Back in the States, Back Home

We are back from ou1525706_620665411392561_6960443412202265789_nr 7 month Mission Trip. We left pretty much everything to go seek God in a different context, in a different culture, to find more of His heart. Being back people have asked, “How was it? Good?” or they would make a comment, “Glad your back.”  Some have asked, “What is it like being back?”

These are meaningful questions, made in somewhat sincerity, but things are not that simple as to respond with one or two words. There is not a simple answer nor response for even the comment, “Glad you’re back.”  Our hearts swell with experiences, and thoughts that swim inside us. How can we let them out? Share them? Who really wants to listen and not to be just polite?

What was it like for Jesus to go back home? Ever thought about it? He was constantly traveling around the country10991152_829572157115485_3403580132156737247_n speaking, teaching, healing, and on occasion would come to his home town.. Was He excited to see those He knew and grew up with? Did He have friends He would see? School Buddies? What about His own family..? Here is what we ready about His own family.

When His family heard this, they set out to restrain Him, because they said, “He’s out of His mind.” Mark 3:2

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” Mark 6:4

10428493_357767687742531_2838769125749831671_nNot the welcome you would expect.. Not the welcome we would expect from those closest.  Isn’t it so true though?? Those closest to us are often the ones that misunderstand us the most.. Those who should hold our hearts the softest, feeding our spirits the most, providing that place of safety are often the ones to be the quickest to judge, condemn, cast the first stone, and be the most critical.

 “He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. “

Jesus knew this.. He understood it. But I am sure the pain is still there. For He was “Tempted in all parts as we.” Clothing himself in humanity he felt the pangs of betrayal, forsakenness, and loneliness.. And maybe, just maybe he walked these road willingly knowing that our hearts are fickle. Our passions are fleeting..

My heart is fickle.. My passion is fleeting.. I keep hearing this song, “If I give it all to You will You make it all New? 11030721_359721387547161_1543518241562160715_nAnd If I open up my hands will You fill them again??”  I am asking. Wondering, Searching.. I am holding out my empty hands, hoping they will be filled again.  I am giving my heart away, hoping it will be made new.  My passion is fleeting, and I look once again to the scriptures to make sense of my life, seeing that even now, I am understood.  I have one who was tempted in every way.

I will rest.. Not in the comfort of others, for they like me, are fleeting. Not in the joy of sharing my heart, for few who want to hear it..  But I will rest that somehow this will all make sense and the Author has not finished writing out my story/


The Fallen Snow

1546410_10200348226066454_1284151237000623063_nThe things of Heaven, falling effortlessly to mingle with the stuff of Earth.. The pure white flakes falling so freely, with no pattern or rhythm, but yet poetic in beauty. Some linger in the air longer, while others rush to cling to what is nearest, and the rest falling to the earth covering it like a blanket of white cotton.
For a moment the earth is bathed in beauty. For a fraction of time what was drab and unbecoming has a magical charm. The scars, the well worn paths, the blemishes are covered up.
Light reflects off each crystal. Making everything brighter, clearer… In the1463061_10200348226986477_9020332311870182659_n night, the street lamps shimmer off the snow illuminating all that once was just shadows.. The world, for a moment, seems soft.. Welcoming.. In gazing at it, Peace covers the mind like the snow on the trees. Yet, after time, the things of heaven, that which was pure and untouched, mingles with the stuff of earth and becomes dirty, at best.. And worst in the well worn areas..
The white has turned to a gray hew. A blackish powder covers the once white crystals. The beauty is darkened and discolored. What was once magical, transforming, has become darkened and depressing. The ground is no longer soft and welcoming, but soiled and depressing… I wonder if the later is not worst off than that which was in the former, before the fall…?
10897857_10204649968426775_7695144801637191466_n   This is not magical. This is not beauty. Does beauty fade so quickly? Does it leave faster than it comes?? Do the things of Heaving mingle so awfully with the stuff of earth?? Can the two co-exist?  Or is the world so harsh and conditions so bad that beauty can not keep its form?
I am not beautiful. I have fallen to earth, rushing to find the ground, other times clinging to what is nearest to me. People see me white, sparkly even, but I am neither. The stuff of earth has me in its grips. The scars of the well worn paths are showing their marks. That which should be reflective is now tarnished. Have I become gross and unwelcoming? Has the beauty faded so fast? I long for the things of Heaven to mingle with the stuff of earth, for beauty to stay, and not fade.. And for the light to keep reflecting, pushing the shadows away

