True belief

Jesus in one of His teachings is describing true believers and using the illustration of trees bearing fruit:

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”  -Matthew 7:16-19

Confusion comes about when people think those good fruits are what saves us.  Unhealthy trees that (aren’t truly saved) will try their hardest to produce good fruit.  That what I thought for the longest time.  However, its just the opposite. Jesus saves us, and through this saving knowledge, we become new creations or healthy trees, and then we WILL bear fruit.  For a tree to bear fruit, it must first start with a seed. A seed is watered and nourished and flourishes. The roots penetrate the soil, the stem forms a tree trunk, branches spread out, leaves sprout and lastly comes the delicious fruit.  It is the same for Christians. The fruit doesn’t come first!  You don’t produce good actions without having the seed of faith planted within you. Without regeneration for our dead and sinful bodies, we can’t produce fruit.

A crucified Barak Obama or mustard green smoothie?

Jason and I are recovering from a stomach bug. It was one of those quick 24 hour viruses that reeked havoc on our bodies and just as quickly as the little bug entered our system, he left us with only trace amounts of his existence. Praise The Lord our little girl was spared.


Anyways, it has been a few days since either one of us felt bad until last night. I made a mustard green smoothie for dinner. It was very peppery and spicy and didn’t taste that great.  I bought the mustard greens wanting to try something different in my green smoothies and I always see mustart greens has having great health benefits similar to kale.  I quickly figured out why I don’t like mustard on my sandwiches after trying this smoothie. I see where these green leaves gets its name!  They taste similar to their seed which is used to make mustard.  Not one to be wasteful, I downed the whole peppery smoothie.  An hour later I get sick and I threw up and threw up and threw up. I immediately went to bed and woke up this morning wondering if it was the smoothie or if my virus was back?!?  Or maybe the virus never went anywhere.


I had also seen this picture and thought its content may be to blame for my queasy tummy.

Seriously?  You won’t find me upset about politics.  I am fully aware that government can’t save people. I am not putting my hope in any political party to be able to do anything for me. Government can’t change lives.  To be honest, I didn’t even think much of this year’s election other than the day of the election where I exercised my right to vote. And I voted according to my conscience.   From my perspective, I was going with the person that seemed to be the lesser of two evils. Both aren’t Jesus so both will fall drastically short in my book.  I didn’t get in a tizzy about it when the results came out. I didn’t sign a petition to secede from the US. Why? Because God is in control and who got elected is exactly who He wants in power. And I’m happy with that.

But lets say I was very much into politics. Let’s say I am putting my hope in the government to make the world around me better. Let’s say that I am putting all my stock in the elected president to change our future and the future of our children. Let’s say my wildest dreams and hopes came to fruition on the day Barak Obama got elected.  Let’s say that this was the greatest news of my life.  Let’s say I truly did believe that President Obama was a Savior for the American people. I would start chanting with the masses, Yes we can, Yes we can. I would be happy, right?  I would rejoice. I would clap. I might even cry.

I’m trying to enter the mind of the artist who painted the above picture. Why would my happiness of a person being elected President cause me to think of him as a crucified savior? I get the idea (and reject it) that President Obama is a savior to a lot of people. But crucified?  The reason Jesus saves is because He was crucified in my place. He was crushed on my behalf in accordance with the Father. He wore a crown of thorns as an instrument of mocking before those who killed him. He took my rightful place on the cross as punishment for my sins. Did Barak Obama do that for me?  Has he saved my soul?  You can list 1,000 things the President has done or sacrificed to become leader of the free world. They all will fall  short of what Jesus did on Cavalry.

I am so offended by this piece of ‘art’.  The smoothie may be to blame for my vomiting but this photo has given me a permanent case of inner queasiness.

Why I got baptized. Again.

I first got baptized when I was a kid.  I had been to a Christian camp, made a profession of faith, came back and got baptized.  I remember reading my bible for a while and trying my hardest to please God.  But it didn’t last for very long.  I soon got fed up with my own attempts at pleasing God and realized it just wasn’t that fun. Sure, if you were to have asked me my beliefs at the time, I would have said I was a Christian and believed Jesus died for my sins.  However, I didn’t know what to do with that information.  It wasn’t true belief.  It was all head knowledge yet hadn’t penetrated my heart, will or actions.  And besides, James 2:19 says “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” We know that demons aren’t saved and in heaven with God. So what if we say we believe in God? Is that enough to save us?   What is true belief in Christ?

True belief in something will cause you to act.  For instance, if I believed that the couch in my living room could hold me up, I would sit on it.  Belief in the couch caused an action.

True belief was not something I had when I still lived in the mentality that I had to do something for God to get His approval. That isn’t found anywhere is God’s gospel of grace.  I rejected His grace gift and didn’t even know it!  It wasn’t until I went to college and was confronted with my rebellion against God, AKA sin, my own depravity and my intense need for a Savior that it really penetrated my soul and produced a life change in me.  God, working through Christian friends, books, suffering and His word, opened my eyes and I saw His gift of Grace for the first time.  Jesus, gave up His glory, became human flesh needing food and sleep like the rest of us, and willingly gave his life on the cross as punishment for what I deserved.  I deserved the cross. I deserved to die. (Romans 6:23)  I deserved the scorn and shame that He endured.  I deserved God to turn away from me. (Isaiah 59:2) Yet, His love for me was so fierce, that He, innocent and perfect, a lamb without blemish, endured it for my behalf. (2nd Corinthians 5:21)  When Jesus was born into the world He offered more than hope for a better tomorrow. He offered more than ‘good teaching’ and prophetic thoughts.  He offers a gift that is beyond all comparison.  He offers us reconciliation to The God in Heaven who made EVERYTHING!  And in offering that He offers us life.  We are dead in sin and Jesus came to the earth to give life to our dead bodies. (Romans 8:10) I realized that no, I can’t do anything to please God like I had assumed back when I was a little kid at church camp.  Sure, I had a conviction at camp over my need for a Savior. I even repeated a prayer about putting my faith in Christ.  But conviction doesn’t save us.  It’s a good start realizing that we need God.  All the religions of the world are founded on a conviction of needing to be right with God. (John 16:8)  All religions except true Christianity teach about what we must do for God to be right with Him.  However,  we can’t ‘work’ our way into heaven.  This is what I was attempting to do after my conviction. Thinking this way is just as rebellious as the murdering thief who denies God’s existence!  (Isaiah 64:6) I can’t just ‘work’ harder to do what he requires.  Only Jesus satisfies that requirement on the cross.  He acts as my substitute and provides a way to God that otherwise wouldn’t exist.  Our rebellion separates us from God.  There is a chasm between God and his creatures that we, as humans, on our own can never cross.  But God can. And He did.  When our hearts understand this truth, and we offer up true belief in it by the power of God working in us, we are new creations.  (2nd Corinthians 5:17) We are saved!

For me, the disconnect from when I was a kid to when I was 19, occurred because I didn’t really grasp the full gospel of grace.  Even in my attempts to please God,  I was still rebelling against Him in trying to do things ‘my way.’  I eventually would give up  even trying to please Him. That is what sin, rebellion, depravity, ect is all about.  I was making the rules and not stopping to embrace what God had done for me.  He bridged the gap I never could. What love!  What a perfectly wise and loving God whose plan all along was to die for me knowing that my own efforts could never save myself.


Acknowledging that I had deceived myself into thinking I was a Christian up until my college years was very humbling.  I thought for the longest time that I was just undergoing a spiritual transformation or ‘rededicating’ my life.  I had a passion for God birthed in me I never had before.  The reality was that I was only saved at the point that I ceased trusting in myself and put my faith in God to save me.   I don’t know the exact moment or even the month this happened, but I know that a radical life transformation occurred.  I had conviction of the sins I once did so casually. I had a desire to read God’s word and wanted to apply it to my life. I wanted to surround myself with other Christians. I repented of my sin and rebellion against God. I had true belief in Christ followed by action.


I didn’t think I needed to get baptized again. It wasn’t until a friend of mine who had a similar story to mine got baptized.  Hearing the powerful words contained in her testimony about the need to be obedient and get baptized…even as a mom of 3 late in life…she wanted to fear God and not man.  I cried when she got baptized and was convicted over my need to get baptized.  I was fearful though…what would people think?  Was I really sure I even needed to?  I was saved now…why did it really matter? Jason and I attended a baptism class at our church after this.  I still didn’t sign up to do it though.  I then had another friend who also took this step of obedience and got baptized again.  I remember her saying how fearful she was. It encouraged me to look into it again.  But my fear of man prevailed and I let is slide to the back burner. Baptism is an act of obedience. It’s a symbol of your faith in Christ.  And its commanded in the bible to be done when you put your faith in Christ.  (Acts 2:38, Acts 10:48, Acts 19:5, Acts 22:16).  I guess I was waiting on some ‘sign’ that I should do it.  But I never got one.  So I ignored the command to be obedient.


Then, when we were in Israel, Dr. Varner stated something about God’s children being obedient. My heart burned within me and I confessed to Jason that I couldn’t wait any longer to do this. I said I would take care of this when we got back to California.  I would sign up for the class, complete it, and then get our Joint Heirs pastor to do it.  Not because it would make me right with God or save me…Jesus had already done it, but because it was about obedience to His word.  Plain and simple.  Jason then looked at me with excitement in his eyes and said, “Why don’t you do it here now in the Jordan river?”

So here I am, at the Jordan river where John the Baptist did his baptizing and where Jesus was baptized. (Not the exact spot of course)


There were lots of these creatures swimming around.

This is before…

Dr. Varner, our gracious tour guide for the trip, baptized me.  He doesn’t even realize it, but he spoke the words I wanted to say.

I was really nervous.  I didn’t take my notes up there to share with our group. I had what I thought was a very eloquent speech describing why I was doing this again and what the Lord had done in my life.  However, I had prayed before this that God would be glorified through my testimony and His words would come across in what I said. Often when this is prayed, I am humbled. So He made me forget everything eloquent I wanted to say.  Instead I read a scripture from Ephesians and was pretty disappointed in myself for screwing up and not wowing everyone with my amazing words and deep insight.  I needed some humble pie.


Here I am reading from Ephesians 2:1-9:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I had wanted to emphasize how I was going one direction in life…BUT GOD.  God intervened.  I think the gospel can be summed up with the words, But God.  But I was tongue tied and just read the verse.

But then Dr. Varner spoke and said just a few words….the exact words and whole theme of what God did in my life.  Again, I hadn’t told him what I was going to say. Dr. V, however stepped in and said, Whitney was going one way, BUT GOD….. Whitney had plans to blah blah BUT GOD…

I wanted to get credit for what I said….But God was glorified that day…no matter how much I wanted to take His glory and sound like a ‘mature little Christian.’

God is indeed glorified when his children bear fruit by walking in obedience to His word! (John 15:8)

Here is my 2nd greatest advocate, behind Jesus, who cheers for me, encourages me, and supports me in everything I do. His words of encouragement helped spur me onto obedience to God.


Here is my testimony I wrote for that day that I never said.


I think what the Lord did in my life and everyones life and the gospel itself can be summed up in 2 words.

But, God…

Had you asked me my belief about God when I was 16, I would have told you that yes, of course, I believe in God and Jesus but my life at that time in no way represented that. I was a young teenager who loved myself an was seeking to live life to the fullest for myself.


intervened shortly after I  went off to college. I started college seeking the hip popular party lifestyle with complete freedom.

But God

confronted me with my sin and selfish lifestyle. I met a girl who loved Jesus and was more interested in living for Him. I was attracted to her and her joy. The first time she invited me to church, I was embarrassed that I didn’t even have a Bible with me at church that day. I hadnt even brought one down to college. Time after time I was confronted with my lack of belief and so I started to clean up my life.   I didn’t doubt my salvation at the time…just that I fell way short of God’s standard. I stopped getting drunk and partying,  I threw out my trashy CDs,  I threw out revealing clothes, and started attending church. I became so hungry for truth. But I was still reducing salvation down to following rules and going to church every Sunday. I was still an unbroken person just trying to work my way to win favor with God.


It wasn’t until a devastating back injury brought me to my knees looking for answers. I sought God harder than ever and was willing to do it on His terms. As I struggled with debilitating  back pain that ultimately required 4 surgeries, weeks in the hospital, near death infection, flying back and forth with specialists, and months of bedrest. This solitude brought out a deep dark depression in me. After months of being broken I finally was at a low point with no where to turn.


In was in this low broken point that I turned from trusting in myself to trust instead in the Lord. I couldn’t do it by myself  i wanted Him and His Way.   At that point, i dont know the exact day or moment but I surrendered everything and asked Him to be Lord of my life.

I was full of everything that opposes Him and without any rights. There is absolutely nothing I can do for myself to save myself.


Can. He sent His Son as a sacrifice for me, the Messiah, the Christ spoken about in the Old Testament and on the cross He accomplished what I could never do. He took on my punishment, being separated from God which was God’s plan from the beginning of time. It pleased God to crush Jesus in my place so that now I have the free gift of knowing God as:  my friend, my Lord, my Savior, my God.

After understanding this truth, It never occurred to me to get baptized until about a year and a half ago. I resisted and resisted and let my pride control me. what would people think? Hadn’t I been a Christian now for 6 or 7 years? Did it really matter? After all, I had gotten baptized as a child.


He kept convicting my heart about taking this act of obedience. I was searching for a feeling or a sign that it was meant to be. Months would go by and I would forget about it. Then,  Dr. Varner said something about obedience at an earlier site this trip and again my heart was stirred within me. I told Jason that day that when we got back to California, I needed to get baptized. With excitement, he looked at me and said why don’t you do it here in the Jordan river?

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-
3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved Ephesians 2:1-5



Thanks for reading!!  I hope you weren’t like me for so many years early in my life deceiving myself and thinking that believing in God and attempting to be a good person was enough. I encourage each and everyone of you to:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” -2nd Corinthians 13:5



Capernaum, Tabgha, Jesus boat, Galilee boatride

This day continues on from the last post about the volcanic ash church.  We are exploring northern Israel, in Galilee, where Jesus did his missionary tours.

After first few stops in previous posts, we visited Capernaum. Jesus made Capernaum his home during some of his ministry.

“Leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum”

(Matt 4:13).

Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen living in the village. We visited a synagogue from that time period. It was very crowded…but rightly so as it as such significance. Jesus would have taught several times in this synagogue. Check out Mark 1:21-27, Luke 7:3, and John 6:35-39. Continue reading

Jacob’s well

When Jesus was ministering in Galilee, His time there consisted of public preaching, miracles and parables. However, the highlight of his entire time there is the confession of Him as Messiah…what His whole ministry was about!  How awesome to see the areas he did these miracles and walk in his footsteps.  Dr. Varner made sure to point out that we were not there to touch what Jesus touched but to encounter Jesus in the pages of scripture and to remember Him and what He did and be transformed by it.  Continue reading

Mount Carmel, Elijah, Jezerel Valley, Megiddo, Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, Southern Galilee…plus more!

