Women of Faith escapade
Date: September, 2011
Original Goal: Attend a Women of Faith event together
Original Setting: A nearby hotel
Supercharge Instigator: Marvel
Here’s how it went: A belated birthday gathering (Marvel and Marlene both early September) met at my home in Racine. I’d obtained tickets to a Woman of Faith event with fun surprise stops on the way for whatever food or fun intrigued the birthday girls. It was lots of silly fun, but none of us knew what Marvel would do (I think she even surprised herself!) Our first surprise was the location. Apparently many of the hotels near the event were filled or just not ‘exciting’ enough for Marvel. The picture above gives a peek into our shared surprise which turned out to be more reasonable than the hotel would have been – especially considering the luxurious setting and treatment in a . . .
Yes, a bed and breakfast – catered to our desires and health needs, plus
a hot tea/coffee as desired wake up call or snack served in our porch
Of course, Marvel also arranged for a tour of the historical building. The couple who ran the B&B were witty, charming, knowledgeable and so friendly we felt we were leaving long-lost relatives when we headed to the Women of Faith event the next morning. We thought if we got bored or tired we could head back to our classy temporary residence a little early. I’d been to a Women of Faith event in the past and thought I knew what to expect (get in line, wait a while, longingly eye the artists’ tables on the way in, enjoy the concert, shop on break, enjoy more music and testimony and head on home). However, I’d let slip my mind that Miss Marvel was traveling with us.
Consequently while waiting for the doors to open we paid no attention to the fact that neither of us had seen Marvel for a few minutes, until the door opened and she called from inside (INSIDE? how had she gotten INSIDE?) come quick and say yes. Adventurous and on a lark, we obeyed and shouted YES! She reached around the door and grabbed one arm and instructed us to hang on and stay with her. And we ran to a spot where a group was gathered and receiving instructions of ‘where to go.’ “I got us free tickets,” she whispered, and possibly some perks if we work before and during breaks. Marlene and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Okay – here we go. The before ‘work’ was distributing packets of material in every seat for the 8,000+ attendees. We then were introduced to our assignments. Marlene and I for Liberty University, and Marvel selling/marketing at one of the huge settings for author books, CDs, tshirts and so on.
The two “more mature” hunny bunnies had fun with the youthful staff at Liberty (who actually gave us hope for our country’s future) and received cards for a free future Women of Faith event.
Meanwhile baby-bunny Marvel endeared herself to the managers of the event’s sales, racking up more sales than any other section at the event. She did bring us the potential perks she hinted at (her motivation she said).
The only part of my expectations that were fulfilled was enjoying the concerts and speakers which were outstanding. The rest – being on a first name basis with some well known people, (at least for two days), hauling off all kinds of goodies, exchanging addresses and photos with new friends from across the country., and having stories in abundance to share when we got ‘home’ to the mansion (ha ha doesn’t that sound pretentious) was like whipped cream on the hot chocolate.
Yep, there was a cozy place to enjoy that too as we told our tales
and a place to relax and work on a puzzle.
What a wonderful honey-bunny trip that was – full of adventure and surprises.
Marlene and I agree you could say it was MARVEL-ous!
You too can have adventure (and even high tea) – but you might want to check if it’s the week we are attending – you might get more than you planned on! Click here for- Schuster Mansion Info
When the Honey-Bunny’s get together, things happen. But how do we ever abbreviate our UNPLANNED 5,000 mile trip (one day short of a month)
Marlene and I talked often about taking a trip to help Marvel empty her Florida storage unit, but our baby sis continually postponed with “as soon as” she started or finished something. All our lives were crazy busy and we wondered if it would ever happen. Marlene, the organizer, had had it. Long-distance calls were rare, so when caller ID revealed her number; I answered with concern.
“Nothing, I just figured Marvel’s delays will go on forever if we don’t do something.”
“Like, I’ll be packed in an hour, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Yes!” she laughed, “Try to get some sleep – we have a lot of driving to do.”
The next morning we meshed plans: mine – to see Nashville, Amelia Island, and 3 friends who lived along our path; Marlene’s included Dollywood, a couple in North Carolina, and a son in Florida.
