5:1-2, NIV).

Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died (Acts 12:23, NIV).

Bible Come Alive (Pt. 3)

Continuing a series of photos captioned by a verse or two of Scripture referring to the place I experienced on my most recent tour of Jordan, Israel, and Egypt:

You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine (Micah 6:15, NIV).

Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land (Proverbs 31:23, NIV).

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan (1 Samuel 31:8-10, NIV).

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon (Revelation 16:16, NIV).

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt (Exodus 1:8, NIV).

Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said (Exodus 2:5-6, NIV). [The statue is the image of Hatshepsut, the possible Pharoah's daughter who became Pharoah herself)

When Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem, he carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including the gold shields Solomon had made (2 Chronicles 12:9, NIV). [An engraving at Karnak, depicting the Pharoah at the left and the bearded Israelites in the lower right quadrant].

Bible Come Alive (Pt. 2)

Continuing a series of photos captioned by a verse or two of Scripture referring to the place I experienced on my most recent tour of Jordan, Israel, and Egypt:

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1, NIV).

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way (Luke 19:1-4, NIV).

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King (Psalm 48:1-2, NIV).

Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem (Psalm 122:2, NIV).

May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels (Psalm 122:7, NIV).

Bible Come Alive (Pt. 1)

The thing I love most about traveling through the land of the Bible is watching the Bible come alive before my eyes. I love reading Scripture in or near the site it refers to. So I thought I'd present a series of photos captioned by a verse or two of Scripture referring to the place I experienced on my most recent tour of Jordan, Israel, and Egypt:

[Moses sent messengers to Edom, saying] "Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king's highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory." But Edom answered: "You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword" (Numbers 20:17-18, NIV).

(Note the left-most peak in the range) Moses did as the LORD commanded: They went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. Moses removed Aaron's garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain (Numbers 20:27-28, NIV).

The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
'Who can bring me down to the ground?'

Though you soar like the eagle
and make your nest among the stars,
from there I will bring you down,"
declares the LORD (Obadiah 3-4, NIV).

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, [a] 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it" (Deuteronomy 34:1-4, NIV).

On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead (Genesis 31:22-23, NIV).

A Grave Tale

One of our stops on our recent trip to Israel was just outside the Zion Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. It's a cemetery. A Christian cemetery:

If you were to visit a Jewish cemetery, you would see small stones on the graves and headstones. These are placed there by visitors to the site. It's a way of saying, "someone was here, someone remembers" (the custom may stem from the fact that when a person is buried in this area, the closest family members carry the stone lid to the grave and place it on top--a la pallbearers, you might say. But other mourners, even if they were not one of those chosen to bear the stone cover, can participate in that act by placing another, smaller, stone on top).

But in this Christian cemetery, of course, that Jewish custom is not present....except in one place:

It's the grave of Oskar Schindler, of Schindler's List fame.

It was moving to see the many stones of remembrance that visitors--presumably Jews, perhaps even some descended from the lives that Schindler saved--placed on the grave. So, after a short devotional, we prayed for our spiritual cousins, the Jews, and left stones of our own at the site:

Have a Seat

We do a lot of walking on our pilgrimages to Israel (and, this year also Jordan and Egypt), but we do sit from time to time. Here's proof. The photo below are my friends Willa and Carol in the lobby of the Olive Tree Hotel in Jerusalem (that Carol, such a servant!):

And here is most of the group (and our guide, Nader) in the amphitheater at Caesarea:

And my friend Julie Sellers, doing her best to "sit in the gate" (where the elders of the town would have sat in judgment) in the Solomonic gates of Megiddo:

We all, like good sailors, sat in the boat on the Sea of Galilee, but Chris claimed the best seat, right in the prow:

One of my most memorable moments was on the Mount of Beatitudes, where we were given permission to read the Beatitudes in a shaded grove with natural rocks for seats. This is my friend Surendra during the reading from Matthew 5.

And the last two seats are the same seat. In Chorazin, excavated not long ago, there was found the only known excavated "seat of Moses," an important part of synagogue furnishings, which Jesus referred to in Matthew 23:2. Here it is:

And here's my friend Chris sitting in Moses' seat, looking very wise and thoughtful: