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Month: July 2016

Fiat Lux … “Let there be Light”.

Fiat Lux … “Let there be Light”.

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One of the big jokes in our family has to do with Bill and his travel “guide books”. He buys a new book for every trip we take and keeps it in his hands as we travel around. He reads it incessantly (often to our chagrin). Sometimes we mouth to each other “are you listening?” and we all realize Bill is reading out loud to only himself. We think it is hysterical, but the truth of it is we’d probably be lost and not learn nearly as much without our trusty guide and his beloved guidebook.

We used his guide book to map our days in Paris.  The city has no shortage of commanding monuments to visit such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Champs-Elysees but I think my favorite place to visit is the Sainte-Chapelle.  This quiet chapel is described as a “triumph of Gothic church architecture” with a “cathedral of glass like no other”.

I couldn’t agree more.

The beautiful stain glass windows of this church tell the story of the Bible from the creation story in Genesis to the coming of Christ over the altar to the end of the world at the back of the church.

Even the floors are beautiful.

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While we were waiting to enter the chapel Bill read something from his guide book that stopped me.  I asked him to read it again.  The thought of it was as stunning as the stained glass windows of this beautiful church.  He was reading from the Rick Steves, Paris 2016 book and it said this:

“Fiat Lux.  Let there be light.  From the first page of the Bible, it’s clear:  Light is divine.  Light shines through stained glass like God’s grace shining down to earth”.

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What a beautiful thought!  The people felt like God’s grace was shining through the windows of their church.  It went on to say:

“The Gothic architects used their new technology to turn dark stone buildings into lanterns of light. The glory of Gothic shines brighter here than in any other church”.

And guess what?

Without the light of Jesus (the Light of the World) in us we are all “dark stone buildings”.  But when we trust and believe in Him and the Holy Spirit resides in us … we can shine God’s grace out to the world. He uses us as light bearers and we get to let His glory shine brightly through us to the world.

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While there we sat in a chair taking in each of the panels, finding different Bible stories and seeing how the artist depicted the scene. We read what Bill’s guidebook said about each of the stories.

When we got to the story of Moses we read this…”See how many guys with bright yellow horns you can spy.  Moses is shown with horns as the result of a medieval mistranslation of the Hebrew word for ‘rays of light,’ or halo”.

Let me translate.

The conversation had to go something like this …. after all these beautiful stories were crafted and installed someone saw horns on Moses (and many other characters) and said “Hey, why are there horns on Moses?” and the artist said … “because the story said ‘horns’.”  And then the person replied …  “It didn’t say HORNS, it said RAYS OF LIGHT”.  And then the artist said “OH NO, I thought it said ‘horns’.

(Y’all, that is funny).

I absolutely love that those stained glass window Bible story depictions aren’t perfect.  They are flawed.

They are just like us.

And yet we, despite our flaws and imperfections, can still shine the light of God’s glory to the world.

Fiat Lux.

“Let there be light”.

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Bonjour Paris!

Bonjour Paris!

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Just a couple more things to share about our trip.  We took the train over from Switzerland to Paris … because “Paris is always a good idea”.

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On the train over I planned out each of our days while everyone else slept.  It turned out to be a perfect schedule and we quickly checked off the things we wanted to do. I even made a rain plan and guess what?  It rained!

The first day we saw the Louvre which took all of about 15 minutes.  The girls wanted to see the Mona Lisa so they could “say they had seen it”.

 

Once that was marked off we jumped on an open air bus to see the sites while not WALKING.

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That night we watched the sun sight from the top of the Champs Elysees.  That was very cool!

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We enjoyed macaroons …

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museums …

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crepes …

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the Eiffel Tower …

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AND SO MUCH MORE.

I always enjoy Paris and use the very few words and phrases I can remember from middle school French class when I am there.

One of them is Au Revoir!  See you later!

 

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Sometimes you just need a little reminder …

Sometimes you just need a little reminder …

After an amazing lunch here …

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we packed up and headed out for our last Swiss adventure. We were going to a place called Schynige Platte, otherwise known as one of the most beautiful places on earth. We arrived at the train station there about 4:00. They said by the time we took the train up (the rack railroad the train runs on has been operating since 1893) we would only have 11 or 12 minutes to be there before we would have to catch the last train down. Although we were disappointed to not have more time there this did not dissuade us (once we went ice skating around the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza with seven minutes left in the session and it was worth EVERY PENNY of the full price we had to pay). Anyway … this is what I think the person telling us “I don’t think you are going to want to go for just 11 minutes” forgot … I think they forgot that the ride to the top was as good as the top. IT WAS AWE-mazing.  At one point I leaned over to Caroline and said … “I think I’m going to cry”. She, of course, thought I was ridiculous but I couldn’t get my mind around the beauty. (I really think God surely must have clapped his hands when He finished Switzerland).