Marvel ‘s response was shock and then the unexpected –she’d ride back with us, visit her daughter, a friend in Tennessee, and Elvis’ Graceland, then fly home from Wisconsin. An hour later Marlene and I headed south, laughing and zipping in and out of flea markets, caves, and gem mines. Instead of 2 days, we took a week. Besides, things happened.
Near Nashville, the GPS went wacky, directing continuous turns around a deserted gas station. Finally I pulled in, yanking out maps, when a southern drawl called, “Y’all need help?” Neither of us had seen a car there, but the fellow’s chuckle indicated he’d watched my red Vibe do the loop-de-loop. We explained we were headed to Nashville but the GPS was malfunctioning. Instead of pointing us toward our goal, scratched his jaw in thought. “You can always see Nashville on the way back,“ he drawled, pointing us to Cumberland Gap Highway and Asheville. “You’d have more daylight to do things then,” he added. It sounded reasonable and we were frustrated it was twilight already. There were other things we wanted to see in Asheville anyway, so we thanked him and drove to where he pointed.
The moment the car glided onto the Cumberland ramp, the GPS made a loud ZZZZIPPP and then worked fine. Huh.
Marlene drove and I photographed beautiful scenery until black clouds rolled toward us, and moved rapidly over the car. Marlene commented that she was glad we were headed a different direction than that big black cloud.
The next morning’s news shockingly reviewed the flooding we’d escaped in Nashville. We prayed for those affected and wondered again at the GPS insanity and the mysterious man’s directions.
Blocks shy of our Asheville lunch destination, we stopped to walk and check out street vendors. Nearly to the restaurant we’d chosen for lunch, sirens blared and police blocked off the street due to a fire in that restaurant! A nearby vendor who overheard us wondering what else we could possibly escape suggested an international experience in another direction –Jerusalem Garden Café, joking he’d better warn them we were coming. Perhaps he was right… there was the breakfast incident after Savannah’s carriage ride, and using Marlene’s arm for a windshield-wiper the last hour to Lake Worth. Yep, things happened.
The storage unit was 120o inside so we worked fast, giving away most goods to families at the units. Completing the goal was celebrated with a middle of the mall shoulder massage, triple-breasted chicken dinner hilarity at Sawgrass, and sharing 5 desserts.
Five wild days followed as we headed west then north toward home, visiting Marvel’s daughter Trinity, Amelia Island, friend Becky’s farm, Marlene’s friends, Marvel’s friends south of Nashville and Benita and Barb, whom I’d worked with at Horlick. Down the mountain from Barb’s beautiful Comfort Mountain rental (best stay of the trip highly recommended) was Dollywood.
Dolly Parton’s unexpected personal appearance thrilled Marlene, and Marvel got a marriage proposal for all three of us on our way to Memphis! Marvel’s southern-Tennessee baker-friend greeted us with bunny shaped chocolate, and later, warning of washed-out mountain roads, directed us north to Nashville, then south to Memphis. In minutes we grew impatient and took a shortcut cross-country. Sign 5 minutes later: Road closed. When a truck drove between the sawhorses, I drove through too – discovering a damaged bridge and startled workers. Pulling up a slight hill to turn around, another construction truck rumbled toward us, the Tennesseans hollering, “Hey! We’re the Cooper brothers and we’re looking for some good women to marry.” Marvel had shoved the video camera in our faces since dawn, so we voted her to leave the car, garnering her the first invitation to change her name to Cooper. Hilariously, the brothers directed us out of the maze, stopping twice for hilarious proposals and laughingly bemoaning our happily-married status.
After Graceland we searched nearby museums’ Army photos because Marlene’s husband drove jeep for Elvis’ unit, but afternoon flood warnings convinced us to head for home, and look for a restaurant.
“What kind of restaurant is that?” Marvel exclaimed about a Missouri billboard ad. “They were throwing rolls!” I knew instantly: Lamberts. I’d wanted to go there.