After leaving Caesarea, we started making our way to the North. So far we had see Jerusalem and surrounding and the south of Israel, but yet to see the northern part of Israel. This was the last leg of the trip. We were all starting to get tired from all the traveling and our brains sometimes felt they were going to explode. However, seeing a new part of the country accompanied with a wonderful climate, and seeing the Sea of Galilee was very rejuvenating. Continue reading


Hello!  Its been a while since I posted. Welcome to the busyness of Fall!!

The next stop on our trip was the beautiful ancient port city of Caesarea. This city was largely made so grand by…you guessed it, Herod the Great.  He named it Caesarea after Caesar Augustus. He built a harbor that was 40 acres and could house 300 boats.  The ruins are all underwater and can only be seen from directly above. Continue reading

Masada, En Gedi, Dead Sea, & the Dead Sea Scrolls

We stayed at a hostel right at the foot of the Masada mountain where the fortress once stood.  Masada has a rich but tragic history and was a fascinating place to visit.  Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD.  The Jews didn’t go down without a fight. A group of Jews, known as the Zealots, refusing to surrender to the Romans, escaped to this fortress. There were 960 Zealots who fled here including women and children. As secure as they could have felt with this seemingly impenetrable fortress, they couldn’t have felt safe looking out and seeing more and more Roman soldiers surrounding them. The Romans started to build a ramp to come up and take over one of the last standing Zealot fortresses.  However, once the Zealots figured out that they were about to be taken captive, they decided to commit a mass suicide. Continue reading

Abraham’s well, Ben Gurion, and Eliat

The next day started early in Beersheba. We stayed overnight in the Beersheba hostel. Before we had even gotten there, we were warned about how gross, small, and dirty this hostel was.  We were told to be thankful that we were only there 1 night and that it was the only bad hotel we were going to stay in the whole trip.  Well, they had done some mighty fine renovations on this place, and it turned out to be one of the nicest rooms we had on the whole trip!  Both Jason and I loved our room!  Too bad I didn’t take pictures.  We also had an interesting breakfast experience there….more on that later. Continue reading

David and Goliath…and more!

Our first stop the next day was a old Canaanite city that was captured by Egypt and given as a dowry to Solomon for a wife (1st Kings 9:16).  They have since been re-erected.  The stones were neat, but the neatest thing about this city was seeing the proof of Solomon’s occupation here.  And where do we find proof that he was here?  First the bible, then with our eyes. Continue reading

Oh, little town of Bethlehem…

After the Herodian, we went to The Church of the Nativity.  This is the traditional site of Christ’s birth.  Although it can’t be guaranteed the exact location, it is a guarantee that the town of Bethlehem was where Jesus was born. It was prophesied about in Micah:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose coming forth is from of old,

from ancient days.”

-Micah 5:2


“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem”

-Matthew 2:1

This church was built around a cave that was thought to be where Jesus was born. It was built in 326AD by Constantine; however, was destroyed and rebuilt in 530AD.  So, its old. And full of history.  Oh, and it is Greek Orthodox so it was full of smells too.

Most of our group…resting in the shade before we went into the church.

I love the below picture.  That is the entrance into this church.  You have to bend down to enter. Do you see the outline of an arch that is filled in? That is a crusader influenced door that was filled in at one point to prevent horseman from riding in.  The other entrances of the church have been filled in.  This door has been further filled in due to structural problems of this extremely old basilica. Thus, the small “door of humility” as it is called today.

You want to know how well I know my husband?  He entered the church well before I did.  As I’m stooping low to avoid hitting my head the thought crosses my mind that my loving husband was going to be waiting on me on the other side…with a camera.   Not to help me through…rather to take my photo as I’m dunking my head. I knew I had to put a smile on.   Was it right?!?!

Why does he get such a kick out of seeing me and my long legs struggle?  No pun intended.

As soon as I got done modeling for the camera, the smells of incense singed all my nose hairs.  Then I was in awe of the rustic look of this old church. The colors and overall feel of the church made it one of my favorite churches that we saw.  I took the camera from Jason at this point and took lots of pics!!

We actually had our very own tour guide for this church. However, Dr. Varner was running circles around him with the breadth of his knowledge and so this Israeli tour guide became a tourist in our camp as we toured the place. ha!


Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to…wait a second. It’s not Jason’s birthday. Don’t worry, Jason didn’t blow any of these out.  But it sure made a funny picture!

Do you see me waving in the pic below?

After browsing around the first floor of the church, we descended into a small space underground to see the “Grotto of Nativity”

This is the traditional site of where Jesus was born. The star marks the spot.

Amid the obvious tourist attraction to this church, there are modern churches here who hold daily services.  There were lots of rooms/chapels/ect where tourist groups can have their own services. Our group entered a section of this area where we heard more from Dr. Varner.  Here was the ceiling of the chapel we sat in.

I loved this picture.


Here is a statue Jerome. Jerome settled in Bethlehem and it was here, at this church, where he translated the Old Testament into Latin.

Well that concludes this day.  Tomorrow, David and Goliath!

Herod the Great

On day 7 we started out with 2 sites built by King Herod the Great.

The Tombs of the Patriarchs is a Jewish and Islamic site in Hebron. It is basically a big building that encloses a cave…thought to have the tombs of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob as well as their wives, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah.

Abraham is a holy prophet in Islam and because their presence is here alongside Jews, it is heavily guarded. There was 2 entrances, one for the Jewish side and one for the Muslim side.  Both had metal detectors and armed men and women.

Genesis 23:19 and Genesis 25:9 talk about the burial sites of Abraham and Sarah. This cave that this big Herodian building is built around, has been thought to be the burial sites of these patriarchs since 1,000 B.C.  There is solid evidence that this is the site in Hebron, which is south of Jerusalem.  No one is allowed down in the caves.  We got to see the ‘tomb’s which are basically memorials for each person buried.  They are split between the Muslim and Jewish section of this site.

This site was built by Herod the Great. Remember him? He built the Jews their 2nd temple as well as much of Jerusalem…some of which is still standing.  Remember in another post the descriptions of Herodian stone? Flat face with a panel around it?  Here they are again.  It’s hard to see them as I don’t have a closeup but you can see them in the stones at the bottom and will have to trust me that all the other stones are alike. Classic Herodian craftsmanship.  This dates to the time of Jesus.


After we got an introduction from Dr. Varner, we ventured up to the Muslim section of this shrine to the patriarchs. First, a lot of the ladies made a stop in the restroom.  Or should I say squat room. No toilet paper in eastern toilets.  Just a water jug to wash off.

The women were expected to be covered, head included.  If you didn’t have such attire, they provided this lovely wardrobe addition for you.

A nice hoodie works well too!

Sorry, I can’t remember which ‘tomb’ this is.  Jacob, perhaps?  The bones are underground in the cave which no one is allowed to go down and see…not since the 1490’s.  (I had to look that one up)

All the gals

This one may have been Abraham’s tomb…There is a fence on both sides of it.  One fence is part of the Muslim section, the other side is the Jewish section so both peoples can admire the tomb.

Jason and Tony making friends with the friendly & heavily armed gate keeper.

Patty and I walking down the stairs after we were scolded for wanting a picture with the guards.  Patty is a fellow pharmacist.  See those black pants I’m wearing?  I don’t own any black pants. Where did I get those?  How come I don’t remember wearing those?

Next, we went into the Jewish section. Here are some Jewish men studying the Torah.

We got an in depth lesson from this animated guy shown below about the Torah and how it is stored in a Torah Ark in Synagogues.  He also educated us on Kabalah.

After our stop in Hebron, we went to the Herodian. It’s a structure King Herod built and named after himself. He was a humble man. At the top of it, there is a great view.

Here is a description of it, written by Jewish historian, Josephus:a

This fortress, which is some sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem, is naturally strong and very suitable for such a structure, for reasonably nearby is a hill, raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and rounded off in the shape of a breast. At intervals it has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed of two hundred steps of hewn stone. Within it are costly royal apartments made for security and for ornament at the same time. At the base of the hill there are pleasure grounds built in such a way as to be worth seeing, among other things because of the way in which water, which is lacking in that place, is brought in from a distance and at great expense.
(War I, 31, 10; Antiquities XIV, 323-325)

Josephus describes pleasure grounds at the bottom. This was a huge swimming pool! The columns that are in the below pictures would have completely surrounded the pool. You can see the outline of the pool below. That rock formation in the center of the pool was an island in the pool.  I would have loved to swim in this pool!

So, what exactly was the Herodian?  My take is that it was one of his many homes…maybe his winter home.  And it was a fortress…somewhere to be safe like Massadah. (which will be in another future post…don’t worry!)

Below is some of the remains of his fortress/winter home.


Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Israel Museum, and Western Wall Tunnel

We snaked our way down the Mount of Olives. The first thing we passed through was a Jewish cemetery. The cemetery has been here for over 3,000 years and contains over 150,000 graves. Dr. Varner said that he heard at one point that today, if you want to be buried here, it costs upwards of $100,000.  Yikes. Continue reading

The land of Benjamin

If you would have asked me before the trip, “Are you excited about the tribe of Benjamin”?  Or, “Are you looking forward to seeing the land of Benjamin”?  I would have responded, Benjamin who?  That changed as this small section of land made the bible came alive; I felt so refreshed and renewed; even after intensely exploring Jerusalem for 4 days prior.  I was ready for what the next 2 weeks had in store.  As my friend Tim McGraw puts it, “I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!”

From the comforts of our air conditioned bus, we rode to our first destination. This was a much needed break from Jerusalem…where we walked everywhere.  Our first stop was a Mosque which had this view of the West Bank. It also allowed us to catch our bearings and enabled Dr. Varner to give a good introduction to this day.  This is known as Gibeah in the bible. Gibeah is where the first King of Israel, King Saul, reigned and where he called home.

Jason’s infamous 1 arm picture. He’s got a gift.

Here is the Mosque.


Next, we visited the skeleton remains of a palace that was originally being built by King Hussein of Jordan. It was never finished due to the 6 day war that ultimately led to Israel’s independence. As we walked up the windy narrow dirt path we passed empty beer bottles, trash and bugs…we knew we were off the typical tourist path.


I could picture the extravagant palace and what it would have looked like. But more impressive would have been the incredible 360 degree view.

The mountains of Jordan are in the distant. Again, the modern day west bank, and the biblical site of King Saul. They did excavations here a while back and believe the ruins to be from Saul as he would have built a palace. 1 samuel 10:26. King Hussein’s palace were being built on top of it all.

The end of Judges ends with a story from Gibeah involving strangers, concubines, scandal, betrayal, war, and ends with a square dance in the quad.  You can read it if you want:  Judges 19, Judges 20, Judges 21

Next, we stopped off the beaten path again, I hiked up my skirt, and walked down to the grave of Rachel. This is kinda hidden but believed to be her grave by a select few people based on scripture. Genesis 35:18 and 1st Sam 10:2
The Arabs refer to it as “tombs of the sons of Israel.”


The next stop was the last stop before lunch and a bathroom break. We had to hike up this hill that gave us a phenomenal view of the modern day Arabic villages of Mukhmas and Jeba. We could also see “the Pass”. What is amazing about where we hiked to, is the ability to still see Gibeah (where we had just been at King Hussein’s palace) and also to see two other villages.  Even more amazing is that fact that Mukhmas and Jeba correspond to the biblical villages of Michmas and Geba!! The pronunciation of the towns have changes slightly to the Arabic dialect.

Below describes the two villages from 1st Sam 13. The Phillistines were at war with the Hebrews.

Saul lived for one year and then became king, and when he had reigned for two years over Israel, 2 Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent. 3 Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

I can actually imagine a trumpet being blown and all the land hearing it.  These were all so close together!  There were no cars and no easy way to get around with the mountainous and hilly terrain. In fact, ‘the pass’, mentioned several times in the bible, was a sort of highway that enabled people to pass through the land.  After Dr. Varner orientated us to the villages, and ‘the pass’, he read from 1st Samuel 14. The bible came alive! You can see the pass below to the right hand side of the picture.

1st Sam 14:

One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4 Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”

As Dr. Varner read, my eyes followed along Jonathon’s trek.  Jonathon leaves from Gibeah and takes the pass over to Michmash. Again, not very far from each other.  He then comes to two rocky crags that face each other. See the picture below. You can see one rocky crag on one side.  And notice how 1st Samuel 14:5 says, “the one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash.  3,000 years later we found it just as it says! This was amazing to me.

Michmash or Mukhmas

Here is our group hiking back down.


Next post? Jericho!


Antonia Fortress, Pools of Bethesda, Garden Tomb

As I’m sorting through our pictures, I am amazed at how many things were fit into day 4.  But then again, everyday was jam packed with awesome stuff! This is the 3rd post devoted to day 4!  How am I going to get all the way to day 19?

From the Western Wall, we came to the Via Dolorosa, named for the path that Jesus might have taken to his crucifixion and death.

We walked down this street to greet a friend of Dr. Varner, an exotic Persian rug dealer.  He had a connection with the rug dealer who had a connection with the Muslim school that was built into what used to be the Antonia Fortress. The fortress was again built by Herod the great and was named in honor of Mark Anthony.  It served to watch over the Jews in the temple as you had a perfect view of the temple mount. Today, you get a good view of the Dome of the Rock which sits on the temple mount and it is why Dr. V wanted to take us there. We also read from Acts 21:27-36 where we see Paul being arrested after being spotted in the temple by the Jews who persecuted Christians. Notice where it says the soilders ran down to him. They did so from the Antonia Fortress where the soldiers were monitoring what was happening down by the temple.

27 “When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people andthe law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd”

As the soldiers carried him off, Paul desired to speak to the crowd that were seeking to kill him. It was amazing to picture Paul, where we were standing, saying these words to those people who hated him.

Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

“Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”

2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:

3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

Here is the view from the Antonia Fortress that Paul may have looked at?!?!  Minus the Dome of course. Remember, where the Dome of the Rock sits is the exact spot where the temple would have been. By the way, the temple was about 5 times as big as the Dome in Jesus’ day.


After we left the Antonia Fortress, we had to sit through a tantalizing presentation on exotic Persian rugs from the exotic Persian rug dealer. After all, he let us into the Fortress!!  We would have loved to come home with a rug, but we spent all of our money on the trip.

We then moved on to the Pools of Bethesda. They were perhaps the most beautiful ruins I remember seeing!

Here is a cute candid photo of our cousins….all 3 of them.


Imagine this being filled with water.

Here is Dr. Varner reading from John 5:1-9 which mentions these pools.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 rAnd at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Above is a close-up of the wall. No real significance.

Below is a picture of the beautiful church that was built adjacent to the pools.  We went inside the church, named St Anne’s (after Mary’s mother) met some people, and sang a hymn together.  The acoustics in the church are marvelous…it turns out it was designed to be that way.

