Our Last Adventures in Israel-Day 7

Saturday, July 20, 2013

We woke up Saturday morning for our last day in Israel.  We toured Jerusalem ALL DAY LONG, and then boarded a plane Saturday evening for the long trek home.  So to say ‘our final day was exhausting’ might be the understatement of the year.  So get ready for a long post!

We left our hotel and walked several blocks until we reached the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem.  This is the entrance to the Muslim quarter.  I should have inserted this map several blogs ago for better demonstration, but here is a look at the Old City of Jerusalem and the location of all the gates within the city walls.

JerusalemGatesJuly20 (1)When we arrived at the Damascus gate our tour guide Andre stopped to talk to us for a while (not that this was any different, he stopped to talk to us A LOT throughout the trip cause he has a never-ending wealth of knowledge about all things Israel).  He pointed out things about this gate, much like several other gates to the city.  As you can see in the picture below there are tall skinny slivers in the walls of the gate.  This was were soldiers could stand and shoot arrows at attacking enemies, while being protected themselves.  Also, the structures that stick out from the walls have openings between giant corbels below in which boiling hot oils could be dumped onto attacking enemies at the gate.July20 (2) July20 (6)

Being a Saturday, the market was especially full of Muslims coming to buy goods.  Andre told us this was one of the areas of Jerusalem that we needed to keep our purses and bags close and walk with a purpose.  He said once we started walking through the market we needed to keep up and keep walking until he led us all the way through.  This was one of the places in Jerusalem where I felt like we were right in the middle of everyday common life in Jerusalem.  Of course Jerusalem is still very touristy, but this particular area felt the least touristy.  It is also one of the areas where Jews would not be caught dead walking through.  Actually, that’s exactly what they would be if they were found walking through the Muslim quarter…dead.  Jerusalem is an interesting city where Muslims, Jews, and Christians all live in very close proximity, but because they each have separated quarters, they rarely mingle.  I think Christians aren’t segregated as much, but Muslims and Jews do not dare intermingle.  It took us about 10-15 mins to walk completely through the market, and we saw beggars on the streets, market salesmen calling out trying to entice a sale, so many foreign languages being exchanged.  It was quite interesting to experience.  Andre lead the way, and Greg was the designated caboose making sure we all made it through and no one got separated.

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Once we exited the area of the market, we found ourselves on the Via Dolorosa, which literally means “Way of Suffering” or “Way of Sorrow,” and is a street through the Old City in which Jesus (likely) walked as he carried his cross to his crucifixion.  Talk about literally walking in Jesus’ footsteps.  It was an incredible feeling.July20 (11)

Next we kept walking our way through the city heading towards the Small Wailing Wall.  Now let me see if I can explain this clearly (I had to do some google research to make sure I got my facts straight).  The Holy of Holies was the room within the Temple where the Arc of the Covenant was held and only the most high priest could enter.  He would enter once a year to make a blood offering.  On the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, the veil that was torn was this veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the the Holy Place in the Tabernacle of the Temple, which symbolized Christ had come as the ultimate sacrifice and He was the way to God the Father.  Ok, stay with me, I’m getting to the importance of the Small Wailing Wall.  The Holy of Holies is no longer standing.  It was destroyed when the Second Temple was destroyed.  But it’s location is presumed to be located underneath where the Dome of the Rock now stands (on the Temple Mount).  The Dome of the Rock belongs to Muslims.  So neither Jews or Christians can go inside the walls of Temple Mount.  Instead, Jews come to the Western Wall (the portion of the ancient walls surrounding the grounds where the Jewish Temple once stood).  It is one of the most sacred spots to the Jewish religion.  Part of the Western Wall is located within the Jewish quarter.  But if you’ll look back to the Old City map I posted above, you’ll see that over half of it runs through the Muslim quarter.  And since the Jewish Temple was located in the northern portion of the Temple Mount, there is actually a portion of the Western Wall that is geographically closer in location to the former Temple than the portion in the Jewish quarter.  THIS IS THE SMALL WAILING WALL 🙂  See, I told you I’d get there!  But if you’ll remember, Jews wouldn’t dare enter the Muslim quarter.  However, there are armed guards who stand at the entrance to this little alley where the Small Wall is located and they are allowed to enter to come pray at the wall.  They come and write their prayers to God on pieces of paper and leave them in the rock crevices of the wall.July20 (23) July20 (22) July20 (20) July20 (22-1) July20 (19) July20 (21)

Next we continued walking through Jerusalem to the Jewish Quarter to the main Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall.

