Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Places to Find Me


Sunday, December 30, 2007



I am currently about 7 miles above the earth in a slightly empty flying tin can of sorts. The best part of that sentence is “slightly empty” because that means that the air is somewhat fresh, the human smell is muted, and in general everyone (airline stewardess and steward included) is happier. It is almost as good as an upgrade.


Our first flight from Portland to Denver was a disaster. Shawn and I were split up and no available seat for Cohen, so he was squirming on my lap and fussing and biting his fingers. The two ladies seated next to me were about as friendly as rattlesnakes. Before Cohen even started fussing, they were giving me unfavorable sideways glances. Then once I nursed him and got him asleep, instead of being relieved they just kept pushing his legs back over into my seat. It was sort of like the imaginary line thing you did in the backseat of the car with your siblings during family vacation,…kinda, except, his foot would be one inch their direction and they’d push it back with one finger as if he were covered in some flesh eating rash.

It was two hours I wouldn’t want to live over. So this flight in comparison…well, its heaven.

So I am writing because I have some NEWS. (and no, I am not preggo- admit it, you thought that) I think I will post my NEWS with bullets…how do you feel about that?

• First of all, Engage the Journey is beginning in just a couple of days now and I am oh-so-excited about it! I have had lots of emails and interest, so I am sure this will be as rich as in 2006. If you are interested, just drop me an email, ok? Of course you can join anytime, but its easier to stay committed if you don’t get behind.

• Secondly, the website for Engage the Journey ’08 has changed. Its now I was looking back through my blog last night and categorizing posts (something I should’ve done a long time ago) and realized how often I have attempted to use my iWeb to make sites, but the only problem is, THEY ALWAYS HAVE PROBLEMS! Some people can’t read it on non-mac computers, sometimes there are unexplained publishing errors, and I cannot upload or change anything from a computer other than my own. So I started thinking about that and got worried that if something went wrong, it could mess up people’s reading. SO..I changed it. If you already bookmarked the page, change it, ok? And let others know too, ok? Thanks

• Thirdly, its not only Engage the Journey that is moving to, The Accidental Traveler is too! Same explanation as above…had trouble getting it to work and got fed up…so PLEASE change my link and visit me at I will miss you if you don’t come and visit. You might ask, why wordpress? Well….

o It is more complicated to figure out and you to have to pay in order to change html code (which I haven’t done yet) BUT you can have multiple pages, people can sign in and leave their address even if its not a wordpress one, more widgets, more designable….
o I have loved blogger and most people I know keep their blogs there, but I have grown tired of it and needed a change that gave me a few more options…

So I think that’s all my news for now. I will write some funny stories a little bit later when the computer isn’t about to die like it is right now. And don’t worry, Caroline, I am fixing to answer your theology question in a day or so!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Church of the Nativity (with pics)

Good morning, friends! Wow. I meant to write this post some time ago and just haven't been able to. We have enjoyed having Christmas in Oregon with Shawn's family, but its been FULL. We haven't been here in so long and there's been lots of catching up to do! That, and then did I mention that Cohen is cutting teeth? Because he is. Shawn sang "all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" to him on Christmas Eve and wouldn't you know the next morning he'd cut his first one? And then he's spent the last two days working on the second bottom tooth. So the rest of my time that's not been spent talking or playing games has been spent administering cold things to chew on and concentrated infant motrin. He's been fussy, but that tooth is so stinkin' cute I don't even care! As soon as its big enough to photograph without us seeming like those parents, I will post a pic.

Our last day in Palestine, we had sort of a free day. Cohen and I had missed the afternoon shoot at Manager Square and the Church of the Nativity, so we wanted to go there. Shawn had to do some taped interviews in the morning for the documentary so I decided to do some laundry. Everyone smokes there and between that and Cohen's puking, pretty much all of our clothes needed washed. I hate packing dirty stuff. So to make a long story short, I started laundry around 10am and literally didn't finish until we left for the airport at 4:30pm. How is that possible? No, we didn't wear 18 outfits each was only 1 load of laundry...BUT the washer didn't spin out, so at the end of its cycle it was still full of water and I had to ring out each piece of clothes by hand then when I checked on the dryer an hour later, it became apparent that it does not actually get hot. So I ended up hanging our clothes out to dry on the roof. Which probably would've worked if it had been warmer than 50 degrees. So anyway, we left at 1pm to see the church while the clothes were "drying"...really, I could've had a few more hours in the square if I had just succumbed to the idea that I was going to be packing wet (although not pukey or smokey!) clothes. So the moral of the story is....if you go to Palestine, see the sites and just take home that stale smoke smell. Its better in the end than mildew.


Even with the slight laundry debacle looming, the Church of the Nativity was the most amazing thing we saw. Built over the stable believed to be where Jesus was found by the shepherds, it was completely captivating and old and full of mystery. I wanted to share with you some of the photos I took.

