January 1, 2012 – Caesarea, Har Megiddo, Nazareth

4:30am lulled me from a surprisingly restful sleep without much grace in allowing me to return to another hour and a half of slumber. But it was nice having a slow-paced morning before our 7:45 start time. And I got to watch my mom ring in the New Year on Fox News!!!! Although I have to say that I am not too happy with Fox News for only showing the first minute of her epic version of the Star Spangled Banner – they should have at least shown the last minute!!!! But regardless, I am so proud of her!

Our journey began in Caesarea – a stunning seaside city, which has held historical significance since King Herod built it somewhere between 25 and 13 B.C. (King Herod was called the 2 B’s by Josephus: the Butcher and the Builder). The text of Caesarea is in Acts 10:1-6.

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We congregated in the ancient theater area as Pastor Lyon and Kimberly recorded the first Christians Broadcasting Hope (CBH) recording of our trip. What a gift to be led through this land by two of my favorite teachers and spiritual leaders!

As we sat in the ancient theater, I could not help but closing my eyes and picturing a 24 year old female sitting on the same stones 2,000 years ago – a different circumstance but perhaps someone sitting in that very place between now and then was filled with similar emotions that are swimming in my spirit at this point of my story. I never want to miss the humanity that has walked these stones – and I pray that I resist any urge to belittle this significance of this land to merely names recorded and solely architectural accomplishments – but to remember the fears and joys and doubts and faith and flesh and blood that walked among these very stones – we are connected.

Our day brought us past Mount Carmel and Mount Tabor (believed to be the Mount of Transfiguration) and then to Har Megiddo (Armageddon) – the place holding such important stories including those of King Ahab and Solomon. An ancient well built by King Ahab was still in tact, and it was surreal to walk through that place where the women of the day would have gone daily to fetch water for their families. We didn’t get much time to bask in the place, but once we ascended to the top, my breath was taken as I viewed the stunning overlook.

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The Bryan and Katie Torwalt song, “I Breathe You In God” couldn’t help but escape my lips.

Our final primary destination of the day was Nazareth. To be honest, fatigue struck me about this time, and it was a struggle to allow my senses to truly embrace all that was occurring. We visited the site believed to be Mary’s home, which is now the Church of Annunciation – where Gabriel would have visited Mary.

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This is a site that I believe will hit me most upon later reflection – the unbelievable privilege to have stood on that very land.

We also visited the church believed to be the place where Jesus read from Isaiah upon beginning his ministry. Again – surreal (this will probably be a reoccurring adjective on this trip).

Our exhausted but full souls finally found our home for the night in a hotel on the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias – blessed!! We Skyped into Madison Park Church as Pastor Lyon gave the message, of which the contents will probably weave their way into future day’s posts.

Looking forward to turning in early and experiencing the stories yet to be written in the upcoming days.

And I almost forgot – Happy New Year!!! 🎉🎉🎉

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