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There are a few important things we needed to know about approaching the Wailing Wall.  Hats are never to be worn in the courtyard of the wall.  Men and women have separate portions of the wall they are allowed to approach.  Also, it is very disrespectful to turn your back to the wall.  So when leaving from the wall, you walk backwards for a few feet and then you may turn and walk away.  Granted, as Christians, this wall is not significant as it is with the Jewish religion, but out of reverence, everyone is expected to abide by these rules.  So they guys went to the left side of courtyard to access the wall, and me and the ladies went to the right side.  It is always pretty crowded at the wall, so we didn’t go all the way to it, but stood several feet back and observed.  Oh, and you aren’t allow to take photos within the courtyard area.  So the photos we have were taken from another viewpoint within the Jewish quarter.

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We kept walking through the city, making our way through the Armenian quarter and the Christian quarter.  We went to a place that historians say could be the room where the last supper may have occurred.  Below this room we saw a tomb where St. Peter is (possibly) buried.July20 (35) July20 (43) July20 (45) July20 (47) July20 (46)July20 (49) July20 (50) July20 (51) July20 (53) July20 (54) July20 (56)

These are the remains of the city walls of Jerusalem walls during the First Temple period (1000-586 BC), but the city was expanded during the Second Temple period so these remains now lie within the city.

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We also did some souvenir shopping in the market.  Anything made from olive tree wood is one of Israel’s main materials for souvenirs.  We bought a manger scene made completely from olive wood, some Christmas tree ornaments, and a few other figurine trinkets for family members.  Greg also got a Bible with an olive wood cover.  I also bought some earrings made from sea glass that craftsmen find on Israel’s beach shores and then make jewelry with them.

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Our last stop for the day might have been one of the most interesting.  We went to the Garden Tomb.  Now, the thing about this tomb is that we don’t know for sure if it is the exact spot for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, but it is the best representation of what the tomb would have looked like.  And there are actually a lot of features about this area that make it a possible candidate for the location of the crucifixion and burial.  The hillside in this area has the appearance of a skull, which is what “Golgotha” means, Skull Hill.  And it’s location, in Jesus’ time, would have been an area of the city where several roads were joined and crossed, which means those who were ordered to be crucified would have been prominently on display for many people to see.  Also, this particular tomb is clearly located within a garden.  In John 19:41 it is written, “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus…”  And the term “garden” used here in Hebrew means something more like a “farm.”  It would have been an area of agriculture, not just an area of flowers much like the term “garden” we think of.  And as you see, historians discovered a grape press here which confirms that this area was a rich man’s garden (possibly belonging to Joseph of Arimathea).  So there are a lot of features linking this spot to Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.  But there are also a lot of scholars who actually believe the location of Golgotha and Jesus’ tomb is in a spot in the Christian quarter where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is now built.  Either way, it was a very humbling experience to see and walk into this tomb knowing it could very well be the very tomb where Jesus Christ was laid.  I can’t even explain the feelings that welled up inside just being in that place.  And after viewing the tomb, our group gathered for prayer and communion.  It was such a great way to wrap up an AMAZING trip.ChurchofHolySeplechreJuly20 (65) July20 (69) July20 (68) July20 (71) July20 (72) July20 (75) July20 (86) July20 (78) July20 (79) July20 (80) July20 (81) July20 (82) July20 (87b)

As we made our final walk back to the hotel to collect our things for our long travels home, we made one last stop at the Jerusalem Prayer Center.  This building is like a community center for Christians in the area.  It is a place they can come to fellowship, worship, and pray.  And it has a great story behind it.  You know the hymn It is Well With My Soul?  It was written by a man named Horatio Spafford. (You can read the full story here: the story behind the hymn ) Long story short, he and his wife were faithful Christian people who enjoyed helping those in need.  But they were not spared of their own hardships.  Not only did they lose their son to scarlet fever, they lost the lives of their 4 daughters, who drowned in a ship wreck in 1873, their mother one of the few survivors.  As Horatio traveled by ship to Europe to bring home his wife who had survived the ship wreck, he came to the spot over which his daughters had drown in the Atlantic Ocean.  It was on this trip that he wrote the words of the hymn, It is Well With My Soul.  What does this have to do with Israel and the Prayer Center?  Well, several years later, after Horatio and his wife had started another family again, they decided to travel to Israel and settled in Jerusalem.  Here they served the poor and needy, showing them the love of Christ.  The Prayer Center in Jerusalem is the former home of Horatio and his wife.  When we entered the Prayer Center, we were told about the accounts of the Spafford family, and then we all sang the  beautiful hymn.  Granted this hymn has always had a special place in my heart, since it was sung at my Grandaddy’s funeral.  But singing it that day, in the home of the man who wrote the song, and after experiencing all the glorious things we had experienced in Israel over the last 10 days, I couldn’t stop the tears that began streaming down my face.  I just felt so overwhelmed by God’s faithful and loving spirit, and I sang that song like I’ve never sang before.  With wholehearted joy and humbled gratitude.