The square was just starting to fill up when we arrived and it was teeming with people by the time we left...this is the first Christmas tourism had come back to Bethlehem and everyone was so excited!
These women are huddling in front of the door into the church- its tiny! you can see the actual door better in the above photo.
Here's a view from of the door from the inside. You can see how small it is. I guess at one time it was larger and you can see where they built it in with wood. Our friend said that it was built smaller to keep the Romans from charging into the church on horseback.
The original floor had been built over.
Its gorgeous can see what it looked like here.
This is the view from when you first walk in...there are actual services going on and you can see ahead how ornate everything is! It was hard to get pics because of all of the lights hanging low, so bear with me, ok? I will post some of Shawn's awesome pics somewhere so you can see more clear ones.
In this area here there was actually a priest and a nun. I refrained from taking their pics!
This was one of my favorite areas inside because it wasn't so ornate...this felt like what I had imagined..old and magical.
We went down in these tiny tunnels that looked like caves and were in the ground. You can see everyone crowding around to get a pic of the area set up to honor Jesus' birth in the spot he was believed to have been found. Stables were actually underground in caves then.
Here's what the shrine looked like
We came out of the caves into another area of the church that is newer and gorgeous! There was an orchestra practices for a Christmas concert. This whole church was bigger than you can imagine. We just kept going and going and there seemed to be no end to it!
Adjacent to the orchestra was another place to stop and honor Jesus.
There were tons of more caves from there...none of the pics turned out but this one since most of the areas were very dimly lit by candles. Lots of saints and Bible translators (early ones) were buried in the caves. It was not like something you'd see in a church in the States, trust me!
One such Bible translator was whose body we had passed, was also remembered in a statue just outside the church in a courtyard.
another view of the gorgeous courtyard
one more view from outside

Shawn and I have this travel book called something like "1000 Places to See Before You Die" or something catchy like that. It lists one of the places as Bethlehem at Christmastime. Although we missed Christmas by 2 days, I think I can agree with the book and recommend it. We actually want to go back again and see more. If you get the chance, Go! Don't let the news media scare you into not going.

Okay friends. More later. Love you!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas Card

Saturday, December 22, 2007

leavin' on a jet plane

well my dear friendly readers, its 9:30pm here in tel aviv, israel and we are just shy of two hours from beginning our very long trek back to the US. we have a 12 hour flight to atlanta and then a 5-ish hour flight from there to portland.

can't you tell every word i write is pregnant and almost bursting with sheer joyful anticipation?


cohen is awake now which i hope translates to lots of sleep in a bit. you know, yesterday we started saying 'well at least he never adjusted to the time here... that should make it easier for him to go back west.' and then you know what happened, right? the obvious comedic scene that swiftly followed our hopeful assertions?

yep. he slept through the night last night, proving that it took him exactly one week to fully adjust to the time change- just in time for us to go home. what can i say? this kid's got great timing.

know what else he's got? lungs, people. and not just lungs or even Lungs...he possess some serious LUNGS. he's protesting his incarceration in the stroller right next to me at the moment. shawn's off in the duty free section of the airport, shopping, i am afraid. even just typing that makes me nervous. he's been gone exactly 48 minutes now.(not that i am keeping track, mind you) i hate spending money...i am the tightwad of this marriage. let's say he's more 'free spirited' than i am in that realm...and let's just say that his being gone so long is making me slightly 'crazy' because that also would be fair statement. ('nough said)

i can't write too long or we'll have no battery for the flight. we are planning on watching (yes, again) the most recent rob bell dvd. and maybe if the stars all align we'll be watching from business class. when we checked in they told us there was a good possibility of being upgraded. i kinda wish they hadn't even mentioned it since now about all i can think of (besides strangling my husband if he comes back with a shopping bag) is those stinking big comfy chairs in business class that i have never actually been able to sit in.

anyway, i have pics of manager square and the church of the nativity to share with you and a few more stories and i promise to get to them within a few days.

But until then, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

here's a pic of cohen enjoying the tel aviv airport

and in other news...cohen had only liked bananas and avocado until this trip...but then he decided he LOVES hummus and we thought 'man our kid has sophisticated taste' and patted ourselves on the back a little..too much, maybe since the very next afternoon he decided he also LOVES the taste of random coffee tables.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

a day in the Holy City (with pictures)

good afternoon, friends. well its not afternoon in the US yet, but perhaps by the time you read this it will be.

cohen and i opted to sleep in this morning rather than go with the filming crew...for one, we've not been getting much sleep since the time change has really thrown our baby for a loop. secondly, we have to leave the area when they are filming anyway since cohen is

anyway...i couldn't fall asleep so i stayed up watching rob bell's new dvd "everything is spiritual" which i highly recommend to all of you. just when the dvd was finishing, cohen woke up. which, of course, figures. he rolled over, pulled himself to his knees, and holding on to me, started to bounce. my immediate thoughts were: he's really missing his jumpy seat. and he is really awake. i enjoyed it for awhile, but after a couple of hours, i was ready to take him into the common area and leave him there so i could get some sleep! (just kidding- well, kinda) but when i rolled over this morning and realized we'd slept until 10:30am, everything felt alright.

yesterday was nothing short of amazing. we had the day to just see the area. since it was the only chance we'd have to see Jerusalem, we decided to get a cab and go. that proved to be no easy task, since we had to get a driver from outside of palestine to cross the border and come and get us. none of the arab drivers are allowed to leave. then when we did have a israeli driver, we had to go through the check point- also no easy task. but it was all worth it.

i cannot tell you how the very short drive from palestine to israel feels like you are being transported from one world to a completely different one. in comparison to where we'd been staying, israel was a place fit for kings! all of the buildings looked new and modern and white washed. everything is made of these gorgeous stones and trees and all around and even flowers (something we'd not seen yet). many of the people were dressed stylishly and there were traffic lights.

a little taste of what the city looks like
what the homes look like in Israel

our driver took us to the gates of the old city and dropped us off. the first thing that struck me was that the shopping mall just outside of this ancient part of the city was not unlike a shopping mall in europe or the US. when we saw signs for the billabong store, i think we all had to check ourselves!