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In addition to the beauty, the train we rode on the rack railroad was more like a trolley. It was open air so we could hang out of the sides and it went slowly. All of which only added to the charm. It was exactly like a Disney ride except in wasn’t Disney. It was real and not pretend and was like nothing I have ever seen.

We had the cutest train conductor who was as cheerful as a Disney employee. She was genuinely joyful.

When we got to the top of the mountain the timer on our eleven minutes began to tick down. My family RAN to go take pictures but I had to go ask the train conductor a question.

“Can you believe this is your job?!”

“What?” she asked.

“This. You GET TO drive a train up that mountain AS YOUR JOB.”

“I don’t get paid much,” she replied somewhat happily.

“But you get paid!” I said. “Everyday you GET TO see this scenery AS YOUR JOB”. People pay thousands of dollars to come here and see this beauty and they pay you to show it to people!”.

“Yes” she said … “I guess it’s good to be reminded”.

With that I ran to take a few pics with my family and she sat waiting to take the train back down the mountain. The beauty was mind blowing.

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We were a little late getting back but she held the train and winked as we boarded. Turns out she had even saved our seats with a “reserved” sign.

I kind of think the two of us enjoyed that train ride back down the mountain more than any of the other passengers.

Sometimes you just need a little reminder to look around at what you get to do.

 

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Swiss-tas-tik

Swiss-tas-tik

IMG_7371 So much of Switzerland seemed like a real life Disney World. Several times I told Bill that I felt like we were on the Truman show except it was set in Switzerland and everyone around us knew all the scenery was fake but we thought it was real.

It was just that perfect.

The second day was cloudy but we never got caught in any rain. Every now and then the clouds would break but even in the clouds we saw some amazing sights … and I already mentioned seeing the tops of rainbows which is the blessing of a rainy day, right?

We began our second day with a gondola ride to a neat hike and from there to a train to a sweet town with a pretty church and amazing waterfall. We hiked right up to the edge of it.

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We went to a few more towns that day … one of which we had lunch in and saw the tops of more rainbows (I’ll never get over it).

That evening we rode a “Disney type” tram up to Harder Kulm where we could see all the way to Interloken.  We decided to have dinner up there and had traditional Swiss fondue.  Bread and cheese y’all, what’s not to love?

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These pictures make me laugh because we LITERALLY “have our heads in the clouds”.

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And if we thought we were high there, that was nothing compared to the next morning.  Bill, Brittany and I got up very early and headed to Jungfrau, the TOP of Europe.

It’s funny because we had discussed quite a bit whether we were even going to go to Jungfrau.  Caroline had gone a few weeks earlier.  Bill’s thought was “you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all”.  My thought was this …

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If I’m lying, I’m dying … we were sitting in the HOUSTON airport with two hours to kill.  We were discussing our schedule for the trip and if we thought we’d head to Jungfrau.  I went and got a Coke and it pretty much ended that debate.  We were heading to Jungfrau.

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It was a PERFECTLY CLEAR day … the best yet.

The Jungfraubahn train took us back to another town where we were to catch our train to Grindelwald.  It was in this town I officially became “lost in Switzerland”.  Somehow I got separated from Bill and Brittany.  They were taking a picture and I went on to the train.  I began looking in all the train car windows for them hoping to find them.  When I didn’t see them I boarded the train hoping I would see them.  I kept sticking my head out of the doors thinking they would be looking for me the same way.  (They were not, haha!).  Suddenly the train conductor motioned for me to step back and the train doors slammed shut.

I was on board.

Bill and Brittany were not.

I didn’t have a train ticket or money.  THANKFULLY, just as the train was pulling off I saw Bill and Brittany walking towards the train.  They saw me frantically waving my arms.  The train conductor came by to collect my ticket and I explained my situation.  She laughed and “let it slide”.

The most ironic part of this whole story is that 9.9/10 times it would be Bill and Brittany who caught the train and not me.

So technically I think it was the two of them, and not me, who were lost.  🙂

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5 Seconds of Scripture Summer Study!

5 Seconds of Scripture Summer Study!

Today is day three of the summer scripture study of John 21.  It’s not too late to join along or to invite your friends!

 

Have a great day!

 

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Swiss-wonder-land

Swiss-wonder-land

I still haven’t really gotten over the beauty of Switzerland.  I don’t think there are words to really describe it.  Just a few highlights from our days there:

On Day One we decided to do Grindelwald First Mountain.  It said it was an “adventure mountain” and it lived up to its name.  We first took a gondola ride to the top of the mountain.  We then began by walking on a “cliff walk” which was a walkway built right on the side of a cliff.  It was very cool!