Dear Sister Moon, I see you

1505476_10200111568790170_640475446106643753_nI am in Romania.. Specifically I am in Targu Mures. I find myself under the glow of a moon as it casts its light through the looming clouds which hover overhead.  I am in the Center. The Center of town, and so is 10,000 other people. We have gather to watch the lighting of the Christmas Tree.  The electricity in the air is as sharp and tangible as that which will be running thru every branch on this 100 foot tree.

I am captivated by something else. My gaze is not yet fixed on the tree, but that which is above it. Something above the buildings, above the clouds. It’s glowing essence is mysterious. The moon seems to be hiding in the shadows, piercing thru from time to time, as to watch from  above that which is about to take place.

I don’t know if it’s trying to hide from the people, or if the clouds are that selfish as to block it’s view, but Sister Moon is 10410417_10200111560069952_4065132519833764690_nthere.  From a distant spot, watching with the glow of the radiant sun that which is about to take place.

Clouds pass by, some lingering longer than others.. The moon peeking around to keep an ever watchful eye on what’s below. I should be looking at the tree. The 1000’s of hours that went to making this spectacular moment is about to be reviled.. But I keep watching as the moon seems to be kept from view.

10702198_10200111555509838_686218470937247115_n  In a choreography of color, at once the blacked 100 foot object comes to life. Flashes of light, the blues, reds, and whites flash.. The tree has become the center of the attention. How could it not? Who could take their eye off the symphony of lights moving with the rhythm of music playing across the Center??

As the newness wears off, and people start heading in different directions, I had to look. Was she there? Did she see it? Did she notice? Or were there clouds blocking out the scene below?

Yes, she was still watching. Not being the center of attention, no one focused on the Beauty that was hovering over their heads, yet she was shining as bright as the lights that decorate the city around me..

The moon, hanging back, tucked away by the clouds, not being the center of attention, yet a part of the night. She is there,10418222_10200111544829571_2323664707732184769_n  playing her part. Why don’t  we see her? Why don’t we notice her? Is it because we are more about the here and now? Are we concerned with that which is flashy and new that we can’t notice natural beauty? Her soul matters.  She has been bypassed by so many. No one notices her significance. There is nothing flashy about her. She is plain, and only at times does she appear to be bright. Most of the time we only see a part of her. Maybe we aren’t listening. What is she saying? Why are our hearts hardened to her ever changing form?

I am no longer concerned about the moon, nor the tree.. Another, who reflects this moon I have been watching.  Her soul is precious.  Her spirit is brave.. She shines in the darkness, but never drawing attention to her beauty..She is Mysterious.

10419602_10203349260315570_2956521066530176410_n  There are many like her..  Those who are pushed to the back, afraid of coming forward. They sit back, at times darkened by the clouds that block out the sun in their life. They have a beauty about them.  There is something captivating with each soul.. Each Spirit.. They come in different forms and different shades, but their beauty is theirs.  They illuminate, not themselves but those around them.  They watch from 10806442_10200111542829521_832006939117831907_nafar.  They long to be apart of something… But what??

Music is playing.. Kids are dancing. The Moon seems to be watching it all.. And the one who is in back  seems to be illuminating a little more brightly. There is an awkward and uneasiness about her around others.. Yet, graceful and full of love, her compassion pushes thru the cold night air. Yes, even from a distance, her presence is known..