we ate just inside this old city gates at a little stand. cars zoomed by on the cobbled streets and people en mass pushed through. we watched the orthodox jews walking around with their black garb and hats and long, curly sideburns. shawn desperately wanted to get a photo, but apparently that's offensive to them, so he held back. we walked down the old streets now so full of shopping, with brightly colored scarves hanging high, tossed by the breeze. it was a gorgeous sunny day. perfect for a little walking in a place like the old city. its the kind of place you could spend weeks discovering. i wished we had more time.

shawn talking with ariella on a typical street in the old city
a view of the shopping down one alley

to say there's a lot to see here, would be the understatement of a lifetime. EVERYTHING is ancient and EVERYTHING is spiritually and historically significant here. every inch of this beautiful land has a story... ariella, an israeli/american girl who is here with us, was playing tour guide for the day. and although she's lived in the Holy Land for 10 years now and essentially grown up here, she said there;s still so much she hasn't seen.

which gives you an idea of how much we were trying to cram into our one little afternoon.

with so many amazing sites to choose from, we decided to see the place they think Christ was crucified and buried (the garden tomb), arial view of the city from a mountain, garden of gethsmene and accompanying church, and the wailing wall.

the garden tomb was an amazing place...the most 'lush' vegetation we'd seen.. as you wind through the garden, you come to place with a view of the side of mountain that bears what appears to be a skull in the side of it. i don't mean an actual skull, mind you. i mean that they way the rock was shaped looked like a skull. it is widely believed to be the site of golgotha (which in hebrew is "skull"). it was a weird moment...later we all said we felt like its a spot that should be quiet and candle lit or something. instead, there's a bus station just below and crowds of people mulling around. all i could hear was the tour guide 15 feet away, explaining the whole sort of stole the moment. i think later, i'll have to sneak back in my mind and experience it alone...with candles and silence. the garden from which the view of golgotha was seen also holds the tomb where Jesus is believed to have been buried. this time, the tour guide with his tour-guide-voice (you know what i am talking about!) came in handy as he explained why its believed to be Jesus' tomb. for one, the tomb was manmade and the specific area where the body was laid was dug out and obviously not meant for the body it held. the Bible says a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea gave up his tomb for Jesus, so that would make sense. also, the tomb was obviously meant for a rich person...based on a nearby wine press and the impressive gardens. that paired with the closeness of golgotha, a place known for crucifixtion, and now you know the reasoning for this being labeled Jesus' tomb. even though there were lots of tours and people nearby, we got to enter the tomb alone and have a moment. it felt very surreal.

you can kind of see the skull here- the two big holes are eye sockets, can you see it now?
the garden of the tomb
the outside of the tomb, ariella and jeff (works for ethnographic media) entering in
the tomb
an inscription in the tomb
sign outside of the tomb, in the garden

the garden of gethsemene was beautiful...full of olive trees. the church built on the site (churches are built on nearly ever 'site' or believed site) was exquisite! i cannot begin to tell you have huge it was or how ornate. we enjoyed seeing it, but had to work hard to get our imaginations to consider Jesus praying there, among the olive branches. I know these places have to be tourist spots, but I wish somehow it all could've been preserved. still, that's not realistic, i suppose...and huge elaborate church or not, it was mind blowing to think we were standing in any proximity to places where Jesus had stood.

the garden of gethsemene.. this pic is deceiving because you can't actually walk around in it
the church from a distance, with garden in foreground
side view of church, garden is to left
church is HUGE! (this is my attempt at an artistic photo-ha!)
told you it was HUGE. cohen made friends with the monks! (wish i had a pic of that)
a view of the entry doors from inside the church..the light was gorgeous
view from the church steps... the wall of Jerusalem and the very top of the gold dome

the wailing wall was a site many people were get close and actually touch the wall, the women had to go in on one side and the men on another. the wailing wall is believed to be the oldest part of Jerusalem and an original wall of the rebuilt temple. it is a site of mourning what has been lost...jews are actually waiting for the temple to physically be rebuilt since they don't believe Jesus was the temple resurrected after 3 days. an older jewish man was singing loudly near the wall and ariella said he was praying for the temple to be rebuilt.

jewish flag, wailing wall is wall to the right
IMG_1181 you can see the stones at the bottom are larger and older, a different style of building..if you look close you can see the people who are closer to the wall through the fence...

shawn and i know we have to come back have more than 5 or 6 hours to soak it all up... and maybe when cohen is a bit older... carrying all 21lbs of him in a front pack all day was some serious work. and by the end of it, he;d just plain had it!

happy cohen in the morning
distressed cohen at dinner time

you know, when we first drove in from the airport, i remember almost asleep in the taxi i thought 'i could live here'. which is weird, because i never think that. not even of places in america. and even weirder, since all i had seen were a few things in the dark, passing by quickly in the taxi cab window. but it is a weird sensation, to feel connected to a place you've never been before...but i do feel attached to this land. i think despite everything going on and all of the unrest, you can feel its Holiness. you can feel the emotion of the people and the love of the land God gave to them. it literally feels spiritually significant. now, don't go fretting -(esp. mom, if you are reading this)- we aren't moving here. but i know that if God asked me to, i could. that's all i am saying.

the culture is special...its not scary at all either. people are warm and friendly on both sides. i wouldn't want to be a jew in palestine, of course, but everyone is kind to foreigners. so if you've ever thought of coming and then decided against it because of what you've seen on the news, i encourage you to rethink a trip here. you won't be disappointed.

ariella's father was a missionary kid here and grew up in israel. he went to college, got married, had children, and then felt pulled back. i asked her what her american-born mom felt about living here...she said simply "she loves it". ariella is going to college in the US if she can stand to leave her homeland for that long, but she is definitely coming back. and i don't blame her. she tells us there is so much work for the Kingdom to be done many believers in need of help that she knows her life has meaning here..she knows what is her part to play... its in her blood.

i have a feeling it wouldn't take long to get into mine either.

