The photo above was taken in Bethlehem ten miles from the heart of Jerusalem on my trip to the Holy Land where I recorded “W.O.W. WORDS-Hello from the Holy Land!” W.O.W. Words are produced and aired by Life 88.5 and are taken from my book Windows of Wonder (W.O.W.).
Bethlehem can be broken into two words. In Hebrew “beth” means “house” and “lehem” means “bread” so this famous city means “House of Bread.” It is also known as the “City of David” as it was the birth home of the second king of Israel. Today the prophetic city is the home of nearly 22,000 residents. Shepherds still actively herd their sheep there today!
The video below is taken on The Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane. The trees there are 2,500 years old making them the same trees where Christ rested. (When you click on the arrow, the video will play lengthwise!)
In the video did you notice the sounds of birds chirping as well as horns honking. Isn’t that so like our lives here in America? The holy is often interrupted by the hurried. “Busyness” interrupts the most important “business” our lives! Below is a better view of the garden…no wonder Jesus loved it there!
Below I’m inserting prayers for many of my friends in “THE WAILING WALL” which is called “THE WESTERN WALL” by modern-day Israeli’s. Along the woman’s section of the wall, lines were long as we waited three deep just to touch the stones. Men and women had separate entrances.
The video below is taken on “The Teaching Steps” leading up to “The Southern Wall.” You can see from the video that there are few people there, yet it’s just around the corner from the more popular “Western Wall,” where people are lined up waiting. Both walls are the same as in the time of Christ.
Each of “The Teaching Steps” above are different lengths, widths and heights to give us “cause to pause.” That’s exactly my prayer for my book, Windows of Wonder! I pray that it will make us pause and think, seeing God’s WONDER all around us…noticing extra-ordinary WOW moments in the ordinary…being grateful for Him and His love rather than rushing through our days. As a wife, mom, author and pharmacist, I understand that it’s a Mt. Rushmore-sized goal to rush less!
A distant view of the Garden Tomb below. Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest WOW moment of all, making our Christian faith unique. As Christians we worship a risen Saviour!
Likely the very place where Jesus’ body was laid. The red cross is Greek.
The video below was shot while I stood in The Dead Sea, which is the lowest place on Earth being 1,400 feet below sea level. We may find ourselves at the lowest place in our lives, but we’re never there alone. Christ is beside us!
Grimy, slimy, foamy, rocky, muddy, cold and caustic…all adjectives for The Dead Sea. The sea has 10x more salt than the oceans being comprised of 30% salt. It’s also high in potassium and magnesium!
After The Dead Sea, the sun rises over the Sea of Galilee (pictured below) where Jesus did much of His teaching! The lesson for our lives is that even after our worst days, the sun rises promising a new day. Adam Hamilton says “The worst thing is never the last thing.” He pastors the Church of the Resurrection having over 22,000 members. Just as Jesus rose after He was at the lowest place taking on humankind’s sin, we too will rise!
Mass being said at the Beautiful Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
Below overlooking the most Holy City in the World: Jerusalem. The Zion Gate and Dome of the Rock are seen over my left shoulder. For a better view of the city and description of landmarks (including the multiple gold domes of the Church of Mary Magdalene), watch the video below.
Below a picture of my tour group at Church of the Visitation in Jerusalem! It is one of three surviving structures in this part of the city.
A well inside the church itself.
The steps were designed so that cars can also drive up them! Jerusalem is a city on a hill that is full of steep inclines.
Church of John the Baptist. Noteworthy are all the blue tiles representing water and reflecting his role as the Baptizer.
Camels are common. They smell and spit being unique, interactive creatures. Below I am talking to Kojac who liked me so much he tried to eat my hand!
This little boy in JERICHO was offering camel rides for $5. A lady was thrown from this camel…they can be a bit ill-tempered!
Below is a picture of a THORN TREE indigenous to Jerusalem. This tree was very old, as seen by its long thorns. It was located near the Fortress of Antonio where Jesus was on trial and mockingly “crowned with thorns.”
Dominus Flevit is a Roman Catholic church on the Mount of Olives opposite the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was designed in the shape of a teardrop; here Jesus wept as He prophesied the future destruction of Jerusalem.
Below the window was designed so that people could see and pray for Jerusalem! You’ll notice the golden dome and other famous landmarks!
Below is a window in “The Upper Room” where it’s thought that Jesus and His disciples ate “The Last Supper” inside the city walls of Old Jerusalem.
Inside the Old City Walls of Jerusalem!
A Jewish man on the Sabbath or “Shabbat,” which is celebrated on Saturday! So lovely to watch him read God’s Word while holding his sleeping daughter. Among a bustling city, he found a “Window of Wonder” creating a WOW moment for me!
