Friday, December 21, 2012

The Perfect Gift


Each year it seems the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas becomes shorter. There are always parties to attend, family and friends to visit, delicious treats to prepare and gifts to purchase. This year, my family (my parents, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, nieces and myself) filled some of that time with a 4 day vacation at Disney World beginning the day after Thanksgiving. It was a joy and a blessing. Since returning home from the trip, I find myself remembering little moments…things like my three year old niece saying, “you can’t be mad or sad at Disney World”. What a great reminder to keep proper perspective, to think about where you are (Disney World is the happiest place on earth!) and be happy and joyful about your circumstances. Sure, the streets of Magic Kingdom were tightly packed with people that at times you could barely step left or right and spending 2 hours in line for 1 ride would not have been our first choice, but we were at Disney World and there were many reasons to be thankful. The time with family was a true gift from above and I treasure the memories.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is not variation or shadow due to change. – James 1:17
I spent several of the last 24 hours wrapping presents and thinking about gifts.  There is much care, thought and personalization that goes into each gift that is chosen, selected specifically for the intended recipient. Gifts are very personal; given to benefit one person (not a crowd); and costly, requiring the giver to sacrifice time, effort and money to secure a unique gift that will bring the recipient joy. Once a gift is chosen, it is wrapped in tissue and carefully placed in a box that is often wrapped in sparkling paper and adorned with a big, beautiful bow. Each gift is labeled to ensure it is opened by the one for whom it was chosen. The gifts are on display under the tree and anticipation grows as Christmas morning approaches.
Sometimes you can look at the wrapping and guess what treasure is hidden underneath, but the best gifts are always the ones that come unexpected – out of nowhere.
And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
– Luke 1:28-33
The perfect gift came to Mary in the most unexpected way. The perfect gift was very personal...for Mary and for each of us. The perfect gift was given to benefit every individual person who would believe. The perfect gift was costly, requiring great sacrifice. The perfect gift was wrapped in light. The perfect gift was not placed under a tree, but was nailed to a tree. The perfect gift waits to be received and when our hearts awaken to receive the gift, we find joy.
In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:11

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's 3:00 A.M.

And in the fourth watch of the night (about three o’clock in the morning) Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. – Matthew 14:25 

The final words of my prayer as I went to sleep last night were, “not mine, but thine”, little did I know that I would be awakened in the wee hours (about three o’clock) with an anxious heart and a strong desire to rise, grab my Bible and my 2011 journal and hear from the Lord. When I looked at the clock, the first thing that came to mind was Matthew 14:25. According to Matthew Henry’s commentary on this section of scripture, “it is good, upon several occasions, and when our hearts are enlarged, to continue long in prayer, and in pouring our hearts out before the Lord.”

Much like Peter in the following verses, I oftentimes step out in faith with eyes locked on the Lord, only to be distracted by the wind and waves that swirl around me. Of this, Matthew Henry’s commentary goes on to say, “when we look off from Christ, and look at the greatness of opposing difficulties, we shall begin to fall, but when we call to him, he will stretch out his arm, and save us…The weakness of faith, and the prevailing of our doubts displease our Lord Jesus, for there is no good reason why Christ’s disciples should be of a doubtful mind.”

For several months, I confess, I have been “stuck” reflecting on a long awaited hope, a prayer I’ve prayed in many ways on many occasions and one specific prayer with a date of April 29, 2011. Like the tide, I ebb and flow in my fervency of prayer with regards to those things that seem to be slow in coming. When I set my eyes on the Lord, He reminds me of his promises: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

When I grow impatient or weary in circumstances and situations, I am often reminded that Jesus is transforming me through these times by drawing me to Himself in prayer, in His word, and changing me by the Holy Spirit in me that grows, strengthens and matures my faith with wisdom and understanding.

This is from my journal, April 29, 2011:

Surrender – Not mine, but thine. When I hand over (surrender) my expectations, I am free to receive all that He has planned for me.

Transitions – Moments of change. Moving from the disasters of the past and present into the blessings of the future.

God calls me to put in its proper place, anything that keeps me from fully trusting Him, leaving behind yesterday’s address so that I can accompany Him to a new place tomorrow.