The moon is beautiful tonight…

Seasons.. A View from the Fall

10624703_10204225670899602_5711718014841679115_n“He Changes times and Seasons..” Daniel 2:21

Dear Dairy,
Seasons change..  The winter blows in from the north, the sky turns from a bright warm yellow to a gray haze. The clouds are not so far away, and they linger a little longer hovering over head, casting a shade over creation, giving it a foreshadowing of things to come, they are proclaiming a time of change has come..
There is a chill in the air. Our breath is now seen as it comes forth in a cloud into the crisp air. There is a warmth from within that the cold tries to steal. The fight is seen with each breath and word spoken. We want to hold on to the warmth so we add more layers. We are wearing thicker clothes, noticing more sweaters as I look around. Scarves now are not just for embellishment or color, but for the insulation of what is inside. What is in the inside? What is it10388074_10204225670499592_1977523856913774952_n we are protecting?  Concealing?

The color around me is changing. The green leaves turn to a yellow golden flake against the hues of blue in the sky. Red is added by the Creator to give the picture that something poetic is happening, and it color is a new verse in the poem.  The poem reaches the climax as each of the verses fall to earth, floating through the night air.  As the Creator breathed the next breath on them giving the earth, the ground, a new covering, a thicker garment.. The leaves wrap around the trunk of the trees like s scarf.  They cover the ground like a warm winter blanket to shield from the new crisp air.

10401460_10204225672499642_5652892439681493437_n  I put on my orange coat.. It’s big, fluffy, and warm. I feel like The Great Pumpkin walking down the leaf covered sidewalks. My scarf is wrapped around my neck.. I look up… The sky is changing. Clouds are moving in. I can tell change is inevitable. I can feel the grip of fall losing its hold just as did summer did.. It fights to hold on..
Few leaves remain on the trees. The color has diminished and the gloom of winter is showing on each branch as it lays bare, showing that it cannot hold on to what was. (Nor can I..) There are a few leaves dangling as if they are holding on by a thread of hope, but soon they too will flutter to the ground and the echo of their fall will10378151_10204225672059631_6426576244259152229_nnot be heard by all. The weight they bare is not felt. The hope they carry is not cherished, they will soon be crumbled under foot by each person treading by.

I will watch where I step.. I will look up to see those who are still hanging on. I will wrap up in layers to protect the warmth that is inside of me. I will conceal the harshness of the effects that the change of seasons have on me.  The wind blows cold across  the leaves of my memories, and each memory, each leaf, is another burning bush that is 13992_4981858962453_848686828845387122_nextinguished.  Each leaf, trying to hold on to the tree of what was.. Each memory trying to be preserved for the future, but fall has come. The memories are falling off the tree. The connections of the past are being broken. The Creator is breathing His breath in a New Poem of my life and my leaves are showing the marks of a winter that is coming… And is now here..
As each connection is lost. Each leaf that falls.. Another person.. Another memory ..fades off the tree. Those I try to hold on to cannot withstand the next verse that is being spoken by the great Poet. The tree stands bare. Those that see it forget what it looked like when it was in full bloom, radiant with life and color.  Pedestrians walking across the fallen memories crushing what was once vibrant and beautiful. They are not fully understanding the change, but seeing it as a bother, or an eye soar that needs to be cleaned up. Fall is Messy.. .Winter is1503356_4981859162458_2348996563738046083_n cold, and sometimes harsh..
Seasons have a purpose. Things that were once alive, either wither and die, or hibernate.. To give way to what will come in the spring. Out of the dead of winter comes life, in its time. A New Life.. New Growth..
Dear Diary, Winter is here..  I am covering up what is warm inside me.  I will walk past the once beautiful trees that now look lifeless, and I will reflect on the change of seasons the Creator brings.  I will try not to take the fallen leaves for granted, nor crush them uncaringly under my weight. I know they have purpose. I know they served the tree well.. There is life still inside this trunk of mine, and life still flows thru the branches, but even as I stand naked and barren, and somewhat ashamed, I know this lifeless looking tree will bloom again. I know this season is just what it is, A Season..