A quick call to my daughter produced the phone number, and soon Marvel was sweet-talking the manager. “We’re the Honey-Bunnies, and have driven almost 5,000 miles to find a Lamberts. Please direct us there…” The laughing manager greeted us on arrival, with three entertaining servers!
I slid to the back of the booth watching waiters dance with Marlene, toss rolls across the room, and sending so much food home we filled the ¾-size motel refrigerator, providing proof that where the Hunny Bunnies go, things happen!
Hunny Bunny Sister Trips. There’s nothing in the world like them. I have two sisters. Once we determined we’d waited way too long to spend some sister time together, we began planning a trip. We decided we wanted a theme, and noticed when recalling memories of our dad a particular phrase came up repeatedly – hunny bunny. That is what Daddy called us – his hunny bunnies. . We all have different personalities, and our nickname (given by our dear Daddy), developed over the years, from a proof of love in the midst of a crazy family life, and a mutual support group, to a lighthearted public persona that recaptured the freedom we missed in our childhood.
The first time the two (slightly) older ones decided to visit the baby in Florida. We ordered shirts with bunnies and our new group name and went where? Disneyland of course!
Dressed alike, we got stopped and asked, “Are you somebody?”
“Of course we are – we are the Hunny Bunnies!” and we happily posed for pictures.
It was fun to be silly, and free from all of lives little downers. How could you be sad when people constantly reminded us how “lucky” we were to have each other!
Life intervened after our Hunny Bunny “tour” and it was a full decade later we met again.
We realized how much we’d missed shortly after we picked up the youngest of our trio at O’Hare Airport in Chicago and headed for Branson.
We’d just slid into a retro diner, when Marvel let out a screech. The waitress ran to our booth with concern, only to find three women convulsed in laughter at the discovery that we were all eligible for the senior discount!
Though we only spent 2 nights in Branson, we likely set a record with our schedule, dashing from one event to another and sliding into theaters as the curtains rose for the show. We had not realized the traffic jams we’d be facing on the —main road — but even that provided a hilarious memory.
We’d obviously over scheduled but intended to get to every show we’d paid for – and I’d turned the wrong direction to finally enable us to get to a show with more than seconds to spare. The only thing we hadn’t figured out how we would do was to get one of those period costume pictures, and as I pulled the car into a tiny mall to turn around, we realized that was exactly where we were. How much time to the next show, Marlene asked? Twenty-five minutes. We dashed inside as customers left, bemused at our hurry, and confronted the owner with our need. She laughed at the challenge, grabbed some dresses off the rack, posed us and snapped away. In under twenty minutes we grabbed the pictures and dashed for the car and the next show.
With no reserved tickets, we assumed we’d have to split up, and made plans to meet at the door after the show. We opened the doors to the usher’s warning that the show was about to begin, looking to the right – no seats – and then to the left – 3 seats all together. Just as our seats glided into the theater’s, the lights dimmed and the fellow next to us joked, You gals must be somebody…you arrive and the show begins! Marvel giggled back that he had it correct – we were the Honey Bunnies!
Whether physical or spiritual sisters or best friends, (we are fortunate the Hunny Bunnies claim all three titles), we encourage you to not wait as long as we did. Grab your sibling or friend and head for the road. New friends, great adventures, and memorable sights will greet you. In addition to dreams come true, lots of hope, healing and hilarity await you if they are anything like our trips!
Have you had a sister trip yet this year?
In addition to the Holocaust Museum which was extremely emotional for me, we visited the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where we saw the Dead Sea Scrolls and an impressive miniature of New Jerusalem. In Bethlehem we saw the Bethlehem Shop of olive wood carvings. At the City of David archaeological park,we learned about the excavations of King David’s palace and the newly discovered fortresses of Solomon – a place known in the Bible as the “Hall of the Mighty Men.”
Many in the group (not me) were ready and eager to crawl through the waters of the ancient Gihon spring through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the actual tunnel built by King Hezekiah to preserve the water flow to the city when they were under siege. I was emotionally overwhelmed by this point with all the information, the sights, and the scriptural unveilings of battle and victories.