God bless. more later.

** and better pics later...i will post some shawn's when he uploads and edits them..his are gorgeous! his art...i take pics for memories**

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ghetto Bethlehem- {Bethlehem trip- part one)

Well, I added a ton of posts because I wasn't sure I would be able to blog at all this week... you just never can be sure about the state of internet while traveling... BUT as it turns out, the Bethlehem Bible College that is housing us, does in fact, have wireless internet.

So I suppose all of my franctic blogging was all for naught, friends. Anyway, if you get super bored, there are many new posts here in the month of December.

I was quite worried about our flights (see previous post) but in the end, it all worked out. Some nice people traded seats so that our little family could all sit in the same row. And even more importantly, Cohen was asleep within the first hour and continued sleeping for the next 8 hours of our 12 hour flight. Shawn and I were so relieved that we didn't even mind that our seats didn't recline. Everything seems wonderful when you are expecting to deal with a shreiking, squirming, growling 7 month old and then instead you get a smiley, peacefully, deep sleeping one! He woke up this morning and spent the rest of the flight flirting with two young Jewish girls seated near us. A few people, upon exiting the plane, even said "we didn't even know there was a baby sitting by us!" We are so proud- our little traveler. Of course, this whole experience is making us think 'man, its no problem to travel with little ones' which I am sure will backfire on us whenever we con ourselves into having more.

Or maybe we'll just remember how he responds to jet lag and decide travels must be somewhat limited. When it was time for bed last night here it was lunchtime at home. I nursed Cohen and we turned out the light. He went to sleep- magic! And then he woke up and the magic was gone. He shreiked and screamed until I put the light on. I tried to nurse him and get him to lie down...he looked at us like we were nuts. Eventually somewhere around 3am, we officially gave up and let him play with toys on the bed between us while we tried to get some sleep. He went back to sleep around 4, Shawn decided to get up after anyway, and me? I decided to SLEEP.

Ethnographic Media/Bearing Fruit is a really cool group of people. The sun came out this morning and we had a little more strength to give sustained attention to learning about the members of the crew and the man who the documentary is centered around. To say its been a day of learning, would be an understatement.

I suppose I consider myself a fairly educated and aware person overall. But I have to admit that when we first got the call that we were invited to go to Bethlehem, I thought 'wow Israel!' when of course, Bethlehem is in Palestine. That gives you an idea of my ignorance about the middle east even from a geographic perspective- nevermind the politics. My thinking about the tension between the Palestinians and Israelis was simple: these people have been fighting forever and its not likely to change anytime soon..and please? the Gaza strip? is that strip of desert worth fighting over? And I suppose if I had to take sides (not that I really had)I would've sided with Israel on the simple basis of their being God's chosen people. I think probably a lot of Christians think similarly while being mostly ignorant like myself. We hear little bits and peices on the news but I hate to say that even Fox news (widely perferred by believers) is not spin-free.

Sammie, the man whose life is the focus of this documentary, said something tonight that I think is very true. He said, when people come here for a week, they think they could write on one page what would fix the tensions here. When they've stayed a month, its grown to a pamphlet. In six months, the pamphlet becomes a booklet and by a year, its become a book. The more information one learns, the more frayed and varied and difficult the solutions seem.

Sammieis a Palestinian Christian whose family was kicked out of their homes in Jerusalem 40 years ago and they have been considered refugees ever since. Educated in the US with a masters degree in the psychology of non-violence, Sammie came back to Palestine and started The Holy Land Trust. Its main objective is to teach non-violent mindset and procedures and to encourage travel to the area for outsiders to become educated on the issues that exist here.

Dinner tonight with Sammie and his family (wife and daughters Lu Lu 5yrs and Laraina 5 months)helped to shed light on all of the scenes we had soaked up today as we drove around Bethlehem. Most of our day was focused on seeing the wall that is being erected all around the borders of Israel and is actually walling in the tiny area called the Palestinian territories. The wall is enormous. I cannot rightly explain to you just how HUGE it is. And almost every inch of it is covered in graffiti. Its that very artistic and thought-provoking graffiti that inspired the name of this documentary 'Ghetto Bethlehem'. Sayings cover the walls, asking Israel to remember that "thou shalt not steal still applies" and reminding them that the are now doing to the Palestinians the very thing that was done to them- taking their homes, not giving them a land, and occupation. The art is almost as bone chilling. The one that sticks out most in my mind is a huge dove with an olive branch in its mouth, wearing a bullet proof vest.

There were so many things I didn't understand... I guess I just thought that these were two countries, equal in power and resources, that were fighting one another. The reality is much different. Palestine does not have a military of any kind. And now they are only fighting to occupy 8% of the land and be able to govern themselves. Its not quite the picture I had in my mind. Even as we looked at an arial view of the wall being built and our guide pointed out the land beyond, saying 'this is our land. we still own parcels and houses but we cannot build it. Israel will not give us permits. We are only allowed to 'visit' our land between 6am and 6pm. And even then, we can only go when the guard shows up to unlock the gate, which is rare.' Even then, the thought in the forefront of my mind was simply 'this is half the story'.