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So after a looooong day of walking all over Jerusalem, we ate our final meal in Israel then walked back to our hotel to gather all our luggage and load up on a bus to head to the airport.  We had about 16 hours of travel ahead of us.  We left Israel Saturday evening, and arrived in America Sunday morning, but with 2 layovers before getting home to Birmingham, we were totally whooped by the time we got home!!  Thankfully we had our family welcoming us home and eager to come visit us at our house and hear all our stories.  Considering 4pm Alabama time felt like 2am for us, we needed their visit to keep us from falling asleep!  I’m sure we crashed at about 8pm that night.

It was truly a trip of a lifetime.  I would love to go back one day.  The impact it had on our personal relationship with God and with each other is invaluable.  Thank you to everyone who helped make it possible!  We couldn’t have done it without you 🙂

Exploring More Jerusalem- Day 6

Friday, July 19, 2013

For our final days in Israel, we woke up and got to work in the kitchen at the camp just like we’d done all week.  We prepared breakfast for all the campers, and then helped Carma and Tammy do a final clean-up and shut down of the kitchen for the week.  We packed all our bags, said our goodbyes to all the great people we worked with that week (which was rough!), loaded up in the bus and headed for Jerusalem where we’d spend our last night and tour our final day.July19 (43) July19 (50)It was after lunchtime before we headed to Jerusalem, which was a good 2 hour drive, but none of us had eaten since  breakfast (lunch was just served for the campers).  You could tell all of us on the bus were fading, VERY hungry, and just generally not in fantastic moods.  So luckily, our tour guide got the sense that we needed to stop for food, and I can promise you a McDonald’s cheeseburger was a taste of heaven in that moment.  😉  So I now have eaten a McDonald’s cheese burger in 3 different countries- USA, Japan and Israel.  But I don’t plan to eat there again for a VERY LONG TIME 😛

Once we were revived with food, we were in much better spirits and ready for an afternoon of touring.  Upon arriving in Jerusalem, we headed straight for the garden of Gethsemani, where Jesus went to pray the night he was arrested by Roman soldiers, thus leading up to his crucifixion.  According to Matthew 26: 39, “Jesus fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'”  Here, the disciples were with him keeping watch, but kept falling asleep, and here in the garden is where Judas led the soldiers to Jesus, who then arrested him.  This garden sits along the mountainside of a valley, called the Mount of Olives.  The whole mountainside is covered in olive trees (much less now than in Jesus’ time, but a lot nonetheless).  There now stands a church (that Catholics, I believe) built over the rock that scholars believe could have been the one on which Jesus knelt and prayed.

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Right across from the garden of Gethsemani is the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount.  Here is where the Golden Gate is located.  It is the oldest of the current standing gates of Jerusalem’s Old City, but even so, they were not standing during Jesus’ time.  These walls were built during the Second Jewish Temple era on top of the remains of the original wall.  According to a vision the Lord sent to the prophet Ezekiel, when Jesus makes his return, He will enter through these eastern gates (Ezekiel 44).  However, later in history, a ruler had these gates sealed shut (supposedly to “prevent” the Messiah’s return).  Good job, right?  If our God can walk on water, raise from the dead, and bring on the plagues and wrath of the end times, I don’t think a gate sealed by man is going to stop Him 😉

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Just below the hillside from the Eastern wall are more olive trees and various cemeteries that stretch through the valley and along the hillside of the Mount of Olives.  There are actually 3 designated cemeteries on this hillside.  One belongs to Christians, one belongs to Muslims and one for Jews.  See the little monument structure in the very center of the picture below, with the funnel-shaped top to it?  We learned that it is a burial crypt/monument of a former king dating back to before Jesus’ time, meaning Jesus would have seen that very same monument!  HOW CRAZY IS THAT!?  It’s stuff like that that made Israel so fascinating!July19 (79) July19 (42) July19 (81) July19 (127) July19 (130)

