Sunday, April 28, 2013


Jet lag is a mysterious makes you feel like you’ve dreamed everything and it’s not real. But here I sit, sipping my German coffee and nibbling a little almond cookie/cake from the German bakery while I look out the window at the German landscape. Okay, it’s really not that romantic. My view out the window is gray cloud, gray tarmac, gray airport and gray rain. Pretty dreary! I left almost 80-degree weather and Kate has informed me that I’ll be arriving in 80-degree weather, so I won’t complain about the rain here.

Gray Day in Germany

I flew to Chicago yesterday and had a 6-hour lay-over there that I spent in a very boring manner, working my transcription shift online. My flight to Frankfurt, Germany left at 10:15 p.m., so it was an all-nighter. I’ve flown quite a few all-nighters now, and I actually don’t mind them. The flight goes faster when you can sleep through some of it, even if it’s just cat-naps. When I woke, it was around 2 a.m. my time. I sneaked a peek out the window by raising the shade ever so slightly. Bright sun flooded the dark interior of the cabin. My seat-mates snoozed on, unaware. I pulled out my breakfast, which was last night’s dinner, dining on teriyaki chicken, green beans and a slice of Tillamook jack cheese. Yup, that was about as delicious as you imagined it to be. Then I studied and read until real breakfast was served a few hours later. Finally, we were allowed to open the blinds and let the sun shine in. I looked out the window on Ireland and then England. That was cool! Off the coast of England there are wind turbines standing straight up out of the sea. It looked very odd. We then flew over mainland Europe, and began our descent. I was wide awake, even though it was only 4 a.m.  I think it’s easier to adjust to the time change when you fly all night because when you get off the plane you walk right into morning sunshine and your body clock instantly re-sets. Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little tired, but I definitely feel like it really is afternoon here and not early morning like it is back home.

German kafe and a delicious almond cookie

I had a 4-hour lay-over in Frankfurt. Since this is the only Germany I’m going to experience, I had to milk it for all it was worth. I found the most German-looking café to buy a coffee and little almond cake, and then I sat by the window so I could take in the view...of planes and tarmac. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t see the forest and a castle! I did learn something, though. I had noticed that the landscape was full of green trees and farmland scattered with what I was sure must be little villages. There were no farms as we know them...a farm house, a barn or two, and fields surrounding them. There were just neatly defined villages. I never saw a city or any suburbs. I asked the man next to me on the plane about it, and he told me that no one was allowed to build a house on their farms. They may buy land and farm it, but they cannot live on it. So farmers live in villages and business people live in cities. The prettiest places to live looked to be those houses built along a canal. I so wished I could actually drive through some of those quaint villages!