Tonight as Sammie went back and explained to us the history, I struggled to hold on that thought. So in case you know as little as I did, I will tell you just a few things. Until 1948, all of this land was Palestine. Jews and Palestinians lived together here. There was tension, but it was all Palestine. Because of that tension, the UN came in and divided the land, creating two countries and giving Israel their own land. Although the Jews constituted 20% of the population, they were given 55% of the land, which naturally was unacceptable to the the arab community. This is when things heated up. The outcome was that eventually Israel actually took more than the UN gave them and ended up with 80% of the land and now the Palestinian territories actually make up only 40% of the rest of that the math, that's 8% of the total. And that's what they are fighting for. Yes, its the west bank and gaza strip- land we can't imagine fighting over, but its all they have. And there is a fight over Jerusalem, a city both groups lay claim to. I guess Jerusalem is actually east and west Jerusalem- two cities. Samie seems to think Israel should have one city and Palestine the other...without borders, but who knows if that's possible now?

One thing is for sure, many people here have been refuges over 60 years now and living in horrid conditions. In the refugee camps (there are 5 in Bethlehem)as many as 50 people live in one flat that's usually less than 1000sqft. Animals and people co-exist in filth. Its very sad. When the Palestinians were forced out of Jerusalem, 800,000 people were displaced. And SAmmie is right to say that once conflict is over, people return home (think: Bosnia) but no one has returned home here. And however you see it, there is something not right with that.

Tonight part of our dinner was filmed...strange. You definitely find yourself thinking more about how wide you open your mouth to take a bite than you do the conversation. So luckily they only filmed a small portion. Once we were without lights and cameras, the conversation flowed more easily and we were all more relaxed. It began to occur to me, that along with my ignorance, I had made the assumption that Israel is Jewish and Christian and Palestine is Muslim. But the lines are that easily drawn. Many Muslim Palestinians live in Israel and (although declining) the Christian population in Palestine was in the recent past over 30%! These are a people with a shared history and in many ways, a shared DNA. Sammie told us even though he's Palestinian and Arab, a genetic test he had done showed his markers to be 80% Jewish...

Anyway I asked Sammie if Palestinian and Israeli Christians identify more with their faith or their nationality? He said they identify themselves more as Palestinian or Israeli than Christian.

That stuck out to me. Its the same issue I have with a lot of American believers. We tend to identify ourselves politically more than we identify with our faith. I mean, a lot of Christians think that its Christian to be Republican when Jesus didn't even affliate himself politically during a very political time while he was on earth. He was asked political questions,people tried to nail him down. But instead of addressing the issues or taking sides, he answered with questions that pointed to deeper realities. He showed that he didn't come to fix the systems in place, but to usher in a COMPLETELY NEW mindset...a Kingdom mindset.

At my church in Ohio, Pastor Ricks (an african american man in a very small, rural, mostly white town) said something one Sunday that has stuck with me. He said he doesn't think of himself as African American. That he doesn't identify himself primarly by his race or gender or political standings or even by a denomination. He said simply "I am a Christian who happens to be African American, who happens to be American, who happens to be male...whatever label society gives me, I only have one identity for myself and that is Child of God."

I have been thinking about that since we left dinner. I should be sleeping while Cohen is (in case it doesn't last! *grin*) but I am up thinking...wondering...

I have been here only a day and a half now, so I should only have one sentence to write about the situation, according to Sammie's saying. And with the words of Paul running through my mind "there is neither, slave nor free, male nor female, Jew nor Gentile", I think the sentence I would pen would be question something like this...

How different could this war be if belivers in both countries really heard and obeyed the command 'love your neighbor as yourself' or 'bless those who persecute you'? What would happen if Christian Israelis took literally when Jesus said "if someone asks for your coat, give him your tunic also"? if the Palestinian believers focused on 'love covers a multitude of sins' (even land-stealing)? I wonder what it would change if the main identity of believers in this region was 'Child of God' rather than 'oppressed Israeli' or 'victim Palestinian'? I wonder what it would look like for the Kingdom mindset to be spread on both sides through believers who refuse to become more politically minded than things-above-focused?

Okay that's more than a sentence..*grin* And its just a thought. It certainly doesn't mean I think people don't ahve the right to protest or resist or fight for what is theirs...and really, Sammie is encouraging thoughtful non-violence and a coming together..peaceful coexistance...

Anyway its what is on my mind as I prepare for bed half way around the world in a place full of boxy stone houses and olive trees, and the best most amazing hummus you've ever tasted. (cohen was a big that's now 3 foods he likes- bananas, avocados, and now hummus...good palate so far!)