I am thankful for my three a.m. wake up call and the reminder of these words, “surrender” and “transition”. Although I am waiting to see the purposes of the Lord in many things, I am comforted in knowing I need only to keep my eyes on the Lord. At the end of my journal entry, I wrote my God-sized dream. If I told you what it was, you may think it to be a simple thing and to most people it would certainly not be considered grandiose. To me, it is something only the Lord can do and although I don’t know when the dream will become reality, I have already seen glimpses of His glory in the waiting.

Lord, I confess that I sometimes struggle to believe_______________. Please forgive me for doubting, becoming anxious and growing weary. Please renew and strengthen your spirit within me to trust you fully and to keep my eyes focused on you.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Friday, September 28, 2012

Are You Living Beyond Organic?

Beyond Organic is a company on a mission to change your diet, change your life and change your world with:
Foods and Beverages to heal and nourish your body from the inside
Skin and Body Care to heal and nourish your body from the outside
Education to inform and renew the mind with what is true and good health
A Mission that falls in line with James 1:27: to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction…
When I heard about Beyond Organic, I knew I had to be involved with the mission and message.
To learn more about why I’m living Beyond Organic in 2012 and beyond, click here.
To learn more about the company and how you can be involved as a consumer or a fellow mission marketer, click here.
I’m very excited to know that a variety of new products will be added to the line up each month for the next many months. Beyond Organic offers discounted products and free shipping with certain orders AND all of these great products are delivered right to my front door.

Check out My Beyond Organic for specific product information and ordering, or contact me directly at

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What My Friends Say

If you’ve read this blog at all in the past year, you are probably well aware of my fondness to Suero Viv…especially as a replenishing post work out drink and as an effective detoxifying cleanser. But, maybe you wonder what other people have to say about this Suero Viv of which I write…take a look at what some of my friends say…

“I was working really hard one day, and the heat was so intense and I started to crave the Orange Cinnamon Suero Viv so much that I could literally taste it…the only problem was, it was about 500 feet away in the cooler in my truck, so I had to wait. This stuff is so good, it just hydrates me and gives me that boost so that I can keep going.” – Kevin
My friend Kevin is an electrical contractor and works really long hours in some pretty hot spots, especially during the summer in this Florida heat. He keeps a cooler stocked with Suero Viv in his truck to keep him hydrated and energized throughout those long, hot work days.

“I’m on my third day of the Suero Cleanse and I feel so good!!! The only problem is that my fiancĂ© keeps drinking and eating all of my Beyond Organic products! I’m glad I tried the Green Suero, it’s good in an interesting way, and I feel really healthy when I drink it. Thank you for telling me about Beyond Organic!” – Danielle
My friend Danielle did the 3 Day Suero Cleanse just days before her wedding and I must say she was a stunningly beautiful bride! Of course, she is always beautiful, but who knows, maybe that Suero Cleanse gave her a little extra glow for her wedding day. Now that she’s married, it sounds like she and her husband need extra Beyond Organic products in the fridge!

“I realized that eating, a lot of times, is more from habit than hunger. I haven’t felt tired or hungry all day.” – Dad
I’m going to be honest here; my dad was a little reluctant to do a Suero Cleanse. He was sure that he’d be hungry and cranky from not eating all day, but the Suero Vivs kept him from having blood sugar lulls and kept him full and satisfied throughout the day.

“I finished my 3 Day Suero Viv Cleanse on Sunday. I was pleasantly surprised. I was worried the drinks would be gross…of course, I’m someone who drinks Coke Zero every night…but the Suero Viv was not bad at all! I didn’t find myself starving in between drinking the Suero Vivs and no fatigue. I was very satisfied!” – Heather
My friend Heather ordered the Suero Cleanse Bronze package without even tasting a Suero Viv before placing her order. She had been looking for a good cleansing product and noted that the Suero Viv Cleanse packages are much more affordable than most other cleansing products. And because the main ingredient in each Suero Viv is cultured whey, they have just what the body needs to detoxify and cleanse all of the major organs and with 5 flavors to choose from, a Suero Viv Cleanse provides plenty of variety for those taste buds.

“I was thinking that I hadn’t noticed a difference with the Suero Cleanse over the weekend, but somehow this morning I woke up at 5 a.m., ran 2 miles, did an Insanity workout, then ran another mile…I think it HAS made a difference in my energy. AND when I woke up, the first thing I went for was a Suero Viv without even thinking about anything else. I completely get that feeling you were talking about where you just want to keep drinking the Suero Viv. That’s what is in my lunch box today too!” – Patrick
Patrick started the Suero Cleanse Bronze on a Friday and cleansed through the weekend…he even spent a day kayaking while on the Suero Cleanse…I’d say he had energy! I was delighted to hear that on the first day of his new job, he chose to pack Suero Viv to keep him going rather than stop off at a fast food chain for lunch.