The crusader influence is obvious once you step inside the church.

Leaving the area of the church. The green shutters were so darling.

Last view of the church before we head on to the Garden Tomb.

The last stop of the day was the Garden Tomb.  By a long shot, the best of day 4 was found at the end of the day.  This place was amazing!  Run by Christians, it presents an alternative site to where Jesus was crucified and buried. Most people believe the death of Jesus to be where the Church of the Holy Seplucher is located.  Whether it happened at the garden tomb or not, it was a great place to visit and remember Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

The Holy Seplucher has been the proposed only site of the death of Jesus. So how did this site enter the picture?

A 19th century archeologist looked at this site and thought it looked like a skull. We read from John 19:17:

So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

Do you see the 2 eyes, and nose that could belong to skull?  Golgotha…the place of the skull. Thus, this site become a popular destination for Christians as a place for Jesus’ death. There was a also a tomb found nearby that could have housed Jesus for the 3 days that He was dead before God resurrected Him.

Below was right outside the tomb.

It’s hard to see in this picture, but there was a unique Christian symbol from the 1st century found engraved into the stone right above the tomb.

Inside the tomb:

Sasi and Patty

After touring, we sat in a beautiful area nearby and broke bread with our group as we remembered Christ’s death on the cross and what that means for our right standing with God.

What a long but enriching day!

Next up, day 5, which is all about the tribe of Benjamin and the first day outside Jerusalem.


Western Wall

We then made our way over to the section of the western wall most revered by the Jews. It is also known as the wailing wall as Jews would come to pray and ‘wail’ over the destruction of their temple.

Do you notice the stones towards the bottom?  Were you paying attention in the last posts? They are Herodian! They only occupy the bottom layer in the picture below. All the other stones progressively change as your eye moves from the bottom to the top of the wall. This shows the different types of builders throughout the year as the wall was destroyed and then rebuilt.

There were lots of tables, chairs and books for when people wanted to study, read, or even teach by the wall.

There was a section for the woman and one for the men. I peeked across the barrier and took this one of my husband. You see him? Isn’t he handsome?

You can see all the notes stuck in the walls. They are prayers that pilgrims bring hoping they will be answered.

Books available for anyone. Well, anyone who reads Hebrew.

Notice the phylactery around the young Jewish man’s arm and hand. Jason mentioned this in his post on our Mezuzah. Inside the black boxes on his hand and arm are verses from the OT. He also has a prayer shawl on.

The Last Supper

We started day 4 bright and early touring the ‘Cardo’.  The Cardo was the main ‘heartbeat’ of the city and contained shops, walkway, and a way to get everyone in the old city in around 6th century AD.  Columns decked both sides and continued on for the whole cardo pedestrian walkway.  See how the ground level today is so much higher?

Here is a modern day artist rendition of what it might have looked like.

Keeping up with the ‘cardo’ theme, Jerusalem has turned part of the cardo into actual shops. These were a great place to blow money.

Next, we went to the Room of the Last Supper, the supposed sight of where Jesus had his last meal with his disciples before he was handed over to be crucified.  It is located in modern day Mt. Zion outside of sion gate.

The church of the Dormition is right beside the place of the alleged last supper. The black domed church is right below.

Wall of the church

This site is rich with Christian traditions. David is also ‘potentially’ buried here. His body would have been moved from the City of David.

Here we are walking into the room of the Last Supper.  Check out Matthew 26:17-29

The site was captured by Muslims and turned into a mosque. There are still remnants of that mosque today.

The crusaders also  controlled this area for a while…note the mid-evil architecture.

This room is also where the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost. (allegedly)

Checking out the tomb of David

Woman praying at David’s tomb.

We moseyed on over to a nearby Roman Catholic cemetery where Oscar Schindler is buried. Those who have seen Schindler’s List, know how this man saved hundreds of Jews from certain death in Nazi Germany.  He wasn’t Jewish, but requested to be buried in Jerusalem.

Rocks are put on Jewish graves to indicate that someone has visited the grave. We all got to leave a stone on the grave. We also walked 2 by 2 down to put the stones on the grave, like they did in the movie. Have you seen the movie? It’s worth seeing if you can stomach it and the last scene is incredibly moving.

We stopped for lunch in a wonderful restaurant in the Jewish Quarter before heading to the Western Wall. It was delicious!  And it had a spectacular view of the Dome of the Rock.

We sat with our cousins, Greg and Tanya

On the way to the Western Wall, we passed by this solid gold menorah. There are some Jews who are practicing Levitical customs in preparation for the controversial 3rd temple. Solid gold, people!


More to come from busy day 4.  Then again, they are all busy days. Stay tuned!

Walking the streets of the Old City **Updated

This entire post is dedicated to the streets of Jerusalem.  We loved walking around the pedestrian streets and seeing all the locals. Before we left for the trip, a good friend emailed me and told me to spend some time just walking the streets and ‘take it all in’.   The sights, sounds and smells will stay with me forever.


Sweet guitar on someone’s balcony

Little girl playing in the Muslim quarter

Some fun yamakas


This was actually right outside the old city by the Damascus gate.

The military were everywhere. Sometimes in uniform, sometimes not. But they were always packing.  Here are some military eating lunch in the Jewish quarter. There laffas looked so good, Jason and I got some too! A laffa is like a gyro pita on steroids.  Delicious.

Just a pretty door


This was actually right outside the old city. We were standing close to the eastern gate of Jerusalem and saw a Jewish funeral taking place across the Kidron Valley.  Dr. Varner, our guide, told us that he had heard that it cost about $100,000 to be buried in Jerusalem.  And yes, those are more old ruins below the cemetery.



As pictures are sorted through, will put more up from the city streets!

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

Day 3

We started the next day in the city of David.  It is a small diamond shaped “city” that is formed by the Kidron valley and the Tyropoeon valley. (I had to look that last one up).  Later in the week, we visited the Israel museum and saw a very large model of Jerusalem from 2000 years ago.  It was amazing to see the city of David and how small of a section it encompasses in the whole of Jerusalem as it is today. In the book we referenced often on the trip, The Holy Land, it talks about this little chunk of land.  They explain, “…the little Jebusite city on the ridge was not occupied…its population was a mixture of Amorites and Hitties (Ezekiel 16:3). It did not belong to any tribe and in 997 BC, when David needed a capital independent of the tribal structure, he took it (2 Sam 5:6-9; 1 Chr. 11:4-7). By bringing the Ark of the Covenant, the religious symbol which united the 12 tribes into the city, he made Jerusalem the effective center of his people. Politics and religion have been inextricably mixed in the history of Jerusalem ever since.  …the seat of power moved as the city grew to the north.” And to the north is where David’s son, Solomon, built the first temple and where the new center of Jerusalem was found.

If we looked down, we would be looking at the Kidron Valley.

Patty and Chicago (AKA Emily) with the beautiful backdrop behind and the Kidron Valley below..

It is so interesting to be able to visit a site where ruins sit on top of ruins.  I learned that archeologists are constantly digging down and will often cut a slice into a hill and can inspect the layers in the slice for clues as to what has been buried for centuries.  In the city of David, they have excavated a great deal of it and we could see houses built into the hill that would have existed when David was king.  They have also found ruins that historically line up with what is stated in bible. What a faith builder!  The most impressive thing about the city of David is…

The reason that people first settled on the lower ridge of this part of Jerusalem was due to the presence of water.  Where the water source was, was a major determinant in those days for where to settle down. No water, no people.  Here, in the city of David, is where the Gihon spring is located. However, the location of the city and the spring made it very vulnerable and a liability if the city was being attacked. They didn’t want the kings of Assyria to come and find ‘much water’. (2 Chr. 32:2-4). Hezekiah then constructed the pool and the tunnel to bring water into the city (2 Kings 20:20). We know the exact process of how this was accomplished thanks to the discovery of this tunnel and an ancient Hebrew inscription that was found adorning the tunnel wall. Today, tourists can walk the length of the narrow tunnel and can imagine what it would have been like to cross from one side of the city to the other to collect water. It was a lot better than trekking all the way to the top of the hill the city sat on and then trekking back down the other side.  The waters emptied into the pool of Siloam. The authenticity of the inscription is guaranteed by the archaic script, and by carbon 14 dating of the wood, coal, and ash found in the tunnel (dated back to around 700-800 BC which lines up with the account in the bible) Here is a replica of the inscription that was found.

The inscription reads:

“Behold the tunnel. This is the story of its cutting. While the miners swung their picks, one towards the other, and when there remained only 3 cubits to cut, the voices of one calling his fellow was heard–for there was a resonance in the rock coming from both north and south. So the day they broke through the miner struck, one against the other, pick against pick, and the water flowed from the spring towards the pool, 1200 cubits. The height of the rock above the head of the minders was 100 cubits.”

In other words, miners from both directions were swinging pick axes into the earth way below ground and were listening to each other; they were meeting in the middle. That is why it isn’t a direct tunnel but it kinda snakes around.  Its also interesting that at both ends the tunnel is very high but as you are in the middle, its narrower and smaller…as if the miners were tired and were just trying to break through.  And water still flows today. How cool to be in a 2700 year old tunnel! No matter how claustrophobic I felt.

This is my “I’m kinda scared but gonna make the most of it” face. I didn’t have a flashlight.  Jason turned his off at one point to mess with me and I almost lost it.  I don’t understand why he thinks it is so funny to mess with me?!?!

We were told that the water could be waist high. Thankfully, it didn’t get past my knees…one advantage to being so tall. Although I had to duck a lot to avoid hitting my head.

We both enjoyed getting to go through the tunnel but Jason definitely had the most fun.  He has no deep rooted fears of being buried alive.  I kept imagining the walls falling down on us and becoming trapped.  Since he wasn’t worrying about his final minutes on earth, he took all the pictures.

A little narrower…I guess I took these 2 pics.

here is some of our group, Tanya, Greg, Raphael, and Sarah.


I see daylight!!!!!

This small pool was where the water emptied into.

For years, this was thought of as the pools of Siloam. However, a much bigger pool was discovered nearby recently that is more probable. They have only excavated part of it due to the fact that the Greek Orthodox church owns the land it was found on.  This location, is where Jesus sent the blind man to wash his eyes after he made mud and placed it on his eyes.  Check out John 9:1-11.

These are the steps leading down to the pool. The pool was trapezoidal shaped and had 3 sets of steps with 5 stairs in each step.

This marks the end of this post but it only is the beginning of day 3!  More to come later from day 3 in Israel…

Citadel and more

I was amazingly able to sleep through the first night. I did wake up around 5am. Even though I got a semi-full night of sleep, I was extremely jet lagged all day long!  To make things worse, my back flared up and I had trouble getting through the next 2 days.  But my body finally adjusted and was still able to enjoy the amazing sites we beheld!

After breakfast, Dr. Varner brought us to the lookout you see below. He gave us an introduction. We got to see lots of Jerusalem-ites walking to and fro.  The highlights of day 2 include the citadel (both during the day and @ night), Omar’s mosque, and the citadel museum.

View from lookout. Hebrew University tower way off in the distant. Luthern church tower closer to the left.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is divided up between various denominational groups as I mentioned in the Day 1 post. The next few pictures are around the area by the Ethiopian section. The Ethiopian priest we met read from John 1 to us in his language.  I remember Dr. Varner reading about the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.  He was the first missionary to Ethiopia after Phillip shared the good news with him.



We didn’t go in the Mosque of Omar but just stopped to take some pictures.

These are the streets of Jerusalem we walked for the first week.

We got so tickled when we saw these signs for money changers. Don’t they know that Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in Jerusalem!?!?

Next up, the citadel!  The citadel has been around since the time of Herod the Great.  Herod was called Great because of his great buildings he built in his lifetime…some that still persist 2000 years later.  Herod build 3 towers as part of the fortress for 3 people close to him; his friend Hippicus, his brother Phaseal, and his wife Mariamne.

It was in the praetorium where Pontius Pilate judged Jesus (John 18:28-29).

The citadel has a wonderful museum with many archaeological remains and lots of models! This is the citadel originally.


This is a model of the western wall of the temple in its former glory. Shown below is Robinson’s Arch. What remains of Robinson’s Arch will be shown in a later post.

Model of Jerusalem with its walls.

That evening after dinner, we returned to the citadel for an amazing light show. It was such a treat!!  We sat in the inner courtyard and watched as projections of light danced upon the citadel walls telling a story with music.  There was no flash photography allowed so these pictures were taken with a very steady hand!




Next up, day 3; Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and more!

Holy Seplucher

Most of the first day was, of course, a traveling day.  We waved  goodbye to my dad and joined the very long line of expectant travelers going to Israel. The flight didn’t seem too long. It was around 14 hours. When we landed, we went straight to our hotel.  Here I am in the doorway of our bathroom. Jason is below that on our bed.  We stayed right beside the Jaffa Gate, close by the citadel.

By the time we got to the hotel, it was late in the afternoon. We really wanted to sleep!  But Dr. Varner MADE us stay up. He ended up taking us on a walk in the evening where we got our first taste of the Old City. We saw the Holy Sepulcher church; the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and his burial site.

The stone represents where Jesus laid. We saw countless amounts of people paying homage to the stone. They were letting their prayer beads touch it, bowing down to it, and almost everyone kissed it. (except me)

This is the entrance to the church. The church is shared primarily by the Roman Catholic church and the Greek Orthodox.  Because it is a shared space, fights can regularly break out over petty movements of chairs and ladders.  No one group has the keys to the main door.  In 1192, Saladin, (Sultan who captured Jerusalem) assigned responsibility of locking/unlocking the church to 2 Muslim neighbors living nearby the church. This still persists today and we got to see the locking of the doors. It happens every evening around 9pm.


After we left the church, Dr. Varner treated our group to magnum bars!  They were really good!

Next up, the citadel, jet lag and the rest of Day 2!




It was a chance of a lifetime. Spending 3 weeks in the land of the bible was more than we ever thought we would get to do. We had a tour guide who not only knows the land of Israel inside and out, but actually loves Jesus and desired for us all to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior.  It made for one incredible trip.   We came back with new friendships, a greater understanding of our Lord and Savior, empty wallets, and lots and lots (and lots) of pictures!  We hope to chronicle our journey into the land of the bible through these pictures and our journal entries so we never forget it and continue to learn, grow, and be changed by our experience. It’s important to note that strictly being in Israel and walking the streets Jesus walked wasn’t what impacted us. Our hearts was broken when we saw people more caught up in a stone Jesus may have laid on, or the place where He was crucified.  They were in essence worshiping the place, object, ect instead of the God who made everything! No, we weren’t impacted by mere object, relics, or sites. We were impacted when in reading the bible, we saw it come to life and it further solidified our faith.  Yes, it was amazing to walk down the Mount of Olives, see the possible garden of Gethsemane, and look up at the Eastern gate of Jerusalem.  But even more amazing, was remembering what Jesus did and accomplished in those areas and to be overwhelmed with His great love. He is more important than the sites. He is more important than the many stones we beheld. (and trust me, we saw LOTS of stones). It really is all about Him. What I wouldn’t give for all those people I encountered to be less caught up with ‘religion’ and instead more focused on what Jesus has done for them.  The journey into the Holy Land has changed both Jason and I.   Not because we were at many interesting and beautiful sites but because we fell more in love with the God who has designed and crafted the greatest gift given to mankind.