Next we hopped back into the tour bus and wound our way up the mountainside to the top of the Mount of Olives.  Here we could look down into the valley and see all of Jerusalem and the old City of David.  It was a spectacular view.  The roads in Jerusalem were very crowded on this particular weekend because the Muslim observance of Ramadan was just beginning.  Ramadan is the most sacred time of the year for Muslim culture.  So Muslims from all over the country were streaming into Jerusalem and filling the mosques for prayer and reciting of the Quran.  It was an amazing site to see.   And during the month of Ramadan, they don’t eat from sunrise to sunset.  They only eat and drink at night when the sun goes down.  They spent daylight hours fasting and in prayer.July19 (84) July19 (86) July19 (89) July19 (101) July19 (90) July19 (96) July19 (98) July19 (108) July19 (111) July19 (113)

Just as we bring flowers to grave sites, these people bring rocks to lay on the graves.  And I believe Andre (our tour guide) told us you either have to be very rich or very important (or probably both!) to be buried in these cemeteries.  These are not grave sites of commoners.July19 (93) July19 (109) July19 (114) July19 (117)

That pretty much wrapped up that afternoon in Jerusalem.  We headed to our last hotel of the trip, and this one was really nice!  After sleeping a week at the camp on super cheap uncomfortable mattresses (twin-sized ones, even) and using shared community bathrooms, this hotel felt like the Ritz 😉  We had dinner together with our group in a beautiful dining room on the top floor of the hotel.  The next day would be packed with more sight-seeing in Jerusalem followed by 13+ hours of plane travels.  We savored our last good night’s sleep we’d get for a while…July19 (120) July20 July19 (139) July19 (124)

Christmas 2013

Once again, I had to work Christmas this year.  Christmas Eve and Christmas day, to be exact.  It wasn’t the most fun way to spend my holidays, but I can’t complain. I still got to spend some time with family, and that’s what matters.  Greg and I decided to do our “Christmas morning” on Monday Dec 23rd.  Then we went to Jordan and Eric’s church candlelight service at Church of the Highlands that evening.  It was lovely.  It’s a much more modern service and church atmosphere than we’re used to, but the preacher gave a great sermon, and I enjoyed the Christmas carols we sung.  There’s just something about singing traditional Christmas hymns that makes me so happy.  Actually, I pretty much love any traditional hymns, Christmas or not.  Our nieces and nephew were there too, being cute and silly as usual.  Evey and Bennett walked in with Greg and I, holding our hands, and at one point sweet Bennett just blurts out, “I love you, Amy” in his sweet little boy voice.  Talk about making your day 🙂  After the service Greg and I went to dinner with his parents at Village Tavern. It was delicious, and we enjoyed spending some extra time with them.

Christmas Eve morning I got up and headed to work. Greg hung around the house most the day, I believe, and then headed to Jordan and Eric’s for the evening family dinner.  All the Boggs plus Aunt Kim and the cousins ate dinner together and played a fun game of dirty Santa.  There were matching PJs involved, as usual.  I joined up with them when I got off work so I could visit with them for a little while and exchange gifts with Callen and Houston (they’d be heading to Dothan for Christmas day).  I especially wanted to give Callen her gift, because I had made her a shadowbox of their wedding venue.  I was pretty excited about it, so I wanted to be able to give it to her in person.  It was a watercolor print of the lodge at Gorham’s Bluff, and I painted a little wooden “H” (for Holmes) and added some twine to go inside. I’m so glad she loved it! 🙂

Christmas morning was the same. I headed to work and Greg headed off to Jordan’s to enjoy Christmas morning with his family.  Christmas day at work wasn’t too bad.  My mom and sister came to visit me, and they made cookies for the nurses and families. It was good to see them on the holiday.  I went back to Jordan’s for Christmas night for dinner and my portion of gift opening.  Yes, I sit and open gifts while all of the Boggs just sit and watch me.  haha.  For two years straight this has been my routine.  It’s still fun though.  It actually makes it a little easier cause I don’t have to pick and choose who’s family to spend Christmas day with.  It automatically gets separated since I’m working.  (You find the blessings in working Christmas day where you can) 😉  The whole Boggs family had their matching PJs again this year.  I hate I had to miss all that fun 😉Christmas (5)