I did the 3 Day Suero Cleanse two weeks in a row and have maintained drinking an average of 2 Suero Vivs per day since then. My plan is to Suero Cleanse once a month and to drink Suero Vivs daily as a form of maintenance. We live in a toxic world filled with air, water, soil and other environmental pollutants. Our bodies were created with a system to detoxify, yet we bombard them with so many personal care products and “foods” that hinder the process. Taking a few days to let the system rest from the burden gives our kidneys, liver and colon time to do what they were created to do.

Now, aren’t you ready to Suero Cleanse?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Fall Y'all...Well, Almost!

The first day of Autumn isn’t officially until this Saturday, but it actually feels slightly “Fall-ish” today, and according to the weather reports, we are supposed to have some low temps in the 50s this week! Whoa, that is definitely Fall weather and I’ve already been enjoying the warming spices typically associated with the Autumn season. This Spice Market Sweet Potato Hash is something I cannot get enough of lately.


Spice Market Sweet Potato Hash

2 large sweet potatoes
1 ½ Cups black beans, cooked
1 red onion, diced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
½ lemon, juiced
½ tsp. coriander
½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Peel and dice sweet potatoes and place with a little coconut oil in a pot over medium-low heat. Cover with lid and let cook until tender. Add onions and let cook until onions are at desired doneness. Turn off the burner and add black beans and remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined. Enjoy!
It's quite spicy, but the spices really are power houses for good health. This makes great leftovers too...and to me, is equally good straight out of the refrigerator without heating it back up.
You can also use any type of beans: black, adzuki, mung, lentils…whatever you have on hand or whatever you like best.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Favorite Beauty Products

A friend recently shared with me about Kelly’s Korner Blog and suggested that I link up to an upcoming Show Us Your Life link up day. I thought I’d go ahead and give it a test run today because the theme is “Your Favorite Beauty Products” and I have certainly been through my share of trials and errors when it comes to beauty products. My name is Brooke and I am a reformed beauty product junkie.

Just to give you a little insight, in my former life I would read InStyle Magazine from cover to cover and make a list of the latest products and promptly go to Sephora (yes, I was a Sephora Beauty Insider) and stock up on makeup, hair care, nail polish, lotions, potions and the like. I even changed my nail polish on a daily basis if necessay to match my outfit. Praise the Lord, He changed my perspective about all of this! I have a much more simple approach when it comes to personal care products these days.
In my mid-twenties I began to have some seriously scary scarring acne which led me on a hunt through just about every product, from the cheapest to the most expensive, from the drug store to high-end department stores, which claimed skin beautifying and most importantly clearing benefits. What I learned has forever changed my perspective with regards to truly healthy skin.
Beauty comes from the inside out. Glowing, clear, healthy skin starts with what we eat. A clean diet of organic fruits and vegetables, wild caught salmon, free range chicken and eggs, green-fed beef, and healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, are the foundation of good skin and good health.

The most inexpensive beauty product is sunshine. A few minutes in the sun each day really brightens the skin and gives a nice glow.
The skin is the largest eliminative organ of the body and every pore is an escape route for waste. Many beauty products contain harmful chemicals (that are linked to cancer and reproductive/developmental disorders) that are absorbed into the body through the skin. Rather than eliminating toxins, we may unknowingly be actively putting more toxins in our bodies through the use of these products and quite often we are paying a pretty penny to do so.
In my search to clear my skin and find a truly healthy beauty routine, I did a complete overhaul and cleared out old products, these are just a few:

And I found that some of the most beneficial products could be found right in my kitchen. For example, apple cider vinegar is very effective at clearing up break outs and if used very diligently a couple of times a day, can reduce the appearance of acne scarring. Just dampen a cloth with water, then pour on some apple cider vinegar and rub over any trouble spots.

A great way to moisturize is with coconut oil which also contains natural anti-bacterial properties. Just a dab goes a really long way and it smells so good too without any harsh fragrances like most beauty products.