Please stay tuned for lots of Israel posts!


Psalm 62: Where is your refuge?

A refuge is a place of protection, shelter.  I like to think of a home. And we all have a home, right?

The questions is not, “Am I taking refuge in something?” but instead it should be “Where are you taking refuge?”  The truth is, if we do not take refuge in God, we WILL find it somewhere else.  Food, friends, our husbands, tv, following a list of rules, exercise, the list goes on.  Our refuge is the place we turn to; not only in difficult moments, but ultimately, the source for all of our joy, for where we find our strength, where we feel refreshed, ect. Sometimes its manifested in outward ways yet it always starts as an inward process.  All of what we do in life is rooted in the question, “where do we find refuge?”  If you have trouble figuring out where that is just ask yourself what makes you upset?  What makes you the happiest?  As Christians, we know that through Jesus Christ, we have access to God and HE is to be our refuge…for everything.  But is he?  If you feel ignored and unappreciated by your husband and this makes you upset (upset enough to sin) then you are probably taking refuge in him instead of God.  If you feel content when you go to church on Sunday and/or feel successful only when your  to-do list is completely tackled,  then you probably are finding contentment in ‘doing things’ and in checking those boxes that we equate with being a good person. God is not our refuge in those instances and thus He is no refuge at all.  I use those examples because I have found myself doing those things.  The Lord convicts me of the times I make Jason my refuge and also of the times that I get lost in a bunch of rules thinking that brings me closer to God.

Last week at Joint Heirs, our fellowship group, we heard a convicting message about making God our refuge.  I wanted to share the notes I took; found below.  What bulldozed through my heart and into my conscience was the  fact that if I pick and choose where I take refuge, instead of letting God take that rightful place at all times, then He is no refuge at all.  C.H Spurgeon has said,  “You don’t trust God at all, if you don’t trust Him alone.”   By God’s grace, we can make God our only refuge. Psalm 62 sheds some light on this important truth that should fuel our Christian walk and provide motivation for every quiet time, for our pursuit of God, and for the times we flee sin in pursuit of righteousness.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will all of you attack a man
to batter him,
like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse. Selah
5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
9 Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
11 Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.


Making God our Refuge

1. Affirm God

David says in verse 1, that his soul waits in silence for God alone.  This could be translated, Only when our soul is directed towards God, is it silent. Think about the heaviness and burdensome thoughts that we carry. Our worries, fears, for example.  Those things are stilled when God is our refuge, when are soul is focused on Him. It is in affirming God as the ONLY refuge, that our soul can be pointed to Him and we can rest in His sovereign power. David affirms God’s position in his heart by calling Him his rock and fortress…only God are those things.

2. Ardently desire it

David compares his enemies with a tottering fence, again showing how great God is in comparison. Why would we ever trust in humans for our happiness, for our strength?  In reality, they are all tottering fences that will fall down when compared with God.  We must desire for God to be our rock, our refuge.

3.  Apply it

It takes more than just saying, “I will make God my refuge”.  It takes spirit-directed and spirit-guided effort with God’s grace fueling those efforts…so that we can put into practice what we believe.   Preach to yourself!  I’ve started doing this recently…preaching the gospel to myself by suggestion of Elyse Fitpatrick. (Author of several books)  We shouldn’t just hear it once when we are saved but rather over and over again.  The good news that brought me to God, should bring me to God every single day…moment for the rest of my life on earth.  Not just once when I first believed.  Understanding the Gospel better will allow for us to better make God our refuge for everything.

4. Announce it

David makes things personal when he says in verse 7, “On God rests my salvation, my glory.”  This wasn’t something that David just knew….he didn’t just learn it. He has a personal testimony; a personal intimate experience and He claims God as holding his salvation.  Do you see the difference between the 2 statements,  “God has saved His people” and “God saved me“?  Do you share your testimony with others?  Is it personal to you?

5. Absorb it

Let this truth sink in and transform you. It’s an inward attitude and will manifest with outward actions.  Why are we such people-pleasers? Check out verses 9 &10; David says both those of low estate and high estate go up in the balances. Don’t cater to certain people because you think they are worthy of your time, money, energy.  This includes the rich and prestigious people that cross our path and those we love more than others (like our husbands!).  The truth is, they are here today, gone tomorrow. In the words of the psalmist, they are lighter than breath.  Don’t be concerned with other people.  Be concerned with God!  He has the ‘weight’ that takes up all the balances and His opinion of us is what weighs the most…not other people. And because of Jesus, Christians are the apple of His eye!  What a gift!  So quit finding your affirmation, love, joy, happiness ect in other people. Absorb this truth.

6. Account for it

David comments in the Psalm that God owns all power and will render to man according to what that man has done. We will be judged according to our works. And we know from countless other places in the OT, NT, & Psalms that all of our works are evil and opposite of God.  Our consciences also bear witness against us. (Romans 2:15) If you haven’t put your full & complete faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ, then your works continue to be opposing God…no matter how ‘good’ they look on the outside.  By His grace, we can put out faith in Jesus in having reconciled us to God and we can walk in the good works that God prepared for us from the beginning of time. (Eph 2:10)  And God will remove our transgressions from us as far as east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12)


Oh, Lord, that I would be a Christian whose sole refuge is in God, through Jesus, alone!!!




Bed and breakfast?

Are you planning on hosting some friends/family soon?  Planning on turning your home into a ‘bed and breakfast’?  If so, then please, oh please, make this delicious and beautiful meal…
Introducing what I call, “Fried granny cakes”
Below is the link to the recipe I followed, from one of my favorite recipe sites, Tasty Kitchen:
Fried granny cakes recipe


I made it for my beloved on a Saturday at brunch. I wasn’t really expecting much.  But it was simple and the presentation was amazing!  I want to make it the next time we have company.
Here is  the cut up apple and sweet potato.

I formed them into circular discs and placed them in the oil.  I was surprised at how quickly they formed into ‘patties’ and didn’t fall apart like I was anticipating.
I then made the eggs, & added them to the top of the patties. I quickly made the mustard sauce and drizzled on top.  Easy as pie. and fun!



Cup Cakes

One of my friends was going to announce at our seminary wives groups that she was preggo. I wanted to help her do it in style…cupcake style!

I found an interesting recipe for icing made from flour.  Later, after talking to some other seasoned bakers, I found out it is a timeless recipe that’s not as popular today!  I made sure to add it to my recipe box.

Here’s the link.

The cupcake batter was just a devil’s food cake mix. I had it left over from a sale a while back. It was good that I didn’t make it from scratch like I wanted because I had more time to play with the toppings and take pictures!

So after the cupcakes cooled, I iced them and then decorated them.  Fun fun!

I wanted to decorate the cupcakes with a boy and girl theme.  I wanted everyone to pick what sex they thought the baby was going to be.  They would pick the pink/purple one for girl…

and the blue for a boy!


The orange was for the indecisive ones.

Funny thing is, the mom-to-be didn’t show up on the night of our bible study.  She was feeling kinda nauseous or something. (do pregnant women get sick?)

So, as not to ruin the surprise, and friend and I salvaged the occasion and said we were celebrating spring!  And then I got to thinking, who needs a reason for baking and eating cupcakes? Not me.

Regardless, here are the “spring” cupcakes.  Seriously, try this icing. It was great!







Jason and I have internet…finally. I haven’t even opened my computer in 2 weeks. So I can blog a little bit about our new apartment in the city.

We love living in West Hollywood.  TJ’s is a 10 minute walk.  I’ve been walking to work.  There are a ton of restaurants within walking distance we can’t wait to try. Our apartment is finally coming together.  Which leads me to the color pink…

You see, our kitchen is pink. A few days ago, I was cooking (what felt like) all day in it. So pink was everywhere! Pink, pink, pink! The color pink was definitely on my mind.

Isn’t she pretty?











Check out the close up of the little rooster caged up in ‘da pink.

Or maybe pink was on my brain because of the recent purchase from Costco of bulk pink grapefruits and pink lady apples.

Or maybe it was the chicken tikka masala I made.  You see, the recipe called for an option to add in red food coloring to make a rich & luxurious red sauce.  However, after adding the red food coloring, it turned into wimpy & weak pink sauce. But it sure tasted delicious!

hmmmmmmm, pink chicken….

Or maybe pink was on my mind because for the first time, I can display my favorite dish towel and it match the surroundings!  You see, this dish towel I’m referring to used to be white.  It was a wedding gift.  Jason did laundry, and it turned to pink.  He hasn’t done laundry since.

Needless to say, I’m loving the pink atmosphere that surrounds us in our new kitchen.

The next post is dedicated to our new teal bathroom. Stay tuned.



Hiking in Malibu

Malibu Creek State Park:

We discovered a great place for hiking in Malibu. Its about 20 minutes from our place. (old place in Moorpark)  It was a beautiful Saturday a few weeks ago…even though Sunday we had trouble getting out of bed because we were so sore. We hiked for about 5 or 6 miles and ended up on a tall hill while we watched the sun set.

We ended up hiking to one of the filming locations for MASH.  Did you ever watch that show?


After we hung out on the MASH ‘studio’ we started to make our way back to our car. The MASH site was about 3 miles in.  We eventually had to race the sun as it started to set.  Otherwise, we would have had to camp there. But we made it out!

What a Saturday! How awesome to see views like this and have boundless opportunities to glorify the God that created them all!


Giving orders and coming to the end of myself…

Charles Spurgeon:

“What miserable wretches the most faithful Christians are when they once begin doubting and fearing!”

And imagine what wretches we are when we aren’t even the most faithful of Christians to begin with!

Doubt: a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something

What strikes me about this definition is that its not doubt regarding a particular circumstance or situation. Rather, its about ‘the truth’.  Why would we doubt something that is true? Why do we doubt facts?

What about the truth about God?  We all know that there is a God who has created us. (Romans 1:19-21) Why do we doubt that? Why do I doubt his presence at times, his ways, even His divine plan for my life and His plan for salvation?

I relate to what Spurgeon wrote because the times of my walk with the Lord where I doubt are often the most miserable times.  When my foundation starts shaking, my life does as well.

Lately, these moments of doubt arise when I come across something I don’t understand.  When my understanding is clouded and my finite mind is trying to grasp something of the in-finiteness of God. I will think and ponder and think and cry and ponder and think and pray and cry and think until my brain feels like it will explode. When I finally get to this broken point, I find myself surrendering. I surrender to God’s ways, His will, His truth.  After all, His truth remains whether I believe it or not.

When I surrender these doubt there is peace.  That seems to be a theme in my walk with the Lord. Surrendering=peace. And God is so gracious.  I dive into the scriptures again submitting to the truth of God’s word and the cloudiness might even part a little as God sheds light.  That gives me MORE peace and comfort. Having peace from surrendering to God is scriptural…not just something I’ve experienced!

“Stop quarreling with God! If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you.” –Job 22:21

A. W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.”

Yeah. I do that all the time. Giving orders (to God) after doubts arise and then coming to the end of myself because I can’t come up with the answers or God doesn’t do what I want Him to do.

Thanks be to God who is gracious and patient and caring and mighty to save and who suffers through my lack of all those qualities.

After one of these ends of myself (how many of those do I get) I found myself reading through Genesis.  Joseph’s brothers have just returned home after discovering their long lost brother who they sold into slavery has become a ruler in Egypt. They let their father have the news that Joseph, the son of his beloved Rachel, was still alive.

“Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt. And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him , the spirit of their father Jacob revived.” –Genesis 45:26-27

My heart was pounding and like so often happens, I stopped reading the bible and it started to read me.  My heart, that had been numbed from disbelief, distrust, and doubt, began to be revived within me.  I had (just before I started reading Genesis that day) submitted to the truth found in the pages and prayed to the Lord for more faith. Just like Jacob, my heart had been numb and cold and miserable like Spurgeon noted. Yet, believing even when it is hard and doesn’t make sense to us, is what allows our hearts to be revived and God able to pour His truth into them.


Try this TODAY!

This post is dedicated to the best tea I have ever had.  My friend, Amy, brought me some at work.  The first sip I took led me down a path with tea I thought I would never go.  I have drank more of this tea than coffee for the last two weeks. How could any tea replace my beloved strong coffee in the morning?  I never thought it would happen. But I’m telling you, this tea is AMAZING!

Yogi Egyptian Licorice Tea. “Warming and Naturally Spicy-Sweet”  This tea made my taste buds dance. I was able to stretch the first bag into 3 cups of tea. I wanted it to last all day long. I immediately went to the store and bought a box.

Do yourself a favor and go buy this today!  Or you can buy it in bulk from Amazon. Its a better deal. The licorice in it naturally sweetens it and so there is no need for any sugar. It leaves this sweet yet subtle spicy taste in your mouth…making you want another sip!

Ahhh,  you have to try it!

The greatest test of the goodness of this tea is whether or not Jason likes it.  He tends to be a tea snob.  Guess what?  He loves it!  He raves about it! Try it today!


Flowers from Jason…

These are the beauties that Jason gave me for Valentine’s Day.  Once they fully bloomed, they brightened up our house and our camera lens!  I don’t think Jason thought about how getting a bouquet of different kinds of flowers would allow for competition between the two flowers. Tulips and the blue iris are both divas and can’t be in the same room together let alone the same vase.
So, I got my camera and took lots of pictures one afternoon.  I know I still have a lot to learn about photography but it’s been so much fun just snapping pictures and looking for ‘art.’  I affectionately named all of my ‘photos.’  If you want a copy it will only cost you a high five.
I call this one, “Tulips are taller and better than you”
“I want some love too!  -green leaf”
“The view is better from up here!”
“I am overtaken with the blues.”  -shriveled up tulip
Thanks sweetie for the beautiful flowers and the hour of entertainment they provided. I love you!


Lunch with the Pages

Amanda and Jay came for a quick LA visit. They went to Laguna Beach for Valentine’s Day and then spent a few hours with us at The Grove in West Hollywood before heading back to Las Vegas for a concert.  We enjoyed catching up and started planning our trip to come out to Vegas! :)

We grabbed Korean BBQ and then we got some ice cream after walking around smelling all the yummy treats.

So, when are yall coming back!?!?  :)

I miss you, girl!!

