We are a few days into our week and I can tell that we are being prayed for! Thank you!! I can honestly tell you that I have been praising the Lord over here, thanking Him for the joy that my kids are bringing me! These last 2 days have been so sweet for the 3 of us. The kids have done great, they have been playing so well together, they've been very obedient, slept well, etc...They are still imperfect kids with an imperfect Mom, but they've been so incredibly good I've wondered, what happened to my kids??? Ha ha!! I know the Lord is answering my own prayers, as well as Trav's and many others who love us, and I am grateful. After all our craziness for the last few weeks, as soon as we left the airport and came home, I truly felt a calm come over me when I put them down for naps and realized, I didn't have to do anything for the next few days...Wow! We desperately needed some down time and I think this week has been a breath of fresh air for each of us.
Like many of you, we are experiencing a BRUTAL heat wave in MN. It's SO HOT and SO HUMID!!! Like triple digits hot with heat indexes in the 100's every day. Miserable hot. While I was busy running errands and getting Travis packed all day Monday, I guess I was too busy to realize that our air conditioner was not working properly. We've never had an issue with it before, but as I was making dinner I was sweating and I realized it was not nearly as cool as it should be, considering it had been running all day. To make a long story short, we had to call an on-call tech to come out that night (he came at 10:30 pm!) to look at it and try to figure out what was wrong. Trav was leaving Tuesday morning and we were looking at a week with record temps and me home with the kids. We had no choice but to call. Thankfully he was able to determine that our coil was just clogged with cottonwood from the trees all over our property. It was an expensive cleaning, but he was able to do it quickly and we were back in business. I was SOOOO thankful that happened while Travis was still here and that we weren't looking at replacing the whole thing. I seriously cannot imagine having no air this week. We would have been immediately leaving town too! So after a late night, we got up and got ready to take Trav to the airport on Tuesday. A trip to the airport is always fun for these two, particularly when they have no idea what the airport really means :)
They were fascinated by some construction workers who were ripping up a sidewalk below us.
We chatted with some of the students and their families while we waited for everyone to check in and took this picture, which I love! I can't get over our kids' eyes. How rare that we're all looking and smiling too!
We prayed for the group heading out and Ava clung tightly to her Daddy...
...at some point reality starting sinking in with her tender heart and she started telling Trav, "I wanna go wif you, Daddy" or "Take me wif you on da airplane please." As we explained what we were there for and kissed Daddy good-bye, it was the classic airport scene with her sobbing as I pulled her off him and me choking back tears, watching her sob! And all the while Carter ate a sucker, completely oblivious to the whole thing!! Good grief, for as much as he travels, you'd think we'd have this down by now...But as I was driving home I kept thinking about how much I hate good-byes and how grateful I am that at the core of our relationship, I really like my husband. I like it when he's home, I like it when we're together, and I like it when I can have access to him whenever I want it. It's not that I can't do life without him around, it's just that I really like life a lot more when he's with me! Anyway, poor Ava cried her little eyes out all the way to the car and when we got in, she told me she was "sad about Daddy" and that she just wanted Daddy :( Poor baby! By that time I had tears in my eyes too and I told her I was sad too and that I was going to miss him just like she did. But I also told her that we could ask Jesus to help us when we're sad and to make our hearts happy. So we prayed about it and that seem to calm her down, and me too. I drove off thinking that even though she's 3, it's amazing how much she comprehends and remembers about God and what we've taught her. I have no idea if this registers with her yet, but I am hoping to make this trip to Israel a little memory marker for her, reminding her that when we was sad, she talked to Jesus about it and He helped her through it. She's so young, but we want to take every opportunity we can to show her that she can trust the Lord with everything and that He always listens to her. About 20 minutes later, she piped up from the backseat saying, "Mommy, I feel better. Do you feel better?"
Yes I did, Sweet girl...
Since then, she's told me several times that she's "sad about Daddy" and we've stopped to pray about it and ask Jesus to help us trust Him with Daddy. We've been able to face time with him, talk on the phone and text with him, which is incredible! Technology amazes me. It's also helped her realize that Daddy is doing great and is having fun too, just like we are! Today we looked at some pictures from his trip and she started to say she missed him and was sad, but I asked her if she was having fun with Mommy and Carter and if Daddy was having fun on his trip? She said yes, so I said "Ok, we don't have to be sad because Jesus is here to help us and He's listening to us. He's giving us happy hearts and we're all having fun!" She looked at me and nodded, then thought for a minute and said, "But can we be a little bit sad??"