The flight to Vienna was running late, and you know what that means! I already only had 45 minutes between arrival in Vienna and departure to Sarajevo, and watching the minutes tick away made me a little nervous. Of course my seat was at the very back of the plane. My Czech seat-mate told me I needed to just push my way through everyone. Made brave by desperation, I did just that, along with another man behind me who was also headed to Sarajevo. He spoke very little English and I speak no Bosnian, so we gestured our way along and made for our gate. Talk about a run! It seems to me when flying that if your plane is on time and you have a long lay-over, your departure gate will be very close to your arrival gate. But if the plane is late and it’s a tight connection, for sure you will be departing from a gate at least a mile away. And I’m not kidding! At all. So I pushed my way off the plane, rushed past everyone in the terminal, butted right to the front of the long customs line, got admitted into Austria, and then booked it down the long corridor. My buddy was right behind me, clomping noisily and a bit awkwardly in his cowboy boots. I didn’t know they wore cowboy boots in Europe! I also didn’t know they don’t wear flip-flops. No one was wearing flip-flops and many women stared at me. I felt soooo American in my Athleta yoga pants and sparkle flip-flops! We arrived at our gate just as they began to board. I breathed a sigh of relief and stepped through the gate, but there was no plane to board. No, we walked through yet more corridors (which were all heated to 100 degrees!) and then outside to board a shuttle bus that took us to the far corner of the airport tarmac where we boarded the plane the old-fashioned way, climbing on from outside. I must admit it was incredibly refreshing to stand outside in the balmy evening breeze and breathe in Vienna! My Czech friend said they were having summer weather and I was lucky. Although there wasn’t a thing to see but gray tarmac and terminals, the sky was turning pastel with the sunset and the air smelled sweet. It was great to cool off and calm down after the sweaty mad dash through the airport. And then it was on the plane for the very last hour of travel. Night fell and there was nothing to see. I’d have to wait until morning for the mountain views. I touched up my make-up and popped a mint so I’d be presentable to meet Kate’s family. I was so eager to hug Kate. I thought about how kissy-huggy I was with the kids when they were little and how that changes as they grow up. We are affectionate in our family but not gushingly so. Still, there is nothing like flesh on flesh. Kate and I have Skyped regularly and I’m up to date on all she does and most of what she feels. But to hug her and stroke her hair...that is so precious to a mother and I couldn’t wait. Landing took forever.  We circled the city about 2-1/2 times...I knew because I counted how many times we passed the moon, which was huge and a luminous bright yellow.  We finally landed and I cleared customs without a single word exchanged; he just took my passport, typed the number into the computer, stamped it, handed it back and dismissed me with a wave of his hand. Well, that was easy! And then I stepped through the gate to a happy, laughing Kate and her host mom and dad, who greeted me affectionately with a hug and a triple kiss on the cheeks.  We rode all the way through the hilly streets of Sarajevo laughing and talking in a jumbled mix of English, broken English, Bosnian and broken Bosnian...but it worked! We arrived home and went upstairs to unpack and get settled while Kate’s host mom loaded the living room coffee table with goodies...three different kinds of cookies, a rich chocolate-apricot cake, fresh fruit and spinach pita, which is not what you think. It was much more similar to spanakopita, only it was baked in a large pan like a lasagna rather than individual pies. Oh, so good! I could have eaten three pieces, I’m sure! I gave the family the gifts I had brought them, and then we headed upstairs to bed...but who could sleep? I gave Kate the treats I had brought her, we took a picture of us together sitting in the spot I had seen her sit while Skyping for the last 9 months, and then she sat on my bed with me and we talked until we were both sooo tired. Finally, good sense prevailed, because we had to be up at 6:30 as we were taking a bus to a war memorial 3-1/2 hours away. We hugged goodnight and then I slipped under the covers of my bed under the slanted wood-slat roof and listened to the night sounds of Sarajevo until I fell asleep.

Skyping together instead of apart!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

One Day...I want to go to Europe!

So, my trip of a lifetime has begun...sort of.

I’ve wanted to go to Europe for as long as I can remember. It was even on my "What I Want in a Husband" list when I was a teenager!

Many people want to go to Europe but most seem to prefer the exotic...places of sun and surf, leis and luaus, or faddish Australia. None of those popular places held priority with me. If I never swam with the dolphins in Mexico, I’d be okay. If I never surfed or ate roasted pig in Hawaii, it’s fine with me. And I’m actually tired of the infatuation with all things Australian! Really, what is so intoxicating about the phrase, "G’day, Mate"? The accent actually annoys me.

No, it’s always to Europe I’ve yearned to go. I’m fascinated by the micro-cultures contained within such a small space. Each country has its own distinct personality and flavor...the language, the food, the music, the scenery, the architecture. By simply hopping a train it is possible to enter a new world within hours, and then another world, and then another world! The history is intriguing too. So different and yet so intertwined, like a twisted family tree whose old, gnarled branches have spanned generations and nations. Most of us trace our ancestry there. For me, it’s a lot of British on my dad’s side and German on my mother’s, with a sprinkling of Austrian-Hungarian and Polish thrown into the mix.

Coming from a twice broken family that moved a lot, ancestry and heritage never really played a part in my life. I didn’t even have a clue what my great-grandparents names were, let alone where they came from. Outside of the fact that I knew my mom had a lot of German in her (her maiden name was Wiesner) and my dad told stories about French royalty, I was pretty much heritage-less, if that’s a word! Even when I was given an assignment when I was in school requiring me to trace part of my family tree, I tried to interview my grandma on my dad’s side---my only living grandparent—and all she could say was, "I’m sorry, honey, I really don’t remember." My mom told me she had a tragic upbringing and probably just didn’t want to go back and revisit it. So I had one grandma and that was it. My dad grew up without grandparents and his own father died when he was 14. My mom grew up without grandparents and her mother died when she was an infant. I wasn’t terribly bothered by my lack of a family tree, but somehow it comforted me that my own children at least had their dad’s 400-year-old traceable lineage in Denmark even if they knew nothing about my side. But then one day when I was in my late 30s I received a letter from my great-uncle, married to my great-aunt, who was sister to my grandmother who had died when my mom was a baby. He was an avid geneologist, and having completed his own family tree, he then moved on to his wife’s. I suddenly held in my hand pages of people who were related to me...all the way back to Germany, for real! I was amazed. I had half a heritage! Then, just a few years later, my dad passed away and I was given an old photo album that contained pictures of him as a baby. But there was something else in that album—a letter to my grandma from her great-aunt with a handwritten family tree. And suddenly I had the other half of my heritage, this time going back to England on both my paternal grandparents’ sides...Lewis Davenport immigrated to the "new land" in the 1700s and his son Nathaniel Davenport even fought in the Revolutionary War! I was about as American as I could be!