This post is not for spider lovers…

Picture this:
I’m home alone. It’s dark. I forget something in the garage so I venture out into the unknown. I am walking along the back sidewalk with the moonlight as my guide. I enter the garage. A cold chill runs along my body that I can’t explain. I keep going inside anyway. I turn on the light. I walk over to the desk in the corner. Something catches my eye. My head turns to the left. I let out a blood curdling scream as I see a big shiny black spider crawl upwards on a web that stretches from ceiling to floor. I freeze. I can’t move. I cant run or hide. She freezes. We look at each other. Then I reach for my…………………………………………………………………………..
cell phone. I text Jason to come home IMMEDIATELY. It’s an EMERGENCY.
As soon as Jason pulls in to the driveway, I greet him and we go into the garage together. This time I grabbed the camera. Jason is the brave one and actually takes these incredible pictures.
Isn’t she hideous?!!?
As soon as the awe diminished we were ready to rid our garage and our lives with this little venomous creature. My husband, the pyromaniac, decided it would be best to torch her. We go in the house looking for matches and something that we can spray that is flammable. Inside the bathroom cabinet I’m checking every label for the words, “FLAMMABLE”. I finally find a disinfectant with those glorious words. We run outside and set up. I recorded the demise of our new friend.

Are you feeling sorry for this little lady? Well, I spent an hour that night looking up information on black widows. How do you suppose they got their name…widow? Its because they eat the male after mating. Still not convinced? A bite from this little lady releases the neurotoxin, latrotoxin, which has killed young children and the elderly. It produces muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, weakness, tremor, chest pain, and respiratory difficulties. She has a red hourglass shape on her abdomen…it is as if she is counting the time down until her next victim. Who’s laughing now?!?
I did find out one disturbing thing in my research. I was feeling pretty safe in the comforts of my warm bed later that evening until I read that black widows often congregate together. Where there is one, there are more. Gulp.
I haven’t been back in the garage.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

I had some free time the other day and found a new blog called Bakerella.  She has mastered a new field of baking and is the creator of cake pops.  We were having a delightful family over for dinner, the Short’s (sorry, forgot to take pictures!) and I wanted to make a new dessert. Thank you Kat, Cam, Parker and Jayden for being brave with the kitchen experiments!  (Oh, and Jason too)

I adapted the recipe from  The author of Bakerella had a red velvet cake mix incorporated in her recipe.  I ended up finding a recipe from scratch that I wanted to try from another favorite blog, However, I ran out of time and Jason and I ended up running to the store last minute to grab a box.  Next time!

I had a blast baking these.  I had an even bigger blast taking the pictures. I think I have a new hobby.

I mixed a box of the red velvet cake mix with 2 eggs, 1/4 C heavy cream and 1/4 C mascarpone cheese.

It was brown. I had to double check the box to make sure I grabbed the right one. Once I added all the stuff it turned…

It was so thick and sticky. I was unsure of how they would turn out since I changed some stuff around. But they were great!  I baked these red wonders for about 12 minutes @ 325 degrees.

While they were baking, I started in on the icing. I might have helped myself to some.

The icing consisted of 8 oz of cream cheese, 1/2 C butter, 1 Tbs vanilla, and about half a box (or bag) of powdered sugar. I added in the sugar slowly until it was a smooth creamy texture.

I pulled the whoopes (un-iced pies) out of the oven and let them cool completely before slathering on the cream cheese icing.

It was a lot of fun! And they were decadent!

Every last bite! Now, its your turn. Enjoy!

I’m Not A Christian

I’m not a Christian…

-because I’m a good person

-because I go to church most Sundays

-because I give money to the church

-because my parents raised me that way

-because I made a profession when I was a kid

-because I was baptized

-because I have a tattoo of a cross

-because I’m religious

I’m a Christian because “before the foundations of the world, HE chose me to be holy and blameless before Him.” (Eph1:4). I’m a Christian because “when I heard the truth, I believed and was sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Eph1:13). I’m a Christian because I recognized my deep spiritual need and found that my hope was only in the Christ. (Rom3:231Pet 3:18).  I’m a Christian “not because of my own doing but by grace I was saved” (Eph2:8).  I am a Christian because like the Phillipian jailer, I believed on the Lord Jesus and in God (Acts16:30-34).   I’m a Christian because Jesus “became sin for me that I might become righteous” (2 Cor 5:21). I’m a Christian because I have “received Him and believed in His name and have become an adopted child of God, an ambassador for Christ, a citizen of heaven, and a co-heir with Christ (John 1:12Phil 3:202nd Cor 5:20Rom 8:17Gal 4:5). Lastly, I’m a Christian because there is a continual daily desire to abide in Christ, taking up my cross daily and follow him (1 John 2:6Matt 10:38)

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!  (2Cor 6:2)


Book Review: “Radical Womanhood-Feminine faith in a Feminist World” by Carolyn McCulley

Who knew that many of my own thoughts and attitudes were grounded in the ideals of feminism?  I am not and have never defined myself as a feminist; however, feminism has affected me and I didn’t even know it.

In this book, Carolyn McCulley takes the female reader through a brief time line showing and defining three waves of feminism and how it has permeated our culture, our homes, and our churches. McCulley has done extensive research in the area of feminism and draws on her own personal life as a former feminist to present this book on womanhood with clarity and deep insight.  She shows the history of when feminism started and how ideas today were initially shaped then. She solidly combats the modern feminist ideas with the word of Truth, and shows woman how to truly be feminine; by submitting to this word of Truth and living for the Lord.  Very pointedly, the author defines the entire problem with feminism in this statement found in Chapter 2. She is evaluating letters and books written by one of the first feminists, Elizabeth Cady Stanton who lived in the mid-19th century. McCulley states “…while the crowning achievements of the first wave feminist movement were the legal reforms of coverture and suffrage, Stanton’s writings reveals the ongoing target was the authority of Scripture. This is still true today.”  A simple statement yet it carries a lot of weight and helps Christians to see what the problem boils down to.  McCulley goes on to say, “As a movement, feminism arose because women were being sinned against. But feminism also arose because women were sinning in response. That’s a classic human problem: Sinners tend to sin in response to being sinned against.”

She has also weaved true stories throughout the book showcasing real women who have chosen to surrender their lives to the Lord even amongst the worst circumstances and the joy that it has brought them. As McCulley states it, “the story of women who have found God to be true to His Word.”  As one myself who has found God to be true to His word, I found myself soaking up this book as McCulley highlights Scripture in the face of our secular world.  This isn’t a feminist bashing.  It reveres the Scriptures and highlights them over and beyond any modern secular view or book or ideal.

It is important to know the history of feminism and to perceive how it has affected our society and our very lives.  Knowing this and being a student of the Scriptures, will enable us to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3) and to practice discernment (Hebrews 5:14). This is a great book for women…and men!


Hearst Castle

(pictures missing)

Jason’s mom, Laurie, had a business trip in San Francisco.  She extended her trip for a long weekend spent with us down in SoCal.  Growing up in southern California, Laurie had never had a chance to visit Hearst Castle. So we decided to do it on this visit! 


Apparently, December is monsoon season in California. Actually, it was told to us that the weekend Laurie was here, was the worst it had rained in like 20 years.  So we didn’t get a lot of pictures on the outside of the castle. The picture above was stolen, ie borrowed from the Hearst Castle website. I figure they won’t mind if I give them some free advertising.

Walking from building to building on this property entailed us running and trying to keep our hair from getting even more wet.  Oh yeah, not to mention not walking to fast as to slip and fall.  Did I mention that at the top of this mountain where this castle sat, the wind blew harder and was colder?  I don’t know what was worse, not being able to enjoy the outside of the castle in all its wonder or getting pelleted with cold rain coming in sideways. Nonetheless, we made the best of it! :)

So who was Mr. Hearst?  Here is a quick bio:

William Randolf Hearst of the Hearst family was a wealthy newspaper mogul who always dreamed of building a castle on his fathers beautiful land in central California.  He partnered with architect Julian Morgan and over 30 years they built this place together. Mr. Hearst would host the rich and famous on his property in San Simeon, California.  Now, the castle is a national landmark and open to public.  I really wish it wasn’t raining so we could enjoy the outside more!  It just means Jason and I will have to venture up there again sometime.

Here are some pictures of the inside. It was decorated for Christmas.

Below is our tour guide for the day.  Room to room, he told us all about Mr. Hearst and his elaborate castle.

Here is a bathroom and an outfit one might have worn in the 30′s when this was built.

Here is the movie theater where Mr. Hearst would play movies for his guests.

These are pictures of the indoor pool. It was phenomenal!!

Old-timey fire truck with my initials on it.

A really cool couch…

We had a great weekend!  Thanks Laurie for the memories!


Why I make homemade chicken broth

(pictures missing)

Well, I’ve only made homemade chicken broth twice. Once with my mom several years ago and then now.   We made it back then because we had read about the added health benefits of making your own broth as well as the better tasting soups and sauces that are made from it.  Call it a new year’s resolution if you want but I’m determined to get this good-for-me stock solution into my body on a regular basis. So what is the difference between a store bought box of broth vs making it from scratch?  Lots.  Hence, this post.   I don’t have oodles and oodles of free time so unless the advantages really do outweigh the disadvantages, I wouldn’t spend my effort on it.


The reason I wanted to make the stock way back when is the same now.  I was dissatisfied with the junk I was feeding my body.  I wanted to nourish my God-given body in a way that allows it to function at premium capacity.  I still do.  After educating myself from various sources, I was convicted with how easily I was driven by the convenience factor.  Just because something is quicker, I’m willing to sacrifice the quality of food that I’m putting into my body.  Food is meant for the body, not the body for food.  In the new year, Jason and I both desire to eat to live, not live to eat.  Our waistlines will thank us as well as our clear skin, blood cells, and bones.

When our motivation is becoming healthy and desiring to nourish our bodies, it becomes a lifestyle and not a diet that can easily be a fad that can then easily wear off. So back to the point of this article, why is homemade chicken soup or  as it’s known some places,”Jewish penicillin” so good for you?

Nutritional Elements:

Properly prepared, meat stocks (including fish, beef and chicken) are wonderfully nutritious as they contain minerals from bone, cartilage and marrow and electrolytes from vegetables.  The acid from vinegar that is added early on aids in drawing calcium, magnesium and potassium into the broth. The components of cartilage, including collagen, can be useful for those with arthritis and other ailments.

Broth contains the same amounts of colloids as do raw foods.  One of the many advantages of eating raw foods is the colloidal component that attracts digestive juices for quick digestion.  When we consume broth, it is high in these colloids due to the proteinaceous gelatin found from the bones and skins in the broth; it aids in attracting digestive juices to the surface of cooked food particles.  Gelatin has many qualities; it acts as a protein spacer allowing the body to handle other proteins consumed.  Due to its pleotropic effects, gelatin has been used to treat many chronic disorders such as hyperacidity, Crohn’s disease, and colitis as well as anemia, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy.  In china in the first century, we see gelatin being used as a hemostatic agent (works to stop bleeding). The Chinese would inhale a powdered form of it to stop nose bleeding.  (N.R. Gotthoffer in Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine)  N.R. Gotthoffer also describes how by direct clinical practice, two doctors in the 20th century found that “gelatin acted better and more rapidly than bismuth and tannin in remedying infant diarrhea.”  From my limited research into gelatin, it seems that it can be helpful in any digestive problem and a whole myriad of other issues.

Gelatin’s colloidal effects and other soothing parts of the broth helps feed, repair and calm the mucous lining in the small intestine.  This inner lining has been poked and prodded by too many of the additives and unhealthy components of the food we eat on a daily basis. The fake sugar in coke, the many preservatives found in canned soup, and a whole host of other things we eat pull away from this vital mucousal lining leading to people complaining of indigestion and bloating.  Hannah Kroegar in Ageless remedies form Mothers Kitchen, says that chicken soup heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, and relaxes and gives strength.

Restaurant style taste:

While nourishing your body, the broth also adds considerably to the taste of the food.  French chefs claim the secret to their wonderful soups, pasta sauces, and marinades is in the “stock.”  Sally Fallon explains it best, “Your family with gain innumerable health benefits, and you will earn the reputation of an excellent cook.”

It starts with a whole chicken. I went to whole foods and was amazed at how much per pound a whole chicken is compared to buying chicken breasts alone.  I figured that in buying breasts alone, you were paying for the labor that goes into cutting up the chicken than the chicken itself.  The most astounding part however, was when the guy behind the counter offered to cut it up for me!  (And I was planning on cutting it myself)  When I go back to the store to buy chicken, its going to be hard to pay for a whole pack of chicken breast when for half I can buy a whole chicken and the nice young man will cut the breasts for me.

Anyways, back to the stock.  I bought a free range organic chicken from Mary’s Chickens in Fresno via Whole foods, had it cut up and packaged all for $2.50 per pound.  I placed the chicken with 4 quarts of cold water (You must start with cold water I learned. As the ingredients warm in the water, their fibers open slowly, releasing their juices to add flavor). I threw in a couple of cut-up carrots, an onioncelery, and 2 tbs vinegar. I let it boil for 1 hour, then let it simmer for about 7 hours.  Ideally, you would let it simmer for close to 24 hours but Jason and I got hungry after smelling the chicken broth as the smell took over our small house. 10 minutes before I took it off the heat, I added some fresh parsley.

After straining the stock, I threw out the veggies and the parsley.  I took off as much of the meat as possible. I reserved about 6 cups in Tupperware and froze the rest.  I used about 3 cups immediately for a chicken curry and some coconut soup.  They were yum yum. I used the rest that I had not frozen for tortilla soup the next day.  I used the very tender chicken in the curry and in the soup the next day.  It was delicious!  I still have several cups in my freezer and even some more chicken.

It made for a busy Saturday preparing it but the long term health benefits of consuming broth on a regular basis is well worth it.




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“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”  -Walt Disney in 1955 when park opened

Jason and I recently explored Walt Disney’s dream. His original dream was made manifest in 1955 here in beautiful southern California. Although for that day, I wanted to rename the state cold and wet California.  Nonetheless, we had a great time using the free passes Jason’s grandmother gave us a while back.  Jason and I have been to Disney World several times in Orlando so we were very much looking forward to exploring the original one. We waited for a day when kids would be in school that wasn’t too hot.  We combined it with a trip to see some family down in Mission Veijo and it made for a great little getaway!  Here is some proof we were there:

I had to stop at McDonalds and get a coffee to warm up. It was a cold day in Anaheim.

After riding the train from the almost empty parking lot, we entered the park and started exploring. We got there before a lot of the rides opened so we explored and snapped some pictures.

The rides started opening up about 10.  Most of the waits were not more than 10 minutes.  Indiana Jones was about 45 minutes. Here I am outside the shrine to the temple of the forbidden eye.

One of my favorite rides in Orlando @ Epcot is Soarin.  We were really looking forward to doing the Soarin ride here as this was the original place it started. We waited in line for less than 5 minutes, then took our seats with other people in rows of 10. As our feet dangled, the ride lifted us high and we overlooked at giant big screen. I felt like I was hang-gliding as we soared over San Francisco, down mountain passes, over the ocean and through orange groves.  It was awesome!