The Gift and the Giver; The Wounded and the Healer

Greek Lexicon Dictionary describes, Poor:  Lowly, Afflicted, Helpless, Powerless to accomplish an end. Needy, Destitute of Learning, and intellectual culture which schools afford..

10410346_10203188301371697_2009518573677219694_n  This is the status Jesus says, “are Blessed for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  I am learning. I do not believe I have arrived at any great level of spirituality, or mastery of humility. I am a beggar.. At best I am one beggar searching, reaching out, telling other beggars where I have found my bread.
I am in Romania, and have been for a month. I am blessed to have a friend, (yes, I have a few) back in the States who sends me gifts of love, wither it be  calendars from our Wise County  Special Needs 10665673_4865517013977_1804372794240547433_nBaseball group, books, or money to get a coffee machine, (Which I am enjoying every day. With each cup brewed, a pray goes out, a song of thanksgiving is sung, and a praise is given with each sip..) And recently I received such a gift, A book, “Hope Rising”…  There is something more, more than just a book or a gift, this is a piece of the giver’s heart. A portion of the soul that has been silenced. Maybe a dream that has laid dormant, thought least in a coma.. yet life is still pulsating; for the giver has awakened! That which has been long forgotten, like the spring colors in harsh winters, now is being revived, and in doing so stirs my heart from the other side of the world.
The book is a collection of stories by Kim Meeder, who ran a ranch that rescued horses, and also the dreams of bruised and broken children. The stories consist of the rescuing of abused horses, some near death.. Nourished and loved back to life, she uses these horses, with all their flaws, scars, and hurts to touch the lives of children who have experienced the same. (Truly gut wrenching!  I fight back the tears from each story, yet some seep out anyways.)  How one woman, thru her tragedy, experienced a healing that she had never known was possible, in turn uses that to heal those even less fortunate than herself.. The Poor, Afflicted, Needy, Powerless.. 10603295_10203188313171992_8620116942370717594_nThose whom “belong the kingdom of God.” From the ashes of her childhood, came a strength, a love and a passion to heal others. (Wounded people wound people. Hurting people Hurt People, yet, thru healing, forgiveness, and love, one can become the wounded healer.)  It is thru our brokenness, our wounds, that we are able to heal others thru our comfort, our touch, and our words.
Sometimes it is in the small gifts that great things are given.  The small touches that healing begins.. Through the words, though few, breathe life on those who hear them.. feel them. When words are spoken breath is given, air flows, and from it springs life. Like the fresh ran on the hard ground, our word fall, bouncing off, running off, flowing down the streets and gutters, in what seems to be a waste of water. A Waste of Words.. A waste of touch, or  Action… But gradually the ground softens. The heart gives way to the life-giving flood.  Soon that which was hard, cracked and broken becomes soft. Becomes moldable.. Seeds take root. The words sink in deeper. The touch no long calloused, crushing the clods of dirt, but smoothing over the cracks and filling in where there is lack. The soil is now receptive. The soul is now available.
Healing begins..  I don’t rescue horses.. I am for the most part, afraid of them. I do not have a ranch to take in kids. 10629610_10203188303251744_7860442585774683149_n(Though this would be awesome.)  But like the horses, others, I do have my own wounds, hurts, scars, and the ground of my soil, soul, is pretty broken.  I Am Poor.  I am not looking to escape the reality of my poverty, only trying to find a way to allow my brokenness to be the healing for other dried and parched soils, souls….
I am in Romania.. I am in the land of Gypsies.. Not unlike other countries who have refugees, immigrants, the poor and destitute, those whom society looks down on.  I have been blessed, not that I am rich in any means.. But as Paul writes, I am “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing,  yet possessing everything.” To them, I am rich.. To them I am always rejoicing.. Having 10389478_10203188315132041_2286161059834442065_nnothing only that which is given to me, I give in hopes of making their lives richer, fuller, giving hope and life.
If I want to identify with Jesus, I must be willing to give.  I must become less, that they may become more. It’s ok for me to experience sorrow for now that they may know joy and rejoicing. I do not need to hide my wounds, for they are the doorway the souls of those around me can come in and find rest for their soul.  It is thru my poverty that I get to see the Kingdom of Heaven.  To see children the world considers unclean. Parched, dried, clay that can be brought to life, to 1385536_4913694738390_6930289569160502100_nform and purpose thru watering.. What others discard, abuse, wound, and curse, God takes and writes His story of Grace..
I am a beggar, like these kids.. I am no better.  If you give to me, to us, your gift of love is not taken lightly. If you cannot give more, or as often, we know the littlest gifts sometime have the biggest blessings.
I am a beggar, trying to work with other beggars, sharing my bread. I Am a Wounded Healer..  Sharing my heart I have received a blessing. I have received the gift of love, and gotten to see glimpse of a wounded soul who is using it to heal those less fortunate.