We had some time to visit the marketplace displays and many stores, have lunch in the fresh air and a little friendly banter with the shop owners. I was surprised to see fresh squeezed juice less expensive than bottled juice. The food was ok but expensive. French fries were $8 and lemonade was $7. We later found others haggled price for lunch. We should have. Some of the market displays (like the spices shown below) were amazing.
Farewell Dinner was in a Christian Armenian Restaurant. It was in the old city of Jaffa on the coast near Tel Aviv, where Jonah once tried to flee from God.
The dinner was the usual several courses of varied salads, breads, lamb meatballs, vegetables, and with dessert came a surprise birthday cake with a candle for one of the girls.
Below was one of the restaurant owners’ markers of faith displayed throughout the restaurant
– the Lord’s Prayer.
Goodbye Lego buildings
Goodbye Pool of Bethesda
Goodbye Mediterranean buffet
Goodbye new friends
Knowing this place was the origin of mankind brought a deeper viewpoint into everything we saw, learned and did. This is where my faith began. This is where the first Christians were brought to faith. This is where Jewish God followers were marked and persecuted. Where I stood, those in the spiritual hall of fame (Hebrews) stood for faith in so many ways, and this is where Jesus, the Christ answered all the enemies by sacrificing Himself. For us. For me.
A high point was St. Ann’s Church, hearing and joining in song as we approached St. Ann’s church near the Pool of Bethesda
For a sample… Click the links below on More! and on Singing. The sound cuts off on the first one as there was a respectful silence followed by calls of More! More!
We didn’t want to leave… but the time had come. I am grateful God called Cliff Graham to this ministry, #goodbattletours.com, and gave me an opportunity to see, hear, and know many of the stories of this land. Others who have gone said they were forever changed.
Now I understand.
Warfare History in Jerusalem —View of the Old City from the Mount of Olives
This huge ancient olive tree was in the Garden of Gethsemane in Kidron Valley
We were told how some of these trees have been there from antiquity and were not hundreds, but thousands of years old. Olive trees can be cut down to the ground, and appear dead but it will grow again. New shoots of life will rise again from the roots, becoming a symbol of Christ rising again. Hearing about the olive trees was a lesson in continued growth and fruitfulness in advancing age, no matter appearances, no matter circumstances or trials. Not only are the olive trees extremely long lived and natural survivors, they point us to our roots of faith in the past, when olive oil was used to anoint kings and prophets, and to our future when olive oil will be used to anoint the King of Kings when the Messiah returns. The remains of Gethsemane was a very small area. Some believe these are the original trees, but others think they are new generations as historian Josephus reported the trees were cut down by the Romans in AD70. Other research from 2012 concluded that all eight trees originated as cuttings from a single parent tree. Introspection from those details made me wonder will the branches of our family be identifiable in time to come? What time and prayer do I need to invest, surrender, and wait for so those roots will grow and rise again?
A few of us did not go with the group on the walk that led to Gethsemane as it involved a lot of stairs but the bus was going to meet us there. A half dozen of us took the stair-free shortcut but there was no crosswalk to get to the church and garden. I suggested that I’d experienced respect for the elderly and decided to test it out. I put one foot in the street and waved my hand. The cars came to a halt and the driver and passenger waved as the group followed ‘grandma’ across the street!
We’d also seen the old border fence area where the last battle in 1967 (the Six Day War), the Israeli paratroopers united the Old City with Jerusalem, and walked through the famous tunnels where Christians fled persecution and where soldiers had carved some treacherous, rocky, muddy underground passages. I took the least challenging tunnel but it was still interesting in light of a dvd documentary In Our Hands that I’d seen shortly before this trip. Highly recommend it. Plaques on the wall of the overlook commemorated some who gave their lives for Israel’s freedom.
I don’t know why I was surprised to learn the Armenians were brought in to repair these temple designs.
My name means many sorrows – so it was special to actually walk the street where Jesus walked to the cross called Via Dolorosa
and near that was the Arab Market –
the Shuk, with hundreds of stores yet in between the hustle and bustle, sights like the men playing backgammon
Other sites included several beautiful gates, the Holy Sepulcher – the largest Church in Jerusalem,The Jewish Quarter, the renovated Cardo and the Davidson Center Museum where we saw some of the ancient scrolls.The remains of Caiaphas’ House, where Jesus was kept. Then Mt Zion and the Garden Tomb.