Another favorite ride was the toy store 3D game ride.  We didn’t know what to expect. We just saw a lot of people waiting in a long line so we knew it was probably worth it. So we hopped in line and waited. We got handed 3D glasses and inside our car took us through a maze of carnival type games in 3D!  It was awesome!  Jason’s score was 3x my score.  (I let him win)

It was a long day but we had a blast!  We came back and slept hard. Thanks Grandma Janet for saving those passes for us!



How much vitamin D and calcium should I be taking?

Too much of a good thing aint always a good thing…

Vitamin D and calcium are important for bone health. There are numerous studies demonstrating that proper amounts are essential for healthy bone development. However, there have been conflicting views over the years of exactly how much is needed on a daily basis and if we should be adding these supplements to our diet.

A recent assessment of all available data regarding the appropriate amount of dietary intake of Vitamin D and calcium was recently conducted by an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee. The IOM was asked to do this particular study by the US and Canadian government due to conflicting information regarding adequate intake of each supplement. They were also looking for a link between high amounts of these supplements in the diet and disease reduction as well as links to adverse events. This study convened in March 2009 and they released their report just recently, on November 30th, 2010.

The study comes at a time when many Americans are being proactive with their health and preemptively fighting heart disease, cancer and other diseases through diet and exercise. It wouldn’t hurt to take some extra vitamins, right?

The study ended up creating reference values for daily amounts of each supplement based on the fact that there was no evidence that extra was better. The original ranges set forth were first selected in 1997 and were based on a limited number of studies and data. The new recommended daily intake for each supplement is based on more recent and higher quality studies.

Why does the government care about how much Vitamin D and calcium I take?

The reference intake serves as a guideline for people of all ages and is used in determining what makes up a school lunch or what percentages go onto a nutrition label at the grocery store.


The study found that there is no strong evidence at this time that more of these supplements is better and that more will help reduce the likelihood of other diseases like cancer or heart disease. Instead, the study found that more could actually do harm than good. The benefits one may receive from additional supplementation did not reach beyond bone health. High levels of calcium are associated with kidney stones. High levels of vitamin D are associated with kidney, heart and tissue damage.

The most startling fact the committee found was that the recommended intake for each supplement is typically achieved by Americans and Canadians from the diet alone and sunshine. Sunshine? Vitamin D is produced in our skin by exposure to sunlight. The group also found that too much of these nutrients is not beneficial and instead could harm the individual.

More and more items at the supermarket are being fortified with these nutrients. Next time you are at the grocery store, take a look at the milk, orange juice or cereal and inspect the calcium and vitamin D content. You can also find vitamin D in fatty fish, and eggs. You are probably consuming more of these nutrients than you think or at least as much as you need for proper bone health. This can be misleading because most people think that based on the recommended ranges, they need an additional pill to reach the amount they need. Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s prevention Research Center summed it up this way, “haphazard fortification of the food supply with the darling nutrients du jour is a bad idea, and always was. When this is done, there is no predicting what dose or unbalanced combination of nutrients you may consume over the course of a day.” He recommends trying to obtaining calcium from your diet and vitamin D from daily sunshine on your skin.


Vitamin D

All individuals require 400 IU per day of Vitamin D from age 1 year to >71 years old. Determining how much Vitamin D you get daily is more difficult to determine than just counting what is on the labels of your food because we get Vitamin D levels from sun exposure as well as our diet. The study determined that on average, individuals meet this requirement on a daily basis and may not need additional supplementation. These values are assuming minimal sun exposure for each individual.


These values range for age. The highest estimated average requirement is 1,100 mg per day and is reserved for children age 9 to 18. This is to support proper bone development. For post menopausal women, the recommended daily requirement is 1,000 mg per day.


The committee jointly stated that North Americans are receiving enough calcium and vitamin D. If you take more than is recommended, you may be putting yourself at risk for other complications as higher levels have not been shown to confer greater benefits but just the opposite; they have been linked with other health problems. The only group who may need additional supplementation (calcium only) is adolescent girls. Take home point? The majority of Americans get enough of both of these nutrients. Continue to seek a diet that promotes adequate levels of these nutrients and spend 20 minutes in the sunshine 3x per week for vitamin D production.

Pizza Pizza

Pizza is a Hauser staple. When I first got engaged to Jason and spent lots of time with him, he told me about his necessities in life…Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, his family, & pizza. This picture was taken less than a week after he returned back to the states from his year long mission trip over seas. We went to Fellinis, a wonderful pizza place in Atlanta where he could eat some pizza he had been missing for so long! Well, we share a mutual feelings about all of the above. So, we’ve had many of night of pizza experiments!

We used to just buy dough from TJ’s and sauce and then add our own toppings. I’ve since been experimenting with making my own dough! This had led to a few failures but an occasional success! Hopefully, only successes from here on out.

The failures were partly due to my choices of flour. Buying the wrong wheat berries to grind and trying to be healthy with all whole wheat flour led to flat, tasteless dough. And let’s be honest, a pizza is defined by the dough. You can get any toppings and it will be good, but if you mess up the dough, you mess up the pizza.

Lesson learned? Put some extra love and attention to the dough.

Its very important to Jason and I to eat as many unrefined, unenriched, unprocessed, un-high heat heated, un-high pressurized whole grains as possible. It’s hard in today’s society where the bad stuff outnumbers the good stuff. We aren’t legalistic about it, but just try find ourselves on one side of the balance spectrum…the good-for-you side. Usually only at home…the few times we are at a restaurant or out with friends, eating healthy is not even thought about because the fellowship is more important than what we are eating.

In nature, before our food goes to the manufacturing plant for processing, packaging and delivery to your local grocery store, sugars and carbohydrates are linked with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, fat and fiber. Refined carbohydrates are depleted of these vital elements. They are often referred to as empty calories. When we consume refined sugars and carbs, they create a rush to the blood, spiking blood glucose levels, leading to insulin release and the end result (over time) can be diabetes. And a whole host of other problems discussed elsewhere.

Ideally, we would eat unrefined whole grains that have been soaked or fermented. Until I’m superwoman, we will stick with whole wheat flour and soaking grains for my days off…maybe. I might even grind my own grains a few times!

What I learned with making bread is that using 100% whole grain flour is not very tasty. The difference between whole wheat and white wheat is simple. Whole wheat contains the whole part of the grain, including the bran, germ and endosperm. The taste of the whole wheat, and the fact that it adds a heaviness to the dough makes it undesirable to use by some. There is a whole wheat that is not as heavy but just as health, called hard white wheat. So the latest pizza experiment had 50% whole wheat and 50% white wheat. Both unrefined. And it turned out well! Still a little wheaty tasting. You can get away with a 50% balance in most baking recipes.

Like the derby pie I made the other night. 50% white whole wheat & 50% whole wheat.

It was good…mmmmm whole wheat crust….

just kidding…its all about the chocolate chips and pecans…mmmm

Back to dough. I modified a dough recipe from the Pioneer Woman blog. There is not really a lot of different things to put in to dough. It’s more about how you make it. Flour, yeast, water, oil and salt.

–4 C flour (2 C whole wheat, 2 C white wheat flour)

–1 tsp yeast

–1 tsp salt

–1/2 C EVOO

–1 1/4 C warm to hot water (Manuela, the Italian bread maker, uses half water, half milk)

First, I added the yeast to water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Start mixing the flour and salt. I use a kitchenaid mixer. While the mixer is on low, I drizzled in the oil, and then the water/yeast mixture. Let the attachment knead the dough until it is wet and sticky. I’m still waiting on my bread hook to come in the mail. But this attachment works fine.

Then I spread a little oil on the outside and made a ball. I let it sit in a mixing bowl and stuck it in the fridge.

After 24 hours, it rose to this:

Make sure you put an airtight container on top and not just aluminum foil like me.

I then took half the dough, and spread it out on a cookie sheet, drizzled with oil, marinara sauce and then chunks of mozzarella cheese. Lastly, I sprinkled it with basil. I didn’t have any other toppings that I wanted to put on it but it didn’t need anything else!


Once I tweak and find the perfect dough, I will do another post. See you in 10 years.

Visitors, Balboa Island, Joshua Harris, Hard Rock

We had the privilege of hosting my mom for a few days in beautiful sunny California. She came out for a conference and stayed over for the weekend. I met up with her in Anaheim once I got off work and I enjoyed a few days down there before we both headed home to Moorpark. It’s not too often I get to dine at incredible restaurants with good company. We went to Cheesecake Factory for lunch where we split a piece of Reece’s Cheesecake.

While my mom was enjoying her conference, I got the time to rest and relax from my busy job at the hospital. My mom spoiled me with a massage that was so nice and I did lots of reading.

I finished the book, Dug Down Deep, by Joshua Harris. The Lord used one of his first books, I kissed dating goodbye, to first challenge me and then totally revolutionize my idea about marriage and love and dating. This new book is no less meaningful to me and not any less challenging. Pastor Harris takes his reader on a journey into discovering why having a solid foundation based on sound biblical Truths is necessary for Christian living. As one pastor and reviewer wrote, “Dug Down Deep is an interesting mix of theology and biography, as Harris skillfully weaves the story of his own spiritual journey into a discussion of the foundational beliefs which should shape our lives as Christians.” His vulnerability made it an page turner for me because I felt myself being able to relate to a lot of what he says and his engaging personality invited me on his journey with him. As he started to dive deeper into profound theological truths as laid out in the Scriptures, He came to understand God more…the God who wrote these Truths…whose very essence is Truth. I learned to not dismiss doctrines and theology…not to just save those things for the knowledge filled passionless boring person. By ignoring those things we ignore who God is and what is important to Him. And for Joshua Harris, diving deep into these truths drew him nearer to the Lord. He urges the reader at the end of the book not to “measure yourself by what you know.” But rather, he urges us to “measure ourselves by the practice of what we know” In other words, don’t be a knowledge-filled passionless person…its a biblical fact that “knowledge puffs up.” (1 Cor 8:1) In knowing and understanding these truths, apply them to your life! The last chapter was a battle cry to to let the Word and Truth of God transform and renew your mind and then set your feet and hands to action. Too many Christians would rather win an argument than win a soul. What a great book this was/is! I highly recommend it to everyone and anyone and everyone and anyone.

Back to my mom’s visit. On our last night in Anaheim together, we went to Morton’s Steakhouse. I wouldn’t have expected a House of Steaks to include a lobster trying to jump at me but nonetheless, that’s what I got at this House of Steaks. Okay, well maybe the lobster didn’t jump at me but he was definitely looking at me and thinking it. The waitress neglected to tell us that the rolling cart she was pushing had an actual live lobster on it. When I turned to look at it as she was describing how they cooked it, I gasped when I realized it was ALIVE. About 1 foot from me. Don’t worry, I ordered an already dead cow rump. My mom and I split a huge portion of American born USDA choice meat with a baked potato and some asparagus. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Minus the near lobster death experience.

The next day, we enjoyed a nice afternoon on Balboa Island. It was a beautiful day…we shopped, dined, walked, saw the ocean. And the weather was good too.

This picture is us getting on the $1 dollar ferry to and from the Island.

After that, we headed up to Moorpark. Mom had one more day in California before heading back to cold and wet Georgia. She got to experience our church as we went to our FOF class and then to the main service. She met some of our friends and then we scuttled off to City Walk at Universal for some grub. We all got burgers at Hard Rock Cafe. We spent our afternoon relaxing and then whisked her off for her early flight home to Georgia on Monday morning.

Thanks, mom for visiting us! We had a great time! We welcome any and all visitors!! HINT HINT

The future of marijuana

Marijuana isn’t just for hippie smoking potheads who sing for a living and run from the law.  A few published data reports show beneficial effects for certain medical conditions associated with certain diseases like cancer and glaucoma and there are certainly plenty of patient testimonies claiming that it improves their quality of life.  13 states agree making it legal for medical purposes.  My state being one of them.  Should we legalize it to allow anyone to smoke it? Should we legalize it on a national level?
Marijuana refers to the crude product that comes from the entire plant of cannabis sativa. The chemical compounds found in marijuana responsible for the pharmacological actions in the body are termed cannabinoids. There can be up to 60 cannabinoids found in plant to plant.  The most active one is usually called THC or δ-9- tetrahydrocannabinol.  How much TCH is present in the plant determines the potency of the plant.
There are a few different kinds of receptors that THC binds to in our body. They are found both in the brain and peripheral tissue. Knowing where it binds is important because it helps determine its effects on the body…both positive and negative ones. It also helps determine if it can be habit forming.  THC that binds to these receptors modulate a variety of effects on pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Its effects at immune cells in the peripheral tissue leads to immunosuppressive, antiinflammatory, and analgesic effects.  Can you see why people who smoke weed are happy, carefree and pain-free?
There hasn’t been an exhaustive review and study of therapeutic effects and/or adverse effects of marijuana…mainly because its illegal to grow and use in US. However, marijuana is associated with a variety of medical uses and many adverse effects. It can impair various systems in the body including the respiratory and nervous system.  It causes hallucinations, psychological dysfunction and can lead to addiction. It also has effects on the heart including low heart rate, palpitations, high blood pressure and may even trigger heart attacks. Another point to consider is the medium in which marijuana is typically delivered to the body…a ‘joint’ or a rolled up cigarette. Marijuana smoke contains 50-70% more carcinogenic (cancer causing) ingredients than cigarette smoke that leads to lung cancer.  Chronic marijuana use is associated with bronchitis, coughing, wheezing, ect. There are other methods of administration including a vaporizer that allows the drug to be inhaled but without any byproducts found in smoke.
Marijuana is also associated with nightmares, dizziness, insomnia and may have convulsant effects (causes seizures). It also interferes with forming memories, focus, delusions, and depression. It also impairs the ability to drive a vehicle as does alcohol.
Those were the bad.  And we know the good effects it has on the body. What practical medical conditions could potentially benefit from marijuana?  The state of California allows it for indications defined as serious, chronic or debilitating. Examples include severe nausea and vomiting associated with cancer, weight loss associated with HIV infection, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, pain syndromes and glaucoma. The studies we do find in the literature usually include a small # of patients, short duration, and imprecise outcome measures.
Why do California and 13 other states allow it for medical purposes when the federal government rejects its use in all situations…even medical situations? When the federal government says its illegal, how can individual states allow it?
The United States government is highly complex; it functions in a way that allows federal, state, and local governments to coexist.  The terminology of it all and the rules make me nauseous…(marijuana treats nausea/vomiting by the way). Whenever two laws differ, the federal law prevails.  But 14 different states tell us that the federal law doesn’t always prevail. California leads the marijuana bandwagon being the first state to allow it for medical purposes. Proposition 25 is being voted on and if approved, will allow marijuana for recreational purposes.
The reason the federal government denies it as a legitimate therapeutic drug is because it has a high potential for abuse. Currently, it is classified as a class I controlled substance.  Other class I substances include LCD, PCP, ‘magic mushrooms’, ecstacy, heroin…just to name a few. There is also a lack of published safety data for marijuana.
I think we must vote against legalizing marijuana for the time being.  Like any drug that receives approval from the FDA, we must wait for trials showing marijuana’s efficacy, safety and long term effects.  Marijuana may seem to help cancer and AIDS patients with their decreased quality of life but is it really benefiting them in the long run?  Only established studies proving without a doubt that it doesn’t cause more harm than good will convince this pharmacist that it has an acceptable use.  And we certainly don’t need to give people easy access to a potential gateway drug with known addictive properties.  If it ever does become legal, I don’t think it should be recreational use.  It will be interesting how the rest of California feels regarding this pending political issue.  Stay tuned!