Although it has been a couple of years since the worst of my beauty plight, I had not found easily accessible, toxic free, organic facial cleansers, lotions, shampoos, etc. until just this week. Beyond Organic has launched a skin and body care line of products that I am more than excited to get my hands on! Finally, clean skin care that will ship right to my front door…it doesn’t get much easier than that. Through September 16th, each of the product lines is available for Mission Marketers and Preferred Customers with a BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE promo. (Not a Mission Marketer or a Preferred Customer? That’s easy, just sign up here, then log in for this great savings) or beginning Monday, September 17th these products will be available at regular retail and wholesale prices.

Advanced Anti-Aging System

Set Includes:
·         Botanical Cleanser 4.0oz/120ml
·         Neroli Toner 4.0oz/120ml
·         Radiant Serum 1.0oz/30ml
·         AM Moisturizer 1.0oz/30ml
·         Replenishing Night Cream 1.0oz/30ml
·         Eye Cream 0.5oz/15ml
·         Lift Serum 0.6oz/18ml
·         Acai Exfoliator 2.0oz/60ml
*Plus you get a 2nd set for Free.
Retail Value for 2 sets: $750. Yours today for only $300.

Beyond Body Care System

Set Includes:
·         Sweet Orange Shampoo 8.0oz/240ml
·         Sweet Orange Conditioner 8.0oz/240ml
·         Clean Citrus Shower Gel 8.0oz/240ml
·         Hand and Body Lotion 8.0oz/240ml
·         Botanical Hand Wash 8.0oz/240ml
·         Pomegranate Berry Lip Balm .25oz
·         Triple Mint Lip Balm .25oz
*Plus you get a 2nd set for Free.
Retail Value for 2 sets: $205. Yours today for only $82.

Having shared all of this, I believe the most important beauty product ever is the Bible. True beauty is something that radiates from the inside out and from a life well-lived in The Word.
Moses may seem like an unlikely beauty mentor, yet he experienced a supernatural beauty treatment when he sought the Lord: his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. – Exodus 34:29
I’d say Moses had a healthy glow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Thorough Cleansing

Last week I embarked on my very first (it won’t be the last!) 3 Day Suero Viv Cleanse. I admit that I was a little uncertain as to how I would handle drinking six SueroViv beverages per day and consuming no other foods or beverages. Would I feel tired? Hungry? Experience blow sugar swings and be contrary? However, I was pleasantly surprised at how stable my blood sugar remained…and the very few times I did start to feel the slightest bit tired or hungry, it was time to drink another Suero Viv which filled me up and gave me an energy boost. I did not even experience food cravings during or after the Suero Viv Cleanse.

What did I experience?
·       A clear mind to accomplish daily tasks and get settled into a new routine and some new commitments.  
·       Energy to do some pretty insane workouts every morning and extra group workouts two evenings.
·       More time! I found myself saying, “there are too many hours in the day”. With time saved preparing and eating meals, I found “extra time” to do things I had been putting off for another day.
·       Restful nights, awaking refreshed and ready for the morning.
·       Weight loss
·       Inflammation removed
·       Smooth soft skin

Now, you may be asking, “what is Suero Viv and what exactly are the internal benefits to following a 3 Day Suero Viv Cleanse?”
Suero Viv, meaning Whey of Life, is a cultured whey beverage alive with probiotics and enzymes, hydrating and packed with electrolytes and B vitamins, plus it is addictively delicious with a slightly sweet/slightly tangy flavor.
Drinking Suero Viv or following a Suero Viv Cleanse aids your body in eliminating waste and toxins that accumulate as a result of pollution, radiation from electronics, and consuming foods commonly found in the standard American diet. The cultured whey works to cleanse your liver, colon, kidneys, and lymph system. The potassium actually pulls waste from the cells of the body. Check out this excerpt from a recent article on
Potassium is in a class known as electrolytes. When dissolved in water, electrolytes conduct the electricity needed by our muscles and nerves to function. Another function of potassium is to assist the storage of carbohydrates in the muscles. Carbohydrates are needed for endurance, and also play a role in the body’s blood pressure regulation, as well as fluid balance. When the body lacks potassium, not only are the muscles and nerves compromised, but the heart may even have trouble maintaining a normal rhythm.
If you follow what I call the SAD Diet (Standard American Diet) there’s a good chance you may also suffer from the potassium-sodium imbalance. The good news is this imbalance is not permanent. There are ways to correct it.
Cleansing is just a good idea because it promotes cellular health and brings your body into a better balance by flushing waste out.
Cleansing is something that can be done on a regular (monthly) basis to help keep your body balanced and in good working order. I felt so good as a result of my 3 day cleanse that I already have my next one planned! An added benefit to regular cleansing is sustained weight loss. Now, losing weight was not the main goal I had when I began my cleanse, but I have noticed since turning 31 that I do have to be a little more careful about how much dessert I eat (and I DO enjoy my fair share of dark chocolate!). Since I like to play with numbers, let’s consider if I’m consuming around 2,000 calories a day on a regular basis, but I take 3 days per month to cleanse:
normal daily caloric intake
daily calories on a Suero Viv Cleanse
calories saved per day
number of days cleansing
calories saved per cleanse
months per year
calories saved per year