Good night friends. More from Bethlehem in the days to come!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

on our way to tel aviv- just a little late

if i were to put my life in order by arranging the days from most stressful to least, i bet the last four days of my life would appear in week one. wednesday at the regional passport office in chicago, thursday driving down to west virginia and then getting stuck for hours in the cold with cohen and a pregnant miss piper (one of my dogs), friday leaving for the airport at 2:30AM to take two pups to catch a flight to washington, then getting the call that the airline peeps never fed or watered them for 12hrs (boiling blood) to the point that one pup had seizures from dehydration, then packing, cleaning, doing laundry for our trip today...oh and did i mention that a huge winter storm hit ohio as we were leaving and our normally 50 minute drive to the airport was 2.5 hours PLUS at one point we slid (shawn was driving 20 mph) and flipped around FACING traffic? thank God no one was close to us and we missed the guard rail by inches! shawn got it turned around while mom and i were hyperventilating and cohen was peacefully snoozing. we got to airport one our before our international flight (a big no no) but its okay since our flight is now like 4 hours delayed or something. but hey! good news! our plane finally left atlanta and is in the air! so who knows maybe we will make that tel aviv flight after all...the one that's over sold 30 seats where they have shawn, i, and cohen all sitting separately...yeah...



i am glad to be past at least the last three days. and i made it. i didn't even have a panic attack. almost, but didn't.

and even if its not tonight, EVENTUALLY we are going to leave here and arrive in tel aviv. and i, for one, can't wait. it doesn't seem real yet with everything else going on, but i have a feeling its going to get real very soon.

i am learning more about ETHNOGRAPHIC MEDIA (the film company doing the documentary) and they sound so rad. i feel very honored to be allowed to come along and see what its all about...check them out! anyway i know this post sounds down, but don't worry- i haven't lost my sense of humor about this week... in fact, if i had more emotional energy i would finish typing a post entitled "i am losing my....keys!?!" you see that whole getting stuck in west virginia thing? well, it was 100% my fault. because i lost my keys. while i was in the car. and i couldn't find them. in fact, a locksmith had to come and make me a new key. the worst part? it was the second day in a row that i lost the keys BEFORE i even got out of the car. the second day. in a row, people.

its a story.

but one you;ll have to wait to laugh and cringe at until i get back in the US because shawn needs the computer and cohen needs his milk (and unfortunately he doesn't get it from a bottle yet - although he's toying with the idea of the sippy cup, praise Jesus!)

so i left you with some of my long-windedness to read in case you get bored and want to over the next week. i'll post some middle east pics for you when i get back too.

oh, and if you are interested in joining Engage the Journey, email me and let me know, ok? i will get to the emails shortly after i return...and tell you friends about it, ok? the more the merrier!


can Jesus be in my heart at mommy m's?

I wish I could explain more than I am going to be able to in this post...

Because its an on-going situation, I have to be careful what I say. But if you've read this blog at all before, you've heard about Joe and Josh and probably read some side-splitting stories about their antics. If you haven't, my parents have been raising these two boys (4 and 6) for two years now without any permanent sort of custody. Its been hard for my parents to know what to do, because if they went for custody and lost, that'd be it. Its a scary prospect.

However the boy's bio "mom" pulled a stunt a few weeks ago that has forced my parents' hand. I can't say what happened (yet) but lets just say my parents have no choice but to do exactly what they are doing in order to protect the boys. They just filed for full custody.

Please pray:
1. for favor in the case being moved to the county in which my parents live
2. for the judge to order a protection ruling keeping the boys from their mom until the case is decided
3. for the judge to act in the best interest of joe and josh
4. for as peace a resolution with their mom as possible


I want to leave you with a lil' something.

Josh asked Jesus into his heart last weekend. Mom said he was talking about how bio "mommy" M always says he's a bad boy. Mom and he got talking about being bad and how Jesus loves us. He wanted to ask Jesus to "always be with him". So mom prayed "Jesus I love you" expecting him to repeat (just like an adult!) and he exclaimed "ME TOO!"...and he did that all through the prayer. How sweet is that?!?!

Then the next day he asked my mom "Mommy, can Jesus still be in my heart at mommy M's house?"

Yeah...I know. I am tearing up just writing that.
Think on that while you are praying for these guys.

6 yr old JOe

4 yr old Josh

UPDATE: caleb

Caleb does have malaria and is being treated over the next two weeks. Please pray that the medication doesn't make him anxious and that it will work. The side effects of the medication include psychosis so we are praying he won't have that response.

Thank you!

mommy's new favorite pic!

had to share this one!

Friday, December 14, 2007



lots of new posts & a prayer request

uploaded several new posts for y;all.

hey my little cousin caleb is in the hospital and they think he has malaria. please pray for him. he went to new guinea this summer as a Bible translator. he's a rad guy and could really use some prayers. thanks

strange comfort

i have been doing a lot of driving these past two weeks and while most of the time it has been less than inspiring, on the way to michigan last sunday night, God got my attention...

do you ever think 'man, what if i had never____?' or 'wonder what would've happened if i had_____...?' and then just let your mind trail down the path of 'could've beens' both good and bad until you can imagine how that one single event could've changed the whole course of your life?

i do this from time to time. i used to more before cohen was born. now every time i unravel and re-imagine my life and cohen gets cut out, i am done. i can't imagine no cohen. but sometimes i do think about what would've been if i had traveled more or less, if i had taken a year to go around the world, and even simple things like how would our lives have changed if we had never gotten a puppy. the end of my wandering is sort of inconsequential at best and sometimes i think i'd be better off to discipline my mind to stay focused on what know what i mean?

oh the many plights of being a woman! *grin*

anyway, back to the other night. cohen finally stopped crying and i turned down the sirius singer/songwriter station (#30 coffeehouse) and just enjoyed the silence. i wasn't really thinking about anything...just dutifully watching the mile markers pass. when out of nowhere a memory came to mind. its funny that i call it a 'memory' because i think it might've been only the second time i ever remembered the moment.