So now I knew I was very English and very German, and not one bit French, let alone descended from French royalty, as my father loved to tell! And I’m sitting in an airport in Germany right now as I write this, thinking to myself that 100 years ago my "greats" farmed this green land.

This year is Jeff’s and my 25th wedding anniversary. We planned to travel to Europe together as part of our celebration. In our 25 years of marriage, only once have we taken a trip or vacation that wasn’t combined with ministry. And that is perfectly okay with both of us...I’m actually very thankful for the ministry trips we’ve taken because I know we would never have been able to afford traveling to all the places we've been if they were only vacations. But this time we were going to save every penny and go to Europe for two reasons: 1) We’ve always wanted to go, and 2) Our daughter is there and we want to visit her.

We started on the dreamy, romantic, impractical side of planning our trip: We would start in Sarajevo where our daughter is living as an exchange student, and then we would take a ferry across the Adriatic Sea to Italy, then the train to France where her other host family from a previous exchange lives (she’s definitely got the Travel Bug!), then back on the train through Germany and up to Denmark where Jeff has family. We wouldn’t see England this time; we didn’t want to be too extravagant. Well, we were too extravagant even with our scaled-down plans! Sarajevo, Bosnia is in Eastern Europe, in the Balkans—a beautiful, isolated part of Europe that is very hard to travel in and out of. The cost went way up, and our budget went way down. Then my daughter’s week off school was scheduled for the beginning of May, which didn’t correspond with our plans to visit in the beginning of June, a quiet time in our church and family schedule. There was no way Jeff could take time off for a vacation in the middle of April when life was in full swing. I really couldn’t either, but he insisted I go. So, on Kate’s birthday I bought my ticket.

At first I was disappointed. It just didn’t seem right doing this half-trip...without Jeff and to only one location. But as time went on, I adjusted to the plan and began talking with Kate about what we would do. Suddenly, the Balkans became a beautiful and alluring destination, and I am so excited to see the region. And I am very excited to see my daughter and experience everything she loves about her foreign home for the year.

So although it’s a "sort of" trip to Europe, I think it’s going to be amazing in its own way. I am so excited to be on this journey, and I am thrilled that I’ve been given the opportunity to enjoy this "experience of a lifetime" with my youngest daughter!

Thank you, Jeff, for this special gift. But it’s still on my list that we will "one day go to Europe!"


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dinner at a Hoarder's House (Proverbs 8 and 9)

We gain wisdom in two ways:

Direct = by personal experience

Indirect = by observing the experience of others

Sometimes, we have a choice...we learn by watching others and therefore we don’t have to learn by experience. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. Sometimes we are instructed without seeking instruction. Sometimes we experience without seeking an experience.

But through the course of our lives, whether we observe or experience situations, Wisdom cries out to us. Every aspect of our lives is a lesson. Do we learn our lesson and gain wisdom, or do we ignore the lesson and behave foolishly?

Chapter 8 -  The Excellence of Wisdom

Read Proverbs chapter 8:1-11. Wisdom is noisy and obvious...
- cries out
- lifts up her voice
- takes a stand
- cries out
- calls
- speaks
- opens lips
- speaks
- words of her mouth

Those who don’t hear or listen to the voice of wisdom are essentially putting their fingers in their ears to stop hearing. Foolishness is deliberate. So is wisdom. Neither are accidental. With every experience of life, Wisdom calls out to us...and we have a choice to hear and heed her voice or to ignore it and do our own thing.

Compare heeding or ignoring Wisdom’s call (read v.12-21)

Hear - Prudence, knowledge, discretion, fear of the Lord, counsel, sound wisdom, understanding, strength, authority, justice, love of God, riches, honor, righteousness, wealth, treasures

Ignore - evil, pride, arrogance, evil way, perverse mouth

Where did wisdom begin? You’d think it was the first time someone did something that caused hurt, pain or regret...was it the death of Abel? Or was it the fall of Adam and Eve? Or was it still in the Garden of Eden...perhaps Eve climbed a tree to reach for a piece of fruit on the far end of a branch and the branch broke and she fell...she would then have the wisdom not to lean on delicate branches! But life in the garden was perfect, so that probably didn’t happen! No, actually the beginning of wisdom was the beginning of time, the beginning of life, the beginning of being.

