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Blog, Faith, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Travel

Are you packing light?

Ray & me on the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Ray & me on the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Several years ago Ray and I traveled to Israel, my dream come true. We carried way too much luggage, which hindered us on the trip! Our tour guide Yossi had a hard time fitting the huge suitcases into the trunk of his tiny car, and it was such a pain lugging around those big suitcases all over Israel, from hotel to hotel!

He doesn’t want you to carry around unnecessary weights like:

  • unforgiveness
  • anger
  • bitterness
  • resentment
  • stress
  • worry
  • anxiety
  • fear
  • discouragement
  • depression

“Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”~ Matthew 11:28, NLT

Several years ago, I recorded a podcast called Pack Light. Just click on the player below to listen.

What unnecessary weight are you carrying? Let it go so you can be free to enjoy this journey and adventure called life.

Blog, Faith, Marriage, prayer, Travel

Canada Trip, Part 2: Divine Appointments

Recently I was invited to be one of the keynote speakers at Doreen Penner‘s women’s conference in Mitchell, Manitoba, Canada. So many exciting things happened that it’s hard to compress it into one blog post, so I am breaking it up into several posts for you.  Below is part 2 of my Canada Trip Blog Series. Click here to read Part 1.

Canada Trip, Part 2: Divine Appointments

After Doreen asked me to speak at one of the sessions at the conference, and I had talked to Ray about it, prayed and God spoke to my heart to go and said that He would provide all I needed, I compared prices online for round-trip flights. As I was searching, I heard God’s still, small voice, Delta.

Because I didn’t want to spend all my husband’s hard-earned money on air fare, I spent about two frustrating hours online bidding prices on Priceline to try to get a lower price, to no avail. I winded up booking a Delta flight, which is what God told me to do in the first place. See, even though I speak and write about prayer and obeying God’s voice, I am still learning to do it myself!

When I was looking at round trip air fare, though, God told me to take the train coming back, instead of flying. As my friend Doreen’s daughter Kirsten said at the women’s retreat, “It pays to obey God.” Out of the mouth of babes!

Rick’s and Doreen Penner’s daughter Kirsten

I’d been wanting to take a train ride anyway. I told Ray that all I wanted for my 2012 birthday present was to:

  • ride on a train
  • eat a nice dinner on the train
  • take pics for my blog on the train
  • write on the train.

God didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to obey on this one! This way I could go to Canada to speak and ride on a train, too – one of the things on my bucket list!

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Several years ago, Ray and I saw the Steve Martin comedy movie Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. Steve Martin played the role of Neal Page, whose flight has been cancelled due to bad weather. All he wants to do after his trip is get home for Thanksgiving to be with his family. He winds up struggling to get home with an obnoxious slob of a shower ring salesman, Del Griffith (John Candy). A series of transportation mishaps – first the flight cancelling, then the train’s main engine blowing out, then a car catching on fire- leave you rolling laughing. When I was on the train coming home, I remembered the movie, giggling, and then this week Doreen reminded me of the movie, too.

Luckily, I didn’t experience any of those things – except maybe the night an obnoxious train passenger became drunk and was screaming profanities that he was married to a woman who beat him. (He was removed from the cab by cab attendants, after screaming this over and over to the other passengers, who probably felt like beating him, too.)

Other than this, the train rides were incredible. I rode the Canadian Via Railway train and the U.S. Amtrak train coming back home from Canada, traveling throughout the breathtakingly beautiful Rockies. The train trip was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done in my entire life.  But first, the flight into Canada.

Inside Canadian Via Railway train

The Jewish woman on the plane: the wedding cake was awful!

I had to fly from Kansas City, Missouri, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, then Minneapolis to Winnipeg, Canada. I was shocked how fast the flight was to Canada; I was on Canadian soil by 1:30 p.m. Central Time. On the flight from Minneapolis to Canada, the woman sitting next to me was pretty with blonde hair, bright eyes, and a contagious laugh. She was friendly and outgoing, and I couldn’t have slept even if I’d wanted to because she talked the whole way there.

But I enjoyed every minute of it. She was a political science major, highly intelligent, funny and interesting, and engaged for the first time in her life (she was in her 40’s). Also to my delight, I discovered that she was an Orthodox Jew….so her Jewish mama was very happy, helping her to plan her traditional Jewish wedding. (For those who don’t know, I LOVE Israel and the Jews!)

Jewish kosher wedding cake

She said that wedding cake tastings are common for Jewish weddings. The cake is as important, or maybe even more important, than the ring.  She, her mother, and her friends had been invited to a wedding cake tasting. You sample little pieces of different kinds of cakes and decide which one you like best.

She said the cakes were beautiful, but they tasted AWFUL. None of them had redeeming qualities. Laughing as she told me about this, she said, “But of course you have to be polite. We couldn’t TELL her they were awful!” They thanked the woman, sharing their appreciation of her time, but didn’t buy her cakes. She winded up choosing another cake somewhere else!

Do you have the gift of hospitality?

I’ve never been to a Jewish wedding in real life, but have read about them or seen them in movies (Fiddler On The Roof came to mind immediately; she laughed again). I asked her if they would have the traditional canopy at her wedding (the chuppah), and she said yes. It is open on all sides to represent having an open tent, welcoming all people in unconditional hospitality. Is your home like this? I was challenged by this thought.

I told her my favorite part of the wedding was when the groom broke the glass under his foot. At that moment, everyone seems to have so much joy. She said that is an important and a  joyous part of the ceremony, and has many different meanings.

Jewish groom breaking glass

One is that “this serves as an expression of sadness at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, identifying the couple with the spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people. A Jew, even at the moment of greatest rejoicing, is mindful of the Psalmist’s injunction to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” [Resource: Guide to the Jewish wedding,]

It’s also a reminder that relationships are as fragile as glass and must be treated with love and respect.

What are some important traditions you and your family have? What meaning do they have for you?

She showed me photos on her phone of her fiance’, her wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses, the lace she had chosen to add straps to the dress, and the table cloths. Beautiful!

A Jew’s different viewpoint: Empathy for the Palestinians

We also talked about Palestine and Israel. I am adamant that Israel belongs to the Jews because of God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, the Jews (Genesis 13:15), and was shocked that she was actually a little empathetic to the Palestinians.

She said of course she believes Israel, and especially Jerusalem, belongs to Israel and the Jews, but said you also have to consider the Palestinians’ point of view. She said many of them are just ordinary, loving families wanting to raise their children in a place they consider “home” and that perhaps some land could be conceded to them (though not Jerusalem).

While my viewpoint remains the same about this topic, I found hers eye-opening and surprising; not all Jews view Israel as solely “Jewish” land.

Eating kangaroo

She and her fiance’ have traveled to many different countries, including Russia, China, and Australia. In Australia, she tried kangaroo meat and said it is pretty good. I love good stories like these! Australia is also on my bucket list (although I’m not sure about eating kangaroo – I like kangaroos, and don’t think I want one for lunch!).

On the plane, she was wearing toe shoes, which fit the foot like a glove fits the hand. Toe shoes are gaining popularity with runners and walkers. They were made of kangaroo hide and she let me touch them. They are soft like suede, and she said they are very comfortable.

Before we landed in Canada, I told her “Shalom” and “The Lord bless you,” remembering God’s promise that whoever blesses Abraham (and his seed) is blessed. (Genesis 12:3)  She said, “Shalom,” to me, too, and we hugged.

This was my first divine appointment.

In my next post, I’ll share the story of the young man on the Canadian Via Railway train, who I shared the gospel with – and about the man who I wondered if he was an angel in disguise.