On the 26th we did our Graves family Christmas.  We got up early and headed to my mom’s house.  We opened gifts first thing this time since Chuck had to work from 12-4pm that day for a charity thing his company does.  After gifts we had breakfast, then Chuck headed to work, and Dwayne and Greg decided to go to the lake property for a few hours.  Dwayne has been seeing deer and coyotes down there, and Greg was dying to get a chance to shoot some coyotes 😉  So while they ran off to the woods for a bit, my mom, sisters and I started working on Christmas dinner.  We also watched The Great Gatsby since Emily got it as one of her gifts.  Everyone came back that evening and we enjoyed a yummy dinner together.Christmas (3) Christmas (2) Christmas (1) Christmas (4) We got some great gifts this year from the family!  Greg got some tools for the Big Green Egg, including cookbook, grilling tower, new mit, and a really cool meat thermometer.  He also got a new rolling duffel bag (his old one is great and huge, but it is just that…OLD!  And pretty dirty!).  Both Greg and his dad got me new gardening/recipe books!  Both of them have tips and tricks for better gardening, plus recipes to use with the produce you grow.  I think everyone knows how much I love my garden 😉  I also got some Hunter rain boots which I am just THRILLED about! My old rain-boots have been inadvertently converted into dirty garden boots, so I’m happy to have pretty new ones (that won’t be worn in the garden 😉 )! I got some new recipe cards and box, some darling owl dishcloths, candles, and jewelry (news flash, I am an owl addict).  We gave both our mom’s jewelry this year.  I found a beautiful jeweled necklace for Kendall, and we got my mom some charms for her Pandora bracelet.  And it was really hard to give away the gifts I got for my sisters (that’s when you know it’s a good gift, right? haha).  I bought Emily some super cute boot socks, and Katie got some cool vintage-inspired coasters with various University of Alabama images on them.  We got some great kitchen items from my mom that I’m pretty excited about…a pizza stone, some enamelware bowls (for my canning endeavors!), and some gorgeous vintage pyrex bowls that I LOVE!  I have been pining for some vintage pyrex for several years, and mom found me some great pieces at a flea market one day.  I can’t wait to display them in our (future) glass-front butler’s pantry (that’s next in the home renovations department). And as usual, everyone got an array of gifts cards from each other for restaurants, gas, and shopping (which are always nice to have!!).  Greg is super pumped about a shopping spree he’ll now get to go on at Harbor Freight Tools here in Homewood (bring on more house projects!).  So many wonderful goodies!  OH! And our big gift to each other arrived just the other day!!  Greg and I took the plunge and bought a new sectional on Black Friday, and it’s finally here.  We love it!!  And can you believe it’s the first piece of new furniture either one of us have ever bought before?  We are moving past hand-me-downs and slowly becoming adults. haha

And with that, Christmas 2013 came to an end.  It was another great holiday, filled with lots of family time, laughs and fun family traditions.

Jerusalem- Day 5

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I better finish journaling about our trip to Israel (almost 6 months ago!) before I forget all the details.  The last 2 days of our trip we spent some time in Jerusalem.  We took a day trip on Thursday, July 18th.  Half of our group had taken an afternoon trip the day before, and Greg and I were in the 2nd group for our afternoon trip.July18(103) July18(104)July18 (110)Our bus driver dropped us off at the city gates and we walked for the next 4 hours touring the city of Jerusalem.  And immediately upon reaching the city gate, we witnessed a Jewish Bar Mitzvah celebration.  It was so great!July18 (109)We started walking through the city as John (our tour guide for he day) told us everything he knows about the city.  John and his wife Tammi have been living in Israel for the last 20+ years.  Tammi was one of the cooks we worked with in the kitchen all week.  There are so many pictures I want to share. So I may just let the pictures do most of the talking.  I’ll explain the important stuff (and what I remember!).

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July18 (52) July18 (55) July18(Paul) (62) July18 (61) July18 (65)Men who would go to the temple for prayer would go to these ritual baths for cleansing and purifying.  One side was for those descending into the bath and the other for those ascending who had been purified.July18 (68) July18(Paul) (44) July18 (75) July18 (74)July18 (82)These are the temple steps.  The temple has been taken over and rebuilt twice over the past centuries.  It doesn’t even belong to Christians or Jews anymore (if I remember correctly).  I don’t want to get this wrong, but I think only Muslims can enter the Temple now.  They took over and built the Dome of the Rock, which stand now in the middle of the Temple.July18 (77) July18(Paul) (69) July18(Paul) (87) July18(Paul) (91) July18(Paul) (92) July18(Paul) (72)July18 (107)

Next we made our way to Hezekiah’s tunnel.  King Hezekiah ruled over the City of David, and as it is mentioned in 2 Kings 20, one of the great things he did was build a tunnel so that water could be channeled into the city in preparations for impending attach from the Assyrians.  It is a rock tunnel dug out by soldiers, and even today there is a constant flow of water throughout the tunnel.  In most places it is ankle to knee deep, but at the opening of the tunnel the water pools and came up to my shorts hemline.  And it is COOOLD water!

