Happy Halloween

None of the Michigan kids have kids yet, but hey—we decided to carve jack-o-lanterns anyway! 🙂

(Of course, Kathy and Carl have a punkin’ on the way…)I love how even carved-out faces have personality!I mean, is Tragdor looking fearsome, or what?Even though we couldn’t actually have our party with everybody, we were able to get lots of vicarious pleasure out of sharing over skype! Note that even baby Reid really got into the act!

Well, I hope everyone has a safe, fun evening and comes home with lots of treats!

I Asked God…

I asked God to make my ill friend healthy and whole again. God said, No. Pray for his spirit to become healthy and whole; his body is only temporary.

 I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is learned.

 I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings; happiness is up to you.

 I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to take away my habit. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

 I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own by abiding in Me, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

 I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.

 I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me. God said…Ahhhh, finally you have the idea!

(I was not wise enough to write this, and I don’t know who did, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it!)

Sharing Joys and Jokes

“And I, I took the road less traveled by!”

Well, I didn’t really take this road, it was among the gorgeous pictures passed along to me by my brother-in-law-in-law, who took his wife Jan for a road trip to the Sierra Nevadas last weekend.Here’s another picture from Dan and Jan’s trip. Sometimes when you’re not out going places yourself, isn’t it great to be able to vicariously enjoy the adventures of others?Or how about this shot that was taken by a “Shawn Malone” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula a few days ago (and shared on face book)? Isn’t that spectacular? I’ve seen some beautiful northern lights during the 10+ years I lived in the U.P…but I never saw any that were this beautiful!Or, how about this harvest moon? Isn’t it gorgeous? Isn’t the picture clever? It was forwarded to me by a friend, but that’s not my friend. I have no idea who took the picture, but I love that through the email and blogs we can now share the world (and the moon 🙂 ) with each other!And jokes! Don’t forget the value of sharing fun!

Thanks to each of you who adds joy to my life. Thanks also to each of you to bothers to read my blog and share my joys. I pray for you—each of you—that God will bless and guide you into lives of blessing, peace, and joy.

Ephesus and Ancient Turkey

Our first port was Kusadasi. From there, Alan and I took an 8-hour bus tour called “The Best of Antiquities.”  In Turkey, almost anywhere people dig, they find ancient archeological sites.We visited Miletus, a port where St. Paul landed, and Magnesia. The site at Magnesia had a major highway running over the top and through the middle of it before people realized there were wonderful ruins hidden several meters under the earth.We also visited Didyma. Until 1911, it just appeared to be a hill with a windmill on top, but an archaeologist discovered beneath it the Temple of Apollo.This magnificent temple had 120 marble pillars and was considered one of the wonders of the ancient world.Even today, the ancient monumental sites are architectural and artistic marvels!The most impressive site was Ephesus, which ranks right up there with Athens and Rome ((in our experience) for its awe-inspiring complexity and beauty.I had always thought of Ephesus as a small rural community where Paul started a church, but in fact it was a city of 250,000 with a main road made of granite blocks so closely aligned that it still makes a smooth walkway today, 2,000 years later!Ephesus had public bath houses and multiple toilets with running water!They also had an elaborate system of pipes to serve the city’s water needs.I tend to imagine that ancient civilizations were more primitive than ours, but that simply isn’t true! Some, like Ephesus, were highly sophisticated and brilliant, and it was to this cosmopolitan metropolis that the angel gave a special commendation and warning: “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience…Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent…or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place…” (Revelation 2:2,5)Truly, not much remains of Ephesus today except enough to know that it was at one time a glorious city! Alan is standing in front of the facade of their magnificent public library…now empty and silent!(We’re standing in front of the 24,000-seat amphitheater where Paul preached.)