Fall is in the Air

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I know its fall when I see signs promoting a pumpkin latte at Fourbucks. Even though in southern California in September it was still in the 80s, I couldn’t contain my excitement for anything pumpkin. Today was a cold day (about 62 degrees with no sun) so I decided to get a pumpkin latte…but not from Fourbucks.  I call it, the ‘oddly yellow looking but quite tasty pumpkin creamy tasty beverage for a lot cheaper than $4.79!

I used our awesome vitamix and blended in some wonderful flavors to give me my afternoon treat. I started with some strongly brewed coffee.  I, of course, brewed some extra for later.

I didn’t see huge large cans of pumpkin at Costco which was unfortunate because when I get a hankering for something, I tend to overdo it.  I had to settle with these small cans from Trader Joe’s.  Here are the rest of the ingredients:

The recipe I was looking at from my vitamix book didn’t sound creamy enough. Oh yeah, it also called for skim milk.  So, of course, I naturally used whole milk and then even added in some heavy cream.  I don’t really like milk unless it leaves a thick mustache on my upper lip.  When I ask Jason why he doesn’t like to drink the whole milk I buy for us, he says because he doesn’t like picking it out of his teeth.  LOL  I’m trying to convert him to my whole milk ways.

After blending all the above ingredients and doing the taste test, I sensed it needed to be a little sweeter. So I added about 2 tbs sugar. Oh, and I watched it splatter all over my wall.

I let everything blend together for several minutes. The blades in the blender go so fast that it actually heats up the mixture.  This picture doesn’t show it but steam was rising.

I plopped some whipped cream in it and sprinkled some nutmeg on top.  I thought about keeping it to myself…but then poured another cup for the hubs. It would have been a nice afternoon coffee date had my husband not drank his in less than 1 minute.  :)



Avandia and diabetes

There has been a lot of buzz in the air about new safety restrictions on the diabetes drug, Avandia (rosiglitizone).  Is the buzz there for good reason?  Or is it only diabetes patients with skyrocketing blood glucose levels due to a sudden stop in usage?

Maybe you are taking the drug to control your type II diabetes or you  have a loved one who is. Should you be concerned with all the FDA updates, warnings, and added attention?  This article hopes to address any concerns you might have and explain why there is need to pay close attention to Avandia.

Avandia is drug that falls in the TZD or thiazolidinedione class of diabetes drugs. It, along with diet and exercise, is utilized to improve glucose control in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. On 9/23/10, the FDA announced that they will restrict who can receive Avandia due to data published with reports of increased risk of heart attack and stroke.  It will be a last line agent for patients who can’t get their blood sugar under control with other medications.  Patients currently maintained on Avandia, an estimated 600,000, will be able to remain on it only after signing a consent acknowledging awareness of potential side effects.

What are the risks? A 2007 study published data showing a 43% increase in heart attacks and a 64% increase in deaths due to heart disease.  The manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, did not report similar data during its own safety trials which is concerning. It appears that certain patients were excluded in some findings which positively skewed the data and deemed Avandia not a high cardiovascular risk drug. Newer findings are shaming the drug company for not properly reporting their results. But whose results are valid?

Dont throw the drug company under the bus….yet. When discussing  cardiovascular risks associated with drugs to treat diabetes its important to look at other culprits. Diabetes is a known risk factor for heart disease. So is it the drug itself or the disease that caused the problem? Long time patients with diabetes are at significantly higher risk for developing cardiovascular difficulties. One way to assess whether or not cardiovascular risk increases due to the drug itself is by comparing the drug to other similar drugs. And that is exactly what new studies have done/are doing. Or so it appears.  FDA panel member, Arthur Ross, is not convinced there was a direct link between drug and disease; this coming despite studies comparing Avandia with other drug where Avandia appears to have a higher incidence of heart attack and stroke. He and a few others voted against taking if off the market completely; that is why the FDA has not removed it as was done in Europe. If there is not a link, and it is removed from market, then it would be taking a good diabetes drug out of prescriber’s hands to help control blood glucose levels in patients who need it.  These panel members want to avoid doing this.

If diet and exercise can’t control your diabetes, you may need additional agents to get your blood sugar under control.  In following with FDA requirements, in order to take Avandia you must have first tried other agents. If those don’t help, you can try Avandia under their new REMS program.  It seems that all the buzz generated about Avandia is for good reason and is in the best interest of patients.  But the findings aren’t conclusive yet and it may be eventually yanked off the market. Caution for you and your loved ones should be heeded (as with all drugs).

I wholeheartedly believe that we can change the progression of diabetes into a life-shortening disease through our diet…alone. 23.6 million people in the US have diabetes. 7.6% of the population.  Some people are genetically predisposed and these people benefit with the use of man manufactured insulin and other drugs. These people typically have type 1 diabetes. But for the other 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2 that is caused by poor diet, they can change things without the use of drugs. It starts with prevention.  Obesity is the #1 risk factor for diabetes. What if instead of relying on drugs to treat our diabetes, we relied on a lifestyle of eating healthy and exercise that allowed for weight loss and prevention of obesity related diseases like diabetes type 2?

Conclusion: Get educated on a proper diet and look for ways to control your diabetes without the use of drugs.  As a last line option, Avandia may be an option for those who can’t control their diabetes with diet and exercise alone.


Should I get vaccinated for the flu?

The ‘flu’ is caused by a virus called the influenza virus. When this virus infects a person, it causes fever, chills, aches, and upper respiratory symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and sore throat. In susceptible patient populations like the immunocompromised, elderly, and children, it can turn into life threatening pneumonia and worse, it can lead to death.  It spreads to others fairly easily via respiratory droplets.  We should do all we can to minimize the spread of this virus; if only to protect those who may be at high risk for complications.


Vaccines against the flu virus are available and generally protect against 3 types of the flu virus. The influenza virus has 3 types, type A, B, and C. Type C viruses don’t generally cause pandemics and thus aren’t usually chosen for the annual flu vaccine. Type A can further be divided and grouped based on a protein found on the surface of the virus. The type of proteins on the surface give the virus its name; they include hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N).  From these groups, we have further divisions into different strains. Everyone remembers the pandemic that broke out in 2009 of the H1N1 virus. This was a new strain of the type A H1N1 virus not seen before. Every year, new strains emerge and the seasonal flu vaccine works to provide immunity against 3 strains the CDC deems capable of causing the most problems.  The CDC works very hard in cooperation with other agencies to obtain updated information regarding changes in the influenza virus and where outbreaks are occurring; this data helps them determine which strains to put into the vaccine for that flu season. The 2010-2011 seasonal vaccine includes the dreaded 2009 H1N1 virus, H3N2 virus, and a type B virus.

Because the viruses change over time and new ones emerge every year, it is important to get your flu vaccination yearly. Vaccination is the only way to prevent the virus from infecting you and transmitting it to the ones you love.  The flu vaccine contains inactivated virus; it causes antibodies to be mounted in the body that protect against the active virus should you ever get it.

So should you get vaccinated this year? The CDC recommends that ALL people get vaccinated.  There are some groups that are higher risk than others and these people should make every effort to get vaccinated early. It includes people who are at high risk for complications from the flu but also people who are in close contact with someone who is at risk. It includes people over age 50, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and children over the age of 6 months to age 5.  Health care workers and caregivers of children and the elderly should also get vaccinated.

A few patient populations should not receive the flu vaccine. They include people who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs as egg proteins are a component of the vaccine, those who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past, people who developed Guillian-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously, children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group) and people who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.

I work in patient care areas in the hospital plus with patients on chemotherapy in the infusion center.  So, I got my flu shot!

If your child isn’t in day care, it may not be as imperative to get him or her vaccinated.  It wouldn’t hurt to get parents vaccinated to at least not bring it home to your children or if you care for your ailing parents.

I don’t think parents should be forced to vaccinate their children by the government and they should have choice. They should also be educated on all risks and benefits of vaccination vs no vaccination.  Unfortunately, vaccines have gotten a bad rap and instead of doing the research, parents are choosing to not vaccinate their children out of fear and are allowing them to be exposed to a whole host of preventable diseases.  There are different vaccination schedules and other options available to help confsed parents. Check out these sources of information:


Big Trees

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I remember being at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia and hearing Louie Giglio talk about how big the universe is that God created and then relating how small we are compared to that.  In California, we don’t have to go far to feel small…we are surrounded by a gigantic ocean, beautiful huge mountains, deep (and hot) valleys, and by night, an awesome view of a majestic starry night.


We added a new experience that helps us properly understand how big our God is and how small we are…standing next to a Sequoia tree.

Do you see me?  I’m wearing red. And let me remind you, I’m considered tall by most. Almost 6’0″. I tower over most girls (and some guys) And I’m just a little thing next to this tree!  I felt so dainty and little. I loved every second of it. :)

The picture below was taken on the way up.  What a moment our camera captured…all from a moving car!

We had some seminary friends detail their adventures to the Log House Lodge Bed and Breakfast a while back.  As a ministry to others and and a way to showcase their gift of hospitality, the owners of the bed and breakfast, Tim and Mauriene, open it up to seminary students for FREE. That’s right, FREE. 2 nights per year, FREE.  Did we mention it’s free?!?

It was wonderful to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and also to enjoy the incredible breakfast that Maurine cooked up for us.  We also got to chat with other guests staying there. On morning 1, we had zucchini fritters with poached eggs and caramelized onions and a yummy yogurt parfait.  Morning 2 was a baked mushroom, spinach, and Swiss cheese omelet, with some kind of nectarine….goodness. I don’t know what the official term of that creation is but I called it paradise in my mouth. Both days we didn’t even eat lunch. Slurp, slurp.

We got up to Three Rivers late as we had to wait on Jason to get out of class. I haven’t been feeling well and ended up taking a much needed sick day from work.  I got out of bed around 3 and then got ready to go and met Jason so we could drive up together. We left Santa Clarita around 6ish. The sun had set when we arrived @ the gateway to the sequoias,  which made finding it kinda…interesting.  Nonetheless, we found it and were greeted by a sweet woman with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Anyone who greets me with cookies is O.K. in my book. Here is a picture of the Log House Lodge.

Jason tried out the tree swing. After a few swings, it broke. Whoops. Too many chocolate cookies…

We kinda liked getting there in the dark because we didn’t know what to expect come morning. We were wowed!  As we made our way into the park, we asked a park ranger what to do with our time. We followed her advice and had a GREAT DAY. Here are some pictures that won’t do justice to what God has created.

We had to climb some stairs to get to Mora Point. Here are the stairs. But the view was worth it!

The View!

The infamous one handed pictureWords won’t describe…

This tree fell in 1918 or something like that. It may be dead but it still makes for a tourist attraction!

Me and my honey were so excited about all the nature we were seeing…we couldn’t stop snapping pictures! You’d think my husband was inside all the time with a nose in a book and never free to venture outside….hmmmm….

The picture below is my reaction to the first time we saw one of these huge trees. We had been winding and weaving trying to keep our delicious breakfast down, and just watching and waiting for something worthy to take a picture of.  We saw this tree and Jason immediately pulled to the shoulder after I urged him to STOP! I looked both ways on the street and ran across and stood in awe for a few seconds. Jason called to me from the car and I snapped back to reality.  It was magnificent.

And the last big highlight of the trip was seeing General Sherman’s Tree. Its the largest living organism on earth…the world biggest tree!  103 feet around and 36 feet across. 2,200 years old.

We had a nice pizza dinner and came back and relaxed at the cabin. The next morning, we were ushered back to life in Moorpark with a hearty breakfast and more scenic views.  This last picture is the San Joaquin Valley saying bye!

For more info on the Log House Lodge visit their website:


Saying I Love You with Pie

Picture of Grandma's Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Jason, my birthday boy, this post is dedicated to you!  I love you, your appetite and your never ending patience with my ‘kitchen experiments’!

September 28 marks the day that my husband was brought into the world.  Its is also the “annual gorge ourselves on 1,000 calories of strawberry rhubarb goodness” day.  I’m still tweaking the perfect recipe.  I thought I would share how I made it this year. **All pictures taken from my phone so please excuse the poor quality!**


I’ve made this pie (it’s Jason’s favorite) about 6 times.  This is the first time I used tapioca that is called for in many fruit pies.  Tapioca is a starch derived from the cassava root.  It’s often used as a thickening agent or you might suck one up a straw in bubble tea from a Thai restaurant.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


  • 2 1/2 cups chopped red rhubarb, fresh
  • 2 1/2 cups de-stemmed, washed and cut strawberries (in larger pieces)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (1 1/4 cups for high altitude)
  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cubed small
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Large granule sugar

Now, I used both frozen rhubarb and frozen strawberries. Its just too expensive to buy fresh strawberries this time of year. And its impossible to get rhubarb fresh unless you live in the midwest.  To avoid the pie filing being too liquidy, allow strawberries to thaw and drain off juice. I drained it about 3 times total.

Strawberries + rhubarb

Next, I add sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon zest (I actually used orange zest because I thought it might add a better kind of zip), lemon juice, and vanilla. I also added in a little dash of nutmeg just ’cause.

Sugar ‘n the raw


lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla

I didn’t make the pie crust from scratch. No time or energy.  However, I did buy the dough and then shaped the crusts myself! After shaping the bottom crust, I poured in filling, and dotted top with the butter.

I then created the top crust over top of this and crimped the edges, attempting to smooth all wrinkles and make it look pretty!

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After baking it for15 minutes at 425, I baked it for an additional 35 minutes at 350.  While it was still hot, Jason and I enjoyed it with some ice cream!  He loved it!!

The tapioca was…….interesting. I feel that it dominated the pie.  I would either cut the amount in half or use a different recipe. I guess I haven’t found the perfect recipe just yet.  But there is always next year! Happy 29th birthday, my darling!

