Bikes

This is my second post on our trip to Amsterdam in 2015.  The reason I love visiting this city is because you can bike everywhere.  Bikes are easy to rent and you can take them on trains and just continue riding when you get there.  They’re wonderful, although you’ll notice they’re typically a European style of bike, not the typical mountain bikes we’re used to.  Bikes of all sizes and types.

We saw a lot of couples and families riding together, and a lot of people texting as they rode (please, don’t text and ride!).  Not a good idea.

Some people park their bikes in odd ways.

Near the central train station is a gigantic multi-story building for parking, not cars, but bikes!

Better remember where you parked your bike.  Of course, all the rental bikes come with great locks so you don’t need to worry about theft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Canals

I’m way behind sharing photos of trips, so now I begin with our trips to Amsterdam, the first in 2015, and the second in 2017 (I’ll share pics from both trips).  Amsterdam is in the country called The Netherlands, which used to be called Holland.  Here are pics of the wonderful canals in the city.  There are canals between every street in the inner part, all in a semi-circle.  The bridges connect the streets going across the semi-circles, as you can see in the map.

Isn’t it wonderful?  We love this city!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah

This week I’ve been giving a shout-out to our kids, and now it’s Sarah’s turn.  We always have so much fun together, whether traveling, playing games or just hanging out.

Sarah is an Engineer for NASA, testing space suits and doing other tasks related to the biomechanics of the human body in space.  She also volunteers as a test subject and recently got to wear a space suit herself.  She also did a test which required her to wear 80% of body weight and perform several tasks, which she completed perfectly.  She can solve, fix or invent anything.  Sarah is witty, determined, talented, devoted to the Lord and to her friends and family.  She helped a lot of people recover from Hurricane Harvey, and recently took some inner-city kids camping and kayaking.  She has a heart of gold.  Here are some of my favorites of Sarah:

 

 

 

Chris

This week I’m giving a shout-out to our kids and today I feature Chris.  I’m so proud of him; what an impressive young man he is in every way.

Chris has been a commercial pilot for several years and now has begun working for Atlas, flying 747s all over the world.  This company carries freight and charter passengers including military transport, athletic teams and the occasional celebrity.  Chris is outgoing, fun-loving, and has some hilarious stories to tell.  He loves the outdoors, even being capable enough to summit Denali and reach the Everest base camp.  Chris is about as caring as anyone can be; talented, loyal and absolutely devoted to Christ and to friends.  He’s a great mentor to teenagers and young adults and loves children.  Here are some of my favorites of Chris:

Jeremy

As the new year begins I want to give a shout-out to our kids; I’m so proud of them, and each one keeps me laughing and entertained.

Jeremy is the oldest; he’s a composer and writes and performs amazing musical arrangements of all types.  He’s also been involved in several theatrical productions here (as you’ll see below in some fun pics) and does a great job. I never tire of seeing the interesting characters he portrays and how he captures the audience’s attention with his silly antics.  He loves outdoor activities, especially hiking.  He’s really talented in many areas–art, music, acting and is hilarious to be around because of his quick wit.  Jeremy is reliable and always treats friends and strangers with respect.  Here are some of the classic photos in recent years.

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Broken Glass

As a start to my new Word of the Year, I’d like to share this devotion from Beth Moore.  It speaks about joy in a very interesting way:

Seven blessings are pronounced during a Jewish wedding ceremony, each of which comes from the dignitaries at the wedding, my friend Arie tells me.  Usually the rabbi begins it.  Then maybe a father-in-law, maybe an uncle, maybe an older brother.  But there are seven blessings spoken.  And the seventh blessing is always the blessing over Jerusalem.  I find this to be very intriguing.  The blessing goes something like this:  “Bless You, Lord, the Builder of Jerusalem, who will rebuild the temple one day.”

Then what do you suppose they do?  What is the part you and I probably now the best?  Right–they break the glass.

Arie said, “There are some who think that the broken glass just begins the great ceremony, but that is not what it’s about.  The breaking of the glass is to bring them to a very sober time of thinking that in the midst of great celebration, we must remember” — and I’m quoting his exact words — “that our joy is incomplete.”

I said, “Okay, Arie.  What makes our joy incomplete?” (Remember all the times that Christ said, “Make My joy complete?”)  “What makes our joy incomplete, Arie?”

“Two things,” he said.  “The first thing is that some of our loved ones are missing from the wedding, those who have already died.  The second one is because there is no temple for now in Jerusalem.”

But for us as New Testament believers, both of those longings have been satisfied.  Regarding our loved ones:  those in Christ will be present at the wedding supper of the Lamb.  And regarding the temple:  well, no, there’s not a temple in this new Jerusalem.  But that’s okay, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).  Who needs a place of worship when the object of our worship is right here before us, not seen through representation and symbolism, but here for the enjoying?

Isn’t that enormous?  No more sadness, reflection, regret, or mourning.  No more holes in our happiness–having someone who’s not there to share it with, a shoe waiting to drop.  No more taking worship to a level that only makes our heart ache for more.  Do you understand that our joy gets to be complete, just as John had reported, just as Jesus had said?  –Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 511

 

Joy!

My Word of the Year is JOY!  I’ve been looking at this word several times in the past and now it is here.  Not that life is suddenly filled with great joy, as though everything has finally come together for me.  It hasn’t, and I don’t think it ever does in this life.  Sometimes I get discouraged, though, thinking that joy is unattainable and hopeless.  But that’s only when I’m confusing “joy” with “happiness.”  I heard long ago that “happiness depends on happenings,” and that’s why it comes and goes.  Frederick Buechner said:

Happiness comes when things are going our way, which makes it only a forerunner to the unhappiness that inevitably follows when things stop going our way…Joy, on the other hand, does not come because something is happening or not happening, but every once in a while rises up out of simply being alive, or being a part of the…fathomless richness of the world that God has made.  —Secrets in the Dark, pg. 241

For example, your team wins the championship one year and you’re ecstatic, but the next year you’re vowing never to watch them play again.  Some people base their happiness/depression on political parties or on the stock market.  Joy, on the other hand, is based on God’s presence and promises and doesn’t have to come and go; it’s always available, even beneath the momentary (or even long-lasting) sadness or disappointment.

I read something interesting last week:

The very word parable comes from two Greek words.  Para- is a prefix that refers to something alongside something else.  For instance, paralegals work alongside lawyers as helpers.  And ballo means “to throw or to hurt.”  So parable means something that is thrown alongside of something else.  In order to illustrate a truth He is teaching, Jesus throws a parable alongside of it.  — R. C. Sproul, What Do Jesus’ Parables Mean?, pg. 7

Last year’s Word, “Cast“, is being beautifully explained here (ballo:  to throw, hurl or cast).  Perhaps we should think of Joy has something the Lord casts alongside us in every situation–a reminder that He’s still on the throne, that no matter the pain or sadness, eternal truths and promises prevail.  You face death but He casts alongside you a reminder of eternal life.  You feel lonelier than ever before and He casts alongside the surety of His constant presence.  Your team loses and He casts alongside the evidence of what is really lasting, and matters more.  Joy!  This year I’m watching for the JOY that God casts alongside my path in all situations.  By the way, when He casts that Joy, it spills out ahead of us, revealing a sure and solid hope for the future.

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  –Hebrews 12:2