I’ve thought a lot about those ancient ruins since we’ve been back home. I wonder how many people allow the debris of life to cover the beauty and grandeur of their Christian roots and allow the temple of their heart to become a ruin. What about me? I’d like to leave us all with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church: “That he [God] would grant you [and me], according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Update on the Kids

How about a few lines on each of the kids? Carlie got invited to go with three other ladies for a weekend of painting at a cottage in Cape Cod.While she was gone, Aaron bravely manned the fort with their three little men. Carlie says they not only survived, they were all happy when she got home! Way to go, Aaron! 🙂 Besides all that…we just found out that they’re expecting another baby next June! How thrilling!Grace went to Philly for her nephew’s wedding, but Michael was in the midst of an oral surgery rotation and couldn’t babysit alone. (Read that: gone 5:30 am-8:30 pm…how I remember those days! 😦  ) I was going to Turkey, so guess who went out to Hawaii to help (yet again!)?Joel! He was able to get time off work and school, and he made such a hit with the girls that they’re still asking for him! Here they are, having climbed the 1,100 stairs to the top of Cocoa Head. Now there’s something Grandma couldn’t have done with a 30 pound girl in her arms! 🙂  However, Grace and Michael are also expecting a baby next spring, so I’m definitely planning to go help out then!There are definite advantages to visiting in Hawaii…that’s Joel out surfing!Next stop is Washington! Guess who else is expecting? Gerlinde!!!Does Jon look pleased, or what?!!!! According to the ultrasound, it’s going to be a girl!And, that’s not the last of the good news! The above ultrasound is really from Kathy! She and Carl are expecting…and a girl too! Can you imagine how fun family reunions will be if we end up with 4 new babies almost the same age?Carl and Kathy just returned from their sister Katie’s wedding in Colorado. This is Carl’s family, just in case you haven’t seen them before!Daniel and Brianna took a couple of Brianna’s younger sibs to Niagara two weekends ago…rode the Queen of the Mist and enjoyed all the glorious lights and sounds of this spectacular waterfall.Brianna is a very gifted photographer, and always comes up with lots of beautiful and creative pictures! By the way, they would love to have a baby too. If the Lord ever lays it on your heart to pray with us for them…thank you! They love children, and I know they’d make awesome parents.Stephen is studying hard at MSU, although he comes home most weekends, which we thoroughly enjoy. He’s has several jobs that bring him to GR: two different churches, piano students, an occasional shift playing mood music at Arnie’s…and then, there are jobs that take him back to Lansing early, like today. He’s editing the doctoral theses of two Asian colleagues. So—he and Joel both do free-lance editing! BTW, since I’m posting about our kids today, it seems fitting to mention that Alan and I brought Stephen a “real” Spartan tee shirt from Greece with a lot of bravado on it…which it looks like the MSU Spartans deserve this year!So, that’s it on our kids, and I’ll try to get back to sharing about our cruise next time I can write! May the Lord bless and keep you all!  XOXO, Us

If You Don’t Have a Friend, Find One and Be One!

Here’s a forward I think is really cute:
“After losing his parents, this 3 year old orangutan was so depressed he wouldn’t eat and didn’t respond to any medical treatments. The veterinarians thought he would surely die from sadness. The zoo keepers found an old sick dog on the grounds in the park at the zoo where the orangutan lived and took the dog to the animal treatment center. The dog arrived at the same time the orangutan was there being treated. The 2 lost souls met and have been inseparable ever since.The orangutan found a new reason to live and each always tries his best to be a good companion to his new found friend. They are together 24 hours a day in all their activities. They live in Northern California where swimming is their favorite past time, although Roscoe (the orangutan) is a little afraid of the water and needs his friend’s help to swim.

Together they have discovered the joy and laughter in life and the value of friendship.
They have found more than a friendly shoulder to lean on.

Long live friendship!!!

May you always have love to share, health to spare, and friends who care.