 AND 3,500 calories = 1 pound…so that is a 13 pound weight loss or avoidance of weight gained over the course of a year, just simply by cleansing on a regular basis. Pretty amazing stuff! If all of this has you craving Suero Viv and ready to cleanse, then by all means, visit my BeyondOrganic site and check it out!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New & Old Summer Favorites

With school starting this week for most students, summer break has come to an end. Yet we still have several weeks remaining with hot, humid summer days. I thought this would be a great time to share one of my favorite meals from this summer. My parents and I returned from Israel very shortly before the Fourth of July and we were feeling very patriotic. We had some great new All-American-type recipes to try out and a few old favorites.
One of the new recipes was a No Potato Salad that I found on Elana’s Pantry. Using cauliflower in place of the potatoes intrigued me. Cauliflower is a very versatile cruciferous vegetable and I've enjoyed it made into faux mashed potatoes and pizza crust, so this sounded like something I had to try. I made a few small changes, such as adding more mustard and more celery. This turned out great and I think it was a crowd pleaser!

A trusty old stand-by for our family is baked chicken nuggets. It’s a kid-pleaser and a favorite of the grownups as well.

We cut 2 chicken breasts into about 1-inch sized pieces and then soak them in coconut milk for 30 minutes or more. Then we combine:
1 Cup Teff Flour
1 ½ teaspoons Herbamare Seasoning

Coat each piece of chicken in the flour mixture and spread out in a 9x13 baking dish that has been oiled with coconut oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 22 minutes.

Two new recipes came from a sneak peak at the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen’s new cookbook. The first was a baked beans recipe. It called for apple cider; somehow I missed this when making the grocery list, but applesauce and a little water made a fine substitution. These were a huge hit!

The other new recipe was coleslaw made without mayo. The dressing ingredients included cashews and a little Herbamare for seasoning. The salad was a nice crunchy element to the meal.

To top it all off, we finished up with some seriously moist and chocolatey brownies made with almond butter and dark chocolate chips.
I could go for one of these right now, but I'm in the middle of a 3 Day Suero Viv Cleanse. In all seriousness, the Suero Viv's are so refreshing that even after looking at all of these food pictures, I'm still not craving any of it. I will be posting about my experience on the Suero Viv Cleanse soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What to do with White Fish?

Halibut, when wild-caught, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which promote healthy brain function, eye health, balances mood, reduces inflammation (a precursor for all disease) and may even improve cardiovascular health. With all of these health benefits, I am all for eating more of this white, flaky fish. I have it shipped right to my door and it already comes in prepackaged 6 oz. portions. Folks, it doesn’t get much easier than this!

To me, halibut just doesn’t have much flavor, and if you read my last post, you know that I am a big fan of mustard, so I thought, why not spread a little mustard on some halibut and bake it for dinner? The result was a simple, yet delicious and nutritious dinner in just minutes.

Halibut (cut into 6 oz. portions)
Celtic Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Stone Ground Mustard
Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a glass baking dish with extra-virgin coconut oil.

Place halibut in the baking dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper (it just takes a little) and spread stone ground mustard over each piece of halibut. I like a lot of mustard on mine, so you can add a little or a lot. Mustard is a low-calorie condiment and the turmeric in it is anti-inflammatory, so I am a big fan of it and use it liberally on my fish.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Asparagus and broccoli salad are perfect accompaniments to halibut. Light and nutrient dense.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sesame Breadsticks

Have you ever just had a craving for mustard? It is by far my favorite condiment and it's a great choice because it gets that nice yellow color from turmeric, which is anti-inflammatory. I enjoy mustard smothered sardines...don't knock it, it is a great way to get some healthy omega-3's and makes for a quick protein addition to a salad. I also enjoy a GreenFinished beef burger with mustard on top.