The last photo is of a picture from years ago that shows more clearly the skull directly above and behind the camel in the pictures. After decades of decay that area is below and to the right – you can barely see parts of a skull. Whether it was here – or near – as you often hear in Israel – it was an important place to remember what Christ suffered for us, and we were all provided a precious time of communion in the gardens outside of the tomb with songs and prayer offered by one of the pastors in our group.
Masada was more than a stronghold, it was the site of a last stand against the Romans, and an almost total suicide to prevent the Romans from declaring a murderous victory and taking any survivors as slaves. It was originally built as a magnificent palace for Herod the Great, and was possibly the stronghold for David referred to in the Bible. It was like a box on top of the mountain, and had some marvelous design features like water capture, hot and cool bathing, beautiful tiled designs, storage rooms, the mosaics and the Byzantine Church built at the top.
About half our group took the tram to the top of Masada, and the other half climbed the legendary Snake Trail. Those of us who took the tram had time to view a small museum at the bottom, including a brief video overview.
Hear the detailed story of the Jewish zealots as narrated by the ancient historian Josephus about one of the most decisive battles ever for the Jewish people and Israel. At this great fortress we will visit the bath house, the
We all descending to the bus by walking along the siege ramp built by the Romans that still remains, then rode the bus to a Bedouin camp. There we enjoyed a special visit with Middle Eastern hospitality and experienced a camel ride, and had my favorite meal on the trip. Stuffed grape leaves, lamb meatballs, artichokes and peppers on couscous plus salads and desserts.
Next a bus ride via the Negev Desert to the Elah Valley, site of the famous battle between David and Goliath, where a couple of the guys reenacted part of the story while Cliff read and expounded on a gripping devotional of what took place here and why. My heart was struck with David’s bold confidence in God.
We continued the ride – our ascent to Jerusalem, 2,400 feet above sea level, via Beit Shemes and Emmaus. We got our first glimpse of the city from the Haas Promenade, the area where most armies surveyed the city before preparing to invade it. Another huge buffet dinner (which explains why I only lost 1#) and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 4 in Israel – the best is yet to come
I’m sure many of you heard the story of an elderly woman who wanted to be buried with a plastic fork. The reasoning was that much of her life had been spent at church socials and at the end of every meal as the plates were cleared away she was told to hold on to her fork because “the best is yet to come.”
Each day of our journey I, or some of the 45, would say this was the best day yet. Cliff often replied, “The best is yet to come.”
Several boats were on the Sea of Galilee. One group was singing praise songs as they approached the pier. Next it was our turn!
Here is video of us on the boat on the Sea of Galilee.
Day 4 in Galilee – with #goodbattletours.com
It was surreal realizing I am in Galilee!
Several boats were on the Sea of Galilee. One group was singing praise songs as they approached the pier. Next it was our turn!
It was great after the previous days walking to relax on the boat for a few minutes – a few minutes because I saw one of the ladies whispering to one of the boat staff – turned out she requested we be taught to dance the Hora! Wonder what Peter would have thought of that!
Cliff videoed our fun exercise and then read to us from the New Testament some of the stories of Christ and the Apostles that happened on this water and in this area.
We also drove through the Golan Heights to Caesarea, Philippi and the Banias, one of the water resources of the Jordan River. Itai and Cliff taught extensively about the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur war, the two conflicts in the 20th century that most shaped modern Israel, then we stopped at the “Valley of Tears” and heard the amazing story of that four day battle.
Back to the Sea of Galilee area, we visited Capernaum, walking among the ruins of this Biblical village, including seeing the remains of the Synagogue where Jesus preached.
Then we drove up to the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount and saw a video about
finding the remains of a 2,000 year-old fisherman boat, known as “The Jesus Boat” since it dates to the time of Christ, which is now in the museum there.
Day 2 – was about arrival and the Ancient Words that formed this land, this people, and this trip. Ancient Words still alive and speaking to us today.