Royal Caribbean’s “Vision of the Seas”

Alan and I have been on over a dozen cruises, and to me they are the well kept secret of luxury travel for less…as long as you are willing to watch and wait. For example, we just returned from a marvelous 11-day cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean on Royal Caribbean’s four-star ship, Vision of the Seas, and the base rate was only $72 per day per person for resort-quality rooms and amenities… …fabulous food—all you care to eat 24/7—
(Note that Alan and I usually split three desserts after dinner…but that’s okay! You can each order as many as you want of whatever you want!)and transportation to exotic new ports during the evenings while you stroll the decks or at night while you sleep. Even when we added in the modest suggested tips, that only kicked the price up to $83 per day. And that’s high for us! We usually cruise for under $60 per day, and once we took a 10-day cruise in the Polynesian Islands for $40 per day!We find our deals through vacationstogo.com. About 90 days before a sailing, cruise lines sell off any remaining tickets, often with deep discounts. If you have frequent flyer miles, watch for airline sales, or access some of the discount agencies online like cheaptickets.com, you can sometimes get your flights for anywhere from just the price of the taxes to about 1/3 what you might pay for a standard flight.A few years ago, Alan said he didn’t want to spend so much and go on a 2-week  vacation…he just wanted to go to some quiet hotel on a beach in Florida for a week. So…he planned everything: the flights, the hotel, the rental car, the activities, and he even chose where we’d eat each day.Everything was indeed great (although I don’t think as great), but guess what? In the final analysis, we spent more on our trip to Florida than we did on the previous 2-week cruise! So, now he’s happy to let me be our travel agent. 🙂

Besides that, the older we get, the more we enjoy watching the sunset rather than the road…and the happier we are to have a Pilot who knows what He’s doing!

“For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”

Psalm 48:14

“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

Psalm 73:24

Tricks at the Grand Bazaar

I’m told that the Grand Bazaar is the world’s largest bazaar and one of the most ancient. I’m a believer. Mall of America shoppers…take note! The Grand Bazaar was started almost as soon as the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul) and has grown into a mammoth maze of over 4,000 shops through seemingly endless streets with some 22 exits. You almost need a compass to find your way out!And, if you’re not wary (as we weren’t), you’ll find a “helpful” guide who offers to show you the way but really takes you straight to his father’s carpet shop instead!

Add that to the fact that the bazaar attracts a quarter to a half a million visitors each day, and you’re either in for the time of your life or a white-knuckle experience to be avoided at all costs!My beloved husband, who normally avoids parades, parties, or other crowds at all costs, braved it into the bazaar and kept an eye on me while I flitted deftly like a honeybee on a nectar expedition from stall to stall in search of the brightest and most beautiful bargain in the entire bazaar.We emerged with about a 20 carat topaz with a silver setting for (after much haggling) $60. I was more than delighted with my prize and wore it on the cruise for our formal evenings…along with the $4.99 formal I’d found at Goodwill. (I love bargains, but really don’t like to spend money often!)

However, since returning home, I’ve been exercised to consider that I would have been wiser to spend my time giving instead of getting. Material treasure on this earth is really very fleeting! Better to store up the treasure of kindness toward others. Next time, I’ll try to do better!

“For where your treasure is, there will our heart be also.”

Luke 12:34

The Hagia Sophia

To me, the most magnificent monument in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia, “Holy Wisdom,” a colossal cathedral built by orders of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, shortly after Christianity became the recognized religion of the Roman Empire. The Hagia Sophia was dedicated to the “Logos”—the Word of God made flesh in the person of Christ—on December 25, 360 A.D.For a thousand years the Hagia Sophia was unsurpassed in beauty and as the cathedral with the largest dome in the world (although it is now the fourth largest, following St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in London, and the Duomo in Florence). In 1453, when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a Muslim temple. The altar was removed, the mosaics plastered over, and four minerats were added. And then, for another 500 years, the Hagia Sophia was the template for many other famous mosques (such as the Blue Mosque). Finally, after Turkey became a secular state, the Hagia Sophia was closed for four years and reopened in 1935 as a museum, sharing both the heritage of the Muslims and Christians.In the spirit of reconciliation and artistic history, many of the gorgeous mosaics of Christ and Christian themes are being restored. This brings special joy to me as one who awaits the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee” (Psalm 22:27). “All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name” (Psalm 86:9).

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”

Psalm 95:6