The Illusion, or Adventure

20140929_151320Wikipedia states, “An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. Though illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people.[1] Illusions may occur with any of the human senses,”

 “Life is about courage and going into the unknown.” Secret Life of Walter Mitty

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”  The Motto of Life Magazine – Walter Mitty

I am in Romania, I have left the comforts of everything I know, everything I have saved up for and acquired. I have given away, walked away, and let go of everything that has made up my life to come to a place I know not.. To live an adventure I can’t control. What brought me here? God, or an Illusion? A Dream.. AVision? Or a 20140929_150730misconception?

The gamble is, I have put everything on the poker table of life, and bet it all. Security. Worth. Self-esteem. Career. Home. Children. Loved ones.. I have put my cards on the table and pushed in my chips.

In my mind questions rage, was this wise? Is this safe? What is the purpose? Is this really you God??

The other night I watched a movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”  It is a story about a guy who works for “Life Magazine,” yet lives a very shallow life, whose only adventure is those he makes up in his mind.. Which happens regularly. He would just zone out while talking with someone, or just waiting on something like the bus. His mind would give him the Illusion that he is doing something heroic, or adventurous, and it would be so vivid that he could not distinguish it from reality, often ignoring everything else that is going on around him.

20140929_150007  This “Zoning Out,” was causing him shame and ridicule at work, as well as interfering with real life interaction. But through some desperate circumstances at work he is thrust into a real life drama of dangerous places, adventurous trails, and life threatening circumstances. And in this process of living this adventure, with it’s ever evolving direction, he finds “Life is about courage and going into the unknown.”  His “zoning out” and day dreaming falls away.  He has traveled to some of the most dangerous places, escaped deaths blows, and is living the motto of his Company, “Life – To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel.”

I am I living an illusion?  Have I let my senses distort, or allowed my mind to mis-interpret, things around me to give me the sense of living an adventure? And isn’t this what everyone is really after? An Adventure!?  We may not all zone out, but we do day dream. We do visualize something different. We do have goals, dreams, aspirations.. Our “zoning out” may be watching a movie, finding ourselves wrapped up in the adventures of those on the screen more than those around us. We look for action, adventure, romance from an external 20141010_173709source for the lack of life we are living in the now. Love on the screen is nice, but in real life it’s brutal, hard, and uncomfortable.

We turn on our game boxes, our computers, or other devises to give us the stimulation that is required to keep us going. We aren’t living an adventure,  so we are creating an illusion of one. We have to get the latest updates, newest games with the better plots, more drama or action. We are masters of illusion. We have been lulled to sleep, and had our life stolen from us dating back to the Garden with Adam and Eve.. Satan lied, promising an illusion, “to be Like God.”  And since that time we have been searching for that illusion ever since. That sense of worth, of love, of destiny, ADVENTURE..