cohen was about a month old and all three of us were flying into nashville while shawn was finishing vocals on his record. cohen and i were only staying 2 days (for our anniversary and cohen's would've been due date) and then we were going to ohio. there was some issue with the rental car so i sat down and held cohen on a bench and shawn left the luggage all piled around us while he went to take care of the situation. it took quite a while and people kept stopping and looking at how tiny cohen was and remarking about his size. everyone pretty much said the same things to us at that point...either how scary it must've been to have such a tiny babe or that someone they knew had a preemie or questioned if i had an easy labor. it was all very rote.

then a large (tall and soft) african american man and his wife came through the double doors from outside into the transit area of the airport. they both smiled, but his smile was magnetic. his eyes lit up. 'jolly' is the word that comes to mind. they stopped and had some of the normal-preemie-baby conversation with me. then a few minutes later, the man came back. he said "you know you said he came early, but no one comes early. everyone comes just when God intended for them to be born". i was sort of taken back and just smiled in response. at the time i remember thinking that i was surprised how comforting his words were when i didn't feel like i was in the need of it.

i didn't think about that exchange again until last sunday.

then i started to do the what ifs...only this time, i wondered what would've come about in our lives if cohen had been being born that week rather than us taking him on his very first trip via plane... as i traveled down that train of thought, i realized a lot of painful things in my life would have been eliminated if our little monkey would've arrived 'on time'. that whole week would've looked different. we would've been home in seattle together celebrating our first days with a healthy, bigger baby. shawn would've been finished with the record already and wouldn't have had to cut out of the shane and shane tour early. if cohen would've shown up as expected, so many things would be different for us now. its almost like his birth set into motion a series of painful deaths in our life. (i am not talking physical here)

as i thought about that, i was surprised at my response... i was not a) mad at God for appointing cohen to come early and allowing all of these trials in our life and b) i really wouldn't have changed it if i had a magic God-sized wand that would allow me change the course of history.

i kind of sat with that for a while as i drove 96 west. it felt good to be at some level of peace with the scenery in my life in this season. i felt a little release somewhere deep inside me as i glanced in the rearview mirror at my sleeping little boy... the timing of his arrival has caused an unraveling of our lives and yet i feel the new life growing alongside him everyday. somehow when he smiles, i know in a deep, often uncertain place in me that God knows what He is doing and is working all things together for good. its not all good, but its all being worked for good.

thank you Jesus

regional passport offices and people with OCD tendencies don't mix

we are last minute.


its like one thing you can count on with us.

so the same-day passport thing was put into play for procrastinating peeps just like us. i should be thankful for those regional passport places, but i am telling you, we just don't mix (and yes, i am the one with the OCD tendencies)

so we thought we were going to chicago on tuesday to get cohen's passport, but there were no appointments. (go figure, you can't get those with one day's notice) so on tuesday we hung around in lowell and went to the local social security office to get cohen's number.

i know. he's 7 months old. did i mention we are last minute?

his card never came and i was worried we'd need it for his passport. now i didn't need mine back in 2000 when i got mine, but things have changed since then. and the website says "you must have social security number. applicants without one will be changed an additional $500". am i kidding? i wish.

i was convinced getting this number would be a lengthy process. so i made shawn drive fast and was biting my nails because good grief! it was 1! and the office closes at 4! drive faster! of course, then we got there with all of our documents in hand..passports, drivers licenses, marriage certificate (just in case), birth certificates, hospital records. i was a nervous wreck. i checked about a hundred times to make sure what had everything and even though the man only needed to see cohen's birth certificate and our drivers licenses, i kept asking 'do you need to see this? or this?' he didn't.

and we walked out the door with cohen's social security number in hand. we got into the car. it was 1:20

still, i was stressed. did i put all of the above listed documents back in my zipped folder? if i checked once, i checked 20 times. i wrote his number on everything. then i worked on memorizing it just in case. i am pretty sure if you are even close to grand rapids you could find cohen's ss# on some scrap of paper nearby.

oh...i am serious. and it wasn't even regional passport office day yet, people.

so on wednesday, i woke up at 4am because i was determined that we needed to BE ON THE ROAD by 5. you know, just in case. i mean, traffic is bad in chicago. a 2.5hr trip could easily become 5, right? i mean, we under no circumstances could we miss the appointment! i was a nervous wreck, people. we left at 5:10 and i was ready to hyperventilate. we made a whole 3 miles before shawn had to give me a talkin' to. he pulled in mcdonalds and tried to talk to me about chilling out. all i could see what that digital clock ticking away. finally he ordered some coffees with a shake of his head, and mapped out our trip thanks to their free wifi.

i drove. and i drove fast. you can do that in michigan. (add that my plus column)

i talked manically to shawn, who probably wanted nothing more than to sleep, but he humored me anyway. we arrived in chicago at 8:00...2.5 hours practically on the nose. shawn smirked at me. i think we both wanted to kill me as we drove downtown. i am no city driver. the conversation we had a million times went just like this:

me: 'i wish you were driving. why didn't we trade off before the city?!?! i wish you were driving. why aren't you driving?!?!'
shawn: 'you are doing great' (i think he was trying to convince himself he was going to make it alive, but i was thankful for the affirmation anyway)

we made. i parked the car in a good spot in the VERY expensive parking garage. i crawled in the back seat with cohen and nursed him. shawn dressed him while i changed out of my sweats (yes in the car- no one was looking) i compiled all of cohen's needs for the day in one bag and then added my zipped folder of highly important info and a few other things. painstakingly we got cohen into his hat, coat, and slippers (we can't keep shoes on him..the slippers are tight above his ankle). shawn got his camera ready and packed his lenses and then carefully arranged the inexpensive items to cover over his guitar in the backseat. we checked and then i re-checked a few hundred more times. it was a production, people. then, we got out and just when shawn reminded me to lock the car i realized i couldn't find the keys.