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That wraps up our first day exploring Jerusalem.  We went back to the Baptist Village to sleep for the last night at the camp.  We spent our final night in Israel back in Jerusalem.  More on that next…

I’m baaack!

Oh friends.  Needless to say, I have quite a lot to catch up on since going MIA about 4 months ago.  I knew grad school would suck up a lot of free time, but whew. So, let’s get straight to playing catch-up.  Again…

I survived my first semester!  And if I’m allowed to toot my own horn, I not only survived but got all A’s.  One semester down, five more to go.  Balancing full-time work and part-time school while trying to maintain some sanity was not always easy.  Poor Greg can testify to that.  I am beyond thrilled for the three weeks off I am enjoying right now until spring semester starts up, on my birthday (unfortunately).  Then it’s back to the grind again.  This semester I’ll be taking pharmacology and research.  I am sooo not thrilled about research.  It’s so time consuming and SO BORING.  And I’m betting pharmacology won’t be a walk in the park.  It involves a LOT of memorizing.  And since I have to take general pharmacology, not just neonatal, I’ll be dealing with anything and everything from infant to adulthood drugs.  Yay :/

Anyways, let’s talk about non-school fun stuff.  Thanksgiving was good this year.  Last year we only celebrated with my family.  The year before that we had 2 Thanksgivings since Greg’s parents were still living at the lake in Georgia.  This year, since both our families were in Birmingham for the holiday, we split the day between both families.  We spent the morning with Greg’s family for a few hours, and then over to Katie’s house for lunch and visiting time with my family.  Katie and Chuck live in my Nana’s house, the house my Grandaddy built and where my mom grew up.  For as long as I can remember until my Nana died 4 years ago, we spent every holiday celebrating in that house.  So when Katie offered to host Thanksgiving this year, we decided it might be fun to celebrate in that house again.  Granted it looks quite different.  Carpet has been ripped up, all the furniture is different, walls and cabinets have been painted.  But it’s still Nana’s house, full of so many great memories.  It was a pretty chill day even though we spent time with both families.  Just visiting, eating, couch laying, dog playing, then back home for the night.

Christmas is just around the corner.  Greg and I are officially done shopping and wrapping for the season.  Our big gift to each other is a new sectional, that we are STILL waiting on unfortunately.  We shopped for it on Black Friday and found a good deal at Ashley furniture.  We were told it would be delivered by Christmas, but we called last week and it’s on backorder.  Boo.  So now we wait till mid-January.  And since I have to work Christmas Eve and Christmas day this year, we are doing our “Christmas morning” tomorrow morning 🙂  Greg is basically off work all week.  He’ll spend Christmas with his family as usual at Jordan and Eric’s house with the kids.  And then we will do Christmas with my family on the 26th, just like last year.  Holidays with nursing careers are not always ideal.  But we make do.  And hey, if you ask me, what’s so bad about spreading Christmas out over a few days?  😉  At least I had all of Thanksgiving, Black Friday AND Iron Bowl Saturday off.  That was nice.

Of course I’m sad about missing most of the celebrations with Greg’s family.  They’re doing a big Christmas Eve dinner and dirty Santa.  But I’m most sad about missing our church’s Christmas Eve candlelight service.  It is my favorite.  We sing Christmas carols, our pastor does a quick Christmas sermon, and we finish by singing “Silent Night” and the whole congregation has candles.  Yes, it’s nothing new. It’s the same every year. But I love it.  And anyways, when my job is to take care of sweet little premies every day, the least I can do is help give them and their parents a good Christmas.  And to be honest, until we have kids of our own to celebrate Christmas mornings with, I don’t mind taking that shift so others can have their Christmas mornings.  I’ll get my turn again one day.

I hope all of you reading (if there’s anyone left out there checking in) have a wonderful Christmas.  It can be a hectic time of the year.  Families can be crazy sometimes.  But savor it all, remember what Christmas is truly about.  A celebration of the birth of a Savior.  So give someone an extra hug.  Tell someone you love them.  Hold a door open for a stranger.  Drop a dollar bill in that bell-ringer’s bucket.  And wish them Merry Christmas.