I am in Romania. I am wearing a robe, typing on a computer. I have nothing here to give me an illusion of greatness. I am working on bathrooms, not feeling accomplishment, and trying to just make sense of each day. I am living among people I do not know. In a place I have never been before. I am meeting people, and being drawn closer to a true knowledge of God, feeling deeper what it means to lay down your pride and will.. I am under no illusion of greatness. I feel no sense of awe and wonder. I walk in the shadows of people, moving behind the light of others. I am to find others who, like me, are over shadowed.  I 1621903_4813753599924_1078205850207150352_ndon’t want to portray an illusion. I want it to be real.. Real “Life”. I want  the motto to be more than words. “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel.” 

  For this is the purpose of Christ, “the Hope of glory.” He came “that we might have Life and have it more Abundantly.” He was “moved with compassion,” “Touched with the feelings of our infirmities,” so that we could draw closer, to know Him deeply, and find each other. “To bear one another’s burdens.” This is our great adventure. This is my story which is being written out.

“To seek and to save,” “to love the least of these.” I don’t want to live an illusion. I want to leave a legacy, not of wasted time and untaken chances… I choose real life. I choose to love despite rejection. I choose people, despite reward. I choose the path less taken that others may live.

  Donald  Miller in his book  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,  he says, “once you live a story, 1385583_10154708505165525_2960086503423531656_nyou want to live a better story… “And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”

Our lives tell a story, the blank page on which God writes our story is in the everyday life, wither we choose adventure, drama, love, or just the illusion. “Once you live a story, you will want to live a better story.. And soon you become the character your living..”

“I have come that you might have Life!”

Eyes to See

10621893_4806755664980_263042886_n  Where do I start??  First, we are here in Istanbul, staying with our dear friends.  Istanbul is a place I refer to as, “the city bread built.”  Because wherever you go, there is bread.  All kinds of bread! Rolls, these pretzel looking things called Simit, (Which if you pronounce it right, cement, it would be close to the truth.) Loafs of wheat, grains, and flour, any shape or color you like.  I told our friends, “You can roll a ball anywhere and it will end up next to a bread shop or street vendor.”  As if there are not enough shops that sell bread, they actually have people walking around and pushing carts selling Simit..

I think it all started back when Constantine was in charge.  He built this great city they called “The New Rome”10584455_4806758025039_1540122858_n, and while building it he promised all citizens who lived within a loaf a bread a day.  Doesn’t sound like quite a feat, until you know that from 330 AD to 400 AD it grew from 30,000 to upwards of 500,000… Bread, who knew…Wheat. Grains. & Flour. Oh my.

Anyways, enough of the history lesson. We are here.. We have been here for almost a week, and during this time we have been without water for 3 days now, and now WE ARE DESPERATE!  We NEED A Shower!!  We would love to experience a flushing toilet as well, but lets not discuss that here.

So, what do you do if you are in Turkey and you need to get clean? The Obvious. A Turkish Bath!! Now the Game is afoot Watson..  It’s a simple solution, that comes at a price and is almost like the amazing race to get to, 10711715_4806755224969_827344453_nand you definitely want the prize at the end.  And here is how this day of adventure is going to take place.  To get everywhere you walk.. And you walk, and when you have done all the walking you can do, you walk some more. This is our mode of transportation, but today it will be more diverse.  We will walk to the boat dock in the drizzle and rain, also in search of a bathroom as well, and catch a ferry across the sea to the other side of Istanbul. (It’s on two different continents if you didn’t know that.)

We make it to the boat, not too wet, with our backpacks filled with our extra clothes and toiletries. Once aboard the boat we must have a chai. (This is 10711713_4806756625004_1998378856_ntruly a Turkish thing.  Chai is basically like hot Lipton tea, served in a tulip shaped glass. The Turks drink this stuff religiously.  Every shop, serves it.  They even have teashops where you sit on small wooden stools with a small wooden table about knee high, and everyone gathers around to talk at this cultural phenomenon.)