it was already almost 9:00. our appointment was scheduled for 10:30 with the warning that if you didn't get there 15 minutes early your appointment would be given away.

oh did i mention we still needed passport photos? cause we did.
oh and did i mention we didn't know where the federal building was yet? cause we didn't.

we looked for a half an hour until shawn found them wedged in some strange place under his seat. i don't know how i did that, but i know i did. i remember taking them out of the original baby bag and then- nothing. i must've dropped them. anyway, by the time he found them we were sweating, praying, swearing (just being real). we chuckled a little to relieve the tension. then we took off running to the first CVS we saw.

of course, it took three people to finally take cohen's pic (and mine- name change requires new passport) and then to print them. we were watching the clock. the tension was back.

when they finally handed us the photos, we bolted.

the one thing that worked out all day was that we managed unknowingly to park 2 blocks from the federal building. thank you, Jesus!

we raced in and discovered the metal detector. of course,...federal building. we undressed our winter gear, put cameras and computers and purses and baby bags through the scanner and hurried upstairs. the guard asked us if we had an appt. and what time. we said "10:30" knowing we were getting imagine our shock when he said "you're too early", but then begrudgingly let us get in line.

two important things here:
1. there is a LINE. that whole appt thing? little more than a ruse. people with appt and people without all just get in the same LINE. oh and that confirmation number i memorized? never asked for it. all i could think is 'we could've come tuesday after all! i re-arranged our schedule for nothing"
2. we were early...somehow.... 'oh wait! chicago is on central time isn't it babe?' oooohhh...yeah it is, babe.

so we waited in line with a wanting to nurse cohen. but the line was too line so instead i bounced.

for an hour and a half.

then they let us in to the 'real line' and told us to fill out the proper forms. cohen needed a new passport form. i needed a name change (yes..still hadn't changed it from 'adelsberger' to 'mcdonald'..told you i was last minute!) and shawn needed more pages added (lucky son of a gun!)

shawn filled out his and i filled out cohen and i's as fast as i could. why they wait to give you these forms only in the last ten minutes of the line is beyond me. where was cohen? oh, on the floor. just sitting on a blanket on that filthy floor. he occasionally would lean over and lick something and we'd use a foot to scoot him back. our hands were just too busy writing and praying to get out of there quickly. when the line moved ahead, we kind of pushed him along with our feet. people were staring at us and i realized 'oh we are those parents'. i remember when i was pregnant watching a woman pull her kid through security at an airport while he screaming and crying. i was critiquing her in my mind and now i am pushing my kid on a filthy floor. oh, and he was growling. its a new trick that came just in time. naturally.

it was our turn. i handed the guy a million important documents and started explaining. 'do you have proof of travel?' we did. on the computer. he said we had to print it. i said i called and was told they only need to see it not have a copy. "sorry, someone told you wrong'

so shawn had to leave and go in search of a place to print. i went to the bathroom and nursed cohen. on the floor. an indian woman came in and nursed in solidarity with us. we talked about diaper rash and nursing in public. it was riveting.

shawn found a UPS that allowed him to print, went back through security, and came with all three confirmation of flights. we got back in line.

an hour later, cohen was in full blown i-need-a-nap-meltdown. he was arching his back, crying, screeching, growling, flailing his arms, and occasionally breaking down into a real tear inducing sob. just before they called our number (1265- not that i drove myself crazy memorizing and straining to hear it or anything) cohen fell dead asleep. this new guy? oh, he didn't ask for flight confirmations or even social security numbers.


we left for a few hours while they processed our forms. we went to panera because it looks warm even when its freezing cold in chicago. we had intentions of shopping a little on michigan ave (let's hear for H&M!) but we thought cohen should nap first. who knew getting him to fall asleep again would take roughly 2.5 hours? shawn had to have walked him for a solid hour in panera. he was growling again. and loudly. at first people smiled at the little cutey. but the smiles had pretty much stopped within the first 5 minutes.

oh, well, except for shawn and i. we couldn't quit laughing. you should hear him growl...really. its hysterical. especially when people are all watching you try to calm your kid and he is winding up more and more in almost the exact degree you are working at calming him.

i need to find that lady from the airport and apologize.

it was a laugh or cry day. thanks to cohen we laughed.

can one of you please remind me to never ever wait till the last minute to get a passport again? thanks.

oh, and while you are at it, how bout helping remember not to be so last minute ok?

tall order, huh?

well i need to get going. i am sitting at mcdonalds sucking down coffee, trying hard to get geared up for my hour home from the airport. i have now been awake since 3am thursday morning. not good. i'll tell you why later. its another heck-of-a-day kind of story.

i am loading you guys up with blogs to read while i am away. i know, i know..i'm so nice.

oh, expressive cohen was in chi-town, y'all!

i think he was as worried about the day as mommy

oh my!

cohen at panera before the fighting-sleep episode:
the half smile
the real one
work that double chin, boy!

cohen, daddy's newest model.. shawn actually said to me, "this is great, because he'll understand just how to pose when he gets older" oh, all of my dreams are realized now, people.
this is blowing bubbles right before a big growl
you want me to what, dad?
silly, da da!
there's the expression dad was looking for! see what the sign says behind him? "be careful of ice" cute. like i said, my dreams are coming true right before my eyes!