***Note, the picture at the top of the post was taken from food network, where I got found this recipe. The name of the pie was ‘Grandma’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie’.  Hence, the picture of ‘grandma;.  If you want full recipe, check out:


Bread From Italy

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This post is dedicated to a dear sweet Italian friend of mine, Manuela. She is a gift to me from my Heavenly Father.  She has colored my life with her friendship and love and also introduced me to the wonderful world of bread making!  4 simple ingredients go into making any type of basic bread.  But as a woman who makes fresh healthy bread for her family week in and week out, she has a wealth of information and tips to make any bread exceptional! I think the greatest thing she contributes to her bread and cooking is the love and sacrifice she puts into it.  Her sacrificial life of serving her God and family are an inspiration to me and I hope to emulate her.   I call it my bread from Italy because I always think of her and the “italian” influence she has on my life!  I love you Mani!

–1 kg flour (I had to buy a cheap scale from wal-mart to start weighing my flour)  You can get one for less than $5.00

–1tsp yeast

–1tbs salt

–500 mL of warm water/milk mixture (not hot but not lukewarm…nuke mixture in microwave for about 20-25s…and test on hand)

–1 tbs oil

Combine salt and yeast with flour. Mix well. Add flour into kitchenaide mixer or bowl and slowly add milk/water mixture. Start mixing, slowly fold in more flour, more water/milk while mixing slowly.  About midway through mixing, mix oil in slowly.  (Note: it’s important to use a bread hook in the kitchenaide.  You can order one for about $20.00 as an attachment.  You can also hand kneed this but that is wayyyyyy to complicated for me). Let hook kneed dough for several minutes. Looking at dough, it should not be too wet or too dry.  It should be a little sticky.

When done mixing, put in various baking pans in whatever shape you want! Mani showed me how to do dinner type rolls and of course loafs of bread in bread pans.  Shape them and then put in a warm room that doesn’t have any moisture in the air.  Jason loves hot dogs so I tried to shape hot dog buns. Also, if you shape it into a large flat square or circle, you will have a wonderful pizza dough! Keep all windows closed and let dough rise over several hours.  Cover all pans (with kitchen towels) and keep out of light.  She instructed how important this is!  So I’ll try to remember that. :) It’s easy to do in California where there isn’t a lot of humidity in the air.

After letting dough rise, bake in oven at 325 (or more or less depending on oven) until bread is golden brown.  Freeze what you don’t plan on eating. You can heat in microwave later and let me tell you, it still tastes fresh like you just made it that day!  Next time I make bread, I’ll take pictures of every step.  Enjoy!  The best thing about making bread from Italy with someone like Manuela is hanging out with her and her kids while we wait on the bread to rise!  :)




Pattern of Prayer

This was put together nicely in our last fundamental of the faith lesson. Jesus teaches us to pray in Matthew 6. What better model to follow! Check it out…

Pray to God……………………………Our Father who is in heaven
Exalt Him, saying………………….Hallowed be Your name
Submit to Him, praying………… Your will be done
Look to Him, seeking……………..Our daily bread
Confess to Him, pleading……….Forgive us our debts (sins)
Depend on Him, asking………….Do not lead us into temptation
Trust in Him, requesting………..Deliver us from evil


Hauser Kitchen

Experiments in the kitchen do not always turn out positively. Here is a pasta dish that is light, flavorful, and delicious that pleased this Hauser duo (especially the hubs)

Yummy penne pasta with goat cheeseYummy penne pasta with goat cheese

Penne with ____ and goat cheese
***The ____ refer to beets and beet greens which I omitted and used other veggies instead. The following is exactly what the recipe called for:

2 bunches medium beets w/ greens
1/2 C Olive Oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic gloves
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs fresh oregano
2 tbs fresh rosemary
1 lb whole wheat penne
freshly ground black pepper
6 oz soft goat cheese (chevre)
3 oz Asiago/Parmesan cheese

Trim tops and bottoms of beets and boil in water until cooked. Bring penne pasta to a boil. In a large skillet, warm olive oil and add onion and garlic. Add vinegar, oregano, and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Cook penne according to package directions adding beet greens. Drain. Add beets and onion mixture to the pot with pasta, tossing gently. Season with salt/pepper. In a large platter, dollop the goat cheese randomly and sprinkle with grated cheese.



Me, Jason, and St. Barb :)

Jason and I were ushered into our 2nd year of marriage in the beautiful coastal town of Santa Barbara. We celebrated our first year of marriage in style with a surrey bike rental, a night at a bed and breakfast, a dutch town, biker bar and a year old cake.  Going to the town full of celebrity 2nd homes (and probably 3rd and 4th homes), we crammed a lot into 36 hours.  Here is a little taste of our trip…

Jason rode with me out to Ventura for a half day of work. When I got off at noon, we strolled on over to My Florist Cafe in downtown Ventura.  It reminded me of a shabby chic beach town cafe…oh wait!  It WAS a shabby chic beach town cafe!

We then rode along the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara.  Our first stop?  The Eagle Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Eagle Inn


We then headed over to the pier and rented a surrey bicycle.  For the next 2 hours, we explored State Street and the rest of Santa Barbara pedaling our way through traffic.  Okay, let’s be honest. Jason pedaled us around.  I had a skirt on!


After returning the rental, we changed clothes and walked to Enterprise Fish Company on State Street for a scrumdilitiumpous meal. We knew it was going to be a good meal when they gave out salt water taffy to those waiting for a table and a flashing lobster when our table was ready. :)


We went and saw the Santa Barbara mission the next day.  It was a beautiful old building full of rich history. However, it broke our hearts to see that the mission was selling indulgences to the hopefuls and preaching a different gospel. (See Galations 1) Here is a link to a recent article about indulgences in the New York Times. (

jason the priestin front of the mission

We spent the second half of the day traveling around the beautiful California countryside. We rode up to Solvang, a town removed from 19th century Holland.  We perused the old town shops, sampled homemade pastries from the bakery, and took in all the sights and sounds of this quaint touristy town before heading into Ojai, another country town on top of a California mountain.

WindmillIMG_1587 IMG_1592

We then had lunch at Cold Spring Tavern.  I was told that this place was one of  a kind and worth the time spent getting to it.  We rode down a very windy narrow road and came to a stop when we saw several Harleys with the smell of black leather and chimney smoke lingering in the air. The men and women motorcyclists were taking a break from the road. We joined the other ‘outsiders’ who were busy flashing their camera and gawking at the scenary.  We knew we were in the right place.  I had the infamous chili and Jason a burger.

IMG_1618After stopping in Ojai to go into Burt’s Used Books, we headed back home to Santa Clarita. The next day was our actual anniversary, 04/04/2010, and was also Easter. How wonderful it was on that Sunday to celebrate one of the best years of my life while also celebrating that Jesus has/is RISEN! Glory to God in the highest for marrying such a Godly man and for a Savior who “knew no sin, but became sin” for my behalf. (2nd Cor 5:21)

After church, we enjoyed the top of our wedding cake.  We’ve had it frozen for a year and were unsure of what it would taste like.  Don’t worry cake lovers, its perfectly fine to freeze your cake for a year and then eat it later!  It was delicious!

What a wonderful weekend we had.  How will we ever top it for 04/04/2011? :)


Not a Prosperity Gospel

As Jason mentioned in the post below, we are incredibly blessed with a God whose timing is impeccable. We hope to live a life that shows without a doubt His hand in everything we do…including leaps of faith!

Psalm 37:4 was one of the verses from the OT that was laid upon my heart when I first became a Christian.

“Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Being able to pour my heart out to the LORD is a gift given to all His children. We all are given ears, eyes, feelings, thoughts and physical strength to live life each day. Life is a wonderful gift that God has given to all creation for His glory. The greatest gift of all is that God hears all of our prayers, our thoughts, sees our every step and will respond to us through His son, Jesus Christ.

Before I was to make a very difficult decision between a few different jobs, (I wasn’t excited about) I got a phone call regarding a position in an oncology infusion suite. I had an interview that day and was offered the job on the spot. I started 4 days later and have loved every minute of it. It is in an ambulatory care type setting with cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy. I am the dispensing pharmacist there.

I can’t help but think about how this job fell into my lap and also how I find myself delighting in the LORD before it and over it. Oh wow, is He good! But what does it mean to delight yourself in Him?

I think part of it is getting to know Him. Finding out His character as revealed in His word and reveling in it. Praising Him for life, for the vivid creation around us, and praying to Him for guidance. His word reveals that all this is accomplished through His son so its in delighting in Jesus that we find God.  Finding all of our joy in the LORD and being content with Him.

I can’t help but think about when we do delight in Him, he starts putting desires in our hearts. When I find myself drawing near to God, He draws near to me.  He puts a desire in my heart for His word, for His people, for me to be the most Godly wife and neighbor that I can.  He places desires in me that lead me to the straightest path to Him. Desires that He has every intention of fulfilling to build and strengthen my faith. This is NOT a prosperity gospel.  This is NOT what is preached by many mainstream pastors today.  Many pastors need to spend more time reading their bible and less time preaching that Christianity is about receiving worldly blessings.  It’s not about what you GET.  It’s about what Christ has done.  Its about receiving joy in Christ alone and letting God be your ultimate delight.

Are you delighting in Him, the giver of all good gifts?  Have you received the greatest gift of all…His son?


A Hauser Christmas

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This Christmas, when the majority of the country was covered in snow, we bypassed the bad weather and jumped from Southern California to central Florida.  We enjoyed lots of lazy time in our pjs, lots of good food, and lots of family time.  But the best part of the trip and the all-time favorite Christmas present for everyone is below….Introducing,



Or Bennett Austin Scott as is birth certificate reads…

Here is the beautiful and talented mama. Jason’s sistah, Amy, is one proud mama…and she should be!  She has produced a healthy and happy baby who was a joy to be around! She had a little help from Tom…

He loves me.

And I love him!  Yes, I do Benny-boo-boo-boo, yes I do!!

We had a great time meeting Bennett. We also had a great time opening presents. Here is my stocking.

Jason’s dad, Steve, got a big surprise on Christmas morning!

A cool tandem bicycle that fits 2 people comfortable. Jason and I both want one now!

We all enjoyed a family gift…guitar hero!  Here is the band:

Oh, and did I mention that we all had matching Christmas day outfits!  Red sweatpants and a ‘Christmas Rocks’ t-shirt. Classic!

Here is my humble guitar player:

Mom is jamming out while dad and baby look on…

On Christmas morning, Jason treated us to his french toast.  He spoiled all of us!

Christmas morning breakfast:

Before we stuffed ourselves, we went bowling as part of the Christmas Eve tradition.   Jason ripped into his Christmas present early and decided to wear it to the bowling alley.  Jason had expressed interest in Lederhosen at one point.   I think he might have some German in him…

Bennett enjoyed the bowling too!

Having Tom, Amy, and Bennett staying under the same roof, we got to see some of the family activities.  Jason even got to see a dirty diaper or 2.  Here is bath time!

Benny loves bath time!!  He then would cuddle up in his pack-n-play and sleep for an amazing 10 hours with only one feeding at night.  An amazing baby I tell you!

For the last leg of our short trip, we went to Amy and Tom’s house in Keystone Heights for some country living.  Jason was unfortunately nursing a stomach bug (thankfully no one else caught it) so we only did more relaxin’!

Isn’t he adorable?  Yeah, Bennett too…    :)

We had a great time in Orlando. Now, its back to the grind.  Thanks for the memories!


Another one bites the dust…

Most people know someone who has been effected by the economy. Well add another to the list…yours truly!! I was laid off October 2nd and am currently in the process of looking for a new job. I’m enjoying my free time but am anxious to know where I will end up. In the meantime, my strength has been found in our gracious God who gave me this job and then took it away. I’m hoping for the things that cannot be seen. The Lord’s got my back.

23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:23-25

Back to the Grind

Jason and I returned home from the city of lights last week. After dropping me and my scientific poster off in Orlando, Jason continued on to Waco, Texas to be a part of a friends wedding. While in Orlando, we played the Wii (and got one of our own), caught up with family, ate American food again, and took care of business. We are now all packed up and leaving for TEXAS! Goodbye Georgia, Florida, single life, and everything else standing behind us. We are ready for this new season of our lives and excited to start it in the big D. Texas…get ready for the tornado about to blow through!

Efichristos Greek Islands

Whitney and I leave Crete tonight which will close us out from our incredible week here in the Greek islands. We have had such an amazing time. Santorini was above and beyond our favorite of the islands. We stayed one of the nights literally on a cliff within a cave hotel. These are the white buildings you see in all the pictures when you see coastlines of Greece. On a side note we’ve started to notice that when we mention to the reception at check in that it’s our honeymoon we get bumped up for free into nicer rooms ; ) In Santorini we were able to rent a small european car for 20 euros a day and drive all over the island. The beaches had smooth black lava rock sand with crystal clear water, so beautiful. On our last day we were looking for an ancient city and before we knew it we were driving up a cliff side alternating between 1st and 2nd gear until we got to the very top and saw B.C. 1000 year old ruins which were incredible.

Crete has it’s own flavor and has been a nice stay too. It was really cool to read in one of the museums how Paul and Titus were used by God to reach the whole island which was full of pagan and cult worship for Jesus Christ. The current Greek Orthodox church looks a lot different than it’s roots, I say that because we see a lot of it as this weekend is their Easter.

That’s all for now. We cant wait to spend more time in Paris and to get home and look at all the pictures from both this trip and our wedding. Thank you to everyone who has shared this exciting time with us in this new season of our lives.

Having a blast in the Mediterranean,
Jason and Whitney



Do you know what it is like to come to an island in the heat of the day, not knowing the language, and not having a place to stay? Exhilarating. Arriving in Rhodes today fascinated both Jason and I. We lucked out and ‘the spot’ hotel is a beautiful quaint little 10 room local spot that provided a place to lay our head. We are staying in the ‘old town’ of Rhodes city which is the oldest medieval city still kicking in Europe. It is surrounded by tall stone walls all the way around with a palace at the north entrance. The narrow cobble stone streets are lined with Greek shops, sweet crepes, and locals spitting the beautiful Greek language on each other. :) This has been quite an experience…one I will never forget. Tomorrow, we leave for Santorini and will arrive just as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as today. Just mark it another day in paradise for us.


-Jason and Whitney


Paris in April

“Par lais Vous Anglais?” can be heard as Jason and I walk…everywhere. It means “Do you speak English” and it has come in handy as we meangle our ways through Parisian streets, look for French conditioner for my tangled hair, and eat dessert crepes.  It is a bit chilly but we are having fun and I am attempting to stay warm by walking fast and snapping lots of photos. Jason is a pro in Paris and I would be totally lost without him. Thanks for your thoughts and warm wishes! We will post pictures later! Orv wah! -Jason and Whitney

Thank You

April 4th is a day that will forever be impressed in my mind. Jason and I were surrounded by Love from the Lord, great weather, a good band, and encouraging friends and family. Thank you to all for partaking in our special day. We walk away from 4-4-09 feeling loved, inspired, encouraged, and appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you all!!

-Mr. and Mrs. Jason Hauser