Cats were all over Jerusalem, but this one was the fattest! We were in THE OLD CITY MARKET! Shop owners were ready and willing to negotiate bargain prices.
Below The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is said to be THE HOLIEST PLACE ON EARTH. People respectfully kiss the pillars as they walk through the doors.
Below is the stone on which Jesus’ body is said to be anointed before burial.
Candles next to the rock upon which Jesus was said to be laid for anointing after His crucifixion.
Outside Church of the Holy Sepulcher. You can see the columns and how aged and colored they are from people bowing to kiss them when they enter this holy place!
When I had free time, I escaped the market to find the peaceful, picturesque streets and ended up one of “THE FOUR QUARTERS.” Below is a picture taken in the pristine “Jewish Quarters.”
Below is an ancient Roman cistern under the current city of Jerusalem. When rains came, aqueducts brought water to fill cisterns for those times when rain was absent in ancient times.
Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed many located right inside the Zion Gate near the Church of St. Anne, the mother of Mary.
Everywhere you look there are signs of the past in this holy city!
Below is the courtyard outside Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the largest city in modern-day Israel having a population of 90,000! It was 70 degrees and scrumptiously sunny!
How often do you stop and look up…What “announcements” might you be willing to accept from God? Will we magnify the Lord, cleaning off the windows of our will so we can clearly see His will?
Below is Church of the Nativity. Under the altar pilgrims like me submerge themselves into the cave where Jesus is said to have been born. This is the narrow passage leading down to this holy place. We waited for hours in line to experience this. See my Facebook page for a video inside.
This is said to have been where Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a cave.
Located steps from the place of His birth is the place where He is said to have been laid in a manager.
This is the altar of Church of the Nativity. It is very ornate and is controlled by 5 Christian churches. Unfortunately, there is much infighting. We could feel the tension and animosity as we waited to see the cave below this altar. Once a year monks from each denomination clean the church with kerosine. Fights often break out! Below you can see Christmas ornaments are still up as there are three different dates that Christmas is celebrated with December 21st being the last.
This sweet shepherd boy met us as we stepped off the bus in Bethlehem.
This hand washing basin below is found in the ruins outside the Synagog of Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. She was healed of seven demons and is one of the women who supported Jesus’ ministry. It is a place where Jesus often passed and may have taught. If so, it is likely that He would have used this very basin to wash His hands as required by Jewish law before entering the synagogue!
Though this boat is far from size of the Titanic, it’s a much larger replica of a wooden fishing boat that Jesus likely used on The Sea of Galilee. We learned to dance to traditional Hebrew music while on the sea and had a blast!
Below on the shore of The Sea of Galilee. My soul sang here as the waves rhythmically reminded me that in Christ, we can always have peace! I knew my son was facing a struggle at home. As a mom, I prayed on the shore, leaving my many worries among the many rocks! God is good.
Overlooking the sea, this was one of my favorite spots knowing that Jesus spent much of his ministry here. It is likely the spot where Jesus preached His most famous sermon on the beatitudes! God lifts us up and shines His face upon us!
Looking up at the golden dome inside The Church of the Beatitudes!
Below outside the Church of the Beatitudes! Israel is usually 30-60 degrees in the winter months of Dec.-Feb. but this year it was unusually warm at 70 degrees. In Kansas City, my hometown, they were experiencing sub-zero temperatures. So while we have the same seasons in Kansas City as they experience in the Holy Land (because we are roughly located the same distance from the equator longitutdinally), there can be big differences.
Below is the sunrise overlooking the Sea of Galilee as we ate breakfast in the city of Tiberius! Unlike the Dead Sea, we saw lots of fishing vessels as the sea continues to feed the nation today. The most common fish is tilapia which is also known as St. Peter’s fish, which is served with the head attached. Yikes!
Below is the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. A WOW Fact: Do you know the difference between basilicas and cathedrals/churches? Basilicas are rectangular while cathedrals and churches are more square!
The Holy Land is filled with WOW mosaics like the one below with Mary and the angel Gabriel! This one has more tiles than any other in the Holy Land.
Below is a picture by the Mediterranean Sea in the Caesarea ruins under the aqueducts build by King Herod. He was a great builder but not a great man. Herod was known for murdering his own sons to protect his power. He also ordered the slaughter of babies in Bethlehem near the time of Jesus’ birth.
A “Window of Wonder” under the aqua duct. Sometimes when we are thirsty needing to be watered, God provides us with “Windows of Wonder” for our parched souls. We just need to SLOW DOWN AND LOOK UP then KNEEL DOWN so HE CAN LIFT US UP!
There are four seas in the Holy Land: The Med. Sea, The Dead Sea, The Red Sea and the Bread Sea (or Sea of Galilee). Below is the Mediterranean Sea. It was the only beach with sea shells. Areas near the water were among my favorite!