But sometimes I just want something "snacky".

A sesame bread stick seemed like a great option, so I began to think of how to make a grainless breadstick. The result...delicious breadsticks that have some great benefits including: calcium in sesame seeds...vitamin E in almond flour...fiber in coconut flour. Plus, they are super quick and easy to make!

Sesame Breadsticks

1/2 Cup Almond Flour
1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil or Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients. Form into 2"-3" "sticks". Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with mustard for dipping.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Caesarea and Home Sweet Home

Well, friends, my recap of Israel is coming to a close. It’s bittersweet to be going through the pictures from our final day of the trip, but the experience, the memories, and the relationships formed have changed me in ways that will last far beyond the 10 day pilgrimage. Our last day was spent at the harbor town of Caesarea on the Mediterranean Coast. It was perhaps the most refreshing and beautiful day of the trip because we had time to go at a slower pace and it reminded me so very much of home.

Ruins from King Herod the Great's Harbor Town 

This view was refreshing and gorgeous!

There was a wedding reception in progress to the left as we walked up.

A view of a fisherman from the restaurant where several of us had lunch.

Some of our lunch meals

Warm, moist, delicious Gluten-free chocolate cake...Casarea was after my heart, y'all! And yes, I ate the whole piece.

No Speedos allowed inside the building!

The shoreline was covered in beautiful seashells

 We had so much fun climbing the rocks along the shore and searching for interesting shells.

Just before leaving Caesarea, we stopped off at a Gelato and Sorbet shop where I had the best berry sorbet I have ever eaten.

We saw this little cutie right before heading out to the airport...we were glad to be on our way home to our own little was such a long time to be away from Cole and Chloe...and the rest of our family too!

Over the course of the trip I was reminded of how blessed we are in America and how blessed we are who have placed our trust in Jesus. We have so much freedom and it should be celebrated every day, especially on the 4th of July. Sing patriotic songs, enjoy the company of family and friends, eat something All-American, savor an ice cream cone, watch the fireworks and whatever you do, offer thanks to God for all the blessings He has showered upon us.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jerusalem and The Way of the Cross

The Temple Mount is the original site of the great Temple of Jerusalem and played a big role in the ministry of Jesus. This is where Jesus was dedicated as a baby:
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.”- Luke 2:22-23

Where as a boy he impressed the Jewish teachers with his knowledge:

Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. - Luke 2:46-47
Where he was tempted by Satan:

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ – Luke 4:9-12

Where he cleansed the temple:
Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said. – Luke 19:45-48

Currently, the Temple Mount is occupied by the Supreme Muslim Religious Council, hence the Dome of the Rock visible in the picture below. There are very strict rules regarding modest dress and all religious activities are prohibited. We observed large groups of children being taught by the women under shade trees, children playing in the courtyard area, and Muslim people entering the gold-domed mosque.

Just down the mount, we visited the Western Wall, or the “Wailing Wall”.

The wall was built as a retaining wall to enclose the western part of the Temple Mount. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD, the remaining part of the wall became a place for Jews to lament the destruction of the Temple and serves today as a place of prayer. A dividing screen separates the women’s section from the men’s. 
The Women's section: 

The Men's section:

We walked the Via Dolorosa, “The Way of the Cross”, which travels through the streets of Old Jerusalem,

marking out 14 Stations of the Cross where Jesus passed as he carried the horizontal bar of the cross to Calvary. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands on the spot believed by many to be where Jesus was crucified and the tomb in which he was buried and rose again.

The stone where they lay his body to prepare for burial...

Light coming in from above the tomb.

There is another site, The Garden Tomb, that some believe could be the site of Jesus’ burial in Jerusalem. The Garden Tomb is located near a site that looks like a skull and the overall appearance of this area conforms to what we would generally anticipate from gospel accounts. This was a cool, quiet, reflective spot. 

Inside the Garden Tomb...

Whether you believe the Holy Sepulchre marks the location of Jesus’ death and resurrection or that it is the Garden Tomb, the most important thing is that wherever it occurred, the tomb is empty, He is risen from the dead and he is Lord.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words. – Luke 24:1-8