Day 3 – Ancient Israel – Stones of RemembranceDay – Everywhere in Israel you see stones – mostly this white stone Jerusalem stone. the statue carvings, the buildings, the sarcophagus, caves, everywhere are stones. One of the guides told me they had to make rules such as not stopping excavation for new buildings for everything (though they still do when they find human remains) because new discoveries are a daily occurrence.
One of the books that made a great impact in my early faith life was Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard. The main character who starts out as “Much Afraid” (and later receives the new name of Grace and Glory) has a habit of piling stones of remembrance after each victory. Each day, or more like each hour of each day in Israel we saw stones of remembrance as we also heard the corresponding scripture story and history behind each site.
Drive to Caesarea by way of the famous highway known in the Bible as the ‘Way of the Sea’. Explore the ruins of the Roman and the Crusader city, reconstructed Roman portions, walls from the times of the crusaders, the prison area where Paul was held in captivity before being sent to Rome.
We saw the remains the Hippodrome (Roman horse racing theater), remains of a Roman aqueduct, Mount Carmel, the site where the Prophet Elijah fought with the prophets of Baal and won, a breathtaking view over the whole Valley of Jezreel, better known as the Valley of Armageddon, the famous Tel Megiddo— a city that was fought over continually.
At Megiddo, we saw the remains of King Solomon’s Stables, an altar from Abrahamic times (around 4,000 years old), and the magnificent water tunnel, and across the valley viewed Mount Tabor, where Deborah and Barak met to plan their wars against the Canaanites, and the springs where Gideon selected his army and discuss why it was done in that fashion.
Then it is arrival at our hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Heading down the path (now stairs) the women took daily to scoop up water to carry back on top of their heads!
It was amazing to stand here (or near) the place of the beginning of civilization. To watch and listen to Cliff and Itai read the scriptures and realize that those words were written for all of God’s family for instruction, correction, and tender encouragement
Zech. 9:16 And the Lord their God will save them in that day
As the flock of His people;
For they are as the stones of a crown,
Sparkling in His land.
Old and new. It began at the airport in New York just before we left for TelAviv. We were invited to join a Purim celebration!
We were given noisemakers. We watched the reading of the whole Megillia – the entire book of Esther – in Hebrew – about 15 minutes (!) and participated with groans and noise every time Haman’s name was read. Whew.
Little gift bags were shared that contained Haman’s hat cookies and candy. We were instructed to share them with others, so everyone exchanged. That’s when I noticed.
We eager foreigners, were, of course, taking pictures with our phones and cameras, but I had not expected the Rabbi’s standing nearby to pull theirs out too! It just seemed incongruous for these gentlemen in ancient regalia to have a modern iPhone in use 🙂
That rather set the tone for the entire trip. Day One was mainly arrival but also some introductory scenes – the airport, the bus ride to the hotel, Tel-Aviv (not a tourist town), the little grocery store, the lego-like construction going on everywhere, people in costume for Purim and the Mediterranean Sea.
Not sure what was with the death warning – probably a high voltage pole. I felt safer here than in Milwaukee or Chicago. Walking on the beach at sunset again we saw old and new – always and constantly new construction going on – sometimes the new on top of the old, or seeing the old view through plexiglass on floors.
First meal in Israel – plate was my selections from about 20 choices set up buffet style.
Notice the Schindler elevator
And the journey began – Lessons on the bus on the way to new adventures – tomorrow Caesarea and many other stops – usually 7-8 a day.
We traveled with Cliff Graham and the Good Battles Tour group. Itai and Marla were our Hebrew guides.
For more info: http://www.facebook.com/cliffgrahamauthor
The trip’s Instagram account is http://www.instagram.com/israelbattletours
In any of those services, you can also click on the hashtag #goodbattletours and see where travelers are going to be tagging their posts.
It was amazing to stand in these places, to realize I was where all civilization began and in places (here or near as they say) where Jesus, apostles, warriors, and ancestors were. It was remarkable to hear scriptures read at varied sites and to view what was being spoken.
Old and new – Ancient Words.
Still true and still changing me and bringing new life and hope.