Read verses 22-31

Now read John 1:1-5 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God and the Word was with God...

God has always existed. God created. He is Wisdom. He was first before all else. He is our plumb line. Everything man has ever thought up or created has come second and is a result of either Wisdom or Foolishness (hearing, learning and heeding vs. not hearing, ignoring and disobeying). Gaining wisdom is a progression. The beginning of wisdom for each of us begins with a revelation of God...God the Creator and Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That revelation gives us knowledge, and then we begin to understand...and our wisdom expands. Once we have that revelation of God, we then know we need a Savior, and that knowledge leads us to salvation. Once we are saved, we gain more wisdom as we learn how to love, worship and serve God. And as we begin to truly love, worship and serve the Lord, we gain more wisdom from His Word that teaches us how to love, worship and serve Him. Then as we grow in our wisdom through love, worship and service, we next learn how to apply principles to our daily lives...loving God means loving His people, and serving God is often most evident when we serve others. Finally, as we begin loving and serving others, we gain yet another layer of wisdom...practical insights...on how best to do that. The proverbs we are studying are an example of incorporating wise and practical counsel and advice into our lives. We are wise when we don’t just serve others, but when we learn how best to serve others...when we learn different ways to show love...practical points like how to love your husband, love your children, love your neighbor. And it all began with the wisdom that came when we first had a revelation of God.

What is the reward of wisdom? (v. 32-35) - We are blessed, we find life, we obtain favor

What is punishment for disregarding it? (v. 36) - We sin against our own souls, we love death

A lack of wisdom hurts us!

Chapter 9 - Queen Wisdom

In Eastern culture the queen prepared and hosted banquets for her guests. In this passage, the Queen is Wisdom.

- Wisdom builds a house (a house is a dwelling place, it is built new, not remodeled...we are a new creation, and the spirit of God dwells within us!)

- Wisdom hews pillars from a rock (our stability and foundation is The Rock, Christ!)

- Wisdom sets up 7 pillars (7 is the number of perfection...our lives are strong and in order)

- Wisdom provides meat and wine (meat is the doctrine of the Word of God, wine is the Holy Spirit)

- Wisdom furnishes a table (God’s abundant supply and provision for our lives)

- Wisdom sends out maidens (ministering servants to help us)

- Wisdom invites everyone in (salvation and grace are available to all who will receive!)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

If you don’t feel very wise, then remind yourself of your awe and respect and devotion to the Lord...and wisdom will follow! The fear of the Lord prompts us to love more selflessly, obey more readily, give more generously, think more positively, forgive more freely, work more willingly, read and pray more diligently, worship more fervently, share more enthusiastically, understand more completely.

In comparison to the Queen of Wisdom is the Foolish Woman...

She also has a house. She also calls out. She lures and tempts, drawing us in by our own fleshly desires. But there is no life there. It is death and hell. Living life in the flesh goes the way of all flesh...death. Living life in the spirit goes the way of the spirit...abundant life!


The contrast is vivid...think of visiting a beautiful home and being invited for dinner. The food is exquisite and delicious. The table is set beautifully. The hostess welcomes you warmly at the door and invites you in. The servants move efficiently and quietly to serve you well. That is Wisdom’s home.

Now think of the TV show, "Hoarders." At the Fool’s house, she is also calling out to you to come in. She draws you by tempting you with something you secretly want and desire...something your flesh craves. You walk up the steps to her home. She opens the door and lets you in. The house is full of garbage...stacked high on all sides nearly to the ceiling. You climb over pile after pile until you find your way to the kitchen. There is no table. There are no chairs. The sink and counters are overflowing with dirty dishes and half-eaten, half-rotten food. You pick up a dirty bowl and fill it with food scraps from other plates, the counters, the cupboards and the fridge. That is your dinner. Sickness and death follow. We say we’d never do that, but every time we disobey that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’ve chosen to disregard Wisdom and do what is foolish, doing what we know we shouldn’t do...and the pleasure is short-lived. Misery is the end result.

So choose dinner at Wisdom’s house! Listen to her voice. Heed her call. Enter in to a place of beauty, rest and abundance. That’s the life God intends you to live!