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When the cliff walk was over we had some hot chocolate, took a few more pics and then did a chair “zip line” down the slope.  It was so pretty that we decided to walk down to the next gondola so we could see more of the beauty of the mountain.  We were LOVING our hiking adventure.  We came across cows with cowbells (making a joyful noise!), beautiful scenery and even a place selling cheese on the honor system. 😉

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When we got to the first gondola ride (which we were planning to take the rest of the way down), we found out that we had just missed the last ride down.  That meant we were hiking all the way down the 7,000 feet elevation.  See the pic above of the “lounge” chairs?!  On our descent we found those and the view was INCREDIBLE.  We were hot and tired and those chairs were perfectly placed.  Bill went in this charming little inn on the side of First Mountain and they had a few pastries left, two apples and some cokes and they put it on a cute tray for Bill and he carried it out to us as we lounged and I THOUGHT MAYBE WE HAD GONE TO HEAVEN.  We could have stayed there for hours and hours and hours … but we had to continue our quest to the bottom.  We were quite proud of our accomplishment when we reached the bottom.

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After a little rest and not wanting to waste any Alps Adventure time we boarded another train and headed back to Interloken for dinner.  (Just in case you are planning a trip, we bought a “jungfrau” pass that allowed us to ride any gondolas and trains and I highly recommend it because we went on trips we may not have otherwise if we were buying all the tickets individually).

Bill is MR. TRAVEL GUIDE and heard of a restaurant we should try in Interloken.  It was on the top floor of a hotel and gave us some incredible views of the lake in the distance.  While we ate our dinner we enjoyed watching the paragliders drift down to a field just below the restaurant.

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All in all it was a PERFECT first day in the Alps. (And by the way … the days are VERY long there.  It gets light early and stays light until almost 10:30 pm.  We kept wondering how we were getting SO much done in a day and realized it was because the days were so long …. which is a good thing!).

More tomorrow!

PS  Just so you know, I am doing a quick Bible study (2 to 3 minutes a day for 2 weeks) … on Facebook but realized … not everyone is on Facebook. 😉 Here is video number one.  If you aren’t on Facebook and want me to send them to you, message me and let me know.

And yes … more trip posts are coming. 😉

Have a great day!

 

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HHHEELLLLOOO

HHHEELLLLOOO

Could you hear the echo? I’ve missed being on the blog but have just returned from a fabulous trip visiting the Swiss Alps and Paris, France. I’ve gotten kind of used to echos because if Bill wasn’t singing “Edelweiss” while we were hiking up and down mountains, he was calling “RICOLA” (or as it sounded … RIIIICOOOOLAAAA) through the valleys. It was hilarious.

Caroline finished her study abroad at the University of Lausanne and had ten or so days before she headed to Africa. We were happy to take her up on her offer to “show us around”. We arrived in Lausanne which is right on the banks of Lake Geneva. Absolutely beautiful. Caroline was studying international sports law and got to do some really cool things at the International Olympic Committee headquarters. Really neat that it is also an Olympic year. She showed us the Olympic museum, saw her hostel, went paddle boating and took a two hour nap right on the shore of the lake. The university is literally right on the lake … fabulous place to study (or sleep!).

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Caroline had been calling the beautiful country Switz-wonder-land and that is a perfect description. The beauty and majesty was magnificent. There are so many stories and pictures from the trip and maybe one day soon I’ll make a video. .

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We took Brittany along with us as we knew Caroline would enjoy having a “buddy”. We look forward to going back one day with Jacob and Savannah. It truly was an amazing place and a wonderful memory.

The day before we left we checked the Switzerland forecast and it was predicting 100% chance of rain during our entire visit. Bill frantically looked into going to other locations in Europe. I told him we just needed to speak to the maker of rain and play our plans by ear. The first day we arrived in the mountains the weather was SPECTACULAR. Crisp and clear and we could see forever as our train took us higher and higher to Grindelwald where we stayed. We had a little “chalet” and when we opened the window we were met with this view:

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I mean really.

More tomorrow about our time in Grindelwald but wanted to finish the weather story. The second day was cloudy and maybe sprinkled here or there but nothing really. The most amazing part about the somewhat overcast day? First we hiked above the clouds and through the clouds and Brittany even tried to catch a cloud in her mouth. I kept thinking of the song from “Les Mis” called “Castle On a Cloud”.

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Later that day we took a train up to another vantage point, Heider Klum which overlooks Interloken. And guess what we were above?!? A RAINBOW. We were ON TOP OF A RAINBOW!! I couldn’t believe it. Had it not rained some that day we never would have seen the TOP of a rainbow. God uses it all, doesn’t He?

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I’m adding being on top of rainbows (at least three of them) on my list of cool things in I’ve seen in my life.

After all our adventures in the alps we headed back to Lausanne to take a train to Paris. I CANNOT make this up … the absolute second we stepped inside the train station in Lausanne (as in, my foot was inside and my suitcase I was pulling was still outside) … right at that exact moment it began to pour down rain. Bill and I both looked at each other in amazement. The God who made the rain, we believe, held the rain.

And He let us see the tops of rainbows too.

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