The ferry is only about a 15 minute trip across the way and once on land you got it… We walk. We have found our spot, The Turkish Bath.  At first you are not sure if this is wise, for a couple of reasons.. First, I am going to get almost nude around a bunch of other men, possibly.. Secondly, I cannot understand a thing they are saying.  My mind goes nuts.  Are they talking about me? Are they making jokes at my Texas accent?  What do they think of a Texan who is among them?  Which one is going to scrub me?  Will this be a beating??? Oh, My mind!  Who Cares. I need to use the restroom and get this dead skin off me!!

10711576_4806755984988_1407050502_n   After 45 minutes of sitting in various types of sauna’s, sweating, ( at times wondering if my lungs were actually melting,) a stranger  comes to scrub us clean. (Front and back.)  We get to change into clean clothes. Oh How Precious.  And what do you do after you have a Turkish Bath??  You have a Chai.

Round one of the journey is over… Now we must get food.

Breakfast is now what’s for lunch. It is 12 noon and we need food. So, we walk to 10695293_4806756905011_1471343800_nthe bus station, our second mode of transportation.. (Istanbul has an amazing network of buses, trams, and shuttles.) We catch the bus to an upper scale area where we sit by the sea at a restaurant named Kale, I highly recommend!!  After a much need meal of various vegetables, eggs, and sausages with cheese, and of course all types of bread!  We are in heaven. The last few days have melted away..(Literally! The Sauna was that hot.)

Now, the next leg of this amazing race, which leads us to a Japanese Garden that we just happen to stumble across as we walk the next 2 miles in the drizzling rain, dodging the bursts of water being shot at us by passing10668771_4806757905036_1741382994_n cars. Have I mentioned we walk a lot in Istanbul??

The thing about walking is you notice things, for instance a Japanese Flower Garden, or an Ancient City Wall, dating back centuries.. The flowers and trees have overgrown this shadow of a time long ago.  The old smoke stack standing out of place in this modern upper scale neighborhood.  Pathways once used to enter an ancient city now hidden.  (How often our past memories, some good, some bad, lay hidden?  They are still there, just over grown by the new.. I think it is good to walk. I think we should walk down our old paths, reflect on times of old.  Where have we come from?  What have we gone thru?  They have shaped us to be who we were meant to be.  Maybe not what we wanted to be, and maybe not how we wanted to be, but the past is there and it tells a story.)

We are here..  How many people walk by this place and not look 10714620_4806757545027_1459752229_nup?  There is a castle at one end of the wall.  What went on here?  What battles were fought at this location??  Someone lost.  Someone won.  Lives where changed.  But we don’t have time for that. Life is happening now, and to make sure we get where we want, we use every means available to get there the fastest. Boats, cars, buses, trains, taxis, it doesn’t matter.. We have to hurry. We have to be somewhere. We have something important to do, to be! So we sail on pass things that should be learned.  We skip over and take a bus instead of walking with someone we love.  We hope on train, to avoid slower people, because people take to much time. (A pastor told me that once, God forgive him.)

10723103_4806757585028_953300118_n    We get in a taxi, so we don’t have to be with others.  We shut people out.  We move away from previous things on to new things as fast as we can so we can be entertained, so we don’t have to deal with what’s there.  Life is this journey. This is the Amazing Race! But it’s not to the swift. It’s not to the strongest.  It is to those who will lay down their pride, walk humbly beside others, looking around seeing the history that is in each soul.  The ancient walls that were built up to protect the inner soul, these walls haven’t been broken, they stand erect, but the inner city is devastated.  Someone fought here.  Something happened.. Lives were changed.. Do we notice?? “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” 10717840_4806756344997_1067152170_nLuke 10:23
      I am noticing.. Did I mention we walk a lot??