I LOVE her!!! She's taken up residence in my bed for the last two nights, I'm not sure what time she's come in to sleep with me, but I keep waking up with her next to me. I tell her every night to stay in her own bed, but actually I don't mind the company and I love smiling at her, all curled up in her princess jammies :) With everyday the Lord is meeting ALL of our needs, but I am really enjoying the extra love and snuggles I'm getting from both kids! I thought I'd share a few pics with you from Trav's Israel group. They posted some pics on facebook from their first day and a half and I just chose a few that I love...
This is their group! Recent high school grads who completed our Foundations class, along with some parents and 4 Pastors from our staff, 2 of whom have kids on this tour. This group of Seniors is especially dear to Travis because they are the first class we've seen all the way through student ministries! They were 7th graders our first full year at Grace and Trav took several of them with him on their first missions' trip to Florida that year. We know lots of these kids well, and their families, and they are all great! We love this class of Seniors, there are many more who aren't in Israel we also love, but I'm so thankful he is getting to experience this tour with them!
Our worship Pastor, our missions Pastor, Trav and our high school Pastor. Love all of them!
They are on a tour of the Holy Land, so they will be doing an unbelievable amount of walking, visiting so many historic sites from the Bible...truly letting the pages come alive as they experience the places that Jesus walked and where so many men and women of the Bible encountered the Lord. I have a copy of their itinerary and I love knowing where they are and what they are processing.
We may be getting older, but pictures like this one remind me of the 29 year old I fell in love with! With the exception of his salt and pepper beard, he's the same handsome Texas boy I met on the beach in Florida :) It is amazing when I think of the places God has taken us in the last 10 years! Never thought he'd be in Israel, but so glad he is!!
Stunning! I love everything about this picture...Ancient beauty and vivid color.
I think this is the Mediterranean Sea and it is as blue as I imagined.
This is their guide for the tour, the same guide they've had for the last few years. He is amazing we've heard, such a blessing to be led by him. He's a Messianic Jew, meaning he's Jewish by birth so he brings all the rich history and knowledge of the Jewish faith and customs by way of his background, but he's also a Christ follower, meaning he's accepted Jesus as the Messiah, promised of God. The Bible says he is doubly blessed! He is able to explain lots of the cultural and geographical places and details of the Bible and then connect that to the life and work of Jesus and what it means for us today. As a Messianic Jew, he is one of God's chosen people, and yet adopted in the family of God as new testament believer, through his belief in Jesus for salvation. It breaks my heart to think of all the Jewish people who reject Jesus as the Messiah and are still looking for the Messiah God promised. There is hope that some will turn to Jesus still, but how sad for those who missed Him. Those who have gone on this tour before were blown away by all that this guide added to the experience. There was a lot of prep work before they left, reading lots of scripture to prepare them for what they would see, but while they are in Israel they are getting live teaching, in addition to reading each day and spending time in small groups praying and processing what they are seeing. What a trip!
When I see some of these pictures, I realize how the Sunday School flannelgraphs of my childhood really did a disservice to the beauty of Israel!! In my head I've always pictured such ugly scenes and dry, desert places. Part of that is accurate, but seeing these scenes makes me appreciate that so often we read that Jesus retreated to the water to get away from the crowds or to be alone with his fisherman disciples. No wonder!! Can you blame him??? There is such majesty and rest near the water...
I think this is the Sea of Galilee? Again, gorgeous!! And miraculous. Jesus held such authority over this very body of water. This is where He calmed the wind and the waves in a violent storm, just by the sound of His voice. It's also where He walked on water to His disciples, who were in a storm and stranded in a boat. Right here! In this body of water...So much of his earthly ministry centered in towns and places around the Sea of Galilee. Travis got to swim here :)
This was the view of the Mediterranean Sea and the hotel pool from their first night in Israel...
Not too bad!!
I am so happy for him, so thankful he is getting this chance to take this tour and soak up everything he is learning! We miss him, but we are doing great and we have some adventures of our own planned. No walking on water, but still lots of fun ahead for two little people I love! Thanks for praying us through this time, the Lord has been good to us and we are well. I am enjoying my kids immensely and that is an answered prayer from my weary soul.
This is the verse I have been praying over Travis this week, but it's a good one for all of us too. You don't have to be in Israel to encounter the Lord or be awed by Him. He has given us plenty of reasons and evidences of Him all around us, sometimes we just have to ask Him to help us see Him...
"Open my eyes, that I may see wonderous